Cuba celebrate 2013 Gold Cup goal
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Gold Cup: Mysterious Cuba may be minnows, but they've got 2013 quarterfinal appearance to build on

CONCACAF's marquee competition kicks off on July 7. For comprehensive 2015 Gold Cup coverage, bookmark this page.


MYSTERIOUS CUBA HOPE TO PUNCH ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT

Cuba are the most mysterious team in this year’s Gold Cup, mostly because their entire squad plies their trade at home as well as the general lack of sporting information coming out of the country. Fresh off an upset at the hands of Curacao, one that knocked them out of 2018 World Cup qualification at the first hurdle, and a recent 4-1 friendly loss to the New York Cosmos, the Leones del Caribe will be looking to rehab their image at the Gold Cup.

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GROUP C SCHEDULE

July 9: vs. Mexico, Chicago, Ill.
July 12: vs. Trinidad & Tobago, Glendale, Arizona
July 15: vs. Guatemala, Charlotte, N.C.

THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Yenier Marquez, M/D, FC Villa Clara: The 36-year-old is still going strong, among the leading scorers in the domestic league and the most experienced player in this squad. Despite his age, Marquez is in fine form at the moment, scoring in World Cup qualifying, and will likely be counted on to play a big role if Cuba are to make any waves at this tournament.

Ariel Martinez, M, FC Sancti Spiritus: Also playing well in the domestic league this season, Martinez scored a hat-trick at the 2013 Gold Cup, and will most likely be a fixture in the Cuban lineup.

Andy Vaquero, D, FC La Habana: The defender provided the main highlight for Cuba in their loss to the Cosmos last month, scoring a well-taken consolation goal in that match. A veteran of Cuba’s 2014 Caribbean and Central American games team, the 21-year-old could see some time during the group stage.

THE COACH

Raul Gonzalez Triana is in his third stint as Cuban national team manager, having previously coached them from 2006-07 and 2008-12. He’s got experience in the Gold Cup, as he led his country in the 2007 and 2011 editions. A controversial figure, Triana was suspended five games last year for racist comments made during the Central American and Caribbean Games, but he has the support of his national federation nonetheless.

GOLD CUP HISTORY

Cuba reached the quarterfinals in the 2013 Gold Cup, where they were knocked out by eventual finalists Panama. They’ve reached the quarterfinals twice in the Gold Cup era (2003 and 2013), and their best showing in the CONCACAF Championship era was a fourth-place finish in the 1971 edition.

MLS/USA CONNECTIONS

Because of a tense diplomatic history between Cuba and the United States, no Cuban player in MLS has gone on to play for the national team…Among the Cuban national team players who played at previous Gold Cups and subsequently defected are Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and former MLS forward Maykel Galindo. Former MLS midfielder Yordany Alvarez also defected, albeit during an Olympic qualifying tournament in the US.