Whoever told you that this summer would be a quiet one in soccer because of the lack of a (men’s) World Cup was lying. There are numerous tournaments happening around the globe and the CONCACAF Gold Cup is one of them. The North and Central American competition gets under way this weekend. Here are four picks from the opening round of games.
Canada v Martinique
Rose Bowl, Saturday June 15
These two teams opened the Gold Cup back in 2013 with Fabrice Reuperne scoring a dramatic winner for Martinique in second-half stoppage time. That seems unlikely to happen on Saturday, with Canada entering this year’s tournament with high expectations. Anything less than a run into the knockout rounds will be considered an embarrassment.
In Junior Hoilett, Scott Arfield, Jonathan Osorio and Bayern Munich teenager Alphonso Davies, Les Rouges should have too much for Martinique at the Rose Bowl. However, Martinique won all four of their games in the CONCACAF Nations League, so this is a team that has grown accustomed to winning. Nonetheless, this will be a step too far for them.
1u - Back Canada Asian Handicap -1 @ -137
Mexico v Cuba
Rose Bowl, Saturday June 15
They are the tournament frontrunners for many. Indeed, Mexico enter this year’s Gold Cup with something of a point to prove after being toppled by the USA in 2017. New manager Tata Martino, of former Argentina, Atlanta United and Barcelona fame, will have to face this tournament without many of his best players, though.
Carlos Vela is missing for El Tri, as is Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozano and Hector Herrera. Despite this, Mexico have scored 13 goals in their last four friendly wins (over Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela and Ecuador). All of these games featured over 3.5 goals, while Cuba are on a run of three consecutive defeats. Mexico have won all nine games of the games they have played against Cuba. That streak looks unlikely to end this weekend.
1u - Back Mexico to win both halves @ -250
Jamaica v Honduras
Independence Park, Monday June 17
Having reached the final in the past two Gold Cups, Jamaica will be hoping to go one further this summer as they kick off their campaign in their own capital city of Kingston. Those hopes, however, might be somewhat misplaced and are somewhat dependant on one of, or both, the two big boys - Mexico and USA - slipping up somewhere along the line.
Jamaica have won four and lost three of their last seven games. They are not a team that tends to draw many matches, while Honduras have lost all of their last three outings, including a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Brazil. Jamaica have kept four clean sheets in their last 10 games, while Honduras have kept three.
1.25u - Back Jamaica to win @ +120
USA v Guyana
Allianz Field, Tuesday June 18
So this is it. The USA has had a long time to reflect on their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. A long time. The American game has since undergone an overhaul with a new head coach also appointed. This will be the first real test that Gregg Berhalter will face as USA boss, although in Guyana he has been presented with a low hurdle.
The USA come into this tournament on the back of concerning friendly defeats to Jamaica and Venezuela. However, the feeling in those games was that Berhalter was still experimenting with his team. This is the real deal, now. In Guyana, they will face a team who have lost to Haiti and Bermuda in their last two matches. This should be a comfortable start for the Americans in Minnesota.
1u - Back USA to win to nil @ -240