Marco Pappa (white jersey) could be key for Guatemala in its CONCACAF Gold Cup match against Cuba on July 15, 2015, in Charlo. (Photo: Mexsport)
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – The final day of CONCACAF Gold Cup group play kicks off on Wednesday with a pivotal Group C encounter between Guatemala (0-1-1, 1 point) and Cuba (0-0-2, 0 points) at Bank of America Stadium.
Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:
1) Win or go home
Everything is still to play for on Wednesday as Cuba and Guatemala head into their final group stage match in need of maximum points. Anything short of a win from either will see Group B’s El Salvador advance to the quarterfinals as the second-best third team. While the Guatemalans will look to build on a confidence-boosting draw (0-0) with Mexico on Sunday, Cuba has yet to find its stride. Despite losses to Mexico and Trinidad by a combined score of 8-0, the Leones del Caribe remain in contention for a second straight trip to the Gold Cup quarterfinals. The pressure is on. Who will rise to the occasion?
2) Where will the goals come from?
Through their first two games, Cuba and Guatemala have combined for just one goal in 360 minutes of action. In fact, over their last six combined Gold Cup matches, they have struck for just three goals between. Additionally, Cuba has netted one goal or fewer in nine of its last 10 outings in the tournament, while Guatemala has exceeded the single goal mark just once in its 12 matches. With victory an imperative, expect those offensive numbers to change on Wednesday.
3) Pappa, Ruiz key for Guatemala
Guatemala’s lack of offensive production in recent outings belies the team’s true attacking potential. Steady at the back and in the midfield, the Central American runner-up could be set for a long overdue offensive breakthrough against Cuba. The candidates most likely to lead that charge are playmakers Marco Pappa and Carlos Ruiz. Pappa was MVP and top scorer (four goals) of the 2014 Central American Cup. Ruiz has eight career Gold Cup goals, including one this year. He has netted in five different editions of the Gold Cup…no other Guatemalan has scored more than four goals in Gold Cup history.