Sunday, September 16
All games will be played at the Temple University Sports Complex (1300 Master St., 19122)
This year’s quarterfinals are shaping up to be as exciting as ever! Our final 8 teams will give their all on the field in these four quarterfinal matches. Read our predictions for the games.
#18 Ukraine vs. #8 USA at 12 p.m.
In this very same match during Unity Cup 2016, Ukraine outlasted a heavily favored United States team through a scoreless game, sending the match to penalty kicks. That is where the top goalkeeper in the tournament, Pavlo Stelever, made the key save that catapulted Ukraine into the semifinals.
This year’s US team is different: in come Andrew Sinclair and Tim Hampson– the names behind team Germany the last two seasons. They have heavily recruited for team USA and are expecting nothing but a trip to the championship. The boys from Ukraine have been here before, and judging on their performance against Brazil, will not go down without a fight.
Ukraine will absolutely have a tactile plan to defend the USA’s potent attack. It would not be surprising if Ukraine plays this close to the vest, much like two years ago. We’ll see if they can steal it late or on kicks.
#5 Liberia vs. #4 El Salvador at 2 p.m.
El Salvador is one of two first-year teams to push through to the quarterfinals. And while they are new, their captain Jonathon Selgado has been a part of the cup for a while now, so he knows what it takes to win.
Speaking of knowing how to win, Coach Jason and Liberia used every ounce of their experience and grit to come back and defeat a pesky Guinea team last week. El Salvador and Guinea have some similarities that might play into how El Salvador attacks Liberia in this one. The speed on the outside could be trouble, unless Liberia goes to fan favorite Tben “Speedy” Donnie early on to counter the Salvadorian speed. He was a game changer both last year in the championship and a week ago against Guinea.
El Salvador will put up a fight and may even take the lead early in this one, but the discipline, talent, and resilience of Liberia will win out in the end, and they’ll make another trip back to the semifinals.
#19 Belize vs. #10 Ivory Coast at 4 p.m.
If there was such a thing as a Cinderella story in the Unity Cup, it would go to Belize. They snuck in as a group runner-up to Sierra Leone, upset Israel in the play-in round, and then went on to knock off #2-seeded Serbia in the Round of 16. It will take every ounce of grit they can muster up to pull off another shocker against Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast may be listed as the #10 seed, but they are just as talented and threatening as any team in the tournament. Seydou Ba leads all scorers in the tournament, thanks to a hat trick last week. Ivory Coast is too deep and too talented; it will be really tough for Belize to keep pace. It may start out close, but expect Ivory Coast to have a lead at the half, and then pull away in the second half for a victory.
#14 Ireland vs. #6 Honduras at 6 p.m.
On paper, Liberia and El Salvador are listed as the game of the day because of seed lines, but this battle is shaping up to steal that title. The match features two teams who have been staples of the tournament all three years.
It also features two of the premier Unity Cup coaches: Pat Henigan from Ireland and Abner Melgar from Honduras. On the field, the luck of the Irish has truly been on display, no more so than the lucky goal that propelled them past Ghana and into quarterfinals. Honduras took a second half lead on Jamaica and managed to hold on for the win in their match.
The styles will be contrasting as well; it will be the speed of Honduras against the patience of Ireland. Ireland will enter this game a little banged up, and with only 14 available players last week, their depth will be an issue. As always, Ireland will battle until the final whistle, but the luck might run out on Ireland in this one, with Honduras advancing.