One of the more exciting federation tournaments in the world, the CONCACAF Gold Cup is about to get under way. The United States and Mexico are the heavy favorites, but others like Panama, Honduras, and Jamaica will be looked at as strong sides. Let’s preview each nation’s squads and groups.
Canada has a lot of talent, but this nation always seems like they are the cusp on becoming a good soccer nation. While they are youthful and talented, they lack experience. However, with players like Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Cyle Larin, Jonathan Osorio, and Samuel Piette, there’s something to like about them.
The Cubans have managed to produce some solid players over the years and have been to the Gold Cup nine times including 2019. They have been playing well and have some talent in players like Luis Paradela, Yordan Santa Cruz, Dariel Morejon, and Daniel Luis, however, there is always the possibility of players defecting. The question will be is whether they have enough talent to make it to the knockout stage.
Martinique are not expected to do much in this Gold Cup, so just expect them to make a mark. However, most of the players are amateurs, so there is a serious lack of talent outside of Kevin Parsemain. They are likely to lose three and head out.
One of the odds on favorites to win the tournament, Mexico will look to win their seventh Gold Cup as they arguably have not only the most talented squad, but probably the deepest. They don’t have Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela, or Hirving Lozano on this squad for this tournament, but if they did, it would put them over the top. That being said, they still have a lot of great players like Raul Jimenez, Andres Guardado, Jonathan dos Santos, Carlos Salcedo and Rodolfo Pizarro. Expect Mexico to make it to the Final.
Advancing to knockout stage: Mexico and Canada
Winner of group: Mexico
Game to watch
Cuba vs Canada: This should be the match that decides who advances to the knockout round. This should be a fun one to watch.
Bermuda, like Martinique, is not expected to do much. However, unlike Martinique, they do have some professional players that makes them better. Queens Park Rangers Nahki Wells is an example of this, but there are other players like Zeiko Lewis and Justin Donawa. However, even with some proven talent, there is a lack of experience as most of the squad are amateur or semi-professional players. They should lose all three of their matches.
Costa Rica is a nation in the CONCACAF that is considered one of the best despite how weak of a federation it is. That being said, there is a lot of talent here like Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, Celso Borges, Allan Cruz, and Kendall Waston and could make a deep run to the championship. What hurts them is that they have a hole at goalkeeper as they haven’t been able to find anyone to replace Keylor Navas, who is superb. That might be the difference between whether they win the tournament or not.
Haiti is an underdog, but they are seemingly a consistent side every Gold Cup. There is some good talent and they could be a dark horse to win the tournament. They have a great player in Derrick Etienne, but they also have an exciting player in Duckens Nazon. However, depth is an issue and it might hurt them in their chances of going far. Either way, keep an eye on them.
Nicaragua is an interesting case. They are not expected to do much, but are expected to keep things competitive. If they can keep it competitive, they might even sneak in a win or two and possibly move on to the next round. However, don’t expect that to be the case as Haiti and Costa Rica are two very strong sides in this group. Some notable players on this team are Juan Barrera, Oscar Lopez, and Luis Galeano.
Advancing to knockout stage: Costa Rica and Haiti
Winner of group: Costa Rica
Game to watch
Costa Rica vs Haiti
It’s no doubt about it that these two will advance to the knockout stage, but this will determine who wins the group.
Curacao is flying under the radar here. They could be the surprise team of the tournament as they have some intriguing talent with Leandro Bacuna, Rangelo Janga, Cuco Martina, and Gevaro Nepomuceno on the squad. However, their problem is that Jamaica, El Salvador, and Honduras are in the group and it could be difficult to get the promising results. However, expect them to give each of these other nations problems and could sneak in a victory or a draw.
El Salvador is a dark horse side and could make the quarterfinals. What they have is experience playing against some these same nations in their group and the familiarity could pay off. That being said though, it is a difficult group and just like Curacao, they might not get those promising results they want. However, with talented players like Nelson Bonilla and Gerson Mayen on the squad, they may shock people.
Honduras is another strong side of the CONCACAF that usually makes the semi-finals in this tournament, but is this the year where they go far and make some noise? With some talented players in Anthony Lozano, Bryan Acosta, and Romell Quioto on the team, there is a lot to like. However, the issue here is age as despite having some experience, age always causes problems. Expect them to make it to the knockout stage.
Honduras has been of late been a very strong side in the CONCACAF, but Jamaica might be the best of this group as they have shown in the last two additions of the Gold Cup how strong they are. With talented players like Alvas Powell, Kemar Lawrence, and Darren Mattocks on the team, expect them to do a lot of good things this tournament. They should make the knockout stage.
Advancing to knockout stage: Jamaica, Honduras
Winner of group: Honduras
Game to watch
Jamaica vs Honduras
These two are likely to be the two that make it out of the group stage despite a talented El Salvador team, but this should be the match that decides who wins the group.
The other favorite of the tournament, this will be sort of a redemption tournament after having not qualified for the World Cup in 2018. However, with a new head coach in Gregg Berhalter, the road back to the World Cup starts here as fans and coaches will get an idea of who will make the team in 2022. They have such great talents like Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Weston McKinnie, and Christian Pulisic and maybe they can lay down the groundwork into becoming a force in international soccer. They should advance to the knockout stage and the final.
Panama has quietly become a much better soccer nation over the past decade especially after making their first World Cup in 2018 and look to build on that. However, lots of players like Luis Tejada retired and the squad is looking tirelessly to replace them. They have a lot of talent like Gabriel Torres, Michael Murillo, Alberto Quintero, Armando Cooper, and Erick Davis and maybe they can make a deep run and possibly win the tournament.
Trinidad and Tobago
The nation that knocked the United States out of World Cup qualifying, they have a chance at doing it again in this Gold Cup with being in the same group as the U.S. There is a lot to like about this team as now they have some talent and experience with the likes of Alvin Jones, Kevan George and Joevin Jones on the squad, they may make it into the knockout stage.
Guyana is clearly the weakest side of the group, but they should come in, play competitively, and then leave. However, with being heavy underdogs, that might motivate them to dash some of the others chances in this tournament. There is talent here like Emery Welshman and Warren Creavalle, but overall, not much. Expect them to be done after the group stage.
Advancing to knockout stage: USA, Panama
Game to watch
Panama vs Trinidad and Tobago
Most of the matches in this group should be fun to watch and watching a rematch of the United States and Trinidad and Tobago is exciting, however, the Panama vs Trinidad and Tobago game should be the one to watch as it could decide who advances to the knockout stage.
*Some of the analysis and information about each team can be cited from https://www.espn.com/soccer/concacaf-gold-cup/0/blog/post/3858976/2019-gold-cup-ultimate-preview-can-anyone-topple-mexico-or-the-us-this-summer