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
(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. Roster: 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. Roster: 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. Roster: Goalkeepers --
Ricardo Canales (Motagua), Donis Escober (Olimpia), John Bodden (Victoria). Defenders --
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).
There's no Rafael Marquez
, no Cuauhtemoc
, 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. Roster: 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),
(Morelia), Carlos Esquivel (Toluca), Jose Maria Cardenas (Pachuca).