Dallas Soccer: Costa Rica
Colombia now faces Mexico on Saturday the 13th.
“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.”
* 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.
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 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.
The presence of Mexico surely has something to do with the high demand it would seem.
GROUP A FIRST ROUND SCHEDULE
Sunday, June 5 – Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, TX)
Costa Rica vs. Cuba, 5 p.m. (6 p.m. EDT)
Mexico vs. El Salvador, 7 p.m. (8 p.m. EDT)
Thursday, June 9 – Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)
Costa Rica vs. El Salvador, 7 p.m. (7 p.m. EDT)
Cuba vs. Mexico, 9 p.m. (9 p.m. EDT)
Sunday, June 12 – Soldier Field (Chicago, IL)
El Salvador vs. Cuba, 5 p.m. (6 p.m. EDT)
Mexico vs. Costa Rica, 7 p.m. (8 p.m. EDT)
Mexico against El Salvador will be the second game at Cowboys on June 5th at 7 PM CT. Costa Rica and Cuba will play first at 5 PM CT. The complete Gold Cup Schedule can be found here.
2011 CONCACAF GOLD CUP"
GROUP A: Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba
GROUP B: Honduras, Guatemala, Jamaica, Grenada
GROUP C: USA, Canada, Panamá, Guadeloupe
Sunday, June 5 – Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, TX)
Costa Rica vs. Cuba, 5 PM CT
Mexico vs. El Salvador, 7 PM CT
The three opening games for the United States are...
Tuesday, June 7 – Ford Field (Detroit, MI) USA vs. Canada, 7 PM CT
Saturday, June 11 – Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, FL) USA vs. Panama, 7 PM CT
Tuesday, June 14 – Sporting Park (Kansas City, KS) Guadeloupe vs. USA, 8 PM CT
On February 26th and 27th, according to this website, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nigeria, and Panama will be playing in something called the "Green Soccer Bowl" which in other places is refereed to as the "Obama Cup" or the "United States Presidents’ Day Celebration Soccer Invitational Tournament."
Mexico, through my Google translator, confirms they are sending a team. Nigeria wanted to let everyone know the tournament wasn't a scam. It even has a Wikipedia page. A couple of article mentions USSF sanctioning.
If anyone knows anything about this tournament we'd love to hear about it.
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