By Neil W. Blackmon
With the March friendlies coming up, March Madness in the air and the MLS Season about to begin and the Champions League in full-swing, it was sometimes tough to remember that the most important tournament the US will play in this cycle outside of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament begins this June: the 2011 Gold Cup. After a delay in the group draw, we finally have our own version of March Madness today as the tournament match-ups were revealed this afternoon.
For the second consecutive major tournament, the United States received what can only be considered a “Favorable” draw—as it will headline a GROUP C that features Canada, Guadeloupe and Panama. The venues for the U.S. games are all “on-site” terrific, at least in this writer’s opinion: Ford Field in Detroit for the Canada match, Raymond James Stadium in Tampa for Panama, and Kansas City, Kansas for the final match against Guadeloupe.
Three things can safely be suggested about the Americans group beyond the beautiful venues for soccer. First, the USMNT fans that want to travel around the country this year to see the Yanks will have to deal with some airports that are either old or not such great places to get stuck—no one is going to confuse Tampa, Kansas City, or Detroit’s International airports for cosmopolitan tributes to interstate or global commerce. Second, the Canada opener should make for good fun—fans can start a “Hate Canada Week”, alla 2010’s wildly successful “Hate England Week”, or perhaps we can encourage Canada to ante up the stakes for the match with a friendly bet or two. Longtime Yanks reader Braden Medders has already set the bar high for this idea with the suggestion that the US-Canada winner receives Teal Bunbury for eternity while the loser receives Buffalo. That seems too risky a proposition for the States, at least in the view of this soccer writer, but we at Yanks Are Coming, except Puck, love the way he’s thinking.
Finally, given that this is the second consecutive favorable draw for the United States—we can almost be certain that either the 2013 Confederations Cup (if the Yanks win this summer) or the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will feature the Americans in a doomsday group. Soccer karma doesn’t shine on the United States, or any nation, for that matter, for too many of these draws in a row.
Here are the other two groups. Note that Mexico’s group is navigable but certainly not a cakewalk, depending on which Costa Rica side shows up, and that Mexico’s fans won the American airport lottery with layover possibilities in three palaces: DFW, CHA, and O’Hare.
Home Depot Center, Carson, California
Harrison, New Jersey
Thoughts? Comments? Let the debates and Canada fun begin…
Neil W. Blackmon is Editor-In-Chief and Co-Founder of The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter at @nwb_usmnt.