It’s the quarter finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup this week, with games spread across Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The North and Central American Championship is held every two years, and as you’d expect has been dominated by the two regional powerhouses, USA and Mexico.
Those two have won all but one of the 13 titles since the tournament began in its current format in 1991, and both are in this week’s quarter finals. Mexico finished top of group C and face the third placed Honduras from group A, while USA topped group B and play against the third placed side from group C, El Salvador. The three-group tournament sees the top two from each section go through to the quarter finals as well as the two best third placed sides.
Jamaica and Canada both finished second in their respective groups and play one another, while Costa Rica have been drawn against Panama. Those two ties look particularly evenly balanced and we should have a great few days of football ahead.
Mexico v Honduras
Betway stand out at -175 among the bookmakers offering prices on a Mexico victory, and that’s the headline bet.
The Mexicans have sauntered to this stage after comfortable victories over Curacao and El Salvador, the only blip being held to a 0-0 draw by Jamaica. They’ve only failed to reach the semi finals three times in the last 13 renewals of the tournament, and have won three of the last four editions. The last five meetings with Honduras have resulted in three victories and two draws – the most recent match was a World Cup qualifier in June which Mexico won 3-0.
Honduras lost 1-0 to Costa Rica and were awarded a 3-0 victory over French Guiana after they fielded former France international Florent Malouda. The match had ended 0-0. Those three points along with a point from a 0-0 draw against Canada in the final group game helped them through as a best third placed side – at the expense of the unfortunate Martinique in group B. This will probably be as far as they go, and a Mexican victory is fully expected.
USA v El Salvador
USA are short odds to beat El Salvador, so we’ll take the chance that they can cover a -1.5 Asian handicap at -128 with 188Bet.
These sides haven’t met since a Gold Cup tie in 2013 which USA won 5-1, but one suspects their respective abilities haven’t changed a huge amount. USA were held to a 1-1 draw by Panama in their opening group game but went on to beat Martinique 3-2 and Nicaragua 3-0. Several up-and-coming players have been selected in the squad by boss Bruce Arena, and they are proving their worth.
El Salvador lost 3-1 to Mexico earlier in the competition, but qualified for the quarter finals courtesy of a 2-0 win over Curacao and a 1-1 draw with Jamaica. They’ve never reached a Gold Cup semi final, and it would be a huge surprise if they did so at the expense of USA.
Jamaica v Canada
Jamaica have only lost three of their last ten games, while Canada have lost just two of their last ten. the Jamaicans drew the last two matches in group C – 0-0 with Mexico and 1-1 against El Salvador. Meanwhile, Canada also drew their last two games in group A – 1-1 with Costa Rica and 0-0 against Honduras.
The two look evenly balanced and Jamaica are well known for adopting conservative tactics – a strategy that led them to the final of this competition two years ago. Canada won the Gold Cup in 2000, and qualified for the semi finals in 2002 and 2007, but its’s been a barren spell since then. It’s hard to imagine this will be a spectacular goal-fest, but much easier to foresee a ‘bore draw’.
Costa Rica v Panama
Costa Rica v Panama might be a bit more explosive, but the draw is still the value call at +215 with 188Bet.
Panama reached the final in 2013 and the semi final in 2015, but Costa Rica also have a good history – if less recent. They reached the final in 2002 and have been semi-finalist on four other occasions.
The last five meetings have resulted in two wins each and a 0-0 draw, the stalemate coming in a recent World Cup qualifier in June. Both sides have lost just two games of their last ten fixtures, and both have a habit of drawing. Panama have been involved in four draws in their last ten games, while Costa Rica have drawn five of theirs.
Mexico to beat Honduras
Friday 21st July, 15:30 GMT
USA -1.5 to beat El Salvador
Thursday 20th July, 02:00 GMT
Jamaica and Canada to draw
Friday 21st July, 00:30 GMT
Costa Rica and Panama to draw
Wednesday 19th July, 23:00 GMT