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Gold Cup 2013: Previews and Predictions for Final Group-Stage Showdowns

Justin OnslowContributor IIMay 24, 2015

With the Gold Cup group stage coming to a close, every quarterfinals spot has been secured. Only two matches remain on the final day of group play to decide the final standings in Group C.

The United States and Costa Rica secured quarterfinals berths with two wins apiece, and each team is looking to exit the first stage with a momentum-building win. Perhaps more intriguing, the contest will also be a rematch of the March 22 World Cup qualifying match that saw the United States come away with a 1-0 victory in blizzard-like conditions.

For Cuba and Belize, the final match of the Gold Cup will be an opportunity to exit the tournament on a good note with pride intact. Neither team has been particularly impressive so far, each netting just one goal in two matches.

But regardless of the stakes, these matches should provide a little excitement ahead of the quarterfinals. At the very least, both contests should be competitive affairs with a good deal of parity.

 

Cuba vs. Belize

Where: Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut

When: 5:30 p.m. ET

Television/Streaming: Fox Soccer and Fox Soccer 2GO

Cuba hasn’t won in its last 12 Gold Cup matches, and if it hopes to change that Tuesday, the team’s offense is going to have to find its legs.

Cuba’s lack of attacking success has been all too apparent through two matches, notching just one goal in that span. Despite taking an early 1-0 lead against the United States on Saturday, the Cuban side watched the lead dwindle in short order on a pair of Chris Wondolowski goals and eventually fell 4-1 in that contest.

Belize has experienced similar struggles in the tournament, slotting just one goal in a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of the United States. Belize has some talent on the attack, but it hasn’t been able to put it together consistently enough to make much of an impact in the Gold Cup.

On one hand, both teams should feel good about their scoring chances on Tuesday. On the other, neither defense has been particularly impressive in the group stage, and this match has the potential to be a sloppy defensive affair.

Prediction: Belize 3, Cuba 2

 

USA vs. Costa Rica

Where: Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut

When: 8 p.m. ET

Television/Streaming: Fox Soccer, Fox Soccer 2GO

While neither side technically has anything to play for, don’t expect this match to be anything short of an ultra-competitive affair.

Costa Rica will be looking to avenge its 1-0 World Cup qualifying lossa loss it appealed due to the poor conditions on the pitch. That protest was denied, and Cost Rica isn’t going to take this match lightly.

Likewise, the United States has an opportunity to use this match as both a warm-up for the quarterfinals and a tuneup for World Cup play. The United States men’s national team is still looking for some cohesion, especially with Landon Donovan returning to the fold.

Both teams have been terrific in the defensive third so far, but the United States holds the advantage at the attacking end. Wondolowski and Donovan have been extremely impressive, and each should see at least a half of action on Tuesday.

This won’t be a one-sided affair, but the USMNT has the firepower to eventually pull away.

Prediction: United States 2, Costa Rica 1

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