By RICARDO RAMOS
The Gold Cup is quickly approaching, and it is now known who have qualified for the cup competition. The football (or American soccer) tournament will feature 16 teams instead of the usual 12, competing for the biennial trophy.
This highly anticipated tournament is bringing both newcomers and veteran teams into the competition. There will be 17 venues in 16 host cities, and, for the first time, the Gold Cup will hold matches in Central America and the Caribbean in addition to the United States. All previous matches were held in the United States, Mexico or Canada, but now Jamaica will host the first round of matches in Group C instead of the United States. Costa Rica will host the opening round of matches at Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica on June 15.
The groups for the 16 nations in the cup were announced in February. All competing teams are organized into groups to compete before advancing to tournament style play. The Group A teams are Mexico, Canada, Martinique, and Cuba. The Group B teams are Bermuda, Costa Rica, Haiti and Nicaragua. Curacao, El Salvador, Honduras, and Jamaica make up Group C, and the teams of Group D are Guyana, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.
This will be Mexico’s 15th appearance in the cup competition; they are the favorites in the competition with outstanding players like Hirving Lozano, Carlos Vela, and Javier Hernandez. Mexico is ranked number one in the CONCACAF Men’s National Team Rankings.
The United States will have its 15th appearance in the cup competition, seeking revenge in the group stage against Trinidad and Tobago as Trinidad and Tobago kept the U.S. from qualifying for the FIFA World Cup, winning 2-1 in 2017. The U.S. has some exciting players to look out for, such as rising star Christian Pulisic, Jordan Morris and veteran midfielder Michael Bradley. The U.S. also has a new head coach, Gregg Berhalter, who will leave the Columbus Crew club after five seasons. The United States won the last Gold Cup back in 2017.
Costa Rica will have its 14th appearance in the gold cup ranking, ranking third in the CONCACAF Men’s National Team rankings. This will be Panama’s ninth, ranking fifth behind Honduras, which is making its 14th appearance. Honduras ranks 4th in the CONCACAF rankings behind Costa Rica. This will be Trinidad and Tobago’s 10th appearance and Haiti’s seventh.
The Canadian team also has Alphonso Davies, the 18-year-old who will lead their campaign to the coveted trophy. They are ranked 6th in the CONCACAF rankings, putting them behind Panama. This will be Curaco’s second appearance, Martinique’s sixth and Bermuda’s first ever in Gold Cup history. Cuba will have its ninth. The only other newcomer in the cup competition making their debut is Guyana. Jamaica will have 11 appearances, Nicaragua will have three and El Salvador will be making their 11th appearance in the cup competition.
The top two teams from each group continue to go on into the cup competition by qualifying for the quarter-finals, while the last two teams from each group are eliminated from the competition. The top two teams from each group play each other in the quarterfinals to book a spot in the semifinals. The four winners from the quarterfinals will then play in the semifinals, and the two winners from the semi-finals will then play in the finals. The winner of the finals will be crowned Gold Cup 2019 Champions.