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Hexagonal opponents take different approaches
by Paul Kennedy, July 3rd, 2009 7AM
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[GOLD CUP] For five teams, including the USA, the 2009 Gold Cup is a brief interlude between the year's most important competition -- the final stage of World Cup 2010 qualifying. Here's how the USA's four Hexagonal opponents are approaching the Concacaf championship.

First-place Costa Rica and El Salvador, who meet in Friday's Group A opener, are sending their first teams.

Mexico coach Javier Aguirre called up a contingent of mostly veteran domestic players to play alongside young stars Carlos Vela and Giovani Dos Santos.

Honduras, which the USA meets Wednesday in Group B, will be playing without most of its stars.

COSTA RICA. The Ticos are the favorite in Group A, the toughest of the three groups.

Belgium-based Bryan Ruiz and former MLS player Michael Umana, who was injured in the Ticos' recent friendly against Venezuela, are the only starters from their most recent World Cup qualifier not at the Gold Cup.

Other last-minute scratches were Andy Furtado (positive test for banned substance during league playoffs) and Christian Bolanos (not released by Norway's IK Start).

MLS connection: Chicago's Gonzalo Segares will have a chance to solidify his spot in the starting lineup.

Goalkeepers -- Keylor Navas (Saprissa), Ricardo Gonzalez (Herediano) Daniel Cambronero (Universidad de Costa Rica).
Defenders -- Leonardo Gonzalez (Liberia), Harold Wallace (Liberia),
Gonzalo Segares (Chicago Fire), Freddy Fernandez  (Perez Zeledon), Pablo Herrera (Alajuelense), Dennis Marshall (Herediano), Dario Delgado (Puntarenas), Esteban Sirias (Liberia), Pablo Salazar (Liberia).
Midfielders -- Walter Centeno (Saprissa), Celso Borges (Fredrikstad, Norway), Cristian Oviedo (Alajuelense), Esteban Granados (Cartagines),  Warren Granados (Ramonense), Josimar Arias (Brujas), Armando Alonso (Saprissa).
Forwards -- Andy Herron (Herediano), Froylan Ledezma (Trenkwalder Admira, Austria), Alvaro Saborio (Sion, Switzerland), Pablo Brenes (Brujas), Andy Furtado (Marathon, Honduras).

EL SALVADOR. The major omission in Carlos de los Cobos' squad from World Cup qualifying is former D.C. United forward Eliseo Quintanilla, who signed with Cypriot club Ermis Aradippou.

MLS connection: Defender Alfredo Pacheco, who signed with the New York Red Bulls in the spring, will lead the Salvadoran backline.

Goalkeepers -- Miguel Montes (Nejapa), Benji Villalobos (Aguila).
Defenders -- Alexander Escobar (Isidro Metapan), Jose Henriquez (FAS), Alfredo Pacheco (New York Red Bulls), Manuel Salazar (Luis Angel Firpo), Marvin Gonzalez (FAS), Deris Umanzor (Aguila), Luis Hernandez (Aguila), Victor Turcios (Luis Angel Firpo), Dennis Alas (Luis Angel Firpo).
Midfielders -- Ramon Sanchez (Alianza),William Torres (Aguila), Cristian Castillo (Leon), Salvador Coreas  (Vista Hermosa),
Oscar Jimenez (Alianza).
Forwards -- William Reyes (FAS), Herber Barrera (Luis Angel Firpo), Rodolfo Zelaya (Leon), Rudis Corrales (Aguila).

HONDURAS. The Catrachos will be playing without most of their foreign-based stars. The major exception is giant Carlos Costly, who scored in the 2-1 loss to the USA last month.

MLS connection: Roger Espinoza, who grew up in Denver and played in college (Yavapai and Ohio State) before signing with the Kansas City Wizards, should see action in midfield.

Goalkeepers -- Ricardo Canales (Motagua), Donis Escober (Olimpia),  John Bodden (Victoria).
Defenders -- Luis Ramos (Spartacus), Juan Garcia (Marathon), Erick Norales  (Marathon), Mariano Acevedo (Marathon), Osman Chavez (Platense), Nery Medina (Real Espana), Carlos Palacios (Real Espana), David Molina (Olimpia), Johnny Palacios (Olimpia), Johnny Calderon (Olimpia).
Midfielders -- Roger Espinoza (Kansas City Wizards), Miguel Castillo (Motagua), Rigoberto Padilla (Olimpia), Eder Delgado (Real Espana), Melvin Valladares (Real Espana).
Forwards -- Carlos Costly (Belchatow, Poland), Walter Martinez (Alaves, Spain), Luis Lopez (Marathon), Allan Lalin  (Real Espana), Carlos Mejia (Marathon),  Marvin Chavez (Marathon), Georgie Welcome (Motagua).

MEXICO. There's no Rafael Marquez, no Cuauhtemoc Blanco, no Nery Castillo, no Andres Guardado, but the Tri has plenty of talent.

Besides Vela and Dos Santos, the only European-based player is Omar Bravo of Spain's Deportivo Coruna.

MLS connection: none.

Goalkeepers -- Guillermo Ochoa (Club America), Jose de Jesus Corona (Estudiantes Tecos), Óscar Perez (Tigres).
Defenders -- Jonny Magallon (Guadalajara), Ismael Rodriguez (Club America), Edgar Duenas (Toluca), Fausto Pinto (Cruz Azul), Jose Antonio Castro (Tigres), Juan Carlos Valenzuela  (Club America), Efrain Juarez (UNAM).
Midfielders -- Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul), Alberto Medina (Guadalajara), Israel Castro (UNAM), Pablo Barrera (UNAM), Giovani Dos Santos (Tottenham, England), Luis Miguel Noriega (Puebla), Israel Martinez (San Luis)
Forwards -- Omar Bravo (Deportivo Coruna, Spain), Omar Arellano (Guadalajara), Carlos Vela (Arsenal, England), Miguel Sabah (Morelia), Carlos Esquivel (Toluca), Jose Maria Cardenas (Pachuca).


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