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The 2015 edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, and we have another three weeks of competitive international football ahead of us. The competition is held every two years and is contested between nations from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The surprise package from England’s World Cup group, Costa Rica, might fancy their chances this time around, but the tournament has been dominated by USA and Mexico since its inception in 1991, with only Canada wrestling the title from the top two in 2000. USA have won the competition five times, while Mexico have claimed the title on the other six occasions it has been contested. USA were the most recent victors in 2013, but Mexico had won the two previous competitions in 2011 and 2009.
The Gold Cup has always been hosted in USA, with Mexico sharing hosting duties in 1993 and 2003, and Canada set to jointly-host the event this time around. Let’s take a look at some of the odds for the outright winner of the trophy.
Mexico were recently involved in the Copa America as one of the two invitees along with Jamaica. Reports at the time suggested that Mexico were sending a weaker squad, and keeping their best players back for this competition which bodes well for our bet.
Anyone who can remember Mexico’s World Cup campaign in Brazil 2014, will know they are a competitive side. They beat Cameroon and Croatia, as well as running the hosts very close in a 0-0 draw in the group stages. They were just minutes away from eliminating Holland in the second round, when two very late goals turned the tie on its head and sent the Mexicans packing. It was a cruel exit, but showed that they are capable of competing with the very best.
They had a good win record for the rest of 2014 following the World Cup, but results over the last couple of months have been littered with draws. Some of those may be forgiven, as they didn’t take a full quota to the Copa America, but Mexico’s form prior to the World Cup wasn’t anything special either, so we can overlook that and hope that they turn up when it matters. They should waltz through a group containing Cuba, Trinidad and Guatemala, and a place in the quarter-finals beckons. From there one would expect them to make a good fist of claiming the trophy back from USA.
USA – 13/8 2.63 +163 1.63 1.63 -0.61 with Coral
Of course, USA are their stiffest competition, and they won’t relinquish their title without a fight. They also performed heroics in the World Cup, and the game against Belgium that they lost in extra-time will go down as a World Cup classic.
The Americans seemed to suffer from a World Cup hangover for the rest of the year with a string of poor results, but they’ve been back in form lately, winning their last four friendly internationals, against Germany, Holland, Guatemala, and most notably Mexico.
For all of these two teams’ domination of the Gold Cup, they’ve only met in the final five times out of the eleven they’ve won between them. USA’s group features Haiti, Honduras and Panama, and despite a potentially tricky tie against Honduras, one would still expect them to progress with relative ease. It will take a good team to knock them out in the later stages, and this tournament isn’t blessed with great teams by any stretch. It would be no great shock to see both USA and Mexico line up in the final, but there is always the potential for a shock.
Costa Rica shocked the world (well, most of Europe) when they effectively knocked England and Italy out of the World Cup, and they did exceptionally well to reach the quarter-finals before bowing out to Holland on penalties. They went on a glorious run off the back of that euphoria, but it has been distant in the memory of late, and they’ve lost three of their last four friendlies, against Spain, Colombia and Panama.
They’re in a tricky group alongside Canada, Jamaica, and El Salvador, and that is enough to put us off a punt on them taking the title. They ought to progress from the group, but could easily drop points and end up facing one of the big two in the quarters or semis.
Best of the Rest
Jamaica might be an outside bet for those looking for a long shot, as they’ve had recent big game experience at the Copa America, and although they lost all three games, each defeat was only by a single goal against Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Our idea of a better bet for an outsider though, is Honduras.
Honduras qualified for the World Cup for only the third time in their history last year, and although they lost all three group games to France, Ecuador and Switzerland, just being there was an achievement for the small nation. However, they have a very consistent record in this competition, having reached the last four in four of the last five tournaments. There was no third-placed play-off in those five editions of the competition, although that match will return this year, but for a team which has historically done well over recent years, the odds look very big.
They are in the same group as USA, so will find it hard to top the table, but can be expected to get through to the quarter-finals in second spot, or as a highest third-placed finisher, and from there anything can happen.
The likes of Haiti, Panama, Cuba, Gautemala, and El Salvador aren’t there just to make up the numbers, but will be gathering valuable international experience. However, it’s hard to see any of them having an impact on the tournament, and it looks to be a two-way tie between USA and Mexico. We’re siding with the Mexicans as they have obviously targeted this competition as the one to win in 2015.
To Win the CONCACAF Gold Cup