CONCACAF Gold Cup team previews, players to watch and schedule

 

Costa Rica

Qualified: Champion, 2014 Copa Centroamericana

Head Coach: Paulo Wanchope

The Ticos were on quite a ride the last couple of years. They enjoyed a strong World Cup campaign where they took the Dutch all the way to penalties. But things haven’t been so peachy for Costa Rica since, though their winless-in-six streak has seen a consistent string of top 20 teams.

They often go with a 5-man defensive system, which puts the pressure on Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell to create the opportunities. Alvaro Saborio has been the long-time forward for the team, but at 33 years of age they will be looking for David Ramirez to share the role up top.

Player to Watch: Joel Campbell

Costa Rica (and the club that owns his rights, Arsenal) continue to wait for the 23 year old Campbell to finally come good on his ability. He’s a dynamic winger who has plenty of talent, but eventually needs to have that amount to something for either club or country. Perhaps this tournament gives him his chance to put it together.

 

Jamaica

Qualified: Champion, 2014 Caribbean Cup

Head Coach: Winfried Schafer

The first of the two teams that participated in Copa America, Jamaica is hoping to forget their trip to Chile. Sure, they were competitive in holding powerhouses Argentina and Uruguay to 1-0 victories, but they failed to score a goal or register a point. They will certainly be looking to get off on the right foot.

But even that will be tough starting out against World Cup quarterfinalist Costa Rica. Much of the team remains from their South American sojourn. They have some great talent, and a couple of weaker CONCACAF teams in Canada and El Salvador could be the remedy for their attacking woes if they don’t get too frustrated against the Ticos.

Player To Watch: Rodolph Austin

For a team licking its wounds from a rough Copa America, they will need strong leadership and defensive fortitude. Austin is a tough defender, the type of guy who is indispensable against a team like Costa Rica. Stability will be key to get Jamaica on track, and Austin provides that backbone for the Reggae Boyz.

 

El Salvador

Qualified: 4th Place, 2014 Copa Centroamericana

Head Coach: Albert Roca

A team that has advanced to the quarterfinals in the previous two Gold Cup tournaments, El Salvador is a squad comprised mostly of players from their domestic league. They defeated neighbor Honduras 1-0 in the 2014 Copa Centroamericana, and are a formidable opponent even if they lack big name players.

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