CONCACAF The Golden Cup – 42-Year-Old Angloma
The USA and Mexico took different paths to the final. The Americans had a relatively easy time of it in Group B, blanking Guatemala 1 -0, Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 and El Salvador 4-0. The Mexicans struggled early on in Group C. They edged out Cuba 2-1 and were surprised by a 2-1 defeat to Honduras. They faced possible elimination if they lost their final group match to Panama, but they prevailed 1-0.
The surprise team of the tournament was Guadeloupe (population 472,000), which is not an official FIFA association, but still an associate member of CONCACAF. Guadeloupe was not given much of a chance to get out of Group A, let alone become a force en route to the semi-finals.
But behind thestellar play ofgoalkeeper Franck Grandel, voted goalkeeper of the tournament, the Caribbean side drew 1-1 with Haiti, stunned Canada 2-1, and lost to Costa Rica 1 -0. Guadeloupe were good enough to reach the quarter-finals, where the team excelled against favoured Honduras, winning 2-1 with goals from Jocelyn Angloma and Richard Socrier. Angloma? Yes, the same Angloma who played 37 times for France, who won the UEFA Champions League in 1993 with Olympique Marseille, who also played for top clubs like Inter Milan (UEFA Cup winners in 1997) and Valencia (UEFA Champions League runners-up in 2000 and 2001), and who was born 42 years ago in Abymes, Guadeloupe.
That set up a semi-final confrontation with Mexico, who had crept past Costa Rica 1-0. The Americans edged past Panama 2-1 to set up a semi-final against border rivals Canada, 3-0 winners over Guatemala.
The semi-finals certainly had their share of controversy and drama. Guadeloupe managed to stave off the Mexicans until a second-half goal produced a 1-0 victory. The Americans managed to inch past Canada 2-1, although the Canadians claimed that Atiba Hutchinson’s final-minute goal should have been upheld and not ruled offside. Neither of the finalists had time to catch their collective breaths after the championship match’s final whistle in Chicago as both teams immediately jetted off to Venezuela for the Copa America.
The USA had 15 players from the Major League Soccer (MLS) in their Copa squad, replacing such regulars and stars as Donovan, Howard and DaMarcus Beasley, as a new group of players were trying to make a name for themselves at international level. The Mexicans flew to South America amid a report that there was a split in the team and talk about Sanchez’s job security.
“As a player, the same thing happened to me. I needed time to triumph in Europe and now it’s the same, be patient,” said coach Sanchez. “If you have put up with others who aren’t Mexican and who, in addition, have treated you badly, then I deserve a bit more.” Sanchez was referring to his predecessor, Argentine Ricardo La Volpe. His team might have bought Sanchez more time, winning its Copa America opener over a weakened Brazil team 2-0.
Given the huge crowds that show up for USA v. Mexico matches in the United States, there is a good chance that there will be an international friendly or two in the coming year. For now, though, the Americans own the trophy and the CONCACAF bragging rights.