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GOLD CUP: Day 8 recap

6/13/2011

None of that U.S.-style underachieving for Mexico.

Sure, El Tri are missing six players -- five of them in doping intrigue -- and Sunday's foe was one of the best they'll come up against in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but it mattered not at all in a one-sided Group A decider.

Andres Guardado scored two spectacular goals and the Mexicans netted three by the 26th minute en route to a 4-1 romp over Costa Rica at Soldier Field in Chicago, which nonetheless qualified for the quarterfinals by finishing second in the group.

El Salvador also won big, demolishing Cuba, 6-1, with a series of superb goals to position itself for one of the at-large berths into the tournament's knockout stage.

A quick look at the eighth day of group play in the region's nations championship:

MASTERFUL MEXICO: El Tri hasn't been slowed by its troubles, looking unbeatable while routing all three Group A foes. Sunday's victory was the most impressive, given the quality of the opposition and their overwhelming dominance in building a 4-0 first-half advantage.

All four goals were outstanding, with Rafa Marquez's powerful 17th-minute header from Pablo Barrera's corner kick and Barrera's fine finish from a nifty give-and-go with Carlos Salcido in the 38th sandwiching Guardado's wonder strikes.

The first by the Spanish-based winger was a devastating volley from the corner of Costa Rica's box (from Israel Castro's cross) that sailed toward the upper-right corner and dipped over diving goalkeeper Keylor Navas. On the second, Guardado dribbled into the box from the left flank, then fired from an abrupt angle, beating Navas to the near post.

Now Mexico awaits word of its quarterfinal foe, likely Canada or Guatemala. Should, say, Guatemala fail to beat Grenada, Canada beat Honduras and the U.S. and Guadeloupe draw, guess who would be El Tri's competition. That's right, the Yanks.

SALVADOR MAKES ITS MOVE: Rodolfo Zelaya scored twice to help ensure El Salvador's victory, and four goals in the final 22 minutes-plus-stoppage made a resounding claim for one of the quarterfinal berths that will go to two of three third-place teams.

Real Salt Lake's Arturo Alvarez, a Texas-born forward who played on U.S. youth national teams, scored one of the goals as the Cuscatlecos (1-1-1) piled on the pressure to improve their goal difference (to even) and boost their chances to play off. Their best hopes: A loss, tie or narrow victory by Guatemala (0-1-1) against Grenada and a Honduran triumph over Canada.

Cuba exits having been outscored, 16-1, with Yenier Marquez scoring the lone goal, a free kick connecting with the back of his head en route to the net. Another plus for the Leones del Caribe: only one defection, with news arriving Sunday that Yosniel Mesa escaped the team hotel in Charlotte, N.C., after Thursday's loss to Mexico.

DAY 9 HIGHLIGHT: The most eagerly anticipated first-round matchup might be the Honduras-Jamaica showdown for the Group B title, which the Reggae Boyz need merely tie for the top spot. But is second place better? The group winner likely gets the U.S. in the quarterfinals, and second-place takes on Costa Rica. In the first game, Guatemala makes its bid to advance, too.

  • THE GAMES

SUNDAY

Group A (at Soldier Field, Chicago)

El Salvador 6 (Zelaya 13, 71, Romero 29, Blanco 69, Alvarez 84, Quintanilla 94+), Cuba 1 (Marquez 83)

Mexico 4 (Marquez 17, Guardado 19, 26, Barrera 38), Costa Rica 1 (UreƱa 69)

Att.: 62,000

MONDAY

Group B (at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.)

Guatemala vs. Grenada, 4 p.m. TV: Galavision

Honduras vs. Jamaica, 6 p.m. TV: Galavision

TUESDAY

Group C (at Livestrong Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.)

Canada vs. Panama, 4 p.m. TV: Galavision

United States vs. Guadeloupe, 6 p.m. TV: Fox Soccer Channel and TeleFutura (KFTR/Channel 46)

  • THE STANDINGS

GROUP A

x-Mexico 3-0-0 (14-1) 9

x-Costa Rica 1-1-1 (7-5) 4

El Salvador 1-1-1 (7-7) 4

Cuba 0-3-0 (1-16) 0

GROUP B

x-Jamaica 2-0-0 (6-0) 6

Honduras 1-0-1 (7-1) 4

Guatemala 0-1-1 (0-2) 1

Grenada 0-2-0 (1-11) 0

GROUP C

x-Panama 2-0-0 (5-3) 6

United States 1-1-0 (3-2) 3

Canada 1-1-0 (1-2) 3

Guadeloupe 0-2-0 (2-4) 0

THIRD-PLACE TEAMS

El Salvador 1-1-1 (7-7) 4

Canada 1-1-0 (1-2) 3

Guatemala 0-1-1 (0-2) 1

x -- advances to quarterfinals

Two top third-place teams advance to quarterfinals

Key: W-L-T (Goals for-against) Points

  • LOOKING AHEAD

QUARTERFINALS

June 18 at New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.: Costa Rica vs. B2 and Mexico vs. B3/C3, 2 and 5 p.m.

June 19 at RFK Stadium, Washington: B1 vs. C2, C1 vs. A3/B3, noon and 3 p.m.

SEMIFINALS

June 22 at Reliant Stadium, Houston: East Rutherford winners and Washington winners, 4 and 7 p.m.

FINAL

June 25 at Rose Bowl, Pasadena: Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.