2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Predicting the Quarterfinals
On Saturday, the knockout stages of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup will begin. There's the potential for ugly scorelines, shocking upsets and games that could go all the way to penalties.
In this slideshow, I'll be picking the winners of the quarterfinal matches, which these teams need to win to advance to the oh-so-glorious semifinals.
Will traditional favorites Mexico or the U.S. suffer shocking upsets? Continue reading to find out.
Panama vs. Cuba
The first match Saturday is Panama vs. Cuba. This, in my opinion, is the match with the biggest potential for a blowout.
Panama are a great team, playing as well as anyone in the tournament right now. With Gabriel Torres leading the way, I could very easily see something like 5-0, but I think Cuba will bring everything to the table and keep it closer.
Panama wins 3-1.
This is also a chance for Cuba's Ariel Martinez to show if he can continue his fantastic form against a really tough opponent.
Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago
The second and final match on Saturday is between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico have struggled mightily in World Cup qualifying and didn't escape the group stage of the Confederations Cup, so Chepo de la Torre could be in huge trouble if the Mexicans can't win this competition.
He doesn't have much to worry about this round. His side have put in steady performances the last two matches. At some point they'll figure it out and unload six goals on someone, and it's possible that is this match, though I doubt it.
Trinidad played decently to get to this point, but their solid organization in the back can't prevent a 2-0 loss. An interesting note: No Mexican player has scored more than one goal thus far.
What's up with the "golden generation"?
USA vs. El Salvador
The first match on Sunday is between the United States and El Salvador. The U.S. are seemingly the favorites to win this tournament, while El Salvador has been inconsistent, to say the least.
With Landon Donovan, Mix Diskerud and Chris Wondolowski leading the attack, this team will be difficult to stop from scoring goals.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann also brought Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler back in to the squad to work on their chemistry in central defense, while Eddie Johnson and the big surprise, Alan Gordon, were brought on to add some more attacking options.
Notable players who were sent home were Herculez Gomez and Jack McInerney (why didn't he get any minutes?!). El Salvador will either sit back and put 11 behind the ball, ready to hit on the counter, or utilize high pressure to capitalize on quick mistakes and get fast-break situations.
Whatever they do, it'll be organized and purposeful, so the United States needs to be patient, as these Central American sides are so tough to break down.
Also, if Rodolfo Zelaya plays like he did in the group stage, he could easily get a goal and cause problems for the suspect U.S. center backs. With all that in mind, USA wins 2-0.
Honduras vs. Costa Rica
The last match should also be the tightest one. Both of these teams did well in the group stage, doing what they needed to do to get here.
Costa Rica is the obvious favorite, currently second in the World Cup qualifying hexagonal.
However, we all know how tight CONCACAF matches are, and I expect Honduras to be a very tough opponent who will frustrate the offensive firepower of Michael Barrantes and Jairo Arrieta into extra time, where Costa Rica will break through and take a 1-0 result into the semis.