Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gold Cup Day 7 - US-El Salvador preview, Group B ends tonight

US MNT (6pts) vs. El Salvador (3pts)
7pm ET - TV: Fox Soccer Channel (Eng), TeleFutura (Spanish)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts (tickets)

One year to the day after the disaster in Gelsenkirchen against the Czech Republic, the US men take the pitch tonight only needing a tie to guarantee first place in the group. The US has played below their top level in their first two matches but still stand tall as the only team with a full six points from two games and no goals allowed. They were tested against Costa Rica and challenged by Trinidad & Tobago, but their hardest game might just be tonight.

Yes, the US is unbeaten in three matches against El Salvador and are 14-1-4 with 10 shutouts at Gillette Stadium, but El Salvador is in a must produce situation. If La Azul want to guarantee a spot in the quarterfinals, they need a win, however a tie might just get them there as well. The team looked good against T&T, but against Guatemala, they suffered.

Look for El Salvador to try and turn this into a physical game, hoping to get the US into card trouble. If the Gooch is back on the pitch for the US, look for players to dive all around him hoping for the ref to give a reputation card.

The US has a bit of a clearer path, push the ball forward. Like Guatemala, El Salvador will try to bunker down in back, but they are nowhere near as tight and do not communicate well. The US should still be able to plop passes behind the line and into openings for the likes of Donovan, Johnson, Ching or whomever. If they start finishing their chances, it is going to be a great night for the US.

The odd thing that might be somewhere in Bob Bradley's mind for this one is the chance, all though it is small, that they might end up playing Mexico in their next match. Depending on the way results go, Mexico could end up being the third place team in Group C, thus setting up a show down on Saturday. Again, it would take a lot of strange results to make it happen, but one never knows.

Predicted lineup:

Predictions: Me US 3-0 El Salvador, Wife US 2-0 El Salvador

Trinidad & Tobago (0pts) vs. Guatemala (3pts)
9pm ET - TV: TeleFutura (Spanish)
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts (tickets)
The other game should see Carlos Ruiz and the Blue & White get three points against a Jack Warner special version of T&T. However, Guatemala has not looked overly great when they have actually had to play the game instead of just diving anytime a player got near them, so T&T could steal a point here. If Guatemala's organization fails them, T&T has a few options to pop in a shots. Add to it the danger they have shown on free kicks and an outside, outside chance of still getting a third place slot to advance and we might just see something crazy happen in Foxborough.
Predictions: Me T&T 1-2 Guatemala, Wife T&T 1-2 Guatemala

Here are the Gold Cup tables:
Group A
Canada 6321053+2
Costa Rica43111330
Guadeloupe 43111330

Group B
El Salvador32110220

Group C

Golden boot leaders:
3 - Carlos Costly - Honduras
3 - Walter Centeno - Costa Rica
2 - Julián de Guzmán - Canada
2 - Dwayne De Rosario - Canada
2 - Reynier Alcántara - Cuba
2 - José Luis Garcés - Panama
2 - Blas Pérez - Panama

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