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It was no secret coming into the Gold Cup that Honduras wasn't the same team that finished third in World Cup qualifying two years ago. They were without a couple key players and several others were in poor form. When they got drawn into a weak Group B though, they were clear favorites to win the group and that road to winning the group began Monday night against Guatemala. Apparently Guatemala had not heard that the Catrachos were favorites and despite having to play two men down, Guatemala managed a shocking scoreless draw before 21,507 fans at the Home Depot Center.
The scoreline may not excite many, but the play sure did. With both teams were sloppy at the back and nieve tactically, the match turned into an attack-fest. It started just one minute into the match with Honduras getting in alone on goal, but sliding the shot just a foot wide of the post. It continued on the other end with Guatemala throwing cross after cross into the box, only to see them cleared away. Guatemala then tried carrying the ball into the box with deeper runs and it worked, but they couldn't manage to get a shot away that would challenge the keeper. Honduras came back on the other end with Oscar Garcia, whose shot from 20 yards rattled the crossbar, but couldn't make a dent in the scoreboard.
By the time the two teams went to halftime the teams had combined for 16 shots and had spent only a few minutes in the center of the pitch. All the action was in the attacking thirds as the defenses scrambled, the midfields lacked bite and the attackers had a field day.
That's a field day without the finishing though, something that would continue through the second half. The pace in the second 45 minutes didn't let up and the chances didn't go away. The teams combined for 11 more shots, but the goals never came.
The match was supposed to get its influx of goals when Guatemala was forced to 10 men. Gustavo Cabrera's high boot took a chunk out of a Hunduran and it was his second yellow card so he was show the door. The favored Hondurans got their break, up a man for the final 30 minutes and surely would score to get the win most expected. Then, Henry media was sent off in the 79th minute for his second yellow card and Guatemala was down to nine men. Surely the underdogs would falter.
Guatemala stood strong though, dropping deep in the midfield and forcing Honduras into searching crosses or shots from distance. None of that paid off and the noisy crowd that was split evenly between each team's supporters for most of the match began to sound distinctly Guatemalan. They felt their team on the verge of a great draw and that is what they got. The referee blew for the final whistle and Guatemala had themselves a shocking point, while the Hondurans' path to the top of Group B got much trickier.
With Jamaica's 4-0 win over Grenada earlier in the day, they take over first place in Group B with three points. They also have a huge advantage in goal difference at +4, while Honduras and Guatemala sit in front of Grenada with a point apiece. Group B action continues on Friday in Miami, FL with Jamaica taking on Guatemala and Honduras squaring off against Grenada.
For 60 minutes Honduras and Guatemala played entertaining football filled with chances. The Gold Cup had itself its first truly entertaining and even match, but that may change in the final 30 minutes now that Guatemala is down to 10 men. Gustavo Cabrera was sent off by referee Francisco Chacon after a high kick of the ball in which he kicked a Honduran player in the follow through.Chacon showed no hesitation in sending Cabrera off.
Now a Guatemalan team that were already the underdogs are even more so. if they can manage to hang on for this 0-0 draw it will be a tremendous result for them, but doing so may be asking a little too much. Honduras have pressured them too much and a man down a goal from that pressure has to be in the cards. At the same time, it's tough to imagine the Guatemalans making much in the attacking third anymore as they likely play to defend and waste time in search of one point.
Grenada was out of its depth and it wasn't the most impressive of showings for Jamaica, but the result was impressive. The Reggae Boyz won 4-0 in the Gold Cup Group B opener and all of a sudden there is a little more pressure on both Honduras and Guatemala. With the draw for the knockout stage set up as it is, there is a gigantic difference between finishing first in Group B and second or third.
The Group B winner will get to play the second place team in Group C, which will most likely be Canada. The Canadians aren't exactly pushovers, but they're not outstanding. Compare playing Canada to the United States or Costa Rica because that is who the runners up and third-place team in Group B will likely have to play in the quarterfinals. There's a huge gap there.
Honduras was expected to be runaway winners of Group B, but with Maynor Figueroa missing the Gold Cup and several of their top players out of form, the gap between them and their group opponents has narrowed. Now that Jamaica has not just three points, but an impressive goal difference to work with, the margin of error for the Hondurans is getting smaller and the pressure is on.
Neither Honduras nor Guatemala can be criticized for not giving it good go in the first half of their Gold Cup Group B match. Both teams came out looking to attack from the beginning and entertaining a vocal contingent of Honduran and Guatemalan supporters at the Home Depot Center. Unfortunately, neither team could give their seat of home fans a goal, but that hasn't quieted the fans and has set the stage for a compelling second 45 minutes.
Honduras almost scored just a minute into the match, but they had their chance at goal roll just a foot wide of the post. El Salvador came right back and bombarded the Honduras box was crosses and runs, but they couldn't get on the end of any of them to even properly challenge the goal. That looked like it would make them pay when Oscar Garcia found some room 20 yards from goal and ripped a shot that beat the goalkeeper. The shot couldn't beat the crossbar though as it rattled off and into the arms of the keeper prone on the ground.
It is tough to imagine this match remaining scoreless for much longer. Both teams have had too many opportunities and are too committed to attacking to not score at some point. Defending that has bordered on atrocious doesn't hurt either so with 45 minutes to play there is probably at least one goal to be found.
The first 35 minutes of the Gold Cup Group B match between Honduras and Guatemala has been full of chances without a goal and the Catrachos just came the closest to tallying through Oscar Garcia. The winger has been a thorn in the Guatemalans' side from the start and now is abusing the crossbar as much as he is the opposing defense.
Garcia found space 20 yards from goal and with Guatemala refusing to close down on him, he decided to have a go at goal. The result was an almost fantastic goal and he struck the ball with great pace and had the goalkeeper beaten, only to see it hit the cross bar. It bounced back off of the prone goalkeeper on the turf, but not bac towards goal and the Hondurans are forced to deal the match remaining scoreless.
Neither team has shown much defending in the early going and the match is being played at a great pace. The teams are just trading chances in what might not be the most well-played of matches, but certainly one of the more entertaining ones.
Both Honduras and Guatemala came out of the dressing room to a thunderous roar and even if their play hasn't been as clean as they would like, it's provided for an entertaining 25 minutes of football that has done nothing to dampen the crowd's enthusiasm. The majority of the chances have been a result of poor defending, but chances are chances and entertainment is entertainment.
It was only two minutes in that Honduras came right in on goal and put a shot just a foot wide of the post. The 25th minute brought another chance for Honduras, this one being cleared off the line. In between were several Guatemalan crossed into the Honduran box that the blue-glad Guatemalans just missed on getting to for the match's opening tally.
This match may be scoreless, but it is doubtful that it will be for long. Both teams are finding too much space in the attacking third for someone to not score.
Jamaica didn't play their best and it didn't matter in their opening match of the Gold Cup's Group B. Aside from being without Omar Cummings and Tyrone Marshall, the Reggae Boyz were sloppy, but Grenada still didn't stand a chance. Two goals in the first half were followed up by two in the second half and by the time the final whistle blew at the mostly empty Home Depot Center, the Reggae Boyz had themselves a mighty fine looking 4-0 scoreline.
There was never a time that Jamaica weren't the far superior team and that included the early going. It took until the 21st minute for that to pay off though. A short corner have Rodolph Austin plenty of space to play a cross in and it found Luton Shelton's toe. It wasn't the mightiest of touches, but Shelton got enough on the ball to flip it over the goalkeeper and in for the opening goal.
Just before halftime, Jamaica added to their lead. Dane Richards was played in on the right and nobody was catching up with the speedy winger. He flew down the field before finding an unmarked Ryan Johnson in front of the net. Richards delivered, Johnson tapped it in and the Reggae Boyz were up 2-0.
The Reggae Boyz continued to push in the second half, but goals weren't coming. That is until the 79th minute when Demar Phillips cleverly touched the ball past a defender to put himself in on goal. He finished without a problem and Jamaica were ahead 3-0.
The match highlight came just five minutes later on a beautiful goal by Omar Daley. A ball into substitute Jevaugh Watson was waist high and tough to control. Instead of trying to do so, Watson just backheeled the ball on the first touch to an onrushing Daley, who struck the ball with his first touch. The strike was a bullet right to the upper corner and not only did Jamaica have themselves a 4-0 win, they had a great goal for the highlight reel as well.
Jamaica now sits on three points in Group B, while Grenada have none. Jamaica will play their second match of the competition on Friday night in Miami against Guatemala, while Grenada will play Honduras.
The first match of tonight's Gold Cup Group B is over and unsurprisingly, the Home Depot Center has filled up considerably. Most of the tickets for tonight's matches were bought by Hondurans and Guatemalans so with Jamaica and Grenada over, the place has fans in it now. Both sides' supporters are chanting and cheering loudly as we get closer to first kick and the Home Depot Center is alive for the first time tonight.
Honduras finished third in World Cup qualifying just two years ago and would figure to be heavy favorites, but they are without Maynor Figueroa. That, along with a clear dip in form for the team makes this more a close match-up than it should be. The Hondurans remain favorites, but not by a gigantic gap.
Honduras: Valladares, Garcia, Sabillon, Bernardez, Chavez, Beckeles, Delgado, Thomas, Martinez, Costly, Bergtson
Guatemala: Jerez, Cabrera, Castrillo, Gallardo, Noriega, Contreras, Lopez, Pappa, Velasquez, Ruiz, Lopez
The match may be well in hand, but that doesn't mean that Jamaica can't still entertain and entertain they did with a gorgeous goal that stretched their lead to 4-0 over Grenada. This Gold Cup Group B opener has been over for a long time. Even at 2-0 in the first half, Grenada never had a chance to comeback and it was just a matter of the Reggae Boyz seeing out the remaining minutes, but they sure did give the crowd a treat with Omar Daley's goal.
The move started with more Jamaica possession and a ball into Jevaugh Watson just inside the ball. The ball was waist high and not easy to handle so instead of trying ti bring it down, Watson just went with one pretty touch. He raided his foot and with his backheel laid the ball off for Daley who came in and with his first touch from just outside the box hammered a shot into the upper corner.
It was a beautiful goal to cap what Jamaica will think is a beautiful win. Grenada is nowhere near their level, but 4-0 is a good result for anyone in any match.
It took many missed opportunities, but Jamaica has finally aded to their lead over Grenada thanks to a fine goal by Demar Phillips. The Reggae Boyz dominated the second half just like they did the first, but shots went just side of goal, they put open chances well off of the mark and were even denied by the crossbar once. Phillips was not going to be denied though and with just 10 minutes remaining the Reggae Boyz lead Grenada, 3-0.
Phillips made a good run down the left and had the ball played in front of him to run onto. A defender got to the ball a split second after Phillips, who used one deft touch to put the ball past the defender before getting to it again and finishing for the goal. The goalkeeper was left helpless, much like the entire Grenada team as the Reggae Boyz pile it on.
Grenada is out of their depth, Jamaica is cruising and there are a couple dozen people at the Home Depot Center to notice. Okay, a couple dozen might be lowballing the crowd a bit, but the empty seats far outnumber the full ones for the first match of a Gold Cup Group B doubleheader. With the large Guatemalan and Honduran populations in Los Angeles, the bulk of the tickets were bought up by those fan bases and while the first match goes on inside the stadium, they are outside tailgating. What they are missing is complete domination by the Reggae Boyz, who lead Grenada 2-0 at halftime.
It started quickly for the Reggae Boyz and never let up. While the first 20 minutes went in favor of the men in yellow, it took until the 21st minute for it to pay off. Luton Shelton got on the end of a Rodolph Austin cross following a short corner to put the Reggae Boyz up, then not long before halftime Dane Richards sped down the right side before crossing for a wide open Ryan Johnson to make it 2-0.
Without Shalrie Joseph, Grenada stands no chance of even competing with Jamaica. Not that they would have much of a chance anyways, but it would give them a sliver of hope. The Reggae Boyz have wasted chances, been sloppy and still had their way. Maybe the thousands of fans in the parking lot were smart for having a good time and waiting for their second match instead of checking out this contest.
Dane Richards to Ryan Johnson and Jamaica are up 2-0. If that's not confirmation that MLS is a superpower league then I don't know what is. Oh, Jamaica are playing Grenada? Maybe not a superpower league, but it was still a pair of MLSers who put the Reggae Boyz in front five minutes before halftime.
A good ball over the top opened up the speedy Richards down the right. In behind the defense, RIchards ran towards the endline before spotted an not quite as speedy, but still darn fast Johnson making a run right down the middle. Richards' cross was right on Johnson's foot and the San Jose Earthquakes man was able to tap the ball into an empty goal to put the Reggae Boyz up 2-0.
Jamaica's 2-0 lead is complete deserved considering they have absolutely dominated the first half of action. Grenada simply does not have the quality to play with even a weakened Reggae Boyz side and this match is turning into a laugher.
It took 21 minutes, but Jamaica finally got the first goal of this Gold Cup Group B opening match and the silence at the Home Depot Cent was deafening. After all, it is hard for empty seats to make noise. The favored Reggae Boyz went short with a corner kick and turned it into a goal to put them up 1-0 on Grenada. Meanwhile, the thousands of empty seats and benches at the stadium wait for the butts of Hondurans and Guatemalans to fill them for the second match of this doubleheader.
Rodolph Austin delivered the ball into Luton Shelton for the goal after a quick give-and-go on the corner kick. Austin got the ball back and played a good, hard, low ball in from the left. Shelton made a good run towards the near post and barely got a toe to it, but it was enough to pop the cross up and over the Grenada goalkeeper for the first goal of this group stage match.
Grenada is one of the weaker teams in the Gold Cup and playing without their best player, Shalrie Joseph, nobody expects them to challenge for a spot in the knockout stages. The Reggae Boyz are looking clean and comfortable, even without star striker Omar Cummings, and controlled the early part of the match before seeing it pay off with the goal. Unless something changes soon, the Reggae Boyz should have a multi-goal win at the end of 90 minutes.
The all-important Gold Cup Group B opening match between Jamaica and Grenada is ready to get underway at the Home Depot Center and all of a few dozen fans are in the stadium to watch. Truthfully, this match has importance and with El Salvador losing 5-0 to Mexico yesterday, getting one of the third-place spots that advances to the knockout stages is possible for either of these teams so a good result can go a long ways today. Even so, the simple fact is that the large Honduran and Guatemalan populations in Los Angeles have bought up the bulk of the tickets for the second match of this doubleheader, leaving the stadium empty for game one.
This match might be more about who isn't here than it is who is. For Grenada, they are without Shalrie Joseph, undoubtedly their top players. Jamaica's Omar Cummings joins Joseph in being out for the tournament, while Tyrone Marshall is also out.
Grenada: David Cyrus, Craig Roscastle, Marc Marshall, Delroy Facey, Ricky Charles, Benedict Modest (c). Leon Johnson, Anthony Straker, Patrick Modeste, Shane Rennie, Samuel Louison
Group B is probably the most glamorous group of the 2011 Gold Cup (Copa Oro), but it does feature one of CONCACAF's elites and a couple of other teams capable of an upset. Honduras are far and away the favorites to take this group, while Guatemala and Jamaica have some very solid talent. Grenada? Well...they're Grenada. Poor Grenada.
Jamaica Vs. Grenada
Jamaica have the talent to put a scare on some of the bigger teams in CONCACAF, but they don't even have to use most of it to win on Monday night. New England Revolution midfielder Shalrie Joseph has opted not to join the Grenada squad for this competition, and he was easily their best player. Now, their best player is probably Sporting Kansas City's Craig Rocastle. Ouch.
The Reggae Boys have a very solid midfield made up of some guys who are getting extensive playing time in Norway, and their team of strikers might be better than that of CONCACAF giants Honduras and the United States. Luton Shelton's goal scoring record is impeccable, and there's no denying the physical talent of
Omar Cummings and Ryan Johnson. Their defense is shaky, but goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts will keep them in games. Edit: Omar Cummings is injured and out for this game.
Honduras Vs. Guatemala
Guatemala does not have the talent of Honduras, but their players who play domestically are perhaps slightly underrated, and should not be taken lightly. Most familiar to American fans will be Marco Pappa and Carlos Ruiz, who should be automatic starters for Guatemala.
Honduras have perhaps regressed from the previous World Cup qualifying cycle, but they are still the fourth best team in CONCACAF and very much the favorites to get out of this group. They might struggle to create goals against high-level opposition, but their defensive midfielders and back line are comparable with the United States and better than Costa Rica. Their one weakness in the defensive department is goalkeeper and captain Noel Valladares, whose experience and leadership don't make up for his errors.
Despite their deficiencies, Honduras should probably have enough to beat Guatemala.
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