The 14th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup begins this week, and I am here to give you an analysis of each group.
This first group contains Canada, Costa Rica, French Guiana, and Honduras. Out of these four teams, Costa Rica is the most likely to advance to the knockout stage. Costa Rica has one of the strongest teams in this competition with the likes of defender Bryan Oviedo, midfielder Bryan Ruiz, and winger Joel Campbell. Real Madrid keeper, Keylor Navas, has not been selected for this tournament, which does make the Central American side more vulnerable in defense. Honduras and Canada both look like contenders to make it through the group stage. Honduras’ roster includes Houston Dynamo trio Romell Quioto, Albereth Elis, and Boniek Garcia who have been performing wonderfully so far this MLS season, and are likely to keep this momentum going into the tournament. Canada is hoping to start their tournament with a win against French Guiana and avoid being upset like in 2013 when they lost to Martinique 1-0. In their squad, Canada has included many players from Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps who are both title contenders this year in the MLS. Unfortunately, Canada are missing Cyle Larin due to a DUI incident, however, they have included 16-year-old(!) Alphonso Davies, who has made 6 starts and 13 appearances so far this MLS season. Finally, French Guiana’s expectations are not set very high because they are one of the smallest countries who qualified for the 2017 Gold Cup. One of the biggest stories of this tournament, however, comes from French Guiana who have added French veteran, Florent Malouda, to their roster. Unfortunately, the 37-year-old is considered ineligible by CONCACAF and the Caribbean side will face discipline if he does play.
This Group contains Martinique, Nicaragua, Panama, and the host nation, USA. The United States are favorites to win their group and the whole tournament. The hosts have bolstered their squad with MLS stars such as Jordan Morris, Kellyn Acosta, and Matt Besler. Sporting Kansas City star, Dom Dwyer, officially changed his nationality from English to American and is looking to impress his new nation. Even though Tim Howard was left out of the squad, former Premier League keeper, Brad Guzan was included instead. Panama have a good history in the Gold Cup, finishing in the top three four times since 2005. Los Canaleros have brought a younger squad to this competition and look likely to advance to the knockout stage. Nicaragua were unexpected to qualify for the Gold Cup, but made it through by scoring 3 vital goals in the last eight minutes against Haiti to advance on a 4-3 aggregate. Nicaragua have never made it past the group stage in the Gold Cup, but they are willing to fight to change that. Finally, Martinique are making their fifth appearance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Martinique’s squad may not have star players, but Seattle Sounders’ Jordy Delem is capable of leading his team to a potential upset.
Group C contains Curacao, El Salvador, Jamaica, and Mexico. Mexico are clear favorites in this group and are also likely to win the whole competition. Mexico’s squad is filled with 22 Liga MX players and only one MLS player. Due to the recent Confederations Cup, stars such as Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera, and Guillermo Ochoa have been left out. The Mexican Gold Cup side includes Erick Torres, who is having an unexpectedly great season for the Houston Dynamo, bagging 12 goals so far. Mexico will have to overcome the loss of coach Juan Carlos Osorio who is suspended for the next six games after yelling at a referee during a Confederations Cup match against Portugal. Jamaica are likely to advance to the knockout stage. In the 2015 Gold Cup, the Reggae Boyz upset the United States and achieved their best ever finish in the CONCACAF tournament, however they have failed to reach this caliber of success recently. Since then, they have sacked their head coach and crashed out of the World Cup qualifiers. They are looking to regain their former confidence with a team full of youth and experience. El Salvador are also looking to reach the knockout stage, which is within reach for La Selecta. El Salvador’s last appearance in the knockout stage was in 2013. Many younger players have been picked for the tournament by manager, Eduardo Lara, who has been with the senior team since 2016. Finally, Curacao are as likely to win the Gold Cup as the Chicago Fire are to win the World Cup! Curacao’s attack includes Gino van Kessel and Felitciano Zschusschen who are co-leading scorers in Caribbean Cup qualifying and their midfield is led by English Premier League players, Leandro Bacuna and Cuco Martina.