Lots to play for on Concacaf Day 1

[WORLD CUP 2014 QUALIFYING COUNTDOWN] For the United States and Mexico, perennial favorites to qualify for the World Cup, the only question on Day 1 of the semifinal round of Concacaf qualifying is how many goals will they win by when they host minnows Antigua & Barbuda and Guyana from the Caribbean zone, respectively. But Friday's other four games -- Jamaica-Guatemala, Costa Rica-El Salvador, Cuba-Canada and Honduras-Panama -- are all intriguing matchups that will give an early indication of how things stack up in the three groups from which the top two move on to next year's Hexagonal.

JAMAICA-GUATEMALA. The Reggae Boyz will be the favorites to get the job done at "The Office," Kingston's National Stadium. Jamaica beat Guatemala, 2-0, at the 2011 Gold Cup to extend its unbeaten streak against Guatemala to 12 games (nine wins and three ties), though they've never met in World Cup qualifying. Jamaica has enough talent to survive the loss of Marlon King and Chris Humphrey, dropped from the squad after breaking curfew. Guatemala, on the other hand, is reeling following the loss of former MLS players Pando Ramirez and Gustavo Cabrera, and Yoni Flores, mixed up in a match-fixing investigation. MLS Connection: Jamaica -- Donovan Ricketts (Montreal), Ryan Johnson (Toronto FC), Dane Richards (New York), Je-Vaughn Watson (Houston), Jermaine Taylor (Houston), Lovel Palmer (Portland), Guatemala -- Marco Pappa (Chicago).

MEXICO-GUYANA. Guyana's Golden Jaguars were the surprise of Concacaf's qualifying round, winning a group that included Trinidad & Tobago, but they have absolutely no chance at Azteca Stadium against Mexico, which is coming off a 2-0 win over Brazil. Star Javier Hernandez refused to get caught up in the talk of a double-digit rout. "I have never spoken badly of an opponent," Chicharito said, "and I am never going to. We need the three points to start on the right foot." MLS Connection: Mexico -- Rafael Marquez (New York).

COSTA RICA-EL SALVADOR. Last time around, the Ticos would have been the clear favorites, but they have struggled in the last couple of years, while El Salvador is improving. This is the third straight qualifying round in which they've met. Costa Rica swept the semifinal round four years ago, while the teams split in the 2009 Hexagonal. The game will be the first qualifier at San Jose's new National Stadium. MLS Connection: Costa Rica -- Roy Miller (New York), Porfirio Lopez (Philadelphia), Rodney Wallace (Portland), Olman Vargas (Columbus), Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake); El Salvador -- Steve Purdy (Portland).

CUBA-CANADA. There is reason for optimism that Canada might have a shot of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, but it faces a must-win game right out of the gate against Cuba in Havana. Canada struggled at times to score against lesser opponents in last year's qualifying round. It had to settle for 0-0 ties with Puerto Rico in Toronto and St. Kitts & Nevis away. MLS Connection: Canada -- Andre Hainault (Houston), Dejan Jakovic (D.C. United), Ante Jazic (Chivas USA), Ashtone Morgan (Toronto FC), Julian de Guzman (Toronto FC), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Will Johnson (Real Salt Lake).

HONDURAS-PANAMA. Honduras and Panama are the two hottest teams in Central America. Both reached the semifinals of the 2011 Gold Cup. Honduras is coming off a 3-0 win over El Salvador before almost 42,000 fans at Washington's RFK Stadium, while Panama beat Jamaica twice, 1-0 and 2-1. Veteran David Suazo is doubtful up front for the Catrachos, but they still have former Houston Dynamo striker Carlo Costly as well as young star Choco Lozano from their Olympic team. MLS Connection: Victor Bernardez (San Jose), Roger Espinoza (Sporting KC); Panama -- Blas Perez (FC Dallas), Gabriel Gomez (Philadelphia).

June 8
USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda
Jamaica vs. Guatemala
June 12
Antigua & Barbuda vs. Jamaica
Guatemala vs. USA

June 8
Mexico vs. Guyana
Costa Rica vs. El Salvador
June 12
Guyana vs. Costa Rica
El Salvador vs. Mexico

June 8
Honduras vs. Panama
Cuba vs. Canada
June 12
Canada vs. Honduras
Panama vs. Cuba

9 comments about "Lots to play for on Concacaf Day 1".
  1. Luis Arreola, June 7, 2012 at 10:33 p.m.

    Finally something said about Mexico's big win over Brazil on Soccer America. I guess Jamaica disciplining players and Guatemalas mat h fixing issues were better and more popular headlines.

  2. Walt Pericciuoli, June 8, 2012 at 10:53 a.m.

    I believe we will have a difficult time qualifying out of Conacaf for the WC 2014. Mexico are clear favorites.Who are the #2,3 and 4???In our current state of deterioration over the past few years, I don't think we can consider ourselves automatic in the top 4.Our team tends to overlook the "minnows". Every game will be a test and we should have an all in approach.

  3. Chris Sapien , June 8, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.

    That's rediculous Walt.......We, as always, will rise to the occassion, finish in the top spot of our group, and based on whether we need the points or not to advance, will finish in one of the top two point positions overall. (and if they're such clear favorites, why do they come here (U.S.)to play their difficult international friendlies ??) And Luis, if you're so intriqued with Mexico and favorable publicity for their side, there are plenty of other sites and blogs that pander to their expatriot fans, and those who describe themselves as any type of hyphenated-American. The USA doesn't need half-hearted supporters!

  4. Luis Arreola, June 8, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.

    They come here to play friendliest becaude of the money, obviously. Mexico fills stadiums. USA does not. That's why most Gold Cups are played here. As a matter a fact El Salvador, Honduras fill more seats as well. I support USA and which to see them succeed & that is why I refuse to settle or make excuses for a bad system that is in place. As Americans we must demand excellence, in this case, with player selection, development, etc. & question if needed ineffective procedures. I am also a Fab of great soccer and my other team is Mexico and there us nothing wrong with that. Brazil has fans, not Brazilian, all over the world. This is a free country, as promoted, so we are free to root for as many countries as we choose. What you have to ask yourself is do you always feel offended when someone talks about a particular soccer country that us not USA or are you just following the nowadays trend of negativity towards the Mexicans?

  5. Luis Arreola, June 8, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.

    Chris, is this site exclusive to non Mexico supporters ?? If so, you should send in a complaint and ask that they don't speak of Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, or Canada. You should ask that they change the name to Soccer USA Daily. America is an entire conitnent to which Mexico is part of and which's descendants were here much longer than most of the current population.

  6. Chris Sapien , June 8, 2012 at 8:09 p.m.

    Wow, Luis, so angry aren't we?? Don't worry, I deal with this all the time.....ya da, ya da, "free country" ya da, ya da "negativity towards mexicans" etc.......I am from mexican, spanish, and even apache decent, but I am not "mexican", and certainly not "Mexican-American". I bleed and always will bleed Red, White and Blue, no other, never another, and that includes not supporting other nations squads!! Club teams cool, national teams never. You have an identity crisis......Don't feel bad, true American supporters deal with it everyday. And as for Mexico playing here to make money, as you readily admit, what does that say about "El Tri" that they don't even respect their own nation's citizens to fill their coffers, and rather see those like yourself, most likely, as a willing resource to keep adding money into their system. It's sad actually that you equate attendance at U.S.games with then the conclusion that Americans don't support and aren't committed as other nation's fans to their team. I wonder what you then say about the thousands of mexico jersey wearing folks who also wear U.S. jerseys underneath whenever the two sides meet here for an important game? Stop seeing yourself as a victim, and choose only the side that provides you with "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Freedom and the rule of law is what protects opportunity in this land! Will you stand-up and understand that this discussion is a mere indication of what will bring down this country? I don't think you will.........thanks for the attempt on the history lesson though. Well that should take care of that. Go Poland.....

  7. Luis Arreola, June 9, 2012 at 1:02 a.m.

    Chris, I respect you're honesty and passion but tell me what clubs Dp you root for and why? I agree with you about how our money is made but USA is guilty of the same. Mexico vs USA in Los Angeles, Gold Cup? I don't attend Mexico games in USA. You're assumption is wrong there. When something is done of neccessity it takes away from actual love, especially around people like you. Soccer is felt deep down in the blood where social status doesn't matter. Don't you think they wear Mexico jerseys over USA ones for a reason? Respect for one but overall love for the other. This country will go down for nothing other than the Hipocricy it was founded on. Nothing else. You can document that. It figures you would go for Poland. They are in the middle of racist and hateful issues right now. We'll at least some polish fans.

  8. Luis Arreola, June 9, 2012 at 1:05 a.m.

    I provide myself with what I want. This country is ours. You are just visiting.

  9. Chris Sapien , June 12, 2012 at 4:27 p.m.

    Sorry, I don't sit on the internet all day, especially on three day weekends like the last. The Poland thing was a joke, I thought you would have read the irony in it....? The Gold Cup final location moves around, and is scheduled before hand. They take the jerseys off when it is apparent mexico will lose........any hypocrisy here is multiplied a thousand then in mexico.........a country that has had almost the identical amount of time to grow and prosper as the U.S.,.......Manchester City, because when I first became an ardent fan of the EPL he was the only American field player starting that I was aware of.....It doesn't make sense that you won't attend U.S. v mexico games if the opportunity is there, given you admire their side so much........and lastly, Webster: "Hypocrisy-the feigning of qualities and beliefs that one does not actually possess or hold, esp. a pretense of piety or moral superiority"......They don't call the U.S. "The Leader of the Free World" for nothing you know.......Not sure if your last was meant fo me, but whatever.....BTW, did you complain about not enough mexico coverage v Guyana also...just asking, haven't looked.

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