Canada They are making their 9th appearance on the Gold Cup. This will be their 6th Gold Cup in a row. They claimed their first ever international tournament in 2000 winning the Gold Cup against Columbia 2:0 in the Finals in LA California. They are the only other CONCACAF team to win the Gold Cup besides (USA-Mexico). They reached the semi-finals in 2007 event losing to eventual Champion USA 2:1. They are under the guidance of ________.
Costa Rica The Tico’s will be in their 9th Gold Cup and 7th in a row. Their best performance was in 2002 where they beat Trinidad and Tobago and Korean Republic in the knockout phase. The Tico’s made the Finals in 2002 losing to the host 2:0 in Pasadena California. They also advanced to back to back semi-finals in 1991 and 1993. They were knocked out in the quarterfinals in 2007 to Mexico in a very physical and bitter match. They have Costa Rican Rodrigo Kenton at the helm.
El Salvador They will be playing in their 6th Gold Cup. This will be their second in a row. They El Sal is one of 4 direct qualifiers from UNCAF. They have a young team and are flying high with the team’s participation in the Hex. They reached the quarterfinals in 2003 losing to regional rival Costa Rica. They did not make the knockout round in 2007 and will be looking for redemption.
Jamaica The Reggae Boyz will be playing in their 7th Gold Cup. They earned one on the 4 spots designated to the Caribbean region. They qualified by winning the 2009 Caribbean Cup 2:0 against Grenada in Kingston Jamaica. The Reggae Boyz reached the semi-finals on 2 occasions (1993, 1998). They have made the knockout round 4 out of 6 times they participated in the Gold Cup.
This group will feature a team from each of the 3 regions in CONCACAF. There will be 2 Central American teams battling for the top spot. Canada almost automatically goes into this group since they are the other North American "north" team. Canada and Costa Rica seem to always be place in a group together. This is the 6th time the 2 nations have been placed in the same group. This game has turned into a great rivalry. Costa Rica will be a favorite to advance. Canada crashed out of the World Cup Qualifying with no wins and their team will be looking for redemption in the Gold Cup. They play like a European team with big athletic players playing a well organized defensive scheme. Jamaica is still spitting mad they did not qualify for the 2009 Hex and the last Gold Cup. They made sure to qualify this time by winning the Caribbean Cup. They are the Caribbean Champion and will challenge for the top spot. El Salvador can not be counted out. They are in the Hex and their team is brimming with confidence. I can already hear the fans of these nations claiming they have the "Group of Death". This will be the tightest contested group.
Prediction 1. Costa Rica 2 Jamaica
Group B Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, USA
USA The defending Gold Cup Champion. They have won the last 2 Gold Cup and 3 of the last 4. They will be playing in their 10th Gold Cup in a row. They are under the direction of Bob Bradley. The Yanks have never lost a group stage match in the Gold Cup. Their last Gold Cup loss was a 2:1 defeat to Brazil in 2003 semi-finals in Miami Orange Bowl. They have the best Gold Cup record with 33 wins and 5 loses and 1 ties.
Honduras They will be making their 9th Gold Cup. This is their 4th Gold Cup in a row. They are one of 4 qualifiers from the Central America by coming in 3rd in UNCAF Cup in Honduras. They only missed one Gold Cup in 2002. They reached the quarter finals in 2007 and the Semi-finals in 2005. They will be led by Columbian Reynaldo Reuda. Their best performance was Gold Cup in 1991. They reached the finals in the inaugural event losing in a shootout to the host (USA) at LA Memorial Coliseum.
Haiti Are back for their second straight and 4th overall Gold Cup. Les Grenadiers is their nickname. They are one of 4 qualifiers from the Caribbean region. They won the Caribbean Cup in 2007 in Trinidad and Tobago against the host in Port of Spain. Their best Gold Cup performance was making the quarter finals in 2002. They are led by Jairo Rios a Columbian. Haiti best performance was in 2002 made it to the knockout round.
Grenada The Spice Boy will be playing in their first ever Gold Cup. They qualified as one of 4 Caribbean regions slots. They came in second in the 2009 Caribbean Cup. They lost to the host Jamaica 2:0. Both goals were scored on penalty kicks. They will be the smallest country ever to participate in the Gold Cup. They will be wearing bright green or yellow shirts with red socks. Noris Wilson is the coach and he is from Grenada.
They are looking to upset the hierarchy of CONCACAF powers.
Group B will feature the host USA. They will travel to the newest MLS venue Seattle on July 4th against Grenada. Grenada will have no chance in this game since it is on the USA birthday and fans will cheer for the host. Then the group travels to the nations Capitol and plays Honduras at RFK. Honduras will have plenty of fans and it will be interesting who will bring more fans. This should be a great game. The group will then travel to Gillette Stadium and play Haiti. If Haiti had any chance against the USA it would have been in an early game. The USA dept and Haiti lack of dept, due to all the traveling, will propel the yanks past Haiti. The USA will also make the knockout round. Honduras will challenge the USA in group play however after 3 group play games the USA will emerge on top even with their B side playing. Grenada did not score that much in the Caribbean Cup so the will look to advance as a #2 or #3 from Group B. Haiti just do not have enough of their federation backing them to prepare enough to threaten for the top spot in the group. Their fans are great though.
Group C Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Guadeloupe
Mexico One of only 2 teams that have played in all 9 previous Gold Cups. They were they first team to capture 3 consecutive Gold Cups (1993, 1995, 1998). They are led by Mexican coach Javier Aguirre. Mexico has scored the most goals of any team at 88 goals for and only 27 against. They are a 4 time Champion.
Nicaragua This will be Nicaragua’s first ever Gold Cup. UNCAF has 4 direct qualifiers and the last spot is a playoff game against the 2 3rd place finishers from the UNCAF Cup groups. They qualified by winning the one game playoff against regional power Guatemala and winning 2:0 to claim the last spot in the Gold Cup. They coach is a Nicaraguan Otoneil Olivas who guided them through their most successful UNCAF Cup in 2008.
Panama They are the winners of the UNCAF (Central American) Cup in 2009. This was their first international Championship ever. They will be participating in their 5th Gold Cup and 3rd in a row. They make the quarterfinals in 2007 losing to the host. Their best Gold Cup performance was the 2005 when they reached the Finals. They again played the host (USA) to a draw only to lose in penalties. They also beat S Africa and Columbia in the knockout phase that year. They are under the guidance of Panamanian Gary Stempel.
Guadeloupe They will be playing in their second ever Gold Cup and 2 in a row. They had a fabulous start in their Gold Cup 2007. They made it all the way to the semi finals where they lost to Mexico 1:0. They were the Cinderella story of the tournament and are looking to prove they are a consistent top team in CONCACAF. They can not qualify for FIFA World Cup so this is the top tournament this French department shoots for.
Concacaf needs Mexico to advance in the Gold Cup so Nicaragua (the weakest teams) was placed with them. Mexico still has its work cut out since the UNCAF Champions Panama. The Canaleros will challenge for the top spot in Group C. Mexico is sure to make the Knockout round from this group. I see all teams getting a win against Nicaragua so I believe 3 teams will advance from this group. Guadeloupe has shown consistency from the 2006 Caribbean Cup the 2007 Gold Cup and the 2008 Caribbean Cup. They are well organized and opportunistic on offense. They are a good team to watch. They will be looking for payback to Mexico for it’s loss in the semi-finals in 2007. Nicaragua will be playing like this is their World Cup. The team is making it’s first ever appearance so they want to make a good impression and not get embarrassed. I will be pulling the Nicaragua and hope they play well.