Skip to content

Re-evaluating what we know about CONCACAF after round one

Feb 7, 2013, 7:15 AM EDT

U.S. players react after losing their 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Honduras at Olimpico stadium in San Pedro Sula Reuters

Three surprise results later, it’s far more difficult to know what to make of CONCACAF. Even the results that were somewhat explicable developed in ways that prompted new questions. Are the U.S. defenders a bigger problem than we thought? Is Mexico really that far ahead of the rest of the region? Is Panama ready?

One round into CONCACAF’s final stage, it’s time to pause and reevaluate The Hex – assess our new knowledge and determine to what extend that we need to change our outlook for the rest of the tournament.

Let’s go from winners to losers:

Honduras – There’s a temptation to label winning at home as merely holding serve, a description which might be true for Mexico and the United States. But Honduras is not a perpetual World Cup qualifier, even if they did make 2010’s show. To take three points that their competitors for third are less likely to grab is a huge result. Perhaps more importantly, if the midfield led by Roger Espinoza and Boniek Garcia performs like this through the next nine rounds, the Catrachos are unlikely to be pulled into a battle for third. This is a team that could compete closer to the top of the standings.

Costa Rica – Particularly after failing to qualify for South Africa, the Ticos have become the region’s neglected power. For half an hour on Wednesday, Costa Rica dwelled in realms of the forgotten as they spotted Panama two goals. But coming back to claim a point, the Costa Ricans gave us a nudge, woke us up, and reminded us they’re weren’t that far from qualifying for a third straight World Cup in 2010. While Bryan Ruiz’s overhead, game-tying goal may be the type of effort you can’t write into the game plan, Jorge Luis Pinto’s team put themselves in position to benefit. A valuable road point should open our eyes, a little.

Jamaica – This game had blowout written all over it before kicking off, but Jamaica were able to get the round’s most surprising result. Parts of the Reggae Boyz’ result reek of an underdog riding a goalkeeping blinder, but applying that description to the entire match would understate Jamaica’s performance. They had real chances to take full points, and while earning a surprise result at Azteca shouldn’t vault them to the top of our Most Likely to Qualify lists, the draw was reminds us Jamaica have enough talent and athleticism to frustrate anybody in the region. Even Mexico.

source: ReutersMexico – They came out flat, and their fans let them know it. Second half boos and ironic cheers for the Jamaicans reminded El Tri that they’re playing under higher expectations. Whether the standard’s fair or not, teams like Jamaica aren’t supposed to trouble Mexico, especially at home. Still, it was only 90 minutes of a 900 minute tournament, and while ‘Chepo’ de la Torre’s side performed well below expectations, nothing we saw on Wednesday should convince us their round one disappointment was more than a one-off.

Panama – It’s hard to call any team a “big loser” one match into the tournament, but Panama was the team that lost the most on Wednesday. Not only did they give up a two-goal lead, they capitulated to one of the two teams they should be targeting for third place. We alluded to it in yesterday’s preview: The inability to play to the stakes could hurt the Canaleros early in the tournament. Their inexperience may have cost them two points they’re unlikely to reclaim at Estadio Saprissa.

United States – The somewhat strange-cum-freakish way it happened overshadowed the remainder of a disappointing performance, but Wednesday’s loss didn’t tell us anything new about the United States. They’re still not generating enough chances, have problems in defense, and have a surprising number of questions in midfield (both in personnel and style). But even though the team is not playing to fans’ expectations, they still project as the second-best team in the region. The fact that they almost got a result against a good Catracho team (that got strong individual performances) only affirms that status.

Latest Posts
  1. USMNT player ratings: Johnson, Bradley, Dempsey diamonds in a rough, ugly win

    Jul 8, 2015, 12:08 AM EDT

    Team USA's Clint Dempsey (R) tries to get a loose ball from Honduras' Bryan Acosta (6) during the first half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. (Steve Nurenberg/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images) Getty Images

    We highly doubt any U.S. fans were impressed by more than 2-3 players in Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener, and that’s okay.

  2. 2015 Gold Cup: Three things we learned from the USA’s 2-1 victory over Honduras

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:41 PM EDT

    FRISCO, TX - JULY 07:  Clint Dempsey #8 of USA celebrates after scoring against Honduras during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A match between USA and Honduras at Toyota Stadium on July 7, 2015 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    From Alvarado to Zardes with Najar in between, Andy Edwards tells you what he saw in Frisco.

  3. USMNT 2-1 Honduras: Dempsey brace enough for sloppy Yanks

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:30 PM EDT

    FRISCO, TX - JULY 07:  Clint Dempsey #8 of USA scores against Honduras during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A match between USA and Honduras at Toyota Stadium on July 7, 2015 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Next up in Group A is a Friday doubleheader in Foxborough, with Panama and Honduras opening the evening for the U.S. and Haiti.

  4. From London to Lisbon: Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz has a new club

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    CANTON DE BELEN, COSTA RICA - JUNE 01:  Bryan Ruiz of Costa Rica holds the ball during Costa Rica training session ahead the beginning of Gold Cup 2015 at FEDEFUTBOL-Plycem Training Centre on June 01, 2015 in Canton de Belen, Costa Rica. (Photo by Arnoldo Robert/LatinContent/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Ruiz will join a potent attack with Islam Slimani and Fredy Montero.

  5. LOGO: Atlanta United unveils logo, makes name official at Tuesday event

    Jul 7, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT

    Atlanta United

    The idea of gold playing a big role is nice, although only the red separate this look from the Philadelphia Union.

  6. Panama 1-1 Haiti: Nazon’s dizzying move helps Les Grenadiers to surprising draw (video)

    Jul 7, 2015, 9:06 PM EDT

    FRISCO, TX - JULY 07:  Blas Perez #7 of Panama controls the ball against Jerome Mechack #3 of Haiti during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A match between Panama and Haiti at Toyota Stadium on July 7, 2015 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Duckens Moses Nazon, take a bow: Your 86th minute goal helped start the 2015 Gold Cup in style.

  7. FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT begins Gold Cup defense versus Honduras (Lineups)

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:37 PM EDT

    @USSoccer @USSoccer

    Michael Bradley assumes the captain’s armband from Clint Dempsey and will earn cap No. 100 for his career in the Gold Cup.

  8. CONCACAF ends corporate partnership with FIFA scandal-embattled Traffic Sports USA

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT

    concacaf

    It’s certainly one of those press releases that makes you think, “Well, I had just assumed that happened, but thanks for confirming.”

  9. WATCH: President Obama calls & congratulates USWNT, invites team to White House

    Jul 7, 2015, 7:52 PM EDT

    Obama USWNT

    All this on the heels of the USWNT announced as the first female team to received a ticker tape parade down New York City’s Canyon of Heroes.

  10. Galaxy’s Gerrard meets the media: “Very impressed with the standard” of MLS

    Jul 7, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT

    CARSON, CA - JULY 7: New Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard #8 poses with his jersey after a news conference on July 7, 2015 at StubHub Center in Carson, California. The former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is scheduled to play his first MLS match on Friday, July 17 at StubHub Center against San Jose Earthquakes. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Getty Images

    You get the feeling it’s impossible not to be motivated when Steven Gerrard is your teammate. Now toss in Robbie Keane.

  11. USWNT to become first females in 55 years to get ticker tape parade down NYC’s Canyon of Heroes

    Jul 7, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

    USA v Germany: Semi Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 USA v Germany: Semi Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015

    The last female to receive a ticker tape parade down that route was 1960 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Carol Heiss Jenkins.

  12. Three reasons Canada could surprise Group B (and beyond) at Gold Cup

    Jul 7, 2015, 4:58 PM EDT

    TORONTO, ON- JUNE 16  -   Tesho Akindele battles for a ball with Chad Bertrand as Team Canada plays Dominica in the second leg of World Cup qualifying   at BMO Field in Toronto.  June 16, 2015.        (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Their “no-name” defense hasn’t allowed a goal in four matches, and Canada could surprise you this month.

  13. United States midfielder Lauren Holiday announces plans to retire with Women’s World Cup title in hand

    Jul 7, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

    VANCOUVER, BC - JULY 05:   Lauren Holiday #12 of the United States celebrates as she scores her first goal in the first half against Japan  in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Lauren Holiday, 27, scored the eventual game-winning goal in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.

  14. Lampard talks club, challenge, Gerrard: “For me this is as much of a challenge as Chelsea was, as Man City was” (video)

    Jul 7, 2015, 4:09 PM EDT

    Source: New York City FC Source: New York City FC

    “For me this is as much of a challenge as Chelsea was, as Man City was,” Lampard said. “I play football to win.”

  15. 2015 Gold Cup predictions: Can the USMNT win back-to-back titles? Here’s our picks…

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Championship - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Getty Images

    PST’s staff predict how the Gold Cup will play out as the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica clash to become CONCACAF champs.

  16. 2015 Gold Cup: USMNT player profiles – Forwards

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT

    England v USA: Group C - 2010 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Altidore and Dempsey will lead the attack. But who else is in reserve?

  17. Where does Andrea Pirlo joining New York City FC rank in history of MLS mega-deals?

    Jul 7, 2015, 2:35 PM EDT

    Is he in the top five of superstars to join North America’s top-flight since the DP rule was introduced?

  18. 2015 Gold Cup: USMNT player profiles – Midfielders

    Jul 7, 2015, 1:59 PM EDT

    Mix Diskerud, USMNT Mix Diskerud, USMNT

    Will Yedlin start on the right? Have Bradley and Mix got the center locked down?

  19. Reflecting on Michael Bradley from 1-99, as he hits 100 USMNT caps vs. Honduras

    Jul 7, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    Michael Bradley, USMNT Getty Images

    A man who’ll go down as one of the USMNT’s all-time greats hits 100 caps tonight. A few thoughts on Il Generale.

  20. Gold Cup Today: USMNT face Honduras, Panama vs. Haiti kick things off – Day 1

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    Honduras v United States Getty Images

    Day 1 of the 2015 Gold Cup is here, as the U.S. starts its title defense with a showdown in Texas.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip