As a reminder of what is on the line here in the Gold Cup. Outside of winning the Gold Cup and being the Concacaf Champion, the winner of the 2015 Gold Cup will play the winner of the 2013 Gold Cup (USA) for a berth in the Confederations Cup in Russia 2017.
In addition the Gold Cup is the de facto first stage of qualifying for 2016 Copa América Centenario. USA (automatic qualifier and potential host), Mexico (automatic qualifier), Jamaica (2014 Caribbean Cup winners) and Costa Rica (2014 Copa Centroamericana winners) have already qualified for the tournament. The next four teams from the Gold Cup will enter a playoff for the last two spots in the 2016 Copa América Centenario. There is still some doubt as to if the tournament is going to take place, but if it does go through then the qualifying mechanism expects to be unchanged.
Matchday 1 for Group C saw Mexico pummel a shorthanded Cuba 6-0 taking 44 shots in the process. While Trinidad and Tobago took advantage of some very poor defending by Guatemala in their 3-1 win.
Trinidad and Tobago (FIFA Rank 64) v Cuba (104)
The story from the opener was all about Cuba's problems fielding a team. Of the initial 23 man roster, 6 players and the manager had visa issues and did not make the game. Cuba only suited up 16 players with an assistant manager in charge. In addition to the travel issues, one player defected before the match. Mexico pummelled them with 44 shots and completely controlled the game.
Reportedly the 6 players and team manager have rejoined the team in Phoenix. Cuba was never likely to get a result against Mexico, so in the big picture their Gold Cup starts now.
Trinidad and Tobago looked very good against Guatemala and a familiar name in former Sounders Cordell Cato had the second of three early goals for the Caribbean nation. T&T had a three goal lead by the 25th minute and while Guatemala pulled one back, it was mostly over early. With Mexico looming as the group finisher, T&T needs at least a draw here to ensure advancement and could likely finish second with a win.
Guatemala (105) v Mexico (40)
Guatemala's defense was putrid against Trinidad and Tobago in the opener. They started the game like they were tentatively going to build into the tournament and were punished for it. If Marco Pappa's team plays like that against Mexico, you will likely see Pappa on the Sounders sideline by Saturday as their Gold Cup adventure will be short lived.
Mexico so totally dominated Cuba that many people were complaining about their finishing and how they did not score more than six goals in 44 shots. When the biggest complaint is that your team "only" won by six, it was a good night.
University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona is approaching a sell out. Expect a very partisan Mexico crowd for this match.
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