As a review here are the groups for the 2019 edition of the Gold Cup
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Mexico||Costa Rica||Honduras||United States|
|Cuba||Nicaragua||Curacao||Trinidad and Tobago|
This is one of the strongest groups since there are many combinations that could involve Mexico being eliminated because of teams like Canada and Martinique. Cuba will be the first one out after losing to Mexico on day one and then against Martinique in the second match. Looking at the schedule for the group, the key matches are all of them except for the games against Cuba due to the level difference is large. Maybe had Cuba picked Marcel Hernandez into the national squad even though there was an incident in Costa Rica regarding a minor, there could be a sliver of a chance. The match that would decide who would be the second place team would be between Canada against Martinique on the first day of the tournament and also the matchup between Mexico and Canada. Out of the four national teams in the group, both Canada and Mexico have almost 50% playing overseas, and some in Europe’s top leagues. The best player that Canada has on roster is Alphonso Davies who plays for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga whereas Mexico’s best are Andres Guardado, Nestor Arujo, Diego Reyes whom all play in La Liga and also Raul Jimenez who plays in Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League.
- Mexico (7 out of a possible 9 points)
- Canada (7 out of a possible 9 points)
- Martinique (3 out of a possible 9 points)
- Cuba (0 out of a possible 9 points)
Mexico will have a greater goal differential than Canada
On paper this group is the famous “Group of Life” In terms for competition, there’s a debut team in the tournament in this group (Bermuda), one who has only won one point against Costa Rica all-time (Nicaragua) a perennial second place team (Haiti) and one that disappoints every time in these kinds of tournaments (Costa Rica). Why do I say that about Costa Rica? well, even though I am a fan of the team, they find ways to disappoint be it in the Quarterfinal round or the Semifinals. In terms for placing Bermuda they only have one player playing in a top level league. That player is Kane Crichlow who plays for Watford. Moreover, in the 40-man squad that the team had to make public, almost 25% did not have a team. And of those with a team, majority play for the domestic league which has a very low coefficient in CONCACAF where you have leagues like the Guyanese which sent their first representative to the regional tournament in almost 20 years. In terms for Haiti, their best player plays for a team that finished 7th in Ligue 2. For Nicaragua the bulk of the players selected play in Nicaragua but their best is Byron Bonilla who just signed with Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica). Moreover, the players who play in Europe at best play for third division clubs or at worst 7th division clubs. For Costa Rica, all but two play in first division clubs oversees, but that is not the problem, the problem is age for the squad. But Costa Rica’s problem would not be a problem in this stage but in latter stages it might be.
- Costa Rica (9 out of 9 possible points)
- Nicaragua (6 out of 9 possible points)
- Haiti (3 out of 9 possible points)
- Bermuda (0 out of 9 possible points)
This is the third-most difficult group in the Gold Cup. In this group, there are storied teams like Jamaica, Honduras and El Salvador, all who have had major success in the Gold Cup era. The best that the Jamaica national team has done is being the runners up in 2013 and Honduras is currently the fourth best team in the region only trailing Mexico, US and Costa Rica. Whereas El Salvador is ninth and Jamaica is seventh. Curacao is going to lose all games because of the level of competition, although they are in League A. Aside form rankings, Curacao boasts one of the oldest squads in the tournament with all but three players were born before 1995 (that is out of 40 players). In the Honduran 40 man squad, all of the players play in the highest level of soccer be it domestically or internationally, with one being part of Celtic. In Jamaica’s case most play in either their domestic league (best in the Caribbean) or in second division or lower clubs or the exception being their “Wonderkid” Leon Bailey who plays for Bayern Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. El Salvador, has 31 out of the 40 man squad playing in their domestic league which is not necessarily a bad idea but not the best considering how soccer is in this current state of being more international-driven. The biggest clashes are all of the games that include El Salvador, Honduras and Jamaica playing each other, with the rivalry game between Honduras and El Salvador in match day 2.
- Honduras (6 points out of 9)
- El Salvador (6 points out of 9)
- Jamaica (6 points out of 9)
- Curacao (0 points out of 9)
The tiebreaker will not be the Goal Differential but the amount of Goals Scored between games (yes, it’s this close of a group)
The most difficult group in this tournament, and also the one being referred as the Hexagonal group. United States, Panama and also Trinidad and Tobago are part of this group as well as the lowly and worst team in all of the tournament, Guyana. This group reeks of revenge games, for instance Panama beat the United States the last time they played each other in the Gold Cup, Trinidad and Tobago eliminated the United States in the road to Russia 2018, Trinidad beat Panama in the Hex and also the United States eliminated Panama in Panama City from going to the playoff to play New Zealand for the right to go to Brazil 2014. This would also be Berhalter’s real test as the previous wins were in terms of being friendlies which are that. In fact as an anecdote as how friendlies do not correlate to a major tournament, Costa Rica in 2014 lost all four friendlies before the World Cup and they finished 8th in the entire thing. If friendlies are being considered, the United States barely beat Costa Rica in San Jose where the Costa Rican National team were trying on new players, same when they beat Panama 4-0 in the same week. The main core of the 40 man squad is the same as it was in those games, and some parts are the same when the team crashed and burnt in the Hex. Panama faces a generational problem with most are over 30 years old whereas Trinidad has a similar problem. Guyana, which is in their first time in the Gold Cup, has a relative young core.
- Panama (7 out of 9 points)
- United States (7 out of 9 points)
- Trinidad and Tobago (3 out of 9 points)
- Guyana (0 out of 9 points)
Costa Rica vs Canada, June 29th, NRG Stadium, Houston
Mexico vs Nicaragua, June 29th, NRG Stadium, Houston (30 minutes after the first game)
Honduras vs United States, June 30th, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia (30 minutes after the first game)
Panama vs El Salvador, June 30th, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Mexico vs Nicaragua: No analysis needed, it is going to be a blow out
Costa Rica vs Canada: This is the rematch of the previous Gold Cup when they were in the same group. The two squads are mainly the same so the result should be the same right? Well, it would but the result would favor Costa Rica because of the progress the national team has gone through while Canada has regressed a little bit. In the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, Canada didn’t make it through to the Hex even when it got paired with Mexico and Honduras and it barely beat Honduras at home.
Honduras vs United States: The last time that these two played each other in United States ground, the United States won 6-0 and that was in the peak of the World Cup Qualifiers. Although I stressed about how friendlies should not be counted that high, the USMNT has had a negative streak by having the results going down. In Honduras’s case it has been very mediocre.
El Salvador vs Panama: Panama would make it due to their strength as a group while El Salvador is in the middle of a rebuild.
Mexico vs Costa Rica: The revenge of the 2015 Quarterfinal between the two nations. In that game, both teams were 0-0 going into penalty kicks, then in the 122nd minute of the game the “phantom penalty” happened
The two teams are roughly at the same stage as they were in 2015, so I expect that Mexico is going to win the game but in penalty kicks.
United States vs Panama: In this late stage I expect the US to lose because of the wear and tear of the competition.
3rd Place Match (if there is any)
Costa Rica over United States: The Costa Rican squad will have more momentum since their objective is the Semifinals whereas the USNMT’s objective is to win the tournament outright.
Mexico over Panama: Tata Martino is a better coach than Dely Valdez