Los Angeles Soccer: Copa Centroamericana

America's romp could pay Guatemala dividends

December, 29, 2010
The good news for Guatemala: Its foes at next month's Copa Centroamericana aren't going to be as talented as the Club America side it battled Wednesday night in El Reto Aguila in front of 18,632 at the Home Depot Center.

The bad news: The Chapines are going to have to mature, and fast, to contend with those foes.

America romped to a 4-1 triumph in a game much closer than the score suggests -- one goal separated the sides until the 82th minute -- yet just as one-sided as a three-goal victory ought to be.

The Mexico City powerhouse played a first-choice lineup -- all but injured Rosinei -- in its next-to-last prep before the Mexican Primera Division kicks off its Clausura season the second weekend of January, and it looks ready to make two title runs: in the domestic championship and Copa Libertadores.

The three-pronged attack -- Vicente Sanchez, Matias Vuoso and Daniel Montenegro, with midfielders Miguel Layun and newcomer Nicolas Olivera plus right back Oscar Rojas in support -- deserved more than it produced, and veteran Pavel Pardo masterfully laid a foundation in midfield for the attackers. And goalkeeper Memo Ochoa, America's reigning superstar, handled almost everything the game Guatemalans threw at him.

America went ahead on Vuoso's 19th-minute penalty kick -- Jaime Vides clipped Sanchez after a superb ball into space from Olivera -- and asserted command on a game-altering, end-to-end sequence about 10 minutes before the end of the first half.

The Chapines' inexperienced lineup had stayed with America the first 35 minutes. Carlos Figueroa, one of just five starters with more than 15 caps, was alternately awful and awesome, and he was both at a crucial juncture.

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L.A. has final, awarded one more Gold Cup date

December, 16, 2010

We knew we were getting the final. Turns out only one other date at next summer's Gold Cup will be played in Southern California.

CONCACAF's urge to spread its nations championship to many sites has left Angelenos just two viewing options: A June 6 opener at Home Depot Center -- it'll be a doubleheader -- and the June 25 title game at the Rose Bowl.

No clue on who will be playing -- seven of 12 qualifiers have been determined and the draw will be held in early February -- but odds are it will be the U.S. and Mexico in the championship encounter.

The U.S. beat Mexico, 2-1, in the 2007 final in Chicago, and Mexico routed the U.S., 5-0, in the 2009 title game in East Rutherford, N.J.

Quarterfinals will be played in East Rutherford and Washington and semifinals in Houston. In all, 13 venues will stage games.

This will be the ninth time in 11 tournaments since the current format was adopted in 1991 that games will be played in Southern California. Five of the first six finals were played at the Rose Bowl or Coliseum, but next year's will be the first since 2002, when the U.S. beat Costa Rica at the Rose Bowl.

Home Depot Center has been the only So Cal venue in the past three competitions.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada automatically are entered into the tournament, and Jamaica, Cuba, Grenada and Guadeloupe qualified from the Caribbean Championship. Five Central American nations will emerge from the Jan. 14-23 Copa Centroamericana in Panama.

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