Panama's Blas Perez (red jersey) has scored 11 career CONCACAF Gold Cup goals. (Photo: Mexsport)
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey – The CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals continue on Sunday as Group C winner Trinidad & Tobago takes on 2013 runner-up Panama in a mouthwatering match-up at MetLife Stadium.
Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:
1) Soca Warriors are rolling
Having played 450 minutes without scoring a goal, expectations were tempered for Trinidad & Tobago ahead of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Now, however, after winning Group C on seven points, while averaging an impressive three goals per outing, those offensive struggles are but a distant memory. Clearly, Stephen Hart’s men have been one of the tournament’s brightest teams. After downing Guatemala in their opener 3-1, the Soca Warriors then topped fellow quarterfinalist Cuba in their second group stage fixture. Those victories set up a Group C decider in Charlotte this past Wednesday, where the Caribbean runner-up stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to tie six-time champion Mexico 4-4, in one of the most exciting matches in recent Gold Cup history. With confidence at an all-time high and the goals now pouring in, sky’s the limit for Trinidad. The only question is: Can they keep it up?
2) Can Panama live up to their potential?
On paper, Panama is one of the tournament’s most talented teams. However, the 2013 Gold Cup runner-up labored through the group stage, drawing all three matches en route to a third place finish in Group A. While those performances proved enough to see them into the quarterfinals, a much improved showing from the Canaleros will be required on Sunday as they get set to square off with one of the tournament’s hottest teams. Panama will need a strong showing from Blas Perez and Luis Tejada (20 career Gold Cup goals combined) if its potential is to be fulfilled.
3) King Kenwyne
It was an uneventful start to the tournament for Trinidad & Tobago striker Kenwyne Jones. One of the most powerful goal scorers in the region, Jones — a member of the Soca Warriors’ 2006 World Cup squad — found opportunities difficult to come by throughout the opening two matches. In the Group C finale against Mexico, though, Jones was unstoppable, slotting home a beautiful second-half goal and playing a role in two others. It was a vintage performance from the former Stoke City man, who will again have to be at his best on Sunday if the Soca Warriors are going to advance.