Friday, June 10, 2011

2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Night Four: Mercy Rule Time?

Round two of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup began on Thursday night as Group A played in Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring El Salvador versus Costa Rica and Mexico taking on Cuba.

On Sunday night, Costa Rica picked up a 4-0 win against Cuba while El Salvador lost 4-0 to Mexico. Coming off of its loss, El Salvador seemed to be the team with the most to prove on Thursday, and they were the first to score thanks to Rodolfo Zelaya picking up a goal off of a free kick in the 44th minute. El Salvador managed to hold onto its slim one goal lead for over 45 minutes, but in stoppage time, Randall Brenes scored for Costa Rica and ending the match in a 1-1 draw.

The second match of the night featured Mexico and Cuba, and after the opening matches on Sunday, there was an 8 goal gap between the two teams. Considering the mismatch, most people expected Mexico to rest some of its starters against Cuba, but that was before the news broke on Thursday afternoon that five Mexican players had tested positive for clenbuterol, a drug used for fat loss. The five players who tested positive were Guillermo Ochoa, Francisco Rodriguez, Edgar Duenas, Christian Bermudez, and Antonio Naelson. Not surprisingly, Mexico has taken the position that said players ate contaminated meat, most likely chicken; however, Mexico provisionally suspended all five players. In my opinion, it seems unlikely that 5 players on the same team were all taking a substance known to be in violation of the anti-doping rules.

Whether it was the events of the day or an arrogant attitude, Mexico did not begin scoring goals on Cuba as quickly as was expected. But, it was Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez who finally picked up the first goal for Mexico, scoring in the 35th minute. It wasn't until the middle of the second half that Mexico opened the goal floodgates. Giovani Dos Santos made himself relevant again when he scored in the 63rd minute and then Jesús De Nigris, who was subbed on in the 63rd minute, picked up a goal in the 64th minute. Dos Santos picked up his second goal of the night in the 67th minute. Finally, Chicharito picked up his second goal in the 75th minute, and Mexico seemingly imposed its own mercy rule on the match.

CONCACAF officials will meet today, Friday, to determine if Mexico can call up players to replace the suspended players for the remainder of the tournament.

Tonight's Gold Cup action in Miami will feature Jamaica playing Guatemala and Honduras facing Grenada.

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