Thursday, July 21, 2005

Gold Cup Semi-finals

The chance of America taking the cup grew greatly thanks to cheeky goal by Colombia's Abel Aguilar (which knocked out Mexico), but they should not be looking towards the final just yet. Sure the US has a nice 28 match non-losing streak on home soil going on, but it was tonight's opponent Honduras that last took a game in the states (1 September 2001) and they might just do it again.

Honduras is coming off a very uneven match against Costa Rica, where they dominated most of the first half (scoring 3 goals in the first 35 minutes) but then fell back on their heals for most of the rest of the match, thus allowing Costa Rica to make it very close (final score 3-2). However, the fact that they were able to capitalize on Costa Rica's mistakes plus the way they managed to defend against an all out assault during the final 15 minutes, has got to pump the Honduras ego a bit. Also, Honduras is looking to grab some pride since they have been eliminated from World Cup qualifying. That said, I think their front line of Nunez and Velazquez will have a harder time with the American defense. If they don't get a goal in the first 15 minutes, I think they will have a very quiet night.

On the American side of things, they need DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan to keep chipping in shots, but they will also need goalkeeper Kasey Keller to continue coming up with big saves. They dominated the reggae boys of Jamaica over the weekend plus they just got the great news from FIFA, so I think they will be up for this game. However, I could see them getting very frustrated if they are held without a goal or any good shots on goal during the first 25 minutes or so. Plus, the US seems to have trouble get back into the game after halftime.

My prediction: US 2 - Honduras 0


Onto the other side of things, Colombia vs. Panama

The last time these two met, all of 15 days ago, it was Panama who walked away with a 1-0 win. In that match, Colombia was the better side during the first 45 and Panama was better during the second 45. Panama just happened to score during their better half.

On paper, Colombia should be the better team, but they have struggled during the Cup. They just sneaked into the elimination round, but once they got there, they made one hell of a splash. Their win over Mexico was nothing short of amazing. They played the way they should have been playing during the whole tournament, but I wonder if that was due to their opponent. Will they be as amped to play Panama? If not, will they be going home?

Panama in the Semis, who would have guessed it. A lot of credit has got to go to the Red Tides goalie Jaime Penedo. It is amazing what having the man between the bars catch fire during a tournament can do for a team. Still, they did have to play 120 minutes of soccer on Sunday night, so the chance of fatigue is really there. I am going to guess that Luis Tejada will come out blasting, but if he slows down, it will be hard for Panama to keep their run alive.

My prediction: Panama 2 - Columbia 1



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