Pack light: Canada on the move at the Gold Cup soccer tournament

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A stroll down Hollywood's Walk of Fame. A visit to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, to see the newly born Asian elephant calf. And to top it off, cocktails and salsa dancing at a hot South Beach night spot in Miami.
The Canadian men's soccer team can do it all in one week during the first round of the Gold Cup this summer, thanks to the organizers' decision to host the 10th edition of the CONCACAF championship in a record 13 venues in the U.S.
On Thursday, Canada found out its road map at the 12-team tournament which serves as the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Should Canada advance and keep winning, its Gold Cup road journey could take it from Carson, Calif., on July 3 to Columbus, Ohio, Miami, Philadelphia or Dallas, Chicago and ultimately the July 26 final in East Rutherford, N.J.
''The only thing missing on our trip is a Volkswagen van with a guitar,'' joked Victor Montagliani, vice-president of the Canadian Soccer Association.
Compare that to 2000 when the Canadians' five-match championship road involved commuting between San Diego and Los Angeles.
While praising CONCACAF for the growth in the tournament recently, Montagliani said: ''I think they perhaps looked at the marketing and business aspects more than the technical football aspects.
''I'm not sure too many of the coaches in CONCACAF right now are probably going 'That's great. We're getting on a plane after every game and sleeping in a different bed, training on a different pitch and playing in a different venue.' I'm sure not too many coaches are happy.''
At least CONCACAF pays for the travel and there is some prize money. The U.S., collected US$150,000 for winning last time out.
Canada, ranked 94th in the world, has been drawn in Group A with No. 32 Costa Rica, No. 70 Jamaica and No. 106 El Salvador.
Canada and Jamaica were in the same World Cup qualifying group last year, with Canada tying 1-1 at home and losing 3-0 away. Costa Rica and El Salvador are currently embroiled in the final round of qualifying in the region and are slated to play two matches each in June ahead of the Gold Cup.
The Canadians will kick off the tournament against Jamaica on July 3 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., continuing with games against El Salvador on July 7 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, and Costa Rica on July 10 at Florida International University Stadium in Miami.
Group B consists of Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, and the U.S. and will feature first-round play in Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Foxboro, Mass.
Group C, comprising Guadeloupe, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama, plays its games in Oakland, Calif., Houston and Phoenix.
The top two teams from each group advance to the quarter-finals along with the two best third-place teams.
There is no word yet on who will coach Canada in the wake of Dale Mitchell's firing. Assistant coach Stephen Hart, who handled the team at the 2007 tournament, is a logical choice to be given the coaching role again on an interim basis.
''We're just working through that right now,'' Montagliani said. ''Hopefully we'll have something sooner rather than later.''
Canada will warm up for the tournament with a May 30 friendly in Cyprus and Montagliani said they are working on another match against a CONCACAF opponent for the last weekend of June.
Montagliani, meanwhile, said the CSA is already fielding calls about the freshly vacant managerial job.
''The football world, as big as it is, is small too,'' he said.

Organizations: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Canadian Soccer Association, Volkswagen Home Depot Center

Geographic location: Canada, Miami, U.S. Carson, Calif. Columbus, Ohio Hollywood South Beach Costa Rica Jamaica El Salvador North and Central America Caribbean Philadelphia Dallas Chicago East Rutherford, N.J. San Diego Los Angeles Crew Stadium Florida International University Stadium Grenada Haiti Honduras Seattle, Washington Guadeloupe Mexico Nicaragua Panama Oakland Houston Phoenix Cyprus

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