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Jul 082013


Logo GoldCup2 300x134 Gold Cup Group B Preview

Expected Finish

First: Honduras

Second: Haiti

Third: El Salvador

Fourth: Trinidad and Tobago

El Salvador

How did they Qualify: Finished in Third-Place at the Copa Centroamericana.

Current Status in World Cup Qualifying: Eliminated in the Third Round of Qualifying

Coach: Agustin Castillo

History: Finished 2nd at the 1963 Gold Cup, and participated in the 1970 and 1982 World Cup.

Roster: Goalkeepers: Dagoberto Portillo (Luis Angel Firpo-El Salvador,) Benji Villalobos (Aguila- El Salvador,) and Derby Carillo (Santa Tecla-El Salvador;) Defenders: Victor Turcios (RoPS-Finland,) Xavier Garcia (Luis Angel Firpo,) Mardoqueo Henriquez (Aguila,) Steve Purdy (Chivas USA,) Alexander Larin (FAS-El Salvador,) Jose Miguel Granadino (FAS,) and Marcelo Posadas (Santa Tecla;) Midfielders: Osael Romero (Alianza- El Salvador,) Andres Flores (Isidro Metapan-El Salvador,) Darwin Ceren (Juventud Independiente-El Salvador,) Richard Menjivar (Atlanta Silverbacks- USL,) Darwin Bonilla (Aguila,) Gerson Mayen (FAS,) Kevin Santamaria (Santa Tecla,) and Nestor Renderos (FAS;) Forwards: Rodolfo Zelaya (Alianza,) Rafael Burgos (Kecskemeti-Hungary,) Lester Blanco (Isidro Metapan,) Odir Flores (Alianza,) Dustin Corea (Skive IK- Denmark.)


A country that appeared to be on the rise after beating the United States in OIympic qualifying last year, El Salvador sputtered during World Cup Qualification only beating Guyana in their four team group (it did not help that the other two teams were Costa Rica and Mexico.)  Coach Agustin Castillo has brought back many of the same players from last year’s Olympic qualifying team, including captain Xavier Garcia. Most of El Salvador’s top players play for the top two teams in El Salvador: Club Deportivo Futbolistas Asociados Santanecos (C.D. FAS,) and Club Deportivo Luis Angel Firpo.

What is interesting about this squad is that one of their main strikers, Osael Romero, was not called up for national team duties. Romero was tied for fifth in goals scored in the Primera Division, and was El Salvador’s leading scorer in their World Cup Qualification campaign. He will be paired with Kevin Santamaria and Andres Flores, which should form a potent attacking midfield. The combination of Zelaya and Burgos should be difficult for the minnows in this tournament, but will face some stiffer defenses as the tournament goes on. El Salvador had no problem scoring in the second round of qualifying against the likes of Cayman Islands and Suriname, where they netted 20 goals. But against the likes of Mexico and Costa Rica they struggled mightily only scoring 8 goals.

It will be interesting to see what sort of improvements El Salvador has made in the past year. While they seem to be a team on the rise in CONCACAF, how far they will go in this tournament will depend on their midfield’s ability to create chances for their forwards. El Salvador, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago all seem to be on the same level with just enough playmakers to beat the minnows but not enough resources to contend with the likes of Honduras.  They should be able to make it to the next round, but beyond that it is a bit of a reach at this point.

Beer of  Choice:  Beer Revolution Mercurio IPA



How Did They Qualify: Finished Third in the 2012 Caribbean Cup

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

Coach: Israel Blake Cantero

History: 1973 CONCACAF Champions (Predecessor to the Gold Cup,) Participated in the 1972 World Cup

Roster: Goalkeepers: Frandy Montrevil (Valencia de Leogane-Haiti,) Julien Jospy (AS Cavaly-Haiti,) and Ronald Elusma (Victory Sportif Club-Haiti;) Defenders: Jean-Jacques Pierre (Caen-France,) Julien Avendeska (Independiente Rivadavia-Argentina,) Mechack Jerome (Sporting Kansas City,) Olrish Saurel (Antigua Barracuda FC-USL Pro,) Wilde Donald Guerrier (Banik Most-Czech Republic,) Kim Jaggy (FC Wil-Switzerland,) and Richard Ade (Baltimore Sportif Club-Haiti;) Midfielders: Jean Sony Alcenat (Petrolul Ploiesti- Romania,) Constant Monuma (Racing Haitien-Haiti,) Jean Alexandre (Orlando City Pirates-USL Pro,) Peterson Joseph (Sporting Kansas City,) Pascal Millien (Sligo Rovers- Ireland,) Charles Herold (Tempete F.C.-Haiti,) Jeff Louis (Nancy-France,) Yves Demarets (CF O.S. Belenenses-Portugal,) and Jean-Eudes Maurice (Le Mans-France;) Forward: Leonel Saint-Preux (FELDA United-Thailand,) Peguero Jean-Philipe (Don Bosco F.C.-Haiti,) and Kervens Belfort (Le Mans.)


There are very few stories in this Gold Cup that are as compelling as that of Haiti.  Haiti is a country who three years ago suffered through the second deadliest earthquake in recorded human history (over 325,000 people were killed, and millions of people were made homeless,) who suffered through the tyrannical reign of “Papa Doc” and “Baby Doc” DuValier, and is one of the poorest countries of in the world. The fact that there is even a Haiti soccer team is a miracle. The fact that their team is pretty good  is even more impressive.

As detailed in a brilliant BBC Report on Haitian football two years ago, the Haitian Football Association underwent an exhaustive search for players throughout the world who have Haitian descent who can play for the national team. One of Haiti’s main sources of income is remittances and the pride that Haitian ex-patriots show has always been strong. This is also a country that has a strong Footballing history. The goal that Emmanuel Sanon scored against Italy’s Dino Zoff (who had not allowed a goal in 19 World Cup matches) in 1974 is considered one of the greatest goals in World Cup history.

 While the Haitian team certainly has some players that are inexperienced, they also have players who play in top flight leagues all throughout the world. Haiti brings a squad to this Gold Cup that has experience in Argentina, France, Portugal, and the United States. Their confidence behind the ball was evident in the two recent exhibitions against Spain and Italy. While they certainly could not match the skill level of Spain or Italy (very few teams can match up with Spain and Italy,) they seemed very confident.

Haiti’s strength comes from their defense. Jean-Jacques Pierre has played his entire career in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in France, Judelin Aveska is the starting right back in Independiente Rivadavia in the Argentine Second Division, and Mechack Jerome is the starting right back for Sporting Kansas City. They will be tested quite a bit, as Haiti is very inexperienced at Goalkeeper. Part of the reason why they did not make it very far in World Cup Qualifying was because Freddy Montrevil and Julien Jospy both looked lost against their opponents. They deferred too much to their defense on clearances and did not have a good command of their squads. Those are not good signs for goalkeepers.

One of the things that Haiti will have in their favor is crowd support. Two of their opening round matches will be played in Harrison, NJ and Miami which have two of the largest populations of Haitian immigrants outside of Port-au-Prince. Even in the Spain match you could hear how the crowd response in Miami energized the players. Due to the poor conditions of their home pitch of the Stade Sylvio Center in Port-au Prince, most of Haiti’s matches are played in Miami so playing in the United States should not be an issue.

Haiti certainly has an opportunity here to prove to CONCACAF that they are back and ready to reclaim their previous glory. Although they are still not ready to compete with the likes of Mexico and the United States in World Cup Qualifying, they should be able to get a result off of Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador. And in a competition where the United States and Mexico are fielding younger, more inexperienced squads they may have a chance to pull off an upset against one of CONCACAFs powers.

Beer of Choice: Brasserie Nationale d’Haiti



How Did They Qualify: Finished 2nd in the 2013 Copa Centroamericana

Current Status in World Cup Qualifying: 4th Place (Would face New Zealand in a two game playoff for World Cup Qualification.)

History: Finished 2nd in the 1992 Gold Cup, 3-Time Champions of the Copa Centroamericana, Finished 3rd at the 2001 Copa America, Participated in the 1982 and 2010 World Cups.

Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez

Roster: Goalkeepers: Jose Mendoza (Platense-Honduras,) Kevin Hernandez (Real Espana-Honduras,) and Donis Escober (Olimpia-Honduras;) Defenders: Osman Chavez (Wisla Krakow-Poland,) Bryan Beckeles (Olimpia,) Jose Velasquez (Victoria,) Juan Carlos Garcia (Olimpia,) Orin Peralta (Motagua-Honduras,) Nery Medina (Motagua;) Midfielders: Gerson Rodas (Real Espana-Honduras,) Mario Martinez (Seattle Sounders,) Andy Najar (Anderlecht-Belgium,) Mario Berrios (Marathon-Honduras,) Alexander Lopez (Olimpia,) Marvin Chavez (San Jose Earthquakes,) Luis Garrido (Olimpia,) Jorge Claros (Hibernian-Scotland,) and Edder Delgado (Olimpia;) Forwards: Diego Reyes (Real Sociedad-Honduras,) Jerry Palacios (Alajuelense-Costa Rica,) Rony Martinez (Real Sociedad,) and Roger Rojas (Olimpia.)


Honduras comes into this tournament looking to build off of its recent success both in World Cup Qualifying and in the Olympics. Currently standing in 4th place in qualifying, they are only one point away from Mexico for an automatic berth. As it stands right now, they would be playing New Zealand in a playoff which they would certainly be seen as the favorite. Having made the previous World Cup and making the quarterfinals in last year’s Olympics (only narrowly losing to Brazil,) Honduras is one of my favorites in this tournament and could be the breakout team in CONCACAF.

Much like the other teams who are still in CONCACAF qualifying, Honduras has chosen to largely employ an all domestic team. However, unlike the other major powers in CONCACAF, Honduras is primarily using the players of Olimpia. It was by far the best team in their domestic league, having scored a league-best 58  goals and only allowing 24 in both seasons (Like most Latin American leagues, there are two seasons the Apertura and the Clausura.) Of the 22 man roster submitted to FIFA, seven of their players come from the reigning Liga Nacional de Honduras champions. Olimpia is unquestionably Honduras’ most successful club, having won the Apertura 27 times and the CONCACAF Champions Cup twice.

In addition to their team success, it is also factory of great Honduran football players like Wilson Palacios, David Suazo, Alex Pineda Chacon, and Maynor Figueroa. In this Honduran squad the Olimpian player to look out for is Roger Rojas, who scored 19 goals in both seasons this year for the club. At the age of 23, he already has 50 goals for Olimpia and should be on the move this summer to a bigger club in the world. Rojas has recently been able to crack the starting 11 for Honduras in their World Cup Qualifying scoring against Jamaica last month which can only help his stock. Another player to watch out for on the attack is Rony Martinez of Real Sociedad. With 20 goals last season, he is certainly in form and should be a good complement with Rojas.

In addition to Rojas, Honduras is bringing many other weapons that should help them in their campaign. Of course, the first two players that any American football fan will recognize is Andy Najar and Marvin Chavez. Having seen Najar since he was just a kid at D.C. United, the strides that he has made in even a year are remarkable. He was always amazing on the attack, but he always seem to make a rash challenge at the wrong time. Watching him play against the United States two weeks I saw a player that was much more confident in his role on the field and did not seem like he was out there to prove anything to anyone. Pairing him with Marvin Chavez was a masterstroke idea for this tournament. Chavez is one of the best midfield distributors in Major League Soccer and make the ball do crazy things on set pieces. He brings veteran leadership to a squad that has players who are big in Honduras, but are largely unproven commodities outside of their own country.

Outside of Costa Rica, this Honduran squad is the most dangerous squad in the entire Gold Cup. This is a team that will be able to score at will on their opponents and should gain confidence as the tournament goes on. This team has shown that they can play with the best in CONCACAF on their home turf (they have not lost at home during the entire 2014 World Cup Qualification process,) but on the road they have played too defensive. To win the Gold Cup, they are going to need Andy Najar to make the next step in becoming one of the best players in CONCACAF and they are going to need some of their domestic players to step up. If they can do this, then this squad will not only win the Gold Cup but actually threaten Mexico for third place.

Beer of Choice: Cerveza Imperial


Trinidad and Tobago

How Did They Qualify: Finished as Runners Up in the 2012 Caribbean Cup

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

History: 8-time winner of the Caribbean Cup (1989, 1992, 1994, 1995,1996, 1997, 1999, and 2001,) Runners-Up in the 1973 CONCACAF Champions Cup (now the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and Participated in the 2006 World Cup.

Coach: Stephen Hart

Roster: Goalkeepers: Marvin Philip (Central FC-Trinidad and Tobago,)Jan-Michael Williams (St. Ann’s Rangers-Trinidad and Tobago,) and Cleon John (Defence Force;) Defenders: Joevin Jones (W Connection-Trinidad and Tobago,) Carlyle Mitchell (Vancouver Whitecaps,) Daneil Cyrus (W Connection,) Justin Hoyte (Middlesborough-England,) Seon Power (Chainat F.C.-Costa Rica,) Aubrey David (Caledonia AIA-Trinidad and Tobago,) Curtis Gonzalez (Defence Force,) and Radanfah Abu Bakr (F.C. Vostok-Kazakhstan,) Midfielders: Chris Birchall (Port Vale-England,)Khaleem Hyland (Racing Genk-Belgium,) Kevin Molino (Orlando City Pirates-USL Pro,) Carlos Edwards (Ipswich Town-England,) Darryl Roberts (Samsunspor-Turkey,) Andre Boucaud (Notts County-England,) Kevon Carter (Defence Force,) Densill Theobald (Caledonia AIA,) and Keon Daniel (Philadelphia Union;) Forwards: Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City-England,) Cornell Glen (Shillong Lajong-India,) and Jamal Gray (Caledonia AIA.)


As a soccer fan, there a few games that I consider to be my favorite games of all time. Not because they are especially great but because for me they were memorable. The U.S.A.-Colombia match from World Cup 1994. The 1994 final between Italy and Brazil. And of all games, the 0-0 draw at the 2006 World Cup between Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden. The match between the Soca Warriors and the Swedes was not a high scoring affair, but it was a great match because it was a classic David and Goliath match. While the T and T did have proven Premier League players like Goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, Midfielder Dwight Yorke, and Striker Stern John, Sweden carried the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Freddie Ljunberg, and Henrik Larsson. T and T’s will in that game is one of the reasons why I got back into watching football and why I am writing this article today.

While the 2006 World Cup was a great World Cup for Trinidad and Tobago and for the minnows in CONCACAF, this team has been suffering ever since. The team finished dead last in the final round of World Cup Qualifying in 2010, and this year was knocked out in the Second Round after losing to Guyana and Barbados. There have also been a plethora of issues off the pitch, from players not wanting to play for T and T to older players being left on their roster well past their prime to issues of payment. And of course there is the issues with the former head of CONCACAF and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association Jack Warner, who is under investigation by the FBI as part of the ongoing FIFA corruption scandal.

The good news is that Trinidad and Tobago finally seem like they are going through a youth movement. For too long the team was holding on to players like Dwight Yorke and Stern John who were playing into their late 30’s and early 40’s. While the work that the 2002 team accomplished should always be appreciated, it is time to move on. Chris Birchall should be sent to the retirement home as well. Having watched him in MLS the past few years, he went from being a serviceable player on a good team to an overpriced player who lost at least two steps. It is good to see Carlos Edwards on the squad though. Even though he is 34, he still a prominent player for Ipswich Town in the League Championship in England. Having watched the skipper play in a few matches last year, he is good at maintaining control of the middle of the field and distributing the ball to their forwards.

The other player to look out for on T and T is obviously Kenwyne Jones. Jones has had a very up and down career. While he seemed to be a player on the rise in Sunderland, the past two seasons at Stoke have been difficult. He has only scored 13 goals in 81 appearances for the Potters. Stoke is not exactly known for a being a high scoring team (though that may change now that Tony Puliss has left the club,) but he has also struggled with T and T. He has only scored 7 goals in 53 appearances for his country. At 28, his career seems to be at a crossroads.  He is still young enough to turn into a solid striker for a Top Division club. However, his opportunities should be decreasing as clubs will try and find younger, cheaper strikers with higher upside. The Gold Cup provide him an opportunity to realize his true potential.

This is going to be a very difficult tournament for the Soca Warriors. Although this group looks to be very easy, there are a lot of quality attacking players on each team which will give this young squad trouble. It would seem that the F.A. and Head Coach Stephen Hart realized this going in and thus elected to take this as an opportunity to rebuild. While this might be good for the long-term, in the short-term they are going to suffer some serious growing pains.

Beer of Choice: Carib Brewery




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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