Cuba head coach Raul Gonzalez (left) and Yenier Marquez Molina (right) at a CONCACAF Gold Cup press conference on July 17, 2015, in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo: Mexsport)
BALTIMORE, Maryland -- Cuba head coach Raul Gonzalez hopes the form his team displayed in the 1-0 win over Guatemala to complete group play will continue against the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.
After two Group C losses by the combined score of 8-0, the Leones del Caribe played their best match of the competition against the Group C runner-up.
"Against Guatemala, I think that was a team that showed the intention of how we should be playing in this tournament," Gonzalez said. "That's a standard we want to maintain for sure."
Captain Yenier Marquez agreed.
"Maybe we can use the joy and happiness from that result," he said.
Given the history between the two sides, the Cubans might have to play a near-perfect game to defeat the defending Gold Cup champion. Cuba is 1W-1D-8L all-time against the U.S., its lone win, 5-2, came in Havana in 1947. Two years later, the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in a 1950 World Cup qualifier in Mexico City.
"A key to challenging the U.S. tomorrow is playing strategically and maintaining order," Gonzalez stressed. "By doing that we should have at least a chance to win.”
The Americans may have not yet their stride yet in this year’s competition, Gonzalez doesn’t expect that to continue.
"In reality the United States is the United States," he expressed. "They have beaten teams that were important. They beat Germany and Holland in their preparation matches. That makes it very complicated for the team.
"The U.S. might not have played ideally in this tournament, but results are what matters in football and they have managed to get the results. They come in here winning the group."
Gonzalez praised the play of U.S. captain Michael Bradley and striker Clint Dempsey, who shares the scoring lead with Mexico's Oribe Peralta on three goals each.
"Those are the two that drive the team," commented the 47-year-old. "They have a great team, a team filled with great players."