Gold Cup 2013: Big Names Who Must Step Up In Tournament

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2013

Jul 5, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; USA defender Oguchi Onyewu (5) controls the ball during the second half against Guatemala at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Although much of the discussion surrounding the 2013 Gold Cup has focused on which players aren't taking part, there are still plenty of big names who be looking to make an impression over the next three weeks.

Whether the motivation is for self or country, some players have the perfect opportunity in front of them. As a relatively minor tournament, the Gold Cup is a less pressurized situation, thus allowing the players to operate more freely.

With a lot of coaches selecting "B" teams, this is a great opportunity for some guys on the fringes of their national teams to firmly plant themselves in the discussion for Brazil and the qualifying process leading up to the World Cup.

Here are four players who will be looking to have the strongest showings in the Gold Cup.


Marco Fabian, Mexico

Go back a couple of years, and Marco Fabian was one of the hotter names in Mexican football. He looked like the next guy after Javier Hernandez who'd get a big move to Europe.

Instead, Fabian has been hit by a combination of injuries and bad luck and is yet to get that transfer abroad. There's still plenty of time for the 23-year-old to come good on his potential, but the clock is ticking.

The Gold Cup is a great opportunity for Fabian to get himself some attention from potential suitors and from his coach, Jose Manuel de la Torre. Maybe it's Fabian who can be the consistent forward to partner with Hernandez up top when El Tri gets back to World Cup qualification.


Oguchi Onyewu, USA

It's hard to think back to the Oguchi Onyewu of 2009. He was coming off a great showing at the Confederations Cup and gotten himself a move to AC Milan. Then he suffered the tendon injury in October of that year and hasn't been the same player since.

Slowly but surely, Onyewu has been inching himself back into the fold at the national team. But he's never really had a good run of performances that would make you comfortable putting him in at centre-back on a regular basis.

In the Gold Cup, Onyewu has the chance to convince Jurgen Klinsmann that he is capable of being a starting centre-back for the United States. There are probably a couple of guys you'd currently pencil in at the position, but they're far from untouchable. That leaves the door open for the 31-year-old.


Andy Najar, Honduras

There's no doubting that Andy Najar is the emerging star of the Honduras national team. He's done very well for DC United, and now he's got a move to Anderlecht in order to further his career.

Only 20 years old, Najar is one of the most skillful players in the tournament, and he's got more than enough pace to blow by any full-back.

Najar's performance in the Gold Cup isn't make or break in terms of his national team future. He's going to play a huge role in the team's future no matter what. Having a strong tournament would definitely ease Najar into a starring role with Honduras, though.

Plus, it would help Honduras navigate their way to the top of what is a winnable Group B.


Alvaro Saborio, Costa Rica

No one has scored more goals for Real Salt Lake than Alvaro Saborio. He's found the back of the net 58 times in 111 matches for the club. Saborio has also been very good for Costa Rica, scoring 25 goals in 69 appearances.

Costa Rica are sitting pretty right now in World Cup qualification. They're second in the table on 11 points, three ahead of Mexico.

The best finish Costa Rica have had at the Gold Cup is when they finished runner-up to the United States in 2002. With the field not particularly threatening, they have a great chance of making a deep run.

If that's going to happen, Saborio will need to be at his predatory best.