Gold Cup, Group 3: Mexico and Three MoreBy: Juan Mesa
If Mexico loses a single point in Group 3, it'll be another entry in its book of disappointments.
Because Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba will fight with pride, but the truth is they are miles away from El Tri’s level. The groups starts tonight with a double-header at Chicago’s Soldier Field (Trinidad vs. Guatemala at 7pm ET, Mexico vs Cuba at 9:30pm ET), while other matches will be played in Phoenix and Charlotte.
Let’s break it down.
THE FAVORITE: México kept their main men away from the rough legs of fellow South Americans in Copa América, sending a B team that reaped two draws and one loss before flying back home. The A team had a more important (not to mention achievable) mission: to win the Gold Cup and qualify to the 2017 Confederations Cup. The good news for El Tri? They will have Real Sociedad’s striker Carlos Vela back in an official tournament after deciding to skip Brazil 2014 due to differences with Mexican Federation. The bad ones? Vela won’t be able to partner with Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who suffered a fracture to his collarbone in an exhibition match a week ago.
THE BATTLE FOR SECOND PLACE: Forward Carlos “Pescadito” Ruiz will lead Guatemala for the last time in this Gold Cup. At 35, the former LA Galaxy forward will have the chance teach Seattle Sounders’ Marco Pappa on the field how to command the squad on the basis of talent. Their first mission is to top Trinidad and Tobago in the group stage, but it won’t be easy. Guided by coach Stephen Hart since 2013, the Soca Warriors have been working to get back to the level that put them in the Germany 2006 World Cup. Sheldon Bateu, Joevin Jones, Cordell Cato and Kenwyine Jones are the backbone of the Trinitarians.
THE UNDERDOG: Cuba is already out of the World Cup race after failing to beat Curaçao in the second round of the CONCACAF qualification. Hence, the Gold Cup means a new beginning, an opportunity to learn how to make professional sports flourish in the island. But debuting against Mexico is tough luck for the Cubans. Hopefully, they won’t lose 4-0 as some foresee.
LOGISTICS: Broadcast by Fox Sports 1/2 and Univisión Deportes