Gold Cup Update: Setting the Bar (and Raising It)

Group A wrapped up last night in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup with something of a restoration. Costa Rica beat upstart Guadeloupe while Canada knocked off Haiti - and so order and perception returned to the region.

No less consequentially, Guadeloupe's three games in the tournament set the third-place bar at 4 points with a goal-differential of zero. In any case, the tournament's quarterfinal formula leaves Guadeloupe waiting on results from Groups B & C to see whether they'll have the honor of playing the first-place team from Group B (guess who?) or Group C - or none of the above.

Looking at the two remaining groups going forward, the U.S. could do Guadeloupe a big favor tonight by knocking off El Salvador; said loss would stall that team on three points, thereby sending the French protectorate into the quarterfinals with no more questions asked. Then again, a "Trinibago" upset of Guatemala would do the same. For their part, El Salvador might be wise to play for the draw, counting on an competitive assist from an American team looking to avoid injury and stave off fatigue - though there's a question as to whether whiny fans (like me!) will tolerate such cynicism. In fact, a draw for either El Salvador or Guatemala would then depend on goal-differential and, by association (I think), the total number of goals scored. And the totals are interesting here: Guadeloupe managed three goals so far, while El Salvador has two and Guatemala one. With that in mind, I'm thinking the Guatemalans will play hard tonight.

By way of a curious, relevant aside, the lead paragraph to the match report on Canada's win over Guadeloupe reads, "Canada is poised for another CONCACAF Gold Cup title." Assuming Guatemala meets (well, my) expectations, they'd meet Canada in the quarters...that ought to be interesting...more so than that lead would suggest.

Turning to Group C, Panama could certainly either draw or upset an anxious Mexico, though the fact that the latter has three goals to their credit means they'd pass Guadeloupe in anything but a goalless draw; what happens in that event, I don't know on the larger scale. Within Group C, though, that goalless draw would leave Mexico second best to Honduras, who already have four points and four goals scored. assuming the latter gets a result of any kind against Cuba. Taken together, however, Mexico has the tougher road and needs the most help.

Last but not least, I found a little to like in Jamie Trecker's most recent column on the evovling relationship between the United States' team and its fans. Trecker's basic premise - that U.S. fans not only expect results now, but are increasingly expecting good ones - strikes me as uncontroversial; put another way, I know this applies to me. But one line - and it's one I happen to like - may get a rise out of some readers:

"Some fans have the odd notion that cautions and cards are supposed to be doled out equally among teams. And some fans countenance nary a discouraging word, just as some fans inexplicably worship, say, the Cleveland Browns."

"But where fans of this ilk were once the only people paying attention to the sport, today they're in the minority. The soccer geeks are being overrun by the jocks. This means that news coverage and the reactions to the team's performances are becoming more sophisticated and more nuanced.

Hmmm...discuss...I mean, if you wanna....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the updating. great blog and great link to the team USA-fan piece.

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