Gold Cup: Auvray, Guadeloupe to make life tough for US

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Guadeloupe is nothing if not realistic, but they aren’t willing to be sacrificial lambs, either.

After two red cards and two disappointing losses against Panama and Canada in their first two games in Group C, the Gwada Boys need to beat the United States by an unthinkable margin Tuesday and hope a bevy of other results go their way in order to advance to the knockout stages.

It may be the definition of a long shot, but Guadeloupe captain and Sporting Kansas City midfielder Stephane Auvray said his side isn’t sweating the odds. They are simply focused on representing themselves and their country in the best possible light, no matter the end result.

“We still have a chance to qualify,” Auvray said. “We know that it is a very very small chance, but you never know. Even if that is not the case, we have to play the game to represent our country as well as we can. Even if we didn’t get wins in the first two games, we still have one more game to show that Guadeloupe has very good players and good potential.”

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So far those players and their potential have been largely shrouded by Guadeloupe’s inability to keep 11 men on the field. They’ve only played 42 minutes at full strength in the tournament but managed to stage a furious comeback against Panama only to lose 3-2. They also forced Canada into plenty of close calls in a 1-0 defeat.

“It’s very frustrating,” Auvray said, pointing specifically to the fourth-minute dismissal that shaped the match against Canada. “I think we could have done something really interesting with 11 men on the field, especially against (Canada). We would have had more opportunities to score that goal. But this is sport, this is football and that’s how it happens sometimes.”

And although the small island nation isn’t a traditional power, Guadeloupe’s struggles are even more frustrating for the players and staff considering their successful, if brief, history in the Gold Cup. Led by Auvray, they qualified for the semifinals in 2007 in their first appearance in the competition, knocking off Honduras on their way to a final four loss to Mexico.

They qualified for the knockout stages again in 2009, when they fell 5-1 to Costa Rica in the quarterfinals. But for all their relative success, Guadeloupe have yet to meet the US, and they’ll do so with the Americans desperate for a result to move on.

“We know that the US is not in the best position,” Auvray said. “It’s going to be a tough game.”