Gold Cup 2013 Semifinals: Predictions for Wednesday's Crucial Battles
The Gold Cup may not garner much recognition as a high-level international tournament, but to call it unimportant would be severely wrong.
With a spot in the ever-prestigious FIFA Confederations Cup on the line (this year's winner faces the 2015 Gold Cup champion for a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup), you can rest assured that Mexico, Panama, Honduras and the United States will all be taking their semifinal matches quite seriously.
But the importance of the Gold Cup doesn't stop there.
Not only is national pride always a key aspect to these matches, but all four countries are still alive in World Cup qualification, meaning individuals are making their cases for timely first-team promotions.
With so much at stake, let's take a closer look at both semifinal battles.
Mexico vs. Panama
This will be a rematch of the Group A meeting that saw Panama beat Mexico, 2-1.
Panama ended up winning the group, although it looked far less steady in the final two matches, beating Martinique, 1-0, and tying Canada, 0-0.
Mexico, meanwhile, responded to its only loss of the tournament with a 2-0 win over Canada and 3-1 victory against Martinique.
In the quarterfinals, however, Panama returned to form, showing off a dangerous offensive attack with a 6-1 win over Cuba, while Mexico needed a late goal from Raul Jimenez to escape against Trinidad and Tobago, 1-0.
Here's a look at how each team has done so far, counting the quarterfinal wins:
Natural, knee-jerk reaction is to move Mexico, the two-time defending Gold Cup champ, forward into the finals.
But it has been an incredibly tumultuous year for Jose Manuel "Chepo" del la Torre's squad, and Panama has both the talent and formula to win the rematch.
Prediction: Mexico 0, Panama 1
Honduras vs. United States
The United States has been the clear-cut best team in this tournament, but Honduras is not a squad the Americans should overlook.
With wins over Haiti and El Salvador, Los Catrachos quickly secured first place in Group B before taking care of Costa Rica—a team that gave the United States plenty of problems—1-0 in the quarterfinals.
Still, the Americans are rolling. After crushing El Salvador in the quarters, they have now scored 16 goals and given up just three. Chris Wondolowski has been a goal machine up front, and now Eddie Johnson, who takes just 14 seconds to score, serves as an incredibly dangerous second-half substitute.
What's more impressive is the United States' midfield. Joe Corona, Mix Diskerud and Stuart Holden have been great, while Landon Donovan has been the best player of the tournament.
Who will meet in the final?
The Stars and Stripes simply have too much talent.
Prediction: Honduras 1, United States 3
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