Concaclusions, Ep. 6: Curaçao Impress Again & Mr. Showtime Strikes Again

The Concacaf Nations League kicked into full gear over the last week with opening acts by Mexico, the U.S., Honduras, and Costa Rica. Everything went according to plan for the big boys in the region, with the lone exception of Costa Rica, who find themselves in a dogfight with Curaçao and Haiti. 

There were plenty of other developments to digest from the last few days of play, and the latest edition of “Concaclusions” has you covered with four storylines that can’t be missed.

1. Mr. Showtime strikes again

We may have run out of adjectives for Grenada’s Jamal Charles at this point. 

If there’s any player whose career deserves a boost from his performances at the tournament, it’s the 23-year-old St. Andrews native. Charles already had a pair of second-half game winners under his belt, but who’s to say that was enough? Make it three.

Grenada have simply found a way to grind out results time and time again. Thanks in large part to a healthy serving of Charles heroics, Grenada are sitting pretty at the top of League B, Group A with 10 points after four matches, five points clear of second-place French Guiana. It appears as if Charles may propel Grenada — a nation of just over 100,000 — all the way to League A promotion and a place at the next Gold Cup.

2. Curaçao continue to frustrate opponents

Keylor Navas single-handedly kept his side from falling to Haiti on Thursday, but a draw wasn’t necessarily a terrible result out of the gate for Costa Rica. However, it did leave them in need of a win over Curaçao to gain a grip on what they will feel is their rightful place at the top of the group.

On the other side, you have a Curaçao out to prove their Gold Cup run wasn’t a flash in the pan. At the time it looked like a rather poor result for the United States to scrape by Curaçao by a score of 1-0, but let’s take into consideration just how impressive they’ve been — particularly in defense — over the last several months. 

With four points taken from their two encounters with Haiti, they were already in a solid position with Costa Rica joining the mix. The Ticos may have held the lion’s share of possession, but it was Curaçao who conjured up the better chances and rode the steady presence of Eloy Room between the sticks en route to a shutout.

“Getting a point away at Costa Rica…I think we can be happy with that,” Leandro Bacuna said after the game. “We stayed at the top of the league and we can make the job done at home.”

Bacuna’s men are officially in the driver’s seat with a three-point lead over the challengers.

3. Honduras make quick work of their group

Los Catrachos entered Nations League play in a rather enviable position. A pair of draws between Trinidad & Tobago and Martinique in the opening rounds set up Honduras with a much easier route to the knockout round, something they would have graciously taken following their disappointing Gold Cup.

Still, the work had to be done and it took the Central American side just two games to become the first team in the tournament to book their spot in the next stage of play. Their finishing on the day wasn’t anything to write home about in a 1-0 result, but Honduras certainly seem to be headed in the right direction.

4. Yannick Bellechase & Saint Martin hand the Cayman Islands a reality check

There was arguably no better story after two rounds of play than the hot start by the Cayman Islands. The minuscule nation brushed off an abysmal qualifying campaign — one point from four fixtures — and rode the contributions of their young attackers to get the better of both the U.S. Virgin Islands and Barbados to soar to the top of League C, Group A.

We’re fully aware at this point that Concacaf has a knack for producing unexpected results and individual performances, and the latest installment of came by way of Saint Martin’s 3-0 win over the Cayman Islands thanks to a Yannick Bellechasse. Luckily for the Turtles, they only have to wait three days to exact their revenge. They host Saint Martin on Tuesday in a chance to remain at the top of a competitive group.

Roma Defender Chris Smalling Has Been Stellar In Italy

As if he’d not made enough of an impression since joining AS Roma on loan from Manchester United in the summer, defender Chris Smalling really stood out as an exceptional talent on the week of his 30th birthday. 

Hofstra Coach Simon Riddiough Doesn't Need The Power 5 To Define Success

By Jerry Beach

Simon Riddiough, the head coach of the Hofstra women’s soccer team, spent about two minutes of a 21-minute interview Tuesday afternoon discussing why he’s content at the Long Island school and not planning to see if he can replicate his success with a higher-profile Power Five school that would offer the resources and opportunities to make a deep NCAA Tournament run that are generally lacking in the mid-major arena.

Carlo Ancelotti, Aurelio De Laurentiis & Napoli Are In Complete Chaos

It’s hard to believe that only as far back as April 22, 2018, Napoli beat Juventus 1-0 in Turin to move top of the table with only four games remaining. Maurizio Sarri — himself now in charge at Juve — had broken the club record points total in each of the previous two campaigns, and would do so again in 2017-18, but the Naples men ultimately finished second, albeit with yet another unseen total of 91 points.

Canada Has An Opportunity To Prove Their Standing On Friday Against USMNT

This is the moment of truth for Canada's men's national team. 

Concacaf Nations League Returns For Final Group State In November

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Seattle Sounders & Toronto FC Clash With The MLS Cup On The Line

Just over a week after the Seattle Sounders and Toronto FC went on the road and upset the favorites, MLS Cup 2019 is on the horizon as the 24th season in league history comes to a close. CenturyLink Field in Seattle will be the epicenter on Sunday at 3 PM when the two sides face off in the MLS Cup final for the third time in the past four years. 

Paulo Fonseca & The Unlikely Resurgence Of AS Roma In Serie A

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Potential USMNT Contributors From The Nations League Pre-Camp

November 15 could be a day of reckoning for Gregg Berhalter and the United States men's national team. After last month's 2-0 defeat to Canada — the first loss to their neighbors in 35 years — Berhalter needs a win in Orlando to help rectify the USA's position in the first-ever Concacaf Nations League. Anything other than a win would mean that Canada will advance to the semifinals, a shocking result for the U.S.

10 Things In Italy: Mario Balotelli, de Ligt Handballs & Conte's Inter

With the action in Italy heating up both on and off the field, it’s time to get you caught up with what’s been happening in the world of Serie A and, as always, “10 Things” is here to bring you right up to date.

Concaclusions, Ep. 9: Pulisic Strikes Again, Jiménez Haunts Arsenal

Another round of club play is in the books, and several of the region’s top players were in the headlines once again through clutch goals, quality performances, and even uncharacteristic errors.