In the Box: Gold Cup

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With the recent completion of both the Central American Championships (UNCAF Cup) and the Caribbean Championship (Digicel Cup) many waited with anticipation this past Wednesday to find out what national teams would be coming to Houston on July 13 and July 17 at Reliant Stadium for the Gold Cup.

Remarkable games have graced our city since May of 2003 .

National teams of the United States, Mexico, El Salvador plus club teams Everton, Club America, Chivas, Toluca, Santos, Kansas City Wizards to name a few have graced Reliant Stadium in friendly matches, the Copa de Tejas, and the Interliga tournament.

We have seen world class players like Claudio Lopez, Djalminha, Pavel Pardo, Omar Bravo, Oswaldo Sanchez, Jose Cardozo, Thomas Graveson, Kevin Kilbane, Tim Howard, Landon Donovan, Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm to name a few.

Yet now with the Gold Cup announcement of Guatemala playing South Africa and Mexico taking on Jamaica it all goes to another level.

Why you might ask?

The answer is simple.

This is a meaningful national team event to determine who is the top team in the CONCACAF region (North and Central America, Mexico, Caribbean) of the world.

Let's just say it is this region's equivalent of the Copa America or European Championships.

It also comes at at time where countries like Mexico, Guatemala, and South Africa are involved in World Cup qualifying.

For Jamaica, who are already eliminated from the World Cup, this is an event and specifically this game against Mexico will prove to be part of a tournament to reclaim focus and development of a national team program.

A positive run in the tournament could go a long way for the "Reggae Boyz".

With the Mexican National team involved this event promises to be another night of soccer passion and nationalistic pride in Houston.

In fact, Club America and national team midfielder Pavel Pardo told me on his recent visit to Houston that he was hoping Mexico would get the opportunity to play at Reliant.

Realistically, you have to think CONCACAF officials were considering having Mexico in our city with the huge support they have in Texas.

In fact, Houston along with Los Angeles has to be the two prime destinations for Mexico now in the United States.

South Africa as an invited guest gives fans a rare chance to see a team from the African Continent go up against Guatemala that could field one of MLS's most dangerous strikers Carlos "Pescadito" Ruiz.

This is proving out to be one incredibly exciting year in soccer .

World Cup qualifing continues with Germany 2006 only a year and a half a way.

MLS kicks off its tenth season with new teams Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake and with nine local Houston area players on rosters throughout the league like Davey Arnaud, Rusty Pierce, and Josh Gardner who grew up playing on fields in our city.

Soccer's coverage in the media is improving all the time as radio, TV and print media understand that soccer fans are thirsting for more coverage, opinion, and information.

Houston's youth and adult soccer continues to grow as the international flavor of our city adds the spice to all soccer related activities.

With Gold Cup coming to Reliant Stadium in July it is just another step forward in the growth of one of the United States best soccer cities.

Get out to Reliant for another historic chapter in Houston soccer history this summer during the Gold Cup!

Davis is a nationally recognized broadcaster for HDNET where he partners up with former U.S. National Team defender Marcelo Balboa. He was one of the lead voices for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup and has called major international soccer matches for the Fox Network as well. He is a weekly columnist for the Houston Chronicle and hosts the "Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis" radio show on 90.1KPFT FM Radio every Sunday from 5-6 pm. Davis played soccer professionally for the Houston Dynamos where he was a league all star selection and team captain.

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