Group A in the 2013 Gold Cup consists of Mexico, Canada, Panama, and Martinique with the games being played in Pasadena, Seattle and Denver. Mexico look like the clear favorites in this group, but team selection and recent results may lead to an upset.
Let’s take a closer look at this group and the individual teams.
The team is going through a rough time, losing their first two games in the Confederations Cup where stars such as Guardado, Javier Hernandez and Dos Santos played. The team representing Mexico at the Gold Cup is a composite of mostly young Mexican Primera Division players; none of Mexico’s veteran players will be competing, exemplified by the fact that only one player in their Gold Cup squad has more than 10 caps for the country. The Mexican media feels that leaving the stars at home is a further blow to the nation, believing that winning the Gold Cup will boost confidence among players.
The excitement for this crop of players is borne out of frustration from the failures of the qualifying campaign in which they have mustered only 1 win and 5 draws. Another exciting factor is the return of the Olympic stars. Although Olympic players like Herrara and Aquino have become regulars in the senior team and played in the Confederations Cup, others like Jimenez, Fabian and Cortes will be featuring in the Gold Cup. Despite the weakened starting line-up, many of these players will have a point to prove, so some strong performances are to be expected.
Players to Watch – Raul Jimenez is young, quick and helped Club America win the Liguilla this year, even scoring one of his penalties in the shootout. He also helped the Mexican team win Olympic Gold and narrowly missed out on the Confederations Cup. The other player to watch is Israel Jimenez, an excellent right back that was a key member in Monterrey’s Clausura topping season.
In a country where ice hockey is king and Gretzky is God, soccer has not been able to break the ice. Canada’s continuous downward spiral from the time they qualified for the World Cup in 1986 has left the sport in a terrible place. Canada’s coach has decided to focus on youth and included some MLS players, but there are many more in youth teams around the world.