After advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Gold Cup, Cuba is optimistic about continuing the development process. It has made seven previous appearances in the CONCACAF competition, winning only twice in 20 all-time games.
Two years ago, the Leones del Caribe needed to beat Belize by four goals to advance as one of the two best third-place teams. Ariel Martinez netted a hat-trick and Yenier Marquez Molina scored the dramatic fourth goal in second-half stoppage time for a 4-0 victory. The result also snapped Cuba’s 13-match winless streak in the Gold Cup, dating back to a 2-0 win over Canada in 2003.
If the Cubans hope to do better this time around, Martinez will again be asked to play a key role. The offensive-minded 28-year-old is a difference maker for a Cuban side that is relying on him for skill and guile. His talents were in full bloom during last year’s Caribbean Cup. Though Cuba was unable to defend its regional title, Martinez aided the effort by netting two goals.
Marquez Molina, the 36-year-old captain, is one of two Cubans to score in two different Gold Cups and will provide experience and leadership
On the heels of winning the Caribbean Cup title for the first time in 2012, Cuba finished fourth in the 2014 edition, but it still qualified for the Gold Cup. A 1-1 draw in the Group A opener against French Guiana was followed by a dramatic 3-2 win over defeated Curacao as Orisbel Leiva struck for a dramatic stoppage-time goal. Two days later, a scoreless draw with Trinidad & Tobago clinched second place in the group, one point in front of French Guiana. Cuba lost to Haiti, 2-1, in the match for third place.
Trinidad & Tobago
Views of the Chicago skyline often include the iconic Soldier Field. Promoted as “a stadium in a park,” Soldier Field is set on Chicago’s waterfront just off Lake Michigan. Named in honor of American soldiers that died in war, the stadium opened on October 9, 1924, as Municipal Grant Park Stadium. It was modeled on Greco-Roman architectural tradition, but its most unique and well-known feature is its imposing colonnades that rise above the stands. The stadium was renovated and reopened on September 29, 2003, with a reduced capacity of 61,500 and a new design that maintained the famous colonnades. Soldier Field has staged numerous high-profile events in its 84-year history, including five 1994 FIFA World Cup games. This will be the fifth consecutive CONCACAF Gold Cup that Soldier Field will host, after featuring the semifinals and final in 2007, the semifinals in 2009, a first-round doubleheaders in 2011 and the final in 2013. Aside from the Gold Cup, Soldier Field has also hosted United States men’s and women’s national soccer team matches, international exhibitions and even served as the home of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire and the Chicago Sting of the old North American Soccer League.
City: Chicago, Illinois
Venue: Soldier Field
Inaugurated: October 9, 1924; Renovated in 2003
Tenant(s): Chicago Bears (NFL)
Past events: 1990 Marlboro Cup; 1992 U.S. Cup; 1994 FIFA World Cup; 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup; 2000 U.S. Cup; Mexico vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina (2014); Liverpool vs. Olympiacos (2014); NATO World Summit 2012
Past Gold Cup(s): 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago
PPL Park, a state-of-the-art 18,500-seat Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium, serves as home to Philadelphia Union. Since opening its doors on June 27, 2010, it has hosted numerous events for multiple sports. In October 2014, the CONCACAF Women’s Championship finals were held there as the United States, Costa Rica and Mexico earned berths to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Two years earlier, the MLS All-Stars squared off against English-power Chelsea before a crowd of 19,236. PPL Park has been recognized on multiple occasions, winning awards from Mid Atlantic Construction Magazine for “Best Sports/Recreation Project of the Year,” the Delaware County Planning Commission for outstanding land projects in the County and the NCS4 Facility Achievement Award that honors venues that excel in safety and security operations.
City: Chester, Pennsylvania
Past Gold Cups:first-time venue
Field Size: 120 x 75