Dallas Soccer: CONCACAF Gold Cup

Rapid Reaction: Mexico 5, El Salvador 0

June, 5, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It’s hard to believe it was scoreless match at halftime. Mexico fired in three goals in four minutes en route to a 5-0 victory over El Salvador in CONCACAF Gold Cup action. Man of the Match Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez gave the sellout crowd at Cowboys Stadium a hat trick in his first Gold Cup game.

* Efrain Juarez scored in the 55th minute to break the tie in an unconventional way. Juarez’s off-balance shot was deflected off El Salvador keeper Miguel Montes. The ball bounced in front of Juarez as he fell down in the goalie box and headed it in the net.

* Jesús De Nigris entered the game for Israel Castro in the 57th minute and scored a minute later from Andres Guardodo’s assist to make it 2-0.

Robyn Beck/Getty ImagesMexico's Francisco Javier Last Rodríguez Pinedo (2) and Efraín Juárez Váldez go for a header against El Salvador's Rodolfo Antonio Zelaya García.

* Hernandez took over thereafter to seal the deal for the defending Gold Cup champions with Guardodo’s help. He scored in the 59th and 67th minutes from Guardodo’s assists. Marvin’s Gonzalez’s red card in the penalty box allowed Chicharito to end the game on a penalty kick in the 95th minute, giving him the hat trick.

“The most important thing for me is the three points,” Hernandez said. “I don’t care if I score. Sometimes I won’t. The main thing is we won.”

* Mexico head coach Jose Manuel De La Torre carried the same “team” tone about Hernandez’s performance.

“[Hernandez] had the good fortune to score, but as a result of the team play,” De La Torre said. “That’s what the forwards are in there to do.”

* Mexico’s support was greater than that for El Salvador, Costa Rica and Cuba combined. It was evident while watching the majority of the 80,108 fans scream at the top of their lungs when Mexico scored. You couldn’t find a section that wasn’t flooded with red, white and green color combinations.

“Its unbelievable the support that we have from Mexicans who live here,” Hernandez said. “You can see it with your own eyes: 80,000 people and most of them in green shirts, and it means a lot to us.”

* Mexico hasn’t lost a Gold Cup game since the 2007 final against the United States, 2-1. El Tri’s next match is against Cuba, a team that lost 5-0 to Costa Rica on Sunday and is 0-1-7 in its last eight Gold Cup matches.

* El Salvador is now 4-1-11 in Gold Cup play since 2000. Los Cuscatlecos have only played together for 30 days but battled in the first half against El Tri. El Salvador displayed its lack of chemistry in the second half, as it was unable to rebound from Juarez’s score. It managed only one shot on goal in the second half, two in the game on 11 tries. El Salvador looks to bounce back against Costa Rica on June 9.

“I think we change the page and look ahead,” El Salvador head coach Ruben Jorge Israel said. “It doesn’t end or start with one game. Our motivation is an area of importance for us now, but also we need to focus on the field. We just have to get better in certain areas.

“Costa Rica is a very good team and a team that we know. It’s a very important tournament for us and we have the same chance as both Cuba and Costa Rica.”

CONCACAF’s Chuck Blazer mum on investigation

June, 5, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer held a press conference at halftime of the first match of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup between Costa Rica and Cuba but had little to say about the ongoing FIFA investigation.

“I only arrived here this afternoon, but I recognize that there was great interest certainly in what our activities have been and what has been going on both in CONCACAF and with the Gold Cup,” Blazer said. “I came to assure you that everything is normal, that things are business as usual and that the Cup you see is very much the Cup that you have seen before and the same one that you will see in the future. Everything that you see now is being done at the direction of the executive committee. I am in place as the general secretary and you will have a wonderful Gold Cup and I want everyone to know that you will have my full cooperation during this entire tournament.”

Blazer was fired by CONCACAF acting president Lisle Austin but it was later ruled Austin didn’t have the power to do so as an interim. Blazer sparked one of the biggest corruption cases in FIFA’s history when he alleged CONCACAF’s president Jack Warner and FIFA vice president Mohamed Bin Hammam gave Carribean soccer leaders $40,000 in exchange for FIFA presidential election votes.

Warner and Bin Hammam have been suspended for the time being. Bin Hammam removed his name from the election and Blazer has reported Warner to FIFA for engaging in soccer business while serving his suspension, a possible violation.

“I expect, if anything, the image that they get is that people are obviously of different opinion [on CONCACAF],” Blazer said. “But we are working hard at doing the right things. I think the commitment on the part of the executive committee of CONCACAF has expressed that very clearly. I think as well that what has proceeded all of this is also something which says that we believe in the right things and therefore what people at FIFA is to see to it that we do things in the right way. I think that, if anything, that [FIFA] can have confidence in the future because this is a major effort to do things in the right way. And if we accomplish that at the end of this entire process then we will have done a lot of good for the right reasons.”

Mexico and El Salvador tied at halftime

June, 5, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mexico and El Salvador have been evenly matched in a scoreless first half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup contest at Cowboys Stadium.

Mexico had four shots in the first half, one on goal. Andres Guardado’s missed header from inside the goalie box was El Tri’s best shot at a goal. Rising international sensation Jaiver “Chicarito” Hernandez’s only highlight was a yellow card issued in the 27th minute. He’s been pretty quiet offensively for Mexico. Francisco Rodriguez was also booked a yellow card in the 28th minute.

El Salvador also had its chances to score with one on goal in five attempts. Despite the discrepancy in fan support compared to Mexico, El Salvador doesn’t have any bookings and committed five fewer fouls, 11-6, than El Tri.

The atmosphere has been nonetheless electric throughout the tie game. Even with a NBA Finals game being played 20 minutes away, 80,108 fans have made it pretty difficult to find an empty seat in the house.

Rapid Reaction: Costa Rica 5, Cuba 0

June, 5, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Costa Rica cruised, 5-0, over Cuba in the opening match of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Los Ticos dominated throughout the game, led by Man of the Match Marco Urena’s two goals. Cuba is still seeking its first Gold Cup win since 2003.

* Costa Rica quickly jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute on Urena’s first goal. Christian Bolanas fed Urena with a beautiful cross in the penalty box from the left wing.

* Alvaro Saborio outran Cuba's back line off a lead pass from Cleso Borges, scoring in the 41st minute to give Costa Rica a 2-0 lead at halftime.

* Los Ticos fired off consecutive goals in the first two minutes of the second half. Urena netted his second goal in the 45th minute and Heinera Mora followed in the 46th minute with a goal.

* Joel Campbell capped the onslaught with the best strike of the night from the left side of the penalty box to make it 5-0.

* Cuba failed to get a shot on goal in three tries. Costa Rica attempted 14 shots, seven on goal.

* Costa Rica is now 4-0 against Cuba in the Gold Cup and has outscored the Carribean Lions 18-3. Costa Rica’s next match is against El Salvador June 9.

* Cuba is 0-1-7 in its last eight Gold Cup matches. The last Cuban victory came on July 13, 2003, against Canada, 3-0. Cuba’s next match is against Mexico on June 9.

Vuvuzelas banned for Gold Cup at Cowboys Stadium

June, 5, 2011
ARLINGTON,Texas -- The crowd inside Cowboys Stadium during the start of the first match of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup doesn't match what was seen in the parking lots earlier in the day. Perhaps fans are making an inconvenient trip back to their cars after they attempted to enter the event with prohibited items.

The ever-so-popular vuvuzelas were blaring in the parking lots hours before the match between Costa Rica and Cuba, but they are prohibited inside the stadium.

Other items seen in the festive tailgating crowds that aren't allowed inside include stadium horns, outside food and beverage, drums larger than 17 inches, flag poles, sticks and flags that cannot be held by one person.

A sold-out crowd, where one ticket will get you into both matches, is expected, but the majority of the fans outside the stadium are representing Mexico and El Salvador, who play in the second game of the doubleheader.

Gold Cup Group A preview: Mexico

June, 3, 2011
Country: Mexico

Gold Cup appearances: 11 (1991, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)

How they qualified: All three teams from the North American Football Union (Canada, Mexico and the United States) automatically qualify for the Gold Cup.

Manager: Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre

Coming in as the defending champions, Mexico looks to add to its record five Gold Cup titles. Mexico defeated the United States in the 2009 final, 5-0. This team, somehow, is better. Mexico added striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who is quickly gaining attention on a global stage. He scored 13 goals in 27 appearances with Manchester United this season, earning the club’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award as voted by the fans. World Cup captain Rafael Marquez also made the squad. The veteran defender now plays for the MLS' New York Red Bulls after playing for La Liga’s FC Barcelona from 2003-10.

Mexico has a huge fan base in the Metroplex and is expected to have the biggest following during the Cowboys Stadium doubleheader Sunday. One of the favorites to win the tournament, El Tri’s first match is against El Salvador. It'll be the second meeting between these two teams in the Gold Cup. The first was in 2002, when Mexico defeated El Salvador, 1-0, in the first round of Group A.

Gold Cup Group A preview: El Salvador

June, 3, 2011
Country: El Salvador

Gold Cup appearances: 7 (1996, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011)

How they qualified: El Salvador finished fourth in the 2011 Copa Centroamericana, losing to Panama in the third-place match on penalty kicks. The top five teams qualified for the Gold Cup.

Manager: Ruben Israel

El Salvador hopes to fare better in this Gold Cup outing than its previous appearance, when it failed to reach the second round with a 1-0-2 record. The country's best finish came in 2002 and 2003, when El Salvador reached the quarterfinals.

Los Custcatelcos hired Israel after this year's Copa Centroamericana. He hopes to lead El Salvador to its third World Cup berth. Its last appearance was in 1982.

The path starts against defending Gold Cup champion Mexico at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. In its only Gold Cup meeting prior to Sunday’s match, El Salvador lost 1-0 in the first round of Group A play in 2002.

Gold Cup Group A preview: Cuba

June, 1, 2011
Country: Cuba

Gold Cup appearances: 6 (1998, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2011)

How they qualified: Cuba finished third in the Digicel Caribbean Cup 2010, defeating Grenada 1-0. The top four teams qualified for the Gold Cup.

Manager: Raul Gonzalez Triana

Cuba qualified for the 2009 Gold Cup but withdrew and was replaced by Haiti. This time, Cuba intends to stay and build off its performance at the Caribbean Cup. Cuba held five of its eight opponents scoreless during the tournament and lost only once.

Success at the Gold Cup has been hard to come by for Cuba. It reached the quarterfinals in 2003, its only year advancing out of the first round in five tries.

Cuba's first match in the Gold Cup at Cowboys Stadium is Sunday against Costa Rica, a team it has yet to beat in in three tries. Cuba was outscored 13-3 by Costa Rica in those matches at the Gold Cup, all of which were played on American soil.

Gold Cup Group A preview: Costa Rica

June, 1, 2011
Country: Costa Rica

Gold Cup appearances: 10 (1991, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)

How they qualified: Costa Rica finished runner-up in the 2011 Copa Centroamericana, losing to Honduras 2-1 in the finals. The top five teams qualified for the Gold Cup.

Manager: Ricardo Lavolpe

Costa Rica looks to avenge its last Gold Cup outing in 2009 when it lost to eventual champion Mexico on penalty kicks in the semifinals. They’ll have to do it without defender Cristian Gamboa, who suffered a left hamstring injury and was replaced on the roster by 19-year-old Francisco Calvo. Striker Bryan Ruiz returns after missing 10 days because of a sore muscle in his left leg.

Since the CONCACAF format changed in 1991, Costa Rica is yet to win a Gold Cup title. Its best finish was a runner-up effort in 2002, losing 2-0 to the United States in the finals. However, Lavolpe, who coached Mexico from 2002 to 2006, tasted victory in the tournament in 2003 with a 1-0 sudden death win over Brazil.

Costa Rica will kick off the 2011 Gold Cup on Sunday with the first match against Cuba at Cowboys Stadium. If Costa Rica reaches the final on June 25, it will have to make a quick turnaround to prepare for its next tournament. Costa Rica replaced Japan in Copa América, and its first match is scheduled July 2 against Colombia.



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