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CONCACAF GOLD CUP PREVIEW

0128025993237001 CONCACAF GOLD CUP PREVIEW

This CONCACAF Gold Cup will be contested by watered down squads from the two traditional CONCACAF heavyweights, the USA and Mexico. Additionally, the failure of Trinidad & Tobago and Guatemala to qualify for this edition of the event opened the field up.

Guadeloupe, a surprise package to everyone but myself two years ago (I actually believed Guadeloupe could make the final two years ago before the event and they almost did) returns with another strong team as does Jamaica who missed qualification in 2007.

Canada is always strong in this event thanks largely because the chaos of their federation doesn’t preclude decent runs in short tournaments. It is World Cup Qualifying where the overall disaster that is the CSA makes its mark on Canadian Football.

Costa Rica has sent a good team to this competition but the Ticos hardly ever play well away from Saprissa and are in what is easily the toughest group. Jamaica hasn’t lost a competitive match since last September winning its last three World Cup qualifiers before being eliminated on goal difference and then running the table in Gold Cup qualifying.

Mexico under Javier Aguirre is trying to get younger in a hurry and is using the Gold Cup as a laboratory.  Veterans Gerrado Torrado and Omar Bravo are on the team as are young starlets Gio Dos Antos and Carlos Vela. But also are on the team are Israel Martinez, Pablo Barrera, Jose Cardenas, Efrain Juarez, Luis Noriega and Edgar Duenas, all of whom had never been capped for Mexico prior to this summer.

Mexico has chosen to omit Rafa Marquez, Pavel Pardo, Carlos Salcido, Ricardo Osorio, Guille Franco, and just about every other Mexican over the age of 22 who has actually accomplished anything in European club football.

Nicaragua has qualified for its first Gold Cup in history knocking traditional participant Guatemala out in Central American qualifying. They will however find their first tournament difficult.

Panama got to the final in 2005, and reached the knock out stages in 2007.  But then shockingly the Panamanians didn’t get out of their first round of World Cup qualifying and have since suffered a huge crisis of confidence. Playing in the Gold Cup can help to erase the painful memories of last year’s World Cup qualifying failure.

The USA comes off a remarkable run to the finals of the FIFA Confederations Cup while a watered down Honduran squad faces the adversity of political instability back home. Could this open the door for Haiti or Grenada? Possibly, though it is unlikely.

Nations in bold are picked to advance to the knock out stages of the tournament.

GROUP A

Venues: Los Angeles, Columbus, Miami

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1- JAMAICA

2- CANADA

3- COSTA RICA

4-     EL SALVADOR

This is the group of death without question. Any of the four sides could win the group and any could finish last.

GROUP B

Venues: Seattle, Washington D.C., Foxborough

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1- USA

2- HONDURAS

3-     HAITI

4-     GRENADA

GROUP C

Venues: Oakland, Houston, Phoenix

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1- MEXICO

2- GUADELOUPE

3- PANAMA

4-     NICARAGUA

Predicted Final: USA 2 Mexico 1 AET.

For full coverage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, please continue to visit Major League Soccer Talk during the tournament.



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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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