by Frank Giase/The Star-Ledger
Monday March 09, 2009, 8:25 PM
Giants Stadium won’t be around too much longer, but as the Mecca of soccer on the East Coast the past three decades, it is fitting the facility will get one more moment of glory.
CONCACAF announced Monday that the Gold Cup in July will be spread out among 13 venues, with the final scheduled for July 26 at Giants Stadium.
The 12-team tournament will begin July 3 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with other group doubleheaders scheduled in Seattle; Oakland, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; Washington; Houston; Miami; Foxborough, Mass., and Glendale, Ariz., through July 12.
Quarterfinal doubleheaders will be played July 18 in Philadelphia and July 19 in the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, with the semifinals set for July 23 in Chicago.
Giants Stadium, which will have a temporary grass field installed for the game, also hosted the 2005 final, when the United States beat Panama on penalty kicks following a scoreless tie. In the 2007 Gold Cup, four group games involving Panama, Honduras, Mexico and Cuba were played there, but no games in the knockout stage.
NO MINOR FEAT
If it weren’t for a miracle comeback last week this story would get much greater play in the United States soccer community.
As it is, only one American Cinderella will be playing in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals next week instead of two.
With all four Major League Soccer teams in the field failing to reach the semifinals, the Puerto Rico Islanders and the Montreal Impact of the United Soccer Leagues, the level below MLS, have distinguished themselves.
The Islanders, coached by former FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke and featuring former MetroStars midfielder Petter Villegas, who played at St. Benedict’s Prep, will play Cruz Azul March 17 at home and April 7 in Mexico.
They should have been joined by the Impact, who won the home leg against Santos Laguna, 2-0, before 55,571 in Olympic Stadium, and had a 4-1 aggregate lead — and an away goal advantage — in the second half of the return leg in Mexico before it all fell apart.
Santos Laguna scored four goals in the second half, including two in stoppage time, to win the game, 5-2, and the series, 5-4.
A crushing defeat for sure, but a much more valiant effort than MLS clubs put out.
The New England Revolution was embarrassed in the preliminary round, losing on 6-1 aggregate to Joe Public of Trinidad and Tobago, and Chivas USA was ousted in the same round, on 3-1 aggregate by Tauro of Panama.
D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo received byes into the group stage, but D.C. United finished last in its group with an 0-5-1 record, while the Dynamo (2-1-3) placed second and reached the quarterfinals, but were eliminated by Atlante on 3-0 aggregate.
Despite playing in the second tier of American soccer, neither team was a fluke last season.
The Islanders won the USL regular-season title with a 15-6-9 record but lost in the championship game to the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1. In the CONCACAF Champions League, they won their preliminary-round series, then finished second in group play with a 2-2-2 record before beating CD Marathon of Honduras on 3-0 aggregate in the quarterfinals.
The Impact (12-12-6) finished third in the regular season but were eliminated by Vancouver in the playoff semifinals. In the Champions League, they won a preliminary-round series and finished second in their group with a 3-1-2 record.