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Ticos open against Cuba
July 9th, 2013 3:02AM

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TAGS:  gold cup, mls


[GOLD CUP: Group C] Costa Rica, which is second behind the USA in the Hexagonal and hosts the Americans in a top-of-the-table clash in September, opens Gold Cup play Tuesday in Portland against Cuba, which has had the dubious distinction of having players defect during four of its six previous appearances in the Concacaf tournament.

Alvaro Saborio of Real Salt Lake is one of six starters from Costa Rica's most recent World Cup qualifier, a 2-0 win over Panama, to be picked for the Gold Cup. Another of the four MLS players on the Ticos' squad is Rodney Wallace, who plays for the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field.

Cuba has lost six players at the Gold Cup, including Osvaldo Alonso, who now plays for the Seattle Sounders. Two players Cuba won't be worrying about are goalie Odelin Molina and central defender Yenier Marquez. They've been to five previous Gold Cups, so if they haven't defected before, it's not likely they've seek asylum now.

Group C Schedule:
July 9 in Portland, Ore.
Costa Rica vs. Cuba, 5:30 p.m. PT (8:30 p.m. ET)
Belize vs. USA, 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET)
 
July 13 in Sandy, Utah
USA vs. Cuba, 1:30 p.m. MT  (3:30 p.m. ET)
Costa Rica vs. Belize, 4:00 p.m. MT (6:00 p.m. ET)
 
July 16 in East Hartford, Conn.
Cuba vs. Belize, 5:30 p.m.
USA vs. Costa Rica, 8 p.m.

Costa Rica Roster:
Goalkeepers: Leonel Moreira (Herediano), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Luis Torres (Cartagines)
Defenders: Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Junior Diaz (Mainz, GER), Oscar Duarte (Club Brugge, BEL), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Valerenga, NOR), Carlos Johnson (Cartagines), Juan Diego Madrigal (Saprissa), Christopher Meneses (IFK Norrkoping, SWE), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls), Michael Umana (Saprissa)
Midfielders: Michael Barrantes (Aalesund, NOR), Celso Borges (AIK, SWE), Mauricio Castillo (Saprissa), Kenny Cunningham (The Strongest, BOL), Oscar Esteban Granados (Herediano), Ariel Rodriguez (Alajuelense), Oswaldo Rodriguez (Santos de Guapiles), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Rodney Wallace (Portland Timbers)
Forwards: Jairo Arrieta (Columbus Crew), Yendrick Ruiz (Herediano), Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake)

Cuba:
Goalkeepers: Disovelis Alejandro (Pinar Del Rio), Odelin Molina (Villa Clara), Julio Ramos (Las Tunas)
Defenders: Jorge Luis Clavelo (Villa Clara), Yoel Colome (La Habana), Jorge Luis Corrales (Pinar Del Rio), Angel Horta (Camaguey), Yasmani Lopez (Ciego De Avila), Renay Malblanche (Holguin), Jeniel Marquez (Villa Clara), Michel Marquez (Isla de la Juventud), Liban Perez (Camaguey), Alianne Urgelles (Guantanamo)
Midfielders: Dayron Blanco (Las Tunas), Jaine Colome (La Habana), Alberto Gomez (Guantanamo), Ariel Martinez (Sancti Espiritus), Jesus Rodriguez (Ciego de Avila), Miguel Angel Sanchez (Isla de la Juventud)
Forwards: Jose Alfonso (Pinar Del Rio), Armando Coroneaux (Camaguey), Yoandir Puga (Isla de la Juventud), Alexey Zuasnabar (Guantanamo)

2002[edit]
Rey Ángel Martínez and Alberto Delgado defected during the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup. They told Cuba national football team minders that they were going to make a phone call in the hotel lobby but ran out of the hotel and traveled in a taxi to Martinez' uncle.
Rey Ángel Martínez[4]
Alberto Delgado[4]
2005[edit]
Cuban international forward Maykel Galindo sought to stay in the United States after he had arrived in the country with the Cuban national team for the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Maykel Galindo[5]
2007[edit]
Inspired by Galindo, two players defected at the following Gold Cup, two years later.
Osvaldo Alonso[6]
Lester Moré[7]
2008[edit]
Several Cuban youth players defected in 2008 following an Olympic qualifier hosted in the United States.
Yeniel Bermudez - Cuban U23 international[8]
José Miranda (Goalkeeper) - Cuban U23 international[8]
Erlys García - Cuban U23 international[8]
Yordany Alvarez (Midfielder) Cuban U23 international[8]
Loanny Cartaya (Defender) - Cuban U23 international[8]
Yendry Diaz - Cuban U23 international[9]
Eder Roldán - Cuban U23 international[9]
Two players defected during a 2008 World Cup qualifier.
Pedro Faife[5]
Reynier Alcantara[5]
2011[edit]
Yosniel Mesa defected during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup
Yosniel Mesa - Cuban international


PORTLAND, Ore.- Despite matching up in a tournament to decide a continent’s champion, Belize and United States are worlds apart when it comes to soccer.

Tuesday’s match will mark Belize’s debut in any soccer tournament that involves teams from outside Central America. Despite the fact that Belize’s population is approximately 1/1000th that of the U.S.', head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his squad are not overlooking their opponents.

“We expect a game where they probably come out in more of a defensive shape. We need to come out and open them up as early as possible,” Klinsmann said before his team’s practice Sunday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field. “We expect a difficult game, but we are looking forward to it.

One key Klinsmann is looking for in Tuesday’s match, is that his team does not allow Belize to get comfortable and start believing they can hang with the heavily-favored American side.

“We can’t allow, in the game against Belize, to give them any opportunity,” Klinsmann said. ” You can’t miss chances in the early beginnings because then you chase your own game. There is no reason to underestimate any team in the Gold Cup.”


In their last six matches, Belize’s defense has been solid, having not allowed more than one goal in any match.

And while American captain DaMarcus Beasley knows that upsets happen, he is more concerned with how the U.S. plays than with what Belize will do.

“We’re going to play our game. We’re going to play the way we know how to play,” Beasley said. “The name of the game is scoring goals, so we want to do that as well. We want to start the tournament on a good foot.”

The match will not only mark Belize’s Gold Cup debut, but it will also be the first time the two teams have ever faced one another. Klinsmann, for one, is happy that a country with a population around 350,000 can play at a tournament such as the Gold Cup.

“I think it’s fascinating. I think it’s wonderful for Belize to get that opportunity to be part of the Gold Cup. They deserve it because they did well in the qualifiers that’s why they are here,” Klinsmann said. “We respect every nation coming into the Gold Cup.”



Wichita native Ian Mork finds himself in an unusual position coaching Belize’s national soccer team
By Kellis Robinett
The Wichita Eagle
Published Saturday, July 6, 2013, at 5:43 p.m.
Updated Saturday, July 6, 2013, at 11:37 p.m.
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Mork
If Ian Mork was still a senior at Wichita North he would turn on the TV and root hard for the United States men’s national soccer team when it faces Belize on Tuesday in the Gold Cup.

His allegiances are much different now.

Not only will Mork be hoping for his own country to lose at Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field, he will be actively trying to defeat the Americans as the opposing team’s head coach.

It is one of the most peculiar scenarios in soccer — one his friends and family have been slow to accept — but the 41-year-old Wichita native, who now works as a youth soccer trainer, scout and coach in the San Francisco area, is ready.

“It’s the beautiful part about the game, the passion that is involved,” Mork said in a phone interview. “But I imagine it being no different than a coach from Wichita State getting a chance to go coach at KU. When he coaches against Wichita State, he is going to be with KU at that moment.

“It’s the same for me. I am with the team I am with right now. The opponent, I can’t carry any of that emotional connection with me. It is obviously a very unique situation, but my heart is with the Belize team right now. The players are very competitive. They want to beat the U.S., and so do I.”

That won’t be an easy task. Belize is considered a heavy underdog.

The Central American nation, with a population of approximately 310,000, has a national team filled with amateurs that work day jobs ranging from police officers to teachers. Its FIFA world ranking is 130. Compare that to the 22nd-ranked United States, which utilizes a roster filled with professionals and plays all Gold Cup games on home soil, and you can understand why Mork labels Tuesday’s matchup as “David vs. Goliath.”

Even though the United States won’t be at full strength while its top performers take a rest following World Cup qualifiers, it has several advantages. Mork hopes his past knowledge of the team and his Friday scouting trip to the U.S. friendly against Guatemala will work to his advantage.

“It is a very impressive team,” Mork said. “You have a lot of players who have been with the national team in the past. They are proven veterans. They are competing to earn a spot on the starting team that is in World Cup qualifying. You are going to see a very motivated group.

“On the team chemistry side, hopefully that is where we might have a little more unity. Our group of players has been together longer than they have. I think they are going to be very difficult. The expectations in Belize are really high, but you have to be realistic. We have to try to keep them close and hopefully surprise them.”

Mork is hopeful Belize can perform well against the United States, Cuba and Costa Rica. His goal for the Gold Cup is to finish as one of the top eight teams in group play and advance to the knockout round.

Belize has little history in the Gold Cup, but it does have experience on the big stage. Mork previously coached Belize in two World Cup qualifying games against Mexico in 2008. The first was played in front of 50,000 in Houston, and the game was tied 0-0 at half. Mexico pulled away for a 2-0 victory, but Mork was proud of the way his team handled the pressure and atmosphere associated with a big game.

Things didn’t go nearly as well in the rematch, with Mexico winning a laugher at home. But Mork said his players weren’t properly compensated then, and entered the game out of practice and distracted. Those issues have since been resolved, and Mork is hoping for more at the Gold Cup.

“These guys are top amateur players, so a little bit of money is a big deal for them,” Mork said. “They also have experience on the world stage, which is huge for a small nation. What we need to adjust to now is all the travel. Some players haven’t spent a lot of time in the U.S. They will be excited just to be here. The U.S. players are used to that lifestyle. That will be a challenge, but our group is very united and has what you have to have to compete at this level.”

Mork feels comfortable with his team, because he has spent a great deal of time with its players. After finishing a playing career that featured a state championship at North — “we were the first team outside Kansas City to win one,” Mork proudly says — a stint with the Wichita Wings and time overseas, Mork found himself helping youth players in Belize as a coach.

Some of those players are now on the national team. He knows their games inside and out. He thinks they are technically strong players, capable of competing with the top teams in the Gold Cup. He hopes they can also be tactically strong when the games begin.

Mork is optimistic about what his team can accomplish. At best, he will guide them to the Gold Cup quarterfinals, where anything can happen. At worst, it will be a fun string of games.

His parents, who live in Wichita, will be in attendance wearing Belize colors. But even they might feel conflicting emotions on Tuesday.

“They will be in Belize shirts, I’m sure they will,” Mork said. “But my dad says he might wear a United States jersey underneath.”

Read more here:

Group C Schedule:
July 9 in Portland, Ore.
Costa Rica vs. Cuba, 5:30 p.m. PT (8:30 p.m. ET)
Belize vs. USA, 8 p.m. PT (11 p.m. ET)
 
July 13 in Sandy, Utah
USA vs. Cuba, 1:30 p.m. MT  (3:30 p.m. ET)
Costa Rica vs. Belize, 4:00 p.m. MT (6:00 p.m. ET)
 
July 16 in East Hartford, Conn.
Cuba vs. Belize, 5:30 p.m.
USA vs. Costa Rica, 8 p.m.

USA Roster:
Goalkeepers: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla, MEX), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana, MEX), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga, SPA), Michael Orozco (Puebla, MEX), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg, GER)
Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya (Helsingborgs, SWE), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana, MEX), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg, NOR), Josh Gatt (Molde, NOR), Stuart Holden (Bolton, ENG), Jose Torres (Tigres, MEX)
Forwards: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Club Tijuana, MEX), John McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Belize Roster:
Goalkeepers: Frank Lopez (Belize Defense Force), Shane Orio (Marathon, HON), Woodrow West (Belmopan Bandits)
Defenders: Dalton Eiley (Placencia Assassins), Ian Gaynair (Belmopan Bandits), Tyrone Pandy (Belize Defense Force), Elroy Smith (Savio, HON), Harrison Tasher (Belize Defense Force), Ashley Torres (Placencia Assassins), Evral Trapp (Verdes FC), Khalil Velasquez (Belize Defense Force)
Midfielders: Elroy Kuylen (Unattached), Trevor Lennen (Police United), Andres Makin Jr. (Police United), Devon Makin (Police United), Luis Torres (Placencia Assassins), David Trapp (Belmopan Bandits)
Forwards: Lennox Castillo (Police United), Daniel Jimenez (Police United), Evan Mariano (Police United), Deon McCaulay (Belmopan Bandits), Harrison Roches (Belize Defense Force), Michael Salazar (UC Riverside).

Costa Rica Roster:
Goalkeepers: Leonel Moreira (Herediano), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Luis Torres (Cartagines)
Defenders: Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Junior Diaz (Mainz 05, GER), Oscar Duarte (Club Brugge, BEL), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Valerenga, NOR), Carlos Johnson (Cartagines), Juan Diego Madrigal (Saprissa), Christopher Meneses (IFK Norrkoping, SWE), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls, USA), Michael Umana (Saprissa)
Midfielders: Michael Barrantes (Aalesund, NOR), Celso Borges (AIK, SWE), Mauricio Castillo (Saprissa), Kenny Cunnigham (The Strongest, BOL), Oscar Esteban Granados (Herediano), Ariel Rodriguez (Alajuelense), Oswaldo Rodriguez (Santos de Guapiles), Yeltsin Tejeda (Saprissa), Rodney Wallace (Portland Timbers)
Forwards: Jairo Arrieta (Columbus Crew), Yendrick Ruiz (Herediano), Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake)

Cuba:
Goalkeepers: Disovelis Alejandro (Pinar Del Rio), Odelin Molina (Villa Clara), Julio Ramos (Las Tunas)
Defenders: Jorge Luis Clavelo (Villa Clara), Yoel Colome (La Habana), Jorge Luis Corrales (Pinar Del Rio), Angel Horta (Camaguey), Yasmani Lopez (Ciego De Avila), Renay Malblanche (Holguin), Jeniel Marquez (Villa Clara), Michel Marquez (Isla de la Juventud), Liban Perez (Camaguey), Alianne Urgelles (Guantanamo)
Midfielders: Dayron Blanco (Las Tunas), Jaine Colome (La Habana), Alberto Gomez (Guantanamo), Ariel Martinez (Sancti Espiritus), Jesus Rodriguez (Ciego de Avila), Miguel Angel Sanchez (Isla de la Juventud)
Forwards: Jose Alfonso (Pinar Del Rio), Armando Coroneaux (Camaguey), Yoandir Puga (Isla de la Juventud), Alexey Zuasnabar (Guantanamo)


1 comment
  1. David Crowther
    commented on: July 9, 2013 at 1:05 p.m.
    Costa Rica is announcing a starting line-up for today that only includes two regular starters from qualifying (UmaƱa and Saborio). This is pretty much the same team that played the UNCAF in January, where they weren't all that impressive despite playing at home. Only this time most of them are just starting pre-season. On the other hand, the Ticos record against Cuba in the Gold Cup is 4-0-0, with a whopping 18-3 goal differential.


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