It s difficult to discern what s more exciting for the Costa Rican national team this weekend. Is it that they will be playing in the quarterfinals of an international tournament, the CONCACAF Gold Cup held in the United States, or that they will be a part of the first ever sporting event to be played in the new Dallas Cowboy s Stadium inArlington, Texas?
I don t know if I can ask more out of life, said Costa Rican defender Darío Delgado after a training session in Dallas Cowboys Stadium on Tuesday. This is oneof the biggest and most beautiful stadiums in the world, and we have the privilege to be the first team to play here.
Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the grandiose venue that totaled $1.15 billion in construction costs, has a retractable ceiling that opens and closes in 12 minutes, seats 80,000 and is home to the world s largest video board, which hangs over the playing field.
The quarterfinal match between Costa Rica and Guadeloupe, to be played Sunday at 3 p.m. (1p.m. local) will be the first sporting event ever held in the new arena.
Only three teams the U.S., Mexico and Canada have won the nine Gold Cup tournaments (U.S. 4, Mexico 4, Canada 1). All three are undefeated through first round play and enter the second round as favorites to win it all again.
A look at the four quarterfinal games:
Game 1: Canada vs. Honduras, Saturday at 5 p.m. (3 p.m. local) Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
How they got there: Canada, won Group A; Honduras, second in Group B.
What to know: A pairing of two contrasting styles of play. Canada is defense oriented and didn t allow a goal in their first two wins (both 1-0). Honduras scored five goals in group play, including a 4-0 rout over Grenada.
Game 2: U.S. vs. Panama, Saturday at 8 p.m. (6 p.m. local) Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia.
How they got there: U.S., won Group B; Panama, third in Group B.
What to know: The U.S. is the two-time reigning champion and has looked it, outscoring teams 8-2 in first-round play. Panama has proven to be a formidable opponent, earning a 1-1 draw with Mexico and beating Nicaragua 4-0.
Game 3: Costa Rica vs. Guadeloupe, Sunday at 4 p.m. (2 p.m. local) Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
How they got there: Costa Rica, second in Group A; Guadeloupe, second in Group B.
What to know: The Ticos have been consistently average and are yet to put together a convincing performance. Guadeloupe, which finished third in the Gold Cup in 2007, has again proven to be one of the more exciting teams in the tournament, with great team speed and a dynamic offensive attack.
Game 4: Mexico vs. Haiti, Sunday at 7 p.m. (5 p.m local) Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
How they got there: Mexico won Group C; Haiti, third in Group B.
What to know: Mexico has played better since the ejection of coach Javier Aguirre, who was suspended for three games after he lightly kicked Ricardo Phillips of Panama in a first-round game. Haiti almost beat the U.S. last Saturday, giving up a late goal to tie 2-2, and has improved in each game throughout the tournament.
The semifinals of the Gold Cup will be held on Thursday, July 23, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. (5 p.m. and 8 p.m. local) at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.