Gold Cup: "Away" game for USMNT, Honduras-Costa Rica grudge match highlight quarterfinals

It's down to an elite eight in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and it's a group of heavyweights, middle-punchers and surprising upset specials. Here's the quick-and-dirty for all you need to know for this weekend's action.

Panama vs. Cuba

Saturday, 2:30 pm ET; Fox Soccer/UniMas
Georgia Dome; Atlanta

WATCH: Martínez's great run sets up Cuba opener

The upstart Cubans are all of a sudden the sentimental favorite with their miracle four-goal swing against Belize, led by the scintillating Ariel Martínez (see video, right), to put them into the knockout rounds for the first time in a decade. The dream could die for them here, though. Panama’s play hasn’t been particularly pretty – and they haven’t scored a goal from the run of play yet, with three penalty kicks – all scored by Gabriel Torres. But Los Canaleros have once again proven they’re tough to break down, allowing just a single goal in the group stage. It’ll take an even bigger milagro for Cuba to pull this one off.


Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago

Saturday, 5:30 pm ET; Fox Soccer/Univision
Georgia Dome; Atlanta

Did El Tri just get their groove back? T&T sure hope not, as they’ve been bulldozed by Mexico over the years, especially in Gold Cup play. José de la Torre’s hot seat is a little less hot now that his squad has scored five goals over its last two games, led by Chivas striker Marco Fabian. It wasn't enough to win the group, but this matchup is probably more favorable, since Mexico are 11-3-3 all-time vs. the Soca Warriors. Philadelphia midfielder Keon Daniel says he expects T&T to exploit their size advantage over the Mexicans, and that might be their only chance to pull what would be perhaps the upset of the tournament.


USA vs. El Salvador

Sunday, 4 pm ET; Fox/Univision
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

WATCH: Zelaya delights against T&T

That overwhelming home support the US have enjoyed thus far is about to evaporate in a hurry. The huge Salvadoran population from the D.C./Baltimore area will likely show up in force just up the highway and turn this into a virtual road game – nothing new for the USMNT, but some of this young squad isn’t used to that dynamic.

Still, the US are the better team here on paper and should be favored. El Salvador have little offense outside of revelation Rodolfo Zelaya (see video, right), who leads the team with three goals, and Los Custcatlecos will have no problem bunkering against the US and embellishing contact when necessary to try to influence the match. Jurgen Klinsmann brought in Eddie Johnson among his four roster changes, and the Seattle Sounders man will provide a good weapon for physical play in the attack.


Honduras vs. Costa Rica

Sunday, 7 pm ET; Fox Soccer/Univision
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

This duel between similarly tough Central American rivals may be the matchup of the quarterfinals. Costa Rica will look to prove that their near-perfect defensive record – that 82nd-minute Brek Shea goal was the only one they’ve conceded thus far – is no fluke. Honduras, meanwhile, are similarly minded, but still believe they have yet to show what they can do on offense. Perhaps that's why retired Catrachos legend David Suazo showed up at training this week in Baltimore. Luis Fernando Suárez rested most of his regulars in the group finale vs. T&T, and Marvin Chávez, Jerry Palacios and Andy Najar are itching to get back onto the pitch for a huge showdown.