The soccer news starts with an upset on the final day of group B at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. With Haiti and Costa Rica entering the finale tied on six points, the winner would take the group and avoid playing Mexico in the quarterfinals. That turned out to be Haiti, beating Costa Rica 2-1 to setup a date in the knockout round with Canada.
Costa Rica led from a 13th minute Alvaro Saborio goal, and it turned out that was it for the Ticos’ offense. Duckens Nazon equalized from the penalty spot in the 57th and Djimy Alexis scored in the 81st. With large sections of the crowd at Red Bull Arena there for the underdogs, they urged Haiti on in holding off any late equalizer from Costa Rica. Haiti advances with nine points to Costa Rica’s six.
For Costa Rica, that means Mexico in Saturday’s late game at Houston’s NRG Stadium. It’s a game earlier than most expected, in the biggest surprise in the tournament so far. Is this justification for the expanded tournament? Considering Haiti has made the Gold Cup 13 out of 22 times, probably not. What it does to is remind the field not to take any of these games as a given. We’ve gotten enough of those reminders over the years to suggest a trend. That Mexico vs USA final the tournament seems designed to produce hasn’t happened since 2011.
Concacaf’s rationale for the expanded Gold Cup carries into the Nations League. It’s getting games against better opponents for some countries that would otherwise struggle to schedule them along with getting some of the member nations to play. The gaps in games for some Concacaf nations is an obvious concern for the confederation. The question is whether or not Gold Cup expansion and the Nations League are reasonable ways to get there.
For this Gold Cup, we’ve watched Cuba finish off their group with no points and a -17 differential. Nicaragua exits with no points at -8. Trinidad and Tobago is in the same situation as Nicaragua with a game left to play. It’s a fair question if this Gold Cup experience is really helping any of them.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Cuba coach Raul Mederos said following his team’s 7-0 loss to Canada. “We have the support of the federation and all those in charge to get the job done.”
That’s the ideal situation for Concacaf. Still, it’s worth asking how much value a team takes from lopsided losses in the confederation championship. The underdog successes are nice, but it’s also worth considering the mismatches in a tournament that’s historically had trouble producing a competitive field.
In the soccer news, Derby County is allowing Chelsea to interview their manager Frank Lampard. The Telegraph’s Matt Law reports that Lampard will probably be Chelsea’s next manager. FourFourTwo’s Alex Hess questions the move. UEFA has an explainer for Champions League qualifying that begins today. Quartz’s Yomi Kazeem explains the issues with player payments and labor action for teams at the Cup of Nations.
All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Logo courtesy of Concacaf