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The Mexican National Team wins pointless CONCACAF Gold Cup again

USA disappoints in a tournament where the real winners were unscrupulous confederation executives.

USA%27s+Michael+Bradley+wipes+his+brow+during+a+timeout+during+the+2015+CONCAF+Gold+Cup+quarterfinal+match+between+Cuba+and+the+United+States+on+Saturday%2C+July+18%2C+2015%2C+at+M%26T+Bank+Stadium+in+Baltimore.+
USA's Michael Bradley wipes his brow during a timeout during the 2015 CONCAF Gold Cup quarterfinal match between Cuba and the United States on Saturday, July 18, 2015, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

USA's Michael Bradley wipes his brow during a timeout during the 2015 CONCAF Gold Cup quarterfinal match between Cuba and the United States on Saturday, July 18, 2015, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Tom Brenner | Baltimore Sun | TNS

Tom Brenner | Baltimore Sun | TNS

USA's Michael Bradley wipes his brow during a timeout during the 2015 CONCAF Gold Cup quarterfinal match between Cuba and the United States on Saturday, July 18, 2015, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Josh Barajas, Sports Editor

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The Mexican national soccer team beat Jamaica 3-1 in the Gold Cup final on Sunday to lift a record tenth CONCACAF regional tournament trophy that no one, not even Mexico, cares about.

Not Mexico, not the U.S. National Team, not CONCACAF and especially not the rest of the soccer world cares who the top team in the North American, Central American and Caribbean region is.

Why? The tournament is a sham.

The Gold Cup was established in 1991, around the same time that life was being jolted into American Soccer. Three years prior, on a very fitting Fourth of July in 1988, the United States won its bid to host its first ever World Cup in 1994.

As a result, soccer’s popularity skyrocketed in the U.S. for the first time since Pele joined the New York Cosmos in 1975. So much so, that Major League Soccer – America’s current professional soccer league – was created in 1993 and the CONCACAF regional tournament was revamped and turned into the CONCACAF Gold Cup it is today.

Also around this time, in 1990, Trinidad and Tobago’s Jack Warner became CONCACAF president and the United Sates’ own Chuck Blazer became General Secretary and Warner’s right-hand man.

The goal of this change was to build up the United States National Team and hype the fan base in America in time for the World Cup. The first edition of the new-look tournament was held in the United States, and at first this seemed like a good idea. For the first time, the regional tournament would be held in a first world country, with first world facilities and in stadiums that could fit tens of thousands of fans.

No one knew that the tournament would actually never leave the United States.

Since 1991, the Gold Cup hasn’t left American soil. Twice, in 1993 and 2003, the hosting duties were shared with Mexico and this year’s edition featured two matches in Toronto giving Canada its first taste of Gold Cup action.

Also since 1991, The U.S. and Mexico have won 12 out of the 13 Gold Cups played, the only exception being Canada’s triumph in 2000. This is hardly surprising when the U.S. and Mexico are virtually the home team nearly every Gold Cup match they play in.

Before the Gold Cup was created, there was an honest tournament that decided who the region’s best team was. It didn’t have a fancy name and the hosting duties were shared among the national teams participating. One year it was in Honduras, the next it was Trinidad and Tobago and the following year Haiti got to host. Back then, six different teams in a span of 10 tournaments earned the right to be called CONCACAF champions.

Now that Mexico and the U.S. run the show, the only thing left to play for is bragging rights between the two. And there are some that accuse confederation executives of doing their damnedest to keep at least one of the powerhouses in the final, even if they don’t deserve it.

This year looked like that would all change. Jamaica upset and moved past the U.S. in the semifinal and Panama was less than five minutes away from eliminating Mexico. One controversial penalty call in favor of Mexico later, the disillusionment returned as Panama fell 2-1 in extra time.

Once again Mexico lifted a trophy that didn’t mean anything because it wasn’t snatched away from the United States. And yet, because Mexico is marketable to the 30 million people of Mexican decent living in the U.S., 68,000 people attended the final in Philadelphia and 6 million viewers watched from their homes.

The format looks like it will remain unchanged because in the CONCACAF executives’ eyes the tournament was a success. Real soccer fans must acknowledge the sham and think twice next time before buying that Gold Cup ticket.

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