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Jul 062013


Logo GoldCup2 300x134 Gold Cup Group A Preview

(Author’s Note: To Check Brian Sanders predictions for the 2013 Gold Cup, head here. There will be tons of coverage for this year’s Gold Cup from all of our GFT writers, so make sure to check it out!)

Projected Finish

First: Mexico

Second: Panama

Third: Canada

Fourth: Martinique


How did they Qualify: Automatic Qualification

Coach: Colin Miller (Interim. Former Real Madrid Manager Benito Floro will be taking over as of August 1st.)

Current Status in World Cup Qualifying: Eliminated in the Second Round of Qualification.

History: 2-Time Gold Cup Champions (1985, 2000,) Participated in the 1986 World Cup.

Players: Goalkeepers: Lars Hirschfield (Valerenga-Norway,) Milan Borjan (Sivasspor-Turkey,) Simon Thomas (Vancouver Whitecaps;) Defenders: Nicklas Ledgerwood (Hammarby-Sweden,) Ashtone Martin (Toronto F.C.,) Nana Attakoura (San Jose Earthquakes,) David Edgar (Burnley-England,) Marcel de Jong (Augsburg,) Adam Straith (unattached,) Doneil Henry (Toronto F.C.;) Midfielders:  Julian de Guzman (unattached,) Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps,) Will Johnson (Portland Timbers,) Pedro Pacheco (Sandra Clara-Portugal,) Issey Nakajima-Farran (Alki Larnca-Cyprus,) Samuel Piette (Fortuna Dusseldorf II-Germany,) Kyle Bekker (Toronto F.C.,) Jonathan Osorio (Toronto F.C.,) Keven Aleman (Real Valladolid,) Forwards: Toissant Ricketts (Sandness Ulf-Norway,) Simeon Jackson (unattached,) Marcus Haber (Stevenage-England,) and Randy Edwini-Bonsu(unattached.)



Oh, Canada? What is going on with your National Team? While football is booming in your country, with team’s like the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps standing at the top of Major League Soccer standings, the national team is just awful. Despite having a population of 33 million, being a member of the G8, and having one of the best women’s football teams in the world, Canada’s men’s team is currently ranked 88th  in the FIFA World Standings. That puts them between Trinidad and Tobago and the Central African Republic.  Oh Canada. *shakes head in sadness*

After losing in spectacular fashion in Honduras last year to exit World Cup Qualifying, the team has wisely used this tournament to field a young, experimental roster. Goodbye 34 year old midfielder Dwayne DeRosario, hello 18 year old midfielder Samuel Piette. Only two players are over the age of 30, Goalkeepers Lars Hirschfield and Midfielder Julian de Guzman, and 11 of the 22 players have ten caps or less. While it is good to see Canada finally giving up on the glory of the 2000 Gold Cup roster, I still would have liked to have seen Patrice Bernier play for this squad. Given his form with the Montreal Impact this season, he could have proven to be a good asset in the midfield. That being said, the team seems to have wisely handed the captaincy to Will Johnson, the midfielder for the Portland Timbers. One of the best midfielders in MLS, he will have plenty of opportunities for shots and has proven to be very deadly on set pieces.

There are a lot of young players on this squad that have high potential not only for their clubs in MLS, but their country. One of the things that is very apparent when seeing the rosters throughout CONCACAF is the positive influence of MLS in developing young talent in this region. It cannot be understated. Defenders Nana Attakoura and Doneil Henry, Midfielders Jonathan Osorio, and Russell Teibert have all played key roles on their MLS Clubs this season and FWD Toissant Ricketts has five goals in 23 appearances for Canada. That being said, four of their players are currently unattached and a couple of their players like Marcel De Jong and David Edgar have unknown club status so form will be a question.

With this being an experimental squad, expectations should be low for Canada. Martinique should be beatable, but not easy. Both Mexico and Panama are far too experienced and capable to overtake. A third place finish seems likely.

Beer of Choice: Molson XXX

I am not going to lie to you. This is not the fanciest beer that you will ever drink. It has a slight malt liquor taste to it and can be difficult to down if it is warm. But when you are watching Canada play, you are going to need many strong beers to last you ninety minutes. At 7% ABV it will definitely set you back if you have one too many. But for ninety minutes of Canadian soccer, you might need it.


How Did They Qualify: Finished in Fourth Place at the 2012 Caribbean Cup

Coach: Patrick Cavelan

Current Statusin World Cup Qualifying: Well…Let’s get back to that later.

History: 1993 Champions of the Caribbean Cup, Finished in third at the 1992, 2001, and 2006 editions of the Caribbean Cup, and made the Quarterfinals at the 2002 Gold Cup.

Roster: Goalkeepers: Kevin Olimpia (Bourdeaux-France,) Emmanuel Vermignon (Club Colonial- Martinique,) and Loic Chauvet (Goden Star-Martinique;) Defenders: Sebastian Cretinoir (Golden Star,) Nicolas Zaire (Riviere-Pilote-Martinique,) Jacky Berdix (Case-Pilote-Martinique,) Audrick Linord (Romorantin-France,) William Sery (US Raon l’Etape-French,) Lionel Ravi (Club Franciscan-Martinique,)  Gregory Arnolin (Sporting Gijon-Spain,) and Jean-Sylvain Babin (Alcorcon-Spain;) Midfielders: Danielle Herelle (Club Colonial,) Fabrice Reuperne (Golden Star,) Stephane Abaul (Club Franciscan,) Jordy Alem (Club Franciscan,) Olivier Thornet (Le Mans-France,) Forwards: Kevin Tresfeld (Club Franciscan,) Kevin Parseiman (Riviere-Pilote,) Frederic Piquionne (Portland Timbers,) and Yoann Arquin (Notts County-England)


While there are certainly many stories to be pulled out of the U.S.A., Mexico, and Costa Rican camps as players are fighting for spots on their World Cup Qualifying squads, the Gold Cup tournament that includes some less-than heralded members of the CONCACAF Confederation. Martinique, a small island of less than 1,100 square kilometers and a population of less than 425,000, is technically a part of the French football federation since it is a part of the French Republic. However, the island is a member of CONCACAF and the CFU, which is the Caribbean Football Union. Members of the Martinique team can play on the French football team and there have been some players in the past have Martiniquan ancestry. For example, French Thierry Henry’s mother is from Martinique and his father is from Guadeloupe, another French colony that plays in CONCACAF.

Although a majority of the player’s ply their trade at lower level French clubs, there are a few players that may be recognizable to fans outside of Ligue 2. For those who are fans of the English Premier League, the name that comes across is Frederic Piquionne, the Portland Timbers striker. Although I have written at length about his lack of playing ability in MLS, with a squad that features many young, inexperienced players he may prove to be a valuable asset for a club that is realistically competing with Canada for third place. Their best option on attack is Kevin Parseimann, who scored 11 goals in the 2012 Caribbean Cup including 6 goals against the British Virgin Islands. In addition to Piquionne and Parseimann, their attacking corps features Yoann Arquin, the 2012-2013 Golden Boot winner for English League One side Notts County. To see more of Mr. Arquin skill’s as an attacker check out this goal that he scored against Portsmouth in the F.A. Cup.

The player with the highest upside for Martinique is GK Kevin Olimpia. Although he has only featured in matches for Martinique, he is a product of the Bordeaux football Academy and is currently their number two keeper. He should provide some stability along the backline. In addition their defense features a pair of Spanish Segunda division regulars in Gregory Arnolin and Jean-Savin Babin

While Martinique has some good pieces, the fact that the team does not normally play with one another and has some very young, inexperienced players makes it hard to believe that they could finish anything better than third in Group A.

Beer of Choice: Biere Loraine Blonde

Given that Martinique is only about 436 square miles, there are very few beers brewed in the French colony. Also, the Caribbean is mostly known for itsrum production (Just ask Christopher Columbus, Blackbeard, and pretty much every other sailor during the 1600′s, 1700′s, and 1800′s.) However, anytime you can find a beer that is called, “The Beer of the Carribean” you have to try to it. It is an interesting because it is a pale lager, with some hoppy hints to it. As I previously said, the Caribbean is mostly known for its rum so the selection is kind of light. But since most stadiums ban 90 proof drinks, it is definitely worth cracking open this Biere on Thursday night.


How Did they Qualify: Automatic Qualification

Coach: Jose de La Torre

Current Status in World Cup Qualifying: Third Place in the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying

History: 9-time winner of the Gold Cup (1965, 1971, 1977, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, and 2011,) Quarter-finalist in the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup Champion, 3 Third Place finishes in the Copa America (1997,1999, and 2007,) 2012 Gold Medal in the London Olympics.

Roster: Goalkeepers: Jonathan Orozco (Monterrey,) Alfredo Talavera (UANL,) Moises Munoz (America,) Cirilo Saucedo (Xolos de Tijuana;) Defenders: Israel Jimenez (UANL,) Leobardo Lopez (UANL,)Joel Huiqui (Morelia,) Darvin Chavez (Monterrey,) Adrian Aldrete (America,) Efrain Velarde (UNAM,) Juan Carlos Valenzuela (America,) Jair Pereira (Cruz Azul,) Miguel Layun (America,) Alejandro Castro (Cruz Azul;) Midfielders: Carlos Pena (Leon,) Javier Cortes (UNAM,) Luis Montes (Leon,) Jorge Enriquez (Guadalajara,) Miguel Ponce (Guadalajara;) Forwards: Raul Jimenez (America,) Marco Fabian (Guadalajara,) Rafael Marquez Lugo (Guadalajara,) Isaac Brizuela (Toluca,) Javier Orozco (Santos Laguna.)


There is no manager with more to lose from this tournament than Mexico manager Jose de la Torre. After winning the Gold medal last year in London, to say that Mexico has been an understatement. With only one in World Cup Qualifying and having played so poorly in the Confederations Cup, Mexico must make the finals of this tournament and probably win it for de la Torre to keep his job.

While the roster brought to this tournament is entirely made up of players from Liga MX, this is a very talented squad and represents hopefully a new direction in Mexican football. In the back Mexico has chosen to send a large pool of defenders, mostly players in their 20’s who have ten or fewer caps with the National Team. The player to watch out for Jose Jimenez. The Tigres de UANL defender has made over 116 caps for the squad at just the of 23. He is as sound of a right back as one can find in CONCACAF and will prove to be a steadying force for the National Team for years to come.

In the midfield and at forward, it will be interesting to see who is able to breakthrough and create scoring opportunities.  Midfielder Carlos Pena of Club Leon scored 6 goals in the Apertura, the first Championship of the Liga MX season. He should be paired with Javier Cortes, Miguel Ponce, and a defender in a defensive midfielder role. De La Torre generally employs a 4-4-2, but with a younger team may choose to be a bit more attack minded.

Up front they will have one of Liga MX’s most dangerous strikers in Rafael Marquez Lugo (Note: this is not the same player who played for the New York Red Bulls.) For Marquez, this is an opportunity for him to show what he can really do.  At 31 with 13 goals in both competitions last season in the Mexican League, he is certainly in form as a striker. He only has 11 caps and one goal for the senior team, but an impressive performance in this tournament would help his campaign for a spot in Brazil. He should be paired with Raul Jimenez, who scored 10 goals for America in the Apertura. He has not scored for Mexico, but should see some of the opportunities that usually would go to Javier Hernandez.

Mexico certainly has all of the tools and players to win this tournament. With a team that is entirely made up of Mexican league players so chemistry should not be an issue. But the problem has never been talent. Mexico has always had some of the best players in CONCACAF. Arguably, they have the most talented team in World Cup Qualifying. But their coach and players seem to waffle under the pressure that Olympic Gold has created. This tournament could provide an excellent opportunity who is ready and able to carry the burden of expectations that comes with playing for El Tri.

Beer of Choice: Sol Beer

While one would assume that Corona would be the ideal beer of choice, it no longer feels like Corona is a Mexican beer. Perhaps it is because Budweiser bought them and because I have never seen a Clydesdale in Tijuana. Or it could be because all of the Corona merchandise is made in China. But either way, I think Corona has lost its place as a Mexican beer.

I had my first Sol beer when I was a Senior in college. I was living with a half-German, half-Mexican guy named Christian who explained to me that he needed to buy lots of Sol beer because he had stock in it. I was not sure how that worked out, but when someone gives you free beer in college you should never disagree with them. I really like Sol beer. It is a very light beer, with a hint of lemon in it. It has a very natural taste to it, in that it feels like it is not necessarily brewed in some mass factory. Also, the label is one of the coolest labels I have ever seen.


How Did they Qualify:Finished Fifth in the Copa Centroamericana

Coach: Julio Dely Valdes

Current Status in World Cup Qualifying: Fifth Place.

History: Semi-finalist of the 2011 Gold Cup, 2009 UNCAF Nations Cup Champion (Central American Championship.)

Roster: Goalkeepers: Jaime Penedo (Municipal-Guatemala,) Luis Mejia (Fenix-Uruguay,) Alex Rodriguez (Sporting San Miguelito-Panama;) Defenders: Roman Torres (Millionarios-Colombia,) Jean Cedeno (Alianza-Panama,) Carlos Rodriguez (Chepo-Panama,) Leonel Parris (Tauro-Panama,) Harold Cummings (Arabe Unido-Panama,) Roderick Miller (San Francisco-Panama,) Roberto Chen (San Francisco,) and Richard Dixon (Sporting San Miguelito.) Midfielders: Gabriel Gomez (Junior-Colombia,) Juan Perez (Tauro,) Anibal Godoy (Chepo,) Alberto Quintero (Chorrillo F.C.-Panama,) Marcos Sanchez (Tauro,) Eybir Bonaga (MFK Ruzomberok-Slovakia,) and Jairo Jimenez (Elche CF-Spain.) Forwards: Blas Perez (F.C. Dallas,) Gabriel Torres (Zamora F.C.- Ecuador,) Rolando Blackburn (B.K. Hacken-Sweden,) and Cecilio Waterman (Fenix.)


With a point separating them from Honduras for fourth place and the opportunity to play New Zealand in a two game playoff, Panama’s World Cup hopes are very much alive. Unlike many teams in this year’s Gold Cup, Panama has chosen to play many of their regulars in this competition. This competition gives them an opportunity to work on two major parts of their game. First, they have given up the second highest number of goals CONCACAF Qualifying. Second, they have been thoroughly outplayed on the road. Their only point comes on the road against last place Jamaica and they have been outscored 5-1. The mission in CONCACAF is to win at home and draw on the road. With two critical road games against Honduras and Mexico coming up, it is critical that this teams figures out how to get points out of tough games in close matches. Being able to play Mexico in Los Angeles is as close to a warm game as this team can get.

When watching Panama through qualification, it is evident that the team is not lacking in production on offense. Before being sidelined with illness, Forward Blas Perez was leading all of Major League Soccer with 6 goals. He also has over 29 goals for Panama in 74 appearances. Even at the age of 32, he is still one of the best strikers in CONCACAF not only for his ability as a shooter, but for his speed and skill at moving off of the ball. Gabriel Torres has been a force for Zamora F.C., scoring 32 goals in two years and helping them win the 2012-2013 Venezuela Primera. Their midfield will also be made up of seasoned veterans like Gabriel Gomez (who played in 2012 with the Philadelphia Union,) Anibal Godoy, Alberto Quintero, and Marcos Sanchez (who was recently cut by D.C. United.)

While scoring is not a problem for Panama, defending certainly is. As previously mentioned, they have had some serious difficulties with some of CONCACAFs more experienced strikers (Chicarito, Alvaro Saborio, Jozy Altidore.) Even though Mexico and Canada are fielding experimental squads, there is still plenty of talent in this group to judge their defensive corps from. As Panama’s most senior Defender Roman Torres needs to step up. During the U.S.A. match, he was beaten too easily on passes to the outside on the right. Although the U.S. is a very difficult team to beat in CONCACAF, he also seemed out of place in the Honduras and Jamaica matches.

This is an interesting tournament for Panama. For many years they have touted this generation as the group that will be able to get them to the World Cup. If they can use this tournament to iron out some of their problems on defense, they should be able to push Mexico and Honduras for a spot in the World Cup and a title in this tournament.

Beer of Choice: Atlas

I first had this beer a few years back at a bar called Duffy’s in Washington. Duffy’s, for those who are not familiar with the Beltway area, is a little Irish dive bar that serves dollar can beers on Monday night during football season. Being the beer connoiseur that I am, and wanting to impress a few girls sitting across from me, I chose to order the one beer that I had never had.  I chose Atlas beer. I am pretty sure the bar tender had to blow the dust off of it because he seemed confused that there was even a beer called Atlas on the menu. It is pretty light lager, fairly watered down but if you looking to drink a few cold ones during a ninety minute match, it is not a bad deal.



Sean Maslin

Writer for Global Football Today and Blatter's Blotter. Lifetime D.C. United, Newcastle United, and Washington Warthog fan. Can be reached at @SeanMaslin on twitter or at

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