Canada finds goals hard to come by in CONCACAF Nations League rematch with Cuba

Canada survived heat, a hard pitch and a physical Cuba side in a 1-0 win in CONCACAF Nations League A play Tuesday, just three days after running roughshod over the Cubans in Toronto.

Canada dominated play but needed a ninth-minute Alphonso Davies goal for the win.

Despite losing centre back Doneil Henry to a second yellow card in the 55th minute, the Canadian men had 82 per cent possession at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex and completed 696 passes to the Cubans’ 93.

Canada only managed six shots, the same as Cuba, and only put one on target.

“It was a tough game. The surface was not the best but I think we fought hard,” said Davies. “We’re happy to get the three points.”

“This is football. You have to grind a result. It’s not always pretty,” he added

Davies, who had a fine game despite absorbing plenty of punishment from the Cubans, scored with a powerful left-footed blast from just inside the penalty box after a Cuban turnover at midfield. It was the Bayern Munich teenager’s fourth goal in 15 national team appearances.

“He wouldn’t be at Bayern if he didn’t have that quality,” said goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who captained Canada for the first time. “The kid is just amazing. He’s a wunderkind.”

Playing at a neutral site, a revamped Canadian roster found itself dealing with a Cuban side that was decidedly more stubborn and physical despite reportedly losing players to defection on the trip to Canada.

The Cubans chopped down Canadians as needed and Guatemalan referee Mario Escobar content to let them play.

Canada, ranked 78th in the world, thumped No. 179 Cuba 6-0 on Saturday at BMO Field with captain Junior Hoilett recording a hat trick and Jonathan David, Jonathan Osorio and Henry also scoring.

The Canadian men had beaten Cuba 7-0 in group play at the Gold Cup in June.

“We knew on this pitch and (with) the conditions, the goals weren’t going to be as flowing,” said Canada coach John Herdman.

“But I was really happy with how the players responded,” he added. “I think we controlled the game, even down to 10 men.”

Tuesday’s game was shifted to the Cayman Islands capital when the stadium in Havana did not pass CONCACAF scrutiny.

While Canada controlled Tuesday’s game, the Cubans were more disciplined in defence — sitting deep with two lines of four and content with the occasional counter-attack by forward Maykel Reyes, who had a stint with Mexico’s Cruz Azul in 2018.

Canada had 72 per cent possession in the first half but only put one shot on target. The Cubans had one first-half scoring chance but the ball hit the side of the goal.

The Canadians wanted a penalty for handball in the 46th minute but didn’t get it. Herdman introduced Osorio in the 52nd minute in a bid to help open up the Cubans.

With Henry off the field, Herdman brought on centre back Derek Cornelius and removed striker Cycle Larin in the 60th minute. Liam Millar replaced Davies in the 79th minute.

Canada’s career record against Cuba stands at 9-2-3 with a 27-9 edge in goals.

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Report: USMNT to play Cuba at Audi Field in October

When the United States Men’s National Team begins play in the CONCACAF Nations League in October, they may be doing it in our nation’s capital. According to a report tweeted by the Washington Post’s Steven Goff a couple days ago, the USMNT is zeroing in on selecting Audi Field, home of D.C. United, as the venue to host Cuba in Group A play October 11th.

Steven Goff
@SoccerInsider

Looking like @AudiField will host 2 U.S. national team matches this fall: Aside from my previous report of a friendly Nov. 7, is now slated to come to DC Oct. 11 for Nations League match vs. Cuba. Stadium officials declined comment. No word yet from USSF.

 

It would be the second time in just 4 months that the team would play at Audi Field, as the USMNT suffered a 1-0 loss to Jamaica back on June 5th at the year-old stadium. The Cuba match would fall just 4 days before the USMNT travel to Toronto to face Canada in Nations League group play. The USMNT will have home-and-away matches against Canada and Cuba in Group A of League A this fall. Canada and Cuba begin group play by playing each other twice in September, while the USMNT will play friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay before embarking on their Nations League journey.

The report of Audi Field being the site for the USMNT’s match against Cuba follows a report from a couple months ago that the 20,000-seat stadium will also host a friendly for the USWNT in November. That match would not be a part of the already announced Victory Tour. U.S. Soccer has not announced either match, but it’s possible that our nation’s capital could host both the USMNT and USWNT in the span of a month.

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USA Defeats Jamaica and will Defend Crown in Gold Cup

United States, current champion, beat Jamaica 3-1 today and will face Mexico in the Gold Cup final of the Confederation of North, Central America and the Caribbean Football within three days.

The current champions defeated the other finalists of previous edition of this tournament, number 14, in 2017, with a goal of Weston McKennie and two of Christian Pulisic, on the 52 and 87.

The game was held at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, the game was halted for almost an hour and a half, since the 17th minute, by a dangerous electrical storm.

Shamar Nicholson (69), scored for the Caribbean team with a header, the only player who has scored against the North American team in this competition.

On the road to the finale, the U.S. team dominated group D with wins 4-0, 6-0 and 1-0 against Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Panama, and in the quarterfinals they beat the surprising Curaçao team.

On the other hand the Mexican team beat Haiti 1-0 in the first semifinal and won access to the final match on July 7th at the Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.

Mexico, leader of group A and punisher of Costa Rica in the best of eight, had a rough time because the decisive goal came in the third minute of overtime after the draw in the regular time.

Raúl Jiménez kicked a penalty for a team that had no ideas on the pit and on top of that met a strong Haitian defense.

In addition, the Aztec team, top winner of this competition with seven titles suffered the absence on the bench of its technical director, the Argentine Gerardo Tata Martino, due to the excessive accumulation of yellow cards.

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Cuba vs Martinique Preview, Tips and Odds

Cuba will face Martinique for their second-round game in the Gold Cup at Sports Authority Field in Denver. The Cubans lost from Mexico in the first game with the massive scoreline of 7:0. Martinique also lost their opening Gold Cup match losing 4:0 against Canada and both nations are now at the the bottom of the group.

HEAD TO HEADLAST GAMELAST GAMESLAST GAMES HOME/AWAY
Cuba Loss 4 W/ 1 D/ 2 L 1 W/ 0 D/ 0 L
Martinique Win 2 W/ 1 D/ 4 L 0 W/ 0 D/ 1 L

Last game between the nations: 08.12.2012 Martinique – Cuba 1:0’ Frederic Piquionne 30’
Last game on Cuban soil: 13.12.2004 Cuba – Martinique 2:0

Worth mentioning: Only one of the seven H2H clashes between Cuba and Martinique produced over 2,5 goals, and again one witnessed goals at both ends. The Lions of the Caribbean were able to keep four clean sheets in their games against Les Matinino. Martinique have been unable to score more than once in any of the matches with the Cubans. Four times the games between the national football teams of Cuba and Martinique featured under 1,5 goals.

AS OF 16.06LAST GAMELAST GAMESLAST GAMES HOME/AWAY
Cuba Loss 5 W/ 1 D/ 4 L 4 W/ 0 D/ 1 L
Martinique Loss 5 W/ 0 D/ 5 L 2 W/ 0 D/ 3 L

Last game Cuba: 16.06.2019 Gold Cup: Mexico – Cuba 7:0; Carlos Antuna 2’, 44’,80’, Raul Jimenez 31’, 64’, Diego Reyes 38’, Ernesto Alexis Vega 74’
Next game Cuba: 24.06.2019 Gold Cup: Canada – Cuba
Last game Martinique: 16.06.2019 Gold Cup: Canada – Martinique 4:0; Jonathan David 33’, 53’, Junior Hoilett 62’, Scott Arfield 67’
Next game Martinique: 24.06.2019 Gold Cup: Martinique – Mexico

LAST 10 GAMESGF:GAOVER 2,5BTTSCLEAN SHEETS
Cuba 22:12 4 1 6
Martinique 15:15 6 3 4

Worth mentioning: Cuba will be looking for their first victory in five matches when they face Martinique, as they are are currently on a run of four straight defeats. The Lions of the Caribbean did not score in their previous three outings as they hit the back of the net against Haiti for the last time. Three of the previous five Cuba games produced over 2,5 goals, while just one witnessed goals at both ends.

The loss to Canada in their first Gold Cup game ended Martinique run of four consecutive victories. None of their previous ten matches finished in a draw. Three of the last five Martinique games featured over 3,5 goals, while just one saw both involved sides hitting the back of the net. Martinique managed to score in seven of their last ten away games, and the same number of encounters produced over 2,5 goals.

Missing players Martinique: No reports of injuries or suspensions.

Cuba vs Martinique GC2

 

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CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019: Group A Preview

The 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off with two North American and two Caribbean teams in Group A. Mexico is the clear favorite, but the other three teams should not be overlooked. Will Cuba and Martinique break through to the quarterfinal or will Canada finally deliver on their long-promised resurgence?

SCHEDULE

Saturday, June 15

Canada vs Martinique, 7:30 PM ET

Mexico vs Cuba, 10:00 PM ET

Wednesday, June 19

Cuba vs Martinique, 8:00 PM ET

Mexico vs Canada, 10:30 PM ET

Sunday, June 23

Canada vs Cuba, 6:00 PM ET

Martinique vs Mexico, 8:30 PM ET

Cuba

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 174/129

Odds of winning: Dark Horse

Cuba has enjoyed relative success at the Gold Cup, reaching the quarterfinal round three times (2003, 2013, and 2015). After not qualifying in 2017, the Leones del Caribe finished in sixth place in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying with impressive wins over the Dominican Republic and Grenada.

The last two Cuban Gold Cup squads were solely comprised of domestic players, making this year’s team a bit of an outlier; eight of the 23 players are on the rosters of clubs in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Panama. Cuba is led by young attacker Luis Paradela (Universidad SC) who has five goals in six international appearances, while maintaining a similar strike rate at the club level in Guatemala’s Liga Nacional. Sandy Sánchez (Don Bosco-Jarabacoa) will be the likely number one at goalkeeper, having earned 13 caps. Thirty-one-year-old midfielder-defender Yasmany López (Ciego de Ávila) provides a veteran presence on the squad with 29 caps.

Cuba plays Mexico in its first match, which gets the hardest test out of the way early. The defense has struggled to prevent dynamic dribblers from slaloming through their compact final third (particularly against Haiti), but most teams would find it difficult to stop El Tri’s attackers. Manager Raúl Mederos’ side will head into the second match confidently in control of their own destiny or harshly subdued on the heels of a demoralizing loss.

Martinique

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: Ineligible (Not a member of FIFA)/89

Odds of winning: Dark Horse

Les Matinino earned a spot in the Gold Cup by finishing CONCACAF Nations League qualifying in third place. The country’s best finish in six competition appearances is a 2002 quarterfinal showing. Martinique is not eligible to qualify for the World Cup, as they are not a member of FIFA, so the Gold Cup is essentially their biggest competition.

The bulk of the roster is comprised of players from the two dominant sides in the Martinique Championnat National (top division), Club Franciscain and Golden Lion FC, with an infusion of talent playing abroad. Defenders Jordy Delem (Seattle Sounders), Jean-Sylvain Babin (Sporting Gijón), and Samuel Camille (Tenerife) comprise a very serviceable defensive line. Domestic striker Kévin Parsemain has 34 goals in 51 caps, and will be expected to be the attacking linchpin; he finished as one of co-leading goal scorers at the 2017 Gold Cup with three tallies. There’s also the trio of players based in France – Wesley Jobello (Gazélec Ajaccio), Joris Marveaux (Gazélec Ajaccio), and Kévin Fortuné (Troyes) – who are still integrating into the squad, but could make an impact.

Martinique’s mission is to advance out of the group, which will likely require at least four points. If they’re able to secure a draw against Canada in the tournament’s opening match, it would set the tone for a brutal fight for second place.

Mexico

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 18/17

Odds of winning: Favorite

Mexico enters the tournament as the top seed, under the leadership of newly hired manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino. El Tri has won a record seven Gold Cup competitions, most recently triumphing in 2015, and routinely enjoys strong fan support with a decided home field advantage. The program – having once again failed to advance past the Round of 16 at the World Cup – is in a state of flux, caught between relying on the serviceable old guard and integrating young talent. This isn’t the strongest Mexican side, but the expectations have been and will always be winning the Gold Cup.

As one would expect, the roster is comprised of talented players from Liga MX and abroad. Experienced mainstay veterans will carry the side through the group stage; physical striker Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), captain Andrés Guardado (Real Betis), and Héctor Moreno (Real Sociedad) are included in the 23-player roster. However, Mexico was hit with the injury bug and will be without the services of dynamic attacker Hirving “Chucky” Lozano (PSV Eindhoven) and midfielder Marco Fabián (Philadelphia Union). Additionally, Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC), Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (West Ham), and Jesus Corona (Porto) are also skipping the tournament for various reasons. Martino is unperturbed,telling ESPN, “The important absences that we have... opened the door to see some young players that we wanted to see.”

Despite worries about the tenacity and fluidity of the attack, Mexico looks primed and ready for the Gold Cup. They defeated Venezuela, 3-1, and Ecuador, 3-2, in pre-tournament friendlies, with Rodolfo Pizarro (Monterrey), Carlos Rodriguez (Monterrey), and Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul) looking ready to be serious contributors.

Canada

FIFA Rank/Elo Rating: 78/66

Odds of winning: In the Running

John Herdman’s squad stormed through Nations League qualifying with a 4-0 record, easily reaching the Gold Cup. Canada remains the only nation other than Mexico or the United States to capture the tournament, triumphing in 2000. While this is probably not their year to return to the winner’s circle, don’t be surprised if Les Rouges make a push for the semi-finals and springboard into a strong showing in World Cup qualifying.

Canada can rely on a few different players to score goals and won’t be locked into any specific playing style. Lucas Cavallini (Puebla), Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), and 19-year-old talent Jonathan David (Gent) can keep pace with dynamic CONCACAF attacks, whether through possession or Route 1 counter attacking; if caught on the right day, Beşiktaş striker Cyle Larin can add target man abilities off the bench. The defensive group is less reliable and relatively inexperienced, with MLS defenders Doneil Henry and Mark-Anthony Kaye playing key roles. Goalkeeper is a mild question mark, with Waking the Red noting that number one Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade) will likely split time with the rapidly improving Max Crépeau (Vancouver Whitecaps).

This is a team that absolutely should advance, but Canada has a history of failing to meet expectations in a most dismal fashion. They have the benefit of playing Cuba in their third group play match, which could require three points. Avoiding Mexico in what could possibly be a must-win scenario is in every CONCACAF team’s best interest, so look for this side to pull off four-to-six points and advance from the group.

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Cuban Soccer Confirms Presence in Caribbean Tournament

The president of the Cuban Football Association (AFC), Luis Hernandez, confirmed the presence of a team from the island in the second edition of the Caribbean Club Shield tournament, qualifier for the Concacaf League.

The Cuban representative in the contest, which will be based in Curaçao from April 5 to 15, will be the squad of the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, winner of version 103 of the National League.

Hernandez told Prensa Latina that the inscription in that competition 'was a yearning for many years of the AFC' and constitutes 'a stimulus that we had to achieve for the national championship.'

The contest will gather the 13 winners of the amateur leagues of the Caribbean region in 2018, which were already divided into three groups during the draw held in the city of Miami on January 9 last.

'This will be a hard experience, but we want to keep it from now on. This year's champion will also be registered for the next edition, 'announced the head of soccer in Cuba.

He also appreciated that it is a great opportunity for the provincial teams and their players, since they can not only aspire to integrate the national team, but also to represent their territory in this tournament. '

Regarding the conformation of the squad, he said that 'the idea is that Santiago de Cuba is only with the reinforcements that helped them win.'

'We want to respect the provincial player, who surrendered, who sweated, not to make a national team,' said the also member of the FIFA Council.

He also clarified that it was already agreed in the meeting of technical directors prior to the current national championship, that the matches of Santiago de Cuba that coincide with the Caribbean fair will be postponed for a later date.

The director clarified that the AFC will assume a part of the expenses, but Concacaf will provide a financing for the tickets.

'If the team keeps advancing, the economic part could become more complicated, but it is not like before, when Cuba had to assume the expenses in full,' he explained.

Similarly, he acknowledged that in the end there should be a cash prize for the winner, although the main reward is being included in the CONCACAF tournament, 'where it would be played against professional teams from more developed countries.'

Hernandez recalled that Cuba already has other experiences of this kind, when in 1979 and 1980, the national champion Pinar del Río, advanced until they were eliminated before the respective monarchs of those years America and Pumas, both of Mexico.

'After we enrolled again around 2005, also with Pinar del Río, but there the results were not good because they eliminated us in the first phase,' he recalled.

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Brazil leads FIFA rankings, Iran best in Asia

Brazil has taken over at the top of the FIFA rankings for the first time since 2010. 

After losing Lionel Messi to a four-match ban, Argentina lost 2-0 at Bolivia last week and dropped to No. 2. 

World Cup winner Germany is still No. 3, followed by Chile and Colombia. South American teams tallied more ranking points last month by playing two World Cup qualifiers. European teams played one. 

European champion Portugal is No 8, while Switzerland entered the top 10, up two to ninth, one ahead of above Spain. 

Mexico climbed one to No 16 and leads CONCACAF teams. The United States climbed seven to No 23. No 19 Egypt leads African teams, and No 28 Iran is Asia's best. 

World Cup host Russia fell one to No 61.

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