So who’s in Group C?
When do they play?
Sunday, July 9th – Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Curaçao v Jamaica
Mexico v El Salvador
Thursday, July 13th – Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO
El Salvador v Curaçao
Mexico v Jamaica
Sundday, July 16th – Alamodome, San Antonio, TX
Jamaica v El Salvador
Mexico v Curaçao
This is definitely not the same team that won the Gold Cup in 2015 and this is decidedly a B team from El Tri as they sent their A team to Russia for the Confederations Cup. That being said the only team that should really challenge Mexico is Jamaica. Mexico is bringing an almost entirely domestic squad (save one Erick “Cubo” Torres) and fans of Guadalajara will recognize the young midfield pairing of Orbelín Pineda and Rodolfo Pizarro. One other note is that coach Juan Carlos Osorio has been suspended for six international matches and will miss the entirety of the Gold Cup.
Jamaica has been one of the most maddeningly inconsistent teams in CONCACAF. The Reggae Boyz knocked the USA out of the 2015 Gold Cup Semifinals but can still get beaten by average squads like Peru and lost in the Caribbean Cup to Curaçao within the last month. El Salvador has had very little success in the Gold Cup, never advancing past the quarterfinals. Curaçao is making their Gold Cup debut but since forming in 2010 and the team has started collecting big national team victories and is moving up the international ranks.
Who to watch?
Jamaica – Outside of the USA team, the Reggae Boyz bring the most MLS talent to the Gold Cup. MLS fans will recognize Philadelphia Union keeper Andre Blake. Loons soccer fans will recognize Jermaine Taylor and former Loon Damien Lowe (now of the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL). Wes Morgan is off the roster, dealing with hamstring injuries earlier in the spring, which is a huge blow to the Jamaican team.
El Salvador – Fans of the NASL may recognize Cosmos players Andres Flores and Richard Menjiva. El Salvador also boasts several other MLS players on their roster. The El Salvador squad is very young with no one over 30.
Mexico – If you’re not watching LigaMx what is wrong with you?! Easily the best soccer in the CONCACAF region. Fans of MLS will recognize the Houston Dynamo’s Cubo Torres up top. Orbelín Pineda and Rodolfo Pizarro of Guadalajara are exciting Mexican prospects and, much like the USA, the players in this El Tri side will be playing to get onto Juan Carlos Osorio’s 2018 World Cup side. Speaking of Osorio, did we mention he will not be manning the sidelines. Accosting a referee no es beuno.
Curaçao – Curaçao doesn’t have many well known players, but fans of the EPL and Championship Soccer may know Aston Villa right back Leandro Bacuna. The team does play a very team-centric style and of the minnows in the tournament are perhaps best poised to make a run.
What’s the best game to watch?
Curaçao v Jamaica is a rematch of the 2017 Caribbean Cup final which took place little more than two weeks ago. The winner of this match will be in the catbird seat for one of the two automatic qualifying spots to the quarterfinals. Jamaica v El Salvador looks to be a critical match as a loss for either of these teams may knock them out of the tournament.
So how will it play out?
This might be the craziest group in the Gold Cup. Due to injuries and the squad Mexico is bringing this group is wide open. I think Mexico manages to win the group with surprise second place finisher Curaçao making the knockout round in their first major international tournament. Both Jamaica and El Salvador bow out in the group stage this year. Bold predictions, I know!