July 17 – The 12-team Gold Cup tournament has reached the quarter final stage with three power nations of the CONCACAF region – Costa Rica, Mexico and the US – all avoiding each other in the first round of knock-out games.
Quarter finals will be played Wednesday and Thursday this week as double headers with the first at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia hosting Costa Rica vs Panama followed by USA vs El Salvador.
The following day will see the University of Phoenix Stadium host Jamaica vs Canada, followed by Mexico vs Honduras.
Winners of the Philadelphia quarter finals will play their semi-final at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Saturday, July 22, while the two winners from Phoenix will play their semi-final at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 23.
Tight group finishes
All three groups went down to the final games to decide the qualifiers for the final stages. It was an 88th minute goal by the US that sealed their group win on goals scored over Panama – the US missed two penalties in the 3-0 win against Nicaragua.
Panama face Costa Rica in what looks like being the pick of the ties in the quarter finals, though a fast improving Canada against a Jamaican side always looking to prove a point will be an intriguing match.
Mexico and the US look to have the easier routes to the semis, facing the highest points scoring third place teams.
The US are beefing up for the knock-out rounds having made the permitted six changes to their roster allowed after the group stages. Out goes youth and in comes experience.
Goalkeeper Tim Howard, midfielder Michael Bradley and forwards Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are back. As are midfielder Darlington Nagbe and goalie Jesse Gonzales.
They replace goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson, midfielders Alejandro Bedoya, Cristian Roldan and Kelyn Rowe and forward Dom Dwyer.
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