Five Things to Know About: Curaçao

The U.S. Men’s National Team continues its quest for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup when it faces upstart Caribbean side Curaçao in the quarterfinals on Sunday, June 30 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia (8 p.m. ET; FS1, Univision, UDN). 
Here are five things you should know about the Caribbean island. 

Footballing History

Having been affiliated with FIFA since 1932 as the Netherlands Antilles, that nation’s dissolution resulted in Curaçao becoming its own independent country in 2010. As such, Curaçao is recognized by FIFA as the direct successor to the Netherlands Antilles, taking on its historical records similar to how Serbia does with Yugoslavia. 
Curaçao’s success has been recent. The island achieved its first major accomplishment by winning the 2017 CFU Caribbean Cup, booking its first Concacaf Gold Cup appearance two years ago. Curaçao returned to the Gold Cup this year thanks to a fourth-place finish in 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League qualifying. Clearly on the rise, Curaçao is shaping up to be one of the stronger footballing nations in the Caribbean. 

Head Coach

Curaçao is coached by former central defender Remko Bicentini. Having played one professional season with Dutch side NEC, Bicentini moved into coaching following his playing career and first started working with the National Team as an assistant in 2008 before becoming head coach from 2009-10. 
Bicentini would again work as an assistant with the Curaçao side in 2011, notably serving underneath Patrick Kluivert from 2015-16, before taking the head coaching job back on following the Dutch legend’s departure. Since retaking the reins, Curaçao has experienced its greatest footballing success, qualifying for the last two Concacaf Gold Cups, League A of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League and of course the 2017 CFU Caribbean Cup title. 

Here and Now

Since the beginning of 2018, Curaçao holds an impressive 6-2-3 record, making its way to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup thanks to a fourth-place finish in the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League where they went 3-1-0.
Placed into Group C, Curaçao rebounded from its 1-0 defeat to El Salvador on the opening matchday by upsetting Honduras 1-0, eliminating the perennial Concacaf power in the process. Trailing Jamaica 1-0 late in their final group stage match, defender Juriën Gaari scored a 93rd minute equalizer which rescued a point, and combined with Honduras’ 4-0 thrashing of El Salvador gave Curaçao passage to its first Gold Cup quarterfinal. 

History with the USMNT 

While the USA has never faced Curaçao as its presently known, because the nation is the recognized successor to the Netherlands Antilles there is a small bit of history.
The two sides met in a qualifying round for the 1985 Concacaf Championship, which served as qualifying for the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The sides played to a 0-0 draw in Curaçao on Sept. 6, 1984, before the return leg saw the USA run away with a 4-0 victory at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Oct. 6, 1984. 

Gold Cup Roster

Thanks to the Dutch connection, an impressive amount of the roster plays professionally in the Netherlands, with a collection of players that also feature in Belgium, England and Wales.  
Notably, the team’s captain Cuco Martina plays for Feyenoord and has previous experience in England with Everton and Stoke City. Starting goalkeeper Eloy Room is also on the books at PSV Eindhoven and was teammates with USA defender Matt Miazga at Vitesse during the 2016-17 Eredivisie campaign. 
The team also features Michaël Maria, who currently plays for USL Championship side Charlotte Independence. 
The full 23-player roster is below: 

Zeus de la Paz (Oldham Athletic/ENG; 2/0), Jairzinho Pieter (Vesta; 12/0), Eloy Room (PSV Eindhoven/NED; 29/0)

DEFENDERS (5): Jurich Carolina (Den Bosch/NED; 9/1), Juriën Caari (RKC Waalwijk; 12/1), Darryl Lachman (PEC Zwolle/NED; 27/1), Cuco Martina (Feyenoord/NED; 43/2), Shermar Martina (MVV Maastricht/NED; 4/0)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Leandro Bacuna (Cardiff City/WAL; 25/11), Roly Bonevacia (Al-Faisaly/KSA; 2/1), Shanon Carmelia (IJsselmeervogels/NED; 36/2), Gersinio Constancia (Jong Holland; 3/0), Michaël Maria (Charlotte Independence/USA; 19/0), Shermaine Martina (MVV Maastricht/NED; 5/0), Ayrton Statie (Lienden/NED; 12/0), Jimbertson Vapor (Scherpenheuvel; 0/0)

FORWARDS (7): Jarchinio Antonia (Apollon Limassol/CYP; 21/0), Jafar Arias (Emmen/NED; 5/0), Charlison Benschop (De Graafschap/NED; 5/0), Kenji Gorre (Nacional/POR; 1/0), Elson Hooi (ADO Den Haag/NED; 22/7), Gevaro Nepomuceno (Oldham Athletic/ENG; 39/8), Gino van Kessel (Roeselare/BEL; 23/8)