There is great news for those who are still pumped up about Costa Rica being the biggest cinderella of the World Cup. Everyone will be able to see it back in action as early as September, because it is one of the seven countries competing in 2014 Copa Centroamericana. The Central American Cup will be played between Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Belize.
This will be the first time in 13 editions that the tournament will take place in the United States. Of course the USMNT is not part of Central America and will not be competing in the tournament, but this is a great opportunity for US soccer fans to see the talent other CONCACAF teams have to offer. Another benefit of the cup being held in the US is the amount of Central American natives and new generations who reside in the US. Only Costa Rica and Honduras make it to the World Cup, and it will be great to see these other teams compete among them. Those who live or wish to travel to Washington D.C., Dallas, Houston or Los Angeles will be able to watch this action first hand.
The Copa Centroamericana is not just an exhibition tournament, because these teams are battling to qualify for other tournaments. The results will tell which four UNCAF teams will earn the berths for the 2014 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Not only will those four teams earn a berth for the Gold Cup, but also the champion of the tournament will qualify for the 2016 Copa America Centenario. There is a lot at stake for these teams.
Historically, the current champion Costa Rica is the most successful team winning a record of seven times; Honduras has won three times; Panama and Guatamala has won once each. This means El Salvador, Belize and Nicaragua have yet to take it all. Maybe this will be the year the non-winners take home the cup, but it will be a hard battle to beat Costa Rica coming off a successful World Cup campaign.
So, if you are in the US and want to watch these UNCAF teams in action, this is your chance. The teams are split into two groups; Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama in Group A, and Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize in Group B. Costa Rica will kick off the tournament against Nicaragua on Wednesday September 3 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. The full schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, September 3 (RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.)
5 pm ET - Costa Rica vs. Nicaragua
7 pm ET - Honduras vs. Belize
9 pm ET - El Salvador vs. Guatemala
Sunday, September 7 (Cotton Bowl, Dallas)
5 pm ET - Costa Rica vs. Panama
7 pm ET - Guatemala vs. Belize
9 pm ET - Honduras vs. El Salvador
Wednesday, September 10 (BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston)
6 pm ET - Panama vs. Nicaragua
8 pm ET - El Salvador vs. Belize
10 pm ET - Honduras vs. Guatemala
Saturday, September 13 (Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles)
4 pm ET - Third-place finishers
7 pm ET - Group Runners-up
10 pm ET - Group Winners