The 2017 Gold Cup is kicking into high gear this week as the quarterfinals take center stage with the United States, Mexico, and Canada still in the hunt for silverware. For the United States, they will be looking to improve upon their so-so form in the Group Stage and kick off this Wednesday.
Here are the four matches to take in and what to watch for in the quarterfinals:
Costa Rica vs Panama—Wednesday, 4:00 PM MDT (Fox Sports 1, UniMas)
I need to be honest...I am glad we did not draw the Ticos in this round of the tournament. For whatever reason, they scare me far more than other teams and they seem to be ready to win this tournament. Costa Rica has always played third fiddle to the United States and Mexico and this could be the tournament where they take that next step. (It’s not as if the USMNT or El Tri are lighting it up.)
As for Panama, they have been led by former Colorado Rapids striker Gabriel Torres and have yet to taste defeat in this tournament. Can they beat Costa Rica? Yep. Will they?
United States of America vs El Salvador—Wednesday, 7:00 PM MDT (Fox Sports 1, UniMas)
So the USA has brought in some reinforcements for this one...which I kind of don’t like much. I understand that you are trying to win, but ultimately this tournament doesn’t mean a whole lot in the scheme of things. Play your kids, and see what you’ve got. The updated roster:
GK: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)
DEF: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC), Jorge Villafana (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
MID: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)
F: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
Bruce Arena has brought in a a bevy of familiar faces to camp and I have to think that all of them (save Jesse Gonzalez) are going to start. But one area I am happy to not see any changes is the back line. I would love, absolutely love, to see a Lichaj, Besler, Miazga, and Villafaña pairing against El Salvador. Will it happen? No way, as I never get this stuff right. But it would be fun.
El Salvador will not be a push over and come in with a 1-1-1 (4 points, 0 GD) record. The United States will need to be on the front foot from the start and bury this team early. Or it could be an 87th minute winner from El Salvador that sends the USMNT home.
Jamaica vs Canada—Thursday, 5:30 PM MDT (Fox Sports 1, Univision Deportes)
Raise your hands if you saw Canada getting out of the group stage? I imagine that it is a shock to some, but they are playing good, if not pragmatic, football as they look to advance past the Reggae Boys. Canada has called in Cyle Larin from Orlando City SC for the quarterfinals and he has the pace and physicality to cause Jamaica fits in this one.
For Jamaica, they have been completely bailed out by the stellar Andre Blake from the Philadelphia Union. Without Blake, Jamaica is not here. Plain and Simple.
I am not sure how this one goes as Jamaica “should” win this game, but something about the Canadians has me thinking they can knock of the Reggae Boys.
Mexico vs Honduras—Thursday, 8:30 PM MDT (Fox Sports 1, Univision Deportes)
This should be an easy win for El Tri. They are playing a team that did not win a game outright in the group stage (they got three points via forfeit). So Mexico should win this going away, right?
Maybe. But Mexico has not looked great in this tournament and Honduras is going to park that bus and hope it holds. Honduras has yet to score a goal in this tournament and could be in real jeopardy in this one.
This match should be the lone “count on this result happening.” But funny things happen in Cup football.