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.
USA (FIFA Rank 34) v Cuba (104)
The USA won Group A with a 2-1 win over Honduras on two goals from Clint Dempsey, a 1-0 win over Haiti on another Dempsey goal and a 1-1 draw with Panama after the group was already won. They rotated players throughout the group stage, only Michael Bradley and Brad Guzan played all 270 minutes. Guzan is a goalie and Bradley could quite possibly play 90 minutes every day for a month at this point in his career.
Cuba advanced to the quarterfinals of the Gold Cup with the worst record in the history of the Gold Cup for a team to advance. They finished with one win, a negative seven goal differential and only one goal scored to earn their three points. After being routed 6-0 in the opener to Mexico, Cuba were able to add the six players and the team manager that missed the opener due to travel visa issues. According to Fox Sports in the broadcast against Guatemala, four players and one coach have left the team via defection since the tournament started. By virtue of making the quarterfinals, Cuba qualified for a playoff with Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Panama for two spots in next summer's Copa Centenario. No matter what happens today this tournament is a success for Cuba. Ariel Martinez is the danger man for Cuba.
Late Note: According to a report from Univision (Spanish), Ariel Martinez has defected.
This match will be in Baltimore, where CONCACAF again made the decision to lay down temporary grass over turf. The was no One Direction concert or Manchester United v Club America friendly match in the preceding 96 hours to the sod being laid so it might be in decent shape.
Jamaica (76) v Haiti (79)
This is another example of FIFA rankings being skewed, Jamaica is no where near the 76th best team in the world. They are playing well, with a nine players in their current squad based in MLS. Well nine before the Portland Timbers Alvas Powell left the team. Reports are mixed depending on who you listen to as to why Powell left the team. But there have been indications that the 20 year old was not happy sitting on the bench and wanted to return to his club. Powell is behind 28 year old Crystal Palace defender Adrian Mariappa in the depth chart of Jamaican right backs.
Jamaica won Group B with wins over Canada and El Salvador following an opening draw with favored Costa Rica. Haiti finished second in Group A with 4 points. They drew with Panama in the opener, lost a close 1-0 match to the USA then beat Honduras 1-0 in the final game.
Elo ratings has Jamaica 61st and Haiti 88th. That disparity is probably closer to the true rating of each team. And since you probably wanted to know, USA is 14th while Cuba is 115th.
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