So far, most of the results in the Gold Cup would have been expected. As the four quarterfinal matches wrapped up last night, let’s take a quick peek back at the round that was.
Costa Rica 1-0 Panama
Who needs an attacking threat when you earn three clean sheets in four matches? Well, who really needs attacking at all, when you don’t have to score to win? Costa Rica was aided by a 78th minute own goal from Anibal Godoy to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2009, when they lost on penalties to Mexico (you can watch the full pens here.)
In the 2015 Gold Cup, Costa Rica was ousted by Mexico, who have seemingly always gotten the better of La Sele. This year, they won’t have to worry about Mexico until at least the finals. Next on tap for Costa Rica is the United States in the semifinals.
USA 2-0 El Salvador
What was that old Al Davis saying? “Just win, baby.” Sometimes, you just find a way to advance. The USMNT struggled for the better part of the first half, with an impressive El Salvador side counter attacking and making life difficult for the host nation. However, first half goals from defenders Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj (yes, you read that correctly) put away La Azul y Blanco for good. Now the Yanks turn their attention to Group A winners, Costa Rica, who they play on Saturday night at 9:00pm CST.
Jamaica 2-1 Canada
Jamaica are determined to show that their second place finish in the 2015 Gold Cup was no fluke. The Reggae Boyz found a way to sneak by their Canadian adversaries on Thursday night, jumping out to a 2 goal lead and holding on to advance to the semifinals for the second Gold Cup in a row.
This is a nation that wasn’t even playing in the 2013 Gold Cup, so it’s quite a turnaround for the Caribbean team. In their history, Jamaica has only won 4 of 25 matches against El Tri, with the last victory coming in 2008.
Mexico 1-0 Honduras
Well, that didn’t take long. Mexico wasted no time scoring against Honduras, and frustrated their opponent for the rest of the match. Their goal was scored by Rodolfo Pizarro, who stumbled upon a loose ball in front of the keeper, and found a way to put it into the back of the net. Honduras did have a chance to equalize in the 93rd minute, but their shot fizzed by the right post.
Mexico now prepare to face a Jamaica side they just recently drew with, 0-0, in the group stage of the tournament. This time, Mexico will have to be more clinical, as they only put 3 of their 14 shots on target last time against the Reggae Boyz. Most viewers will be expecting a Mexico victory, but don’t count out Jamaica just yet, as they’ve been playing very well in this tournament.
Best Moment: Up and coming Jamaican Striker Romario Williams scores 2nd goal of Gold Cup
MLS may have a new star sooner rather than later. Jamaican attacker Romario Williams scored against Canada for his second goal of the tournament, and he’ll be looking for more opportunities to score against El Tri in the semifinals.
The 22-year old striker is having a phenomenal season for the Charleston Battery, on loan from Atlanta United. So far, he’s bagged 14 goals in just 15 games. MLS fans should be on the lookout for Williams to shine in the near future, and CONCACAF opponents should get ready to see plenty of him over the next decade.
Worst Moment: El Salvador’s Cheap Shots vs. United States
This was embarrassing. El Salvador, who many fans and commentators had praised for their unrelenting effort so far in this tournament, took a turn towards the ugly on Wednesday night. There was a nipple twist committed against Jozy Altidore, a few bites dished out, and a swipe-punch thrown at Jordan Morris. Unsportsmanlike doesn’t begin to describe it.
Clearly, the El Salvador players were frustrated with how the game had turned, but there was no excuse for what happened. The referee lost control of the match and there should have been multiple sending offs. FIFA and CONCACAF are looking into the incidents, and hopefully there will be some serious punishments handed down.
DaxWatch, Quarterfinals Edition
Unfortunately, Chicago Fire midfielder Dax McCarty found himself on the outside looking in for the USA’s matchup with El Salvador. Head coach Bruce Arena favored a central defensive midfield pairing of Michael Bradley and Darlington Nagbe, and chose to use Kellyn Acosta off the bench to secure the victory. We’re hoping Dax gets a chance in the semifinals, but it seems like Arena has decided against giving the MLS All-Star another chance in this tournament.
Will USA be able to avenge brutal loss to Costa Rica?
The last time the USMNT and Costa Rica got together, well, it was ugly. Costa Rica thrashed the US by a score of 4-0. Now, the United States will seek revenge against their CONCACAF rivals. The key to success? Get Clint Dempsey involved.
Every time Deuce touched the ball against El Salvador, the United States seemingly had a chance to score. He assisted on Lichaj’s goal, and was dangerous throughout. They’ll have to play better in general if they want to advance to the finals, but getting Dempsey involved early and often seems like their best bet.
So that’s it for the Quarterfinals of the Gold Cup. Our Yanks are still in this tournament, and they’ll need to up their game to make it to the finals. We’ll continue to keep you posted on all things Gold Cup, so stay tuned for news and notes.