Gold Cup 2013: When and Where to Catch Thursday's Group Stage Action

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2013

July 7, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; Panama forward Gabriel Torres (9) celebrates after he scores a goal off a penalty kick against Mexico during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Is there any chance Group A still has some magic left?

The first day of the 2013 Gold Cup featured some big upsets. The quality of football wasn't the best, but that was more than made up for with Sunday's drama.

Martinique won with a late goal, while Panama dispatched Mexico rather easily, leading to the fans in Pasadena, Calif., to launch projectiles in the direction of Jose Manuel de la Torre.

It will be hard to top that, but the only way to find out if the second round does top the excitement is to watch it. Here's a schedule for Thursday's matches followed by my predictions.

MatchDateTime (ET)WatchLive Stream
Martinique vs. PanamaThursday, July 118:30 p.m.FOX SoccerFOX Soccer 2Go
Canada vs. MexicoThursday, July 1111:00 p.m.FOX SoccerFOX Soccer 2Go

Martinique vs. Panama

Martinique shocked just about everybody when they beat Canada, 1-0, on Sunday. It was a well deserved victory, though, as they thoroughly outplayed their opponents.

Then Panama went out and took down Mexico.

It was hard to argue which is the more surprising result.

Of the two Thursday matches, this is the much more intriguing one.

With their respective wins, Martinique and Panama are tied at three points, with Panama getting the edge on goals scored.

The winner here will be in cruise control going toward the knockout stage and will potentially win the group, which would have been considered a huge shock a week ago.

Panama will likely be the favorites. They've got a better team and should be welcoming back Blas Perez.

This one is going to end as a draw, though.

Panama will get a little too ahead of themselves after that Mexico win. Even with Martinique's win, Panama will take them too lightly, and it will bite them in the back side.

Silly mistakes will lead to a Martinique goal, which Panama will negate later in the match.

At that point, Martinique will be content to just sit back and let Panama run at them. Panama will have trouble breaking down the opposing defense, and it will end a 1-1 draw.

Martinique 1, Panama 1

Canada vs. Mexico

Although Mexico looked very bad in their 2-1 loss to Panama, Canada managed to look even worse against Martinique.

It was shocking just how poor the Canadians were against a team that's not even recognized by FIFA.

There shouldn't be any way El Tri walk away with anything less than three points. They've got too much talent to lose or even draw against Canada.

With Mexico, the key will be to get an early lead. If they can go ahead 1-0 early in the match, it won't matter that El Tri lack adventure on the pitch and don't take any risks.

Their poor run hasn't meant that their defense is bad. Mexico's biggest problems stem from when they have to chase a game or score to break a deadlock.

El Tri lack any sort of cohesion on the pitch and more often than not fail to put any sort of attacking move together. By scoring early, the players can play much more carefree on the pitch, which would ideally lead to them looking a little more organized.

El Tri will get their early goal, courtesy of Marco Fabian. They'll be coasting from that point. Canada won't get anything going in midfield. Mexico will snatch a goal in the second half to end any chance of a Canadian comeback.

Mexico 2, Canada 0