Now before we all get too excited the exact dates and teams are yet to be announced, but we can look at the stadiums that were chosen, the format of the tournament, and come up with some speculations.
We know that 12 teams make the tournament, for 2013 those teams are (Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States – either Panama or Guatemala will join those 11 teams). The tournament has 3 groups of 4 teams that will play each other once (3 sets of double headers), and that the top 2 teams from each group and the next two best teams advance to the Quarterfinals, and then the winners advance to the Semifinals and the finals. If we look at the 2011 version of the tournament there were 9 group stage dates each at a different location in the form of double headers, two quarterfinal dates and location (again each a double header), and the semis at a single site (a double header) and then a single site for the final.
Yeah that was tough to follow, but I will try to make it simpler, if you look at the map provided by CONCACAF:
So if you look at the map there are some natural groupings by geographic region that would seem to jump out at you, but don’t be fooled. In 2011, Group A played matches in Texas, Illinois, and North Carolina, while Group B played in California, Florida, and New Jersey, Group C played in Michigan, Florida, and Kansas. The Quarterfinals were played in New Jersey and Washington DC at larger NFL style stadiums, the Semis were at Reliant Stadium in Houston, and the final at the Rose Bowl in California.
So I am going to take a wild guess that this time they will be a bit more geographic in their selections, one group could play at Rio Tinto, JELD-WEN and CenturyLink, another group could play at Rentschler Field, Red Bull Arena, and M&T Bank Field, while the final group could play at Sports Authority Field, Cowboys Stadium, and BBVA Compass Stadium. That would let the Georgia Dome and Sun Life Stadium host the Quarterfinals, the Rose Bowl could host the Semis, and if the rumors are right Soldier Field would host the finals (perhaps avoiding the very pro Mexico crowd of last year’s final).
What teams will play at what locations and the final dates (the tournament is set to run from July 7th to the 28th -RSL will have 3 matches during the Gold Cup), will be announced in March but we know on the RSL schedule that there were a couple of open dates for the Gold Cup, including both July 6th an open date and July 13th when RSL will be playing at FC Dallas. I am hoping that given our hosting of the USMNT in the past that we will be one of the cities that get to host them in the Gold Cup. One thing is for sure, no matter who comes to town in July it should be a great chance to get out and enjoy some international soccer.
That’s How I See It