The longest day of the year sees CONCACAF’s final four square up as the North/Central American tournament nears its conclusion.
Hosts the United States play Canada while traditional giants Mexico tackle unfancied Guadeloupe for a place in the final at Soldier Field, Chicago, on Saturday.
As another Gold Cup field whittles down almost inevitably to another USA v Mexico final, the weaknesses of this region are again exposed, despite the three and a half places in the World Cup finals FIFA generously awards them.
Beyond the big two of CONCACAF, a revolving door of alternately Costa Rica, Jamaica or Trinidad & Tobago have represented the region at the FIFA World Cup in recent years, and have invariably come home ‘before the postcards’.
In this year’s Gold Cup, 2006 FIFA World Bandar Poker Online Cup heroes Trinidad & Tobago, who were the toast of the first round in holding Sweden to a draw in Dortmund, finished bottom of their group, tying Guatemala and losing to El Salvador and the United States.
Canada continue to show signs of reviving their soccer fortunes as they overcame Costa Rica to top their group to meet the hosts in Chicago today.
While the harsh Canadian climate militates against an outdoor field sport being played year round, a new Canadian professional team, Toronto FC, joined America’s MLS this year, while the men’s national team squad play their football in a dozen different countries, albeit not all of them like Tottenham Hotspur’s Paul Stalteri, at the highest level.
Canada have shone only twice on the international stage, taking the gold medal for football at the 1904 Olympics in St Louis (only the US and Canada entered teams) and qualifying for the finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, whence they returned with three losses, but held France to a narrow 1-0 victory.
But all the factors point to another USA v Mexico clash and the tricolores will be eager to regain the traditional advantage they used to hold over their northern neighbours.
To Mexico’s chagrin, the USA have won the majority of their clashes over the past few years, including a memorable 2-0 scalping in the 2002 World Cup second round in Korea.
Mexico still seem impregnable at the Azteca in Mexico City however, and will be hoping to turn Soldier Field into an expat-fuelled replica. Already, in a tournament which is drawing around the 20,000 mark for attendances, the tricolores have pulled crowds of 68,000 twice and one of over 70,000.
The Gold Cup winners will qualify for the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa.
Copa America 2007
Copa America Venezuela 2007
The 2007 Copa America will take place in Venezuela June 26-July 15. This is the 42nd time the tournament has been held since 1916. Brazil are the current holders having won in 2004 in Peru.
The top two teams in the 3 groups plus the 2 third-placed teams with the best record progress to the quarter-finals. Mexico and the USA are competing as guests.
GROUPS & SCHEDULE
Tue June 26 Uruguay 0 v Peru 3 (Merida)
Tue June 26 Venezuela 2 v Bolivia 2 (San Cristobal)
Sat June 30 Bolivia 0 v Uruguay 1 (San Cristobal)
Sat June 30 Venezuela 2 v Peru 0 (San Cristobal)
Tue July 3 Peru 2 v Bolivia 2 (Merida)
Tue July 3 Venezuela 0 v Uruguay 0 (Merida)
Wed June 27 Ecuador 2 v Chile 3 (Puerto Ordaz)
Wed June 27 Brazil 0 v Mexico 2 (Puerto Ordaz)
Sun July 1 Brazil 3 v Chile 0 (Maturin)
Sun July 1 Mexico 2 v Ecuador 0 (Maturin)
Wed July 4 Mexico 0 v Chile 0 (Puerto La Cruz)
Wed July 4 Brazil 1 v Ecuador 0 (Puerto La Cruz)
Thurs June 27 Paraguay 5 v Colombia 0 (Maracaibo)
Thurs June 27 Argentina 4 v USA 1 (Maracaibo)
Mon July 1 USA 1 v Paraguay 3 (Barinas)
Mon July 1 Argentina 4 v Colombia 2 (Maracaibo)
Thurs July 4 Colombia 1 v USA 0 (Barquisimeto)
Thurs July 4 Argentina 1 v Paraguay 0 (Barquisimeto)
Sat July 7 Uruguay (Group A winners) 4 v Venezuela 1 (3rd Place team II) (San Cristobal)
Sat July 7 Chile 1 (3rd Place team I) v Brazil 6 (Group B 2nd Place Team) (Puerto La Cruz)
Sun July 8 Mexico 6 (Group B winners) v Paraquay 0 (Group C 2nd Place Team) (Maturin)
Sun July 8 Argentina 4 (Group C winners) v Peru 0 (Group A 2nd Place Team) (Barquisimeto)
Tues July 10 Uruguay 2 v Brazil 2 Brazil win 5-4 on penalties (Maraicabo)
Wed July 11 Mexico 0 v Argentina 3(Puerto Ordaz)
Third Place Play-off
Sat July 14 Uruguay 1 v Mexico 3 (Caracas)
Sun July 15 Brazil 3 v Argentina 0 (Maracaibo)