Saturday CONCACAF Gold Cup: Quarterfinals Preview.
The knockout stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup begins on Saturday with two quarterfinals matches at the University of Phoenix at Glendale, Arizona.
El Salvador plays Qatar in the opening match at 7:20 PM ET. La Selecta comes off a 1-0 loss to Mexico last Sunday. Manager Hugo Perez’s team did not need a result in that match after clinching a spot in the quarterfinals with two victories in their opening two matches. El Salvador defeated Guatemala in their first group stage match before beating Trinidad and Tobago by the same score in their second game. They have scored four goals and conceded one time in their three games.
La Selecta will be playing their second knockout stage match in their last six Gold Cups. This group may be El Salvador’s best national team in years after a recent successful run in their World Cup qualifying matches. They have eight victories in their last ten matches over a span where they scored 23 goals. They conceded only three times in their most recent ten games, and they have nine clean sheets in their last 13 matches. Seattle Sounders midfielder Alex Roldan offers a creative spark in the midfield. Toronto FC center back Eriq Zavaleta anchors the backline. FIFA ranks El Salvador 69th in the world. The ELO ratings place them 74th.
Qatar claimed first place in Group D with a 2-0 victory against Honduras on Tuesday. Homam Ahmed scored their opening goal in the 25th minute before Abdulaziz Hatem scoring the final goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time in the second half. The Maroon opened the tournament with a 3-3 draw with Panama. They defeated Grenada, 4-0, in their second group stage match last Saturday. Qatar has scored nine times in their three games and allowed three goals.
The Maroon was a guest to participate in this North American tournament as preparation for their squad when they compete and host the 2021 World Cup next November. Most of the roster consists of club-level players in Qatar. Manager Felix Sanchez’s squad is led by forward Akram Afif, who has scored 19 goals in 64 caps for the national team. Forward Hassan Al-Haydos is the all-time leader in caps with 141. The Maroon entered the event with four straight victories from friendlies and World Cup qualifying matches. FIFA ranks Qatar 58th in the world. The ELO ratings place them 45th in the world.
MGM lists Qatar as a -0.5 goal line favorite with a total of 2.
Honduras plays Mexico on FS1 at 10:30 PM ET. Los Catrachos had already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals with two victories in their opening two matches before losing to Qatar, 2-0. They Los opened the tournament with a 4-0 win against Grenada. Honduras followed that up with a 3-2 victory against Panama last Saturday. They have scored seven times and have conceded four goals in their three group stage matches.
Los Catrachos competed in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups before not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They finished last in their group in the 2019 Gold Cup with only three points. Honduras finished in third place in the CONCACAF Nations League that concluded last month. Los Catrachos have an experienced back line led by Houston Dynamo defender Maynor Figueroa. The 41-year-old captain is the national team’s all-time leader with 168 caps entering this event. Houston Dynamo midfielder Boniek Garcia had 128 caps for the squad when the tournament started. FIFA ranks Honduras 67th in the world. The ELO ratings place them 58th.
Mexico won Group B with their victory against El Salvador last Sunday. Luis Alfonso Rodrigo scored their winning goal in the 26th minute. El Tri opened their defense of the 2019 Gold Cup title with a 0-0 draw with Trinidad and Tobago. They followed that up with a 3-0 victory against Guadeloupe. Mexico has scored four goals and has yet to concede a goal in their three matches.
Manager Gerardo Martino has assembled most of the nation’s top players to compete in this event. The notable exceptions on the roster were forwards Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Raul Jimenez, and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Mexico lost for Napoli forward Hirving “Chucky” Lozano for the tournament after incurring a head injury in the opening match against Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico is led by Porto forward Jesus Corona, Atletico Madrid midfielder Hector Herrera, and Ajax defender Edson Alvarez. El Tri is ranked 11th in the world by FIFA. The ELO ratings place them 15th.
MGM lists Mexico as a -1 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.5.