Your guide to the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup

The 15th edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup, which crowns North America's top national soccer team, will see regional powers and eternal rivals USA and Mexico battle for Concacaf supremacy. But a host of other nations will feel they are capable of springing the upset, including Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and Canada. And there's always the chance for a Cinderella run by smaller nations like Haiti, Bermuda, Curacao, Martinique and Guyana. 


Basics Group B  –  FIFA ranking: 175
How qualified The Gombey Warriors earned a solid fifth place finish in Concacaf Nations League qualifying, which also served to fill out the last 10 teams in the 2019 Gold Cup field.
Gold Cup history Bermuda will be making its first appearance at a Gold Cup.
Head coach The islanders will be led by Kyle Lightbourne, who scored 16 goals in 40 Bermuda caps during his playing career. This is technically the boss' second stint in charge, as he had a three-game run as caretaker manager in 2017. Combing both spells, he holds a 3-4-1 record.
Top 3 stars Opponents will definitely want to throw a net over Burnley striker Nahki Wells, who is a proven Championship producer. Wing creator Zeiko Lewis generally plays his best in competitive international games. Reggie Lambe is the most-capped player in the squad and will be relied on organize transition play.
MLS connections Though none of Bermuda's players hold a day job in MLS, Lambe played a couple seasons with Toronto FC and Lewis was a first round SuperDraft pick of the New York Red Bulls in 2017.
Projections Bermuda certainly won't be fancied to escape group play, but there's enough in their locker that they shouldn't be counted out.


Basics Group B  –  FIFA ranking: 78
How qualified As one of three countries to execute a perfect 4-0 run through Nations League qualifying.
Gold Cup history The Canadians will be appearing in their 14th Gold Cup, and 11th in a row. They've reached the final four three times, winning the title in 2000.
Head coach Formerly the coach of Canada's highly successful women's national team, John Herdman is now midway through his second year at the helm of the men's side. The team is 5-0 under his care, with four of the wins by clean sheet.
Top 3 stars The headline act is Bayern Munich teen sensation Alphonso Davies, who proved two years ago that his wheels and verve can turn a Gold Cup on its head. Puebla striker Lucas Cavallini is the multi-purpose cobra head at the top of a scary attack. The midfield stable has several very useful contributors, but LAFC's Mark-Anthony Kaye is the one riding the best form wave at the moment.
MLS connections In addition to the dozen guys on the roster that now play in MLS, attack aces Davies and Cyle Larin got their start here, and young defender Marcus Godinho is a Toronto FC academy product.
Projections If they can keep things orderly in defense, this youthful side holds Canada's best Gold Cup potential in over a decade. A title run is probably too much to ask this time, but they'll have sights set firmly on the semifinals.

Costa Rica

Basics Group B  –  FIFA ranking: 38
How qualified An automatic berth earned by reaching the final round (hexagonal) of World Cup 2018 qualifying.
Gold Cup history Though they won the precursory Concacaf Championship tournament three times, the Ticos have only managed one Gold Cup final appearance, finishing as runners-up in 2002. However, Costa Rica have gone at least as far as the quarters 10 straight times.
Head coach Gustavo Matosas took the Costa Rica reins in October of last year. The former Uruguay midfielder is 1-2 on the Ticos bench thus far.
Top 3 stars Ticos fans have fingers crossed that 33-year-old playmaker Bryan Ruiz can turn back the clock for one more big tournament. You could pick anyone across the seasoned backline to spotlight, but we'll choose NYCFC left back Ronald Matarrita because he's important at both ends and is due a Gold Cup coming out party. Forward Joel Campbell is among the most inscrutable talents in Concacaf, but this well-rounded team turns into title threats if he gets hot.
MLS connections Matarrita is but one of five key performers listed in Major League Soccer rosters. The squad is also loaded to the brim with Champions League experience facing MLS sides.
Projections Not having star 'keeper Keylor Navas hurts their chances, but Costa Rica still has all the pieces to make a deep run.


Basics Group A  –  FIFA ranking: 174
How qualified Cuba won their first three Nations League qualifying games by a combined 14-0 count to ensure a top-10 finish with a round to spare.
Gold Cup history This will be Cuba's ninth Gold Cup go-around. They've made it to the quarterfinals three times, including in 2013 and 2015.
Head coach Raul Mederos is nearing his third anniversary as Cuba manager. After going winless in his first six games as boss (0-4-2), he's now won five of six.
Top 3 stars Aricheell Hernandez can be used anywhere in attack and the fans will hope he can lead a charge forward wherever he's stationed. Skipper Yordan Santa Cruz, who went nuts offensively during qualification, provides the main thrust out of midfield. Universidad defender Yosel Piedra is the most important figure at the back.
MLS connections None to speak of in this current group.
Projections They could keep every game reasonably close and still finish last.


Basics Group C  –  FIFA ranking: 82
How qualified The tiny island nation had the highest scoring team during Nations League qualifying, hitting 22 times on their way to a 3-1 record and an impressive fourth place finish.
Gold Cup history After failing to make the cut in the first 13 Gold Cups, Curaçao are making their second straight appearance. They are still in search of their first tournament win, though.
Head coach After about a year as Patrick Kluivert's right-hand man, Remko Bicentini took over the job in the fall of 2016. The former defender, who enjoyed one Dutch second flight season with NEC Nijmegen, has a 10-5-2 record. He guided the team to its first Caribbean Cup triumph in 2017.
Top 3 stars Everton defender Cuco Martina is the captain, and can plug in anywhere across the backline. Cardiff City midfield handyman Leandro Bacuna has a wealth of EPL and Eredivisie experience, and tends to save his best offensive contributions for Curacao duty. Ingolstadt striker Charlison Benschop can be a real handful when on song.
MLS connections Martina's older brother Javier is the only player from their island nation to ever appear in MLS action.
Projections A ton of Dutch tutelage has molded much of this group, so don't be surprised if they make a better bid at threatening a top-two finish in Group C than old Concacaf hands El Salvador.

El Salvador

Basics Group C  –  FIFA ranking: 71
How qualified Los Cuscatlecos squeaked into the Gold Cup field by virtue of a 2-0 home win over Jamaica on the final day of Nations League qualifying. The result allowed them to finish 10th, two goals in differential ahead of Montserrat.
Gold Cup history This will be the 11th Gold Cup for El Salvador, who have made it as far as the quarters five times.
Head coach Carlos de los Cobos, who had an unfortunate spell as Chicago Fire boss early in the decade, started his second El Salvador reign just over a year ago. He went 18-29-15 during his first tenure, but has fared considerably better this time around (8-3-0 this far).
Top 3 stars Forward Nelson Bonilla is the primary (if not only) goal threat. Houston's Darwin Ceren and Portland's Andres Flores will be liable for keeping midfield play tidy.
MLS connections The preceding pair are the only current El Salvador players based in MLS. Veteran midfielder Gerson Mayen got his pro start with Chivas USA. Roberto Dominguez never saw the field during a cup of coffee with Vancouver, but is one of several players with experience facing MLS opposition during Champions League play.
Projections Unless Honduras or Jamaica have a major stumble, their outlook for reaching the knockouts is bleak.


Basics Group D  –  FIFA ranking: 175
How qualified Guyana had to play catch-up on the final day of Nations League qualifying. FC Cincinnati forward Emery Welshman (currently on loan to Forge FC) bagged the all-important 2-1 winner against Belize to secure his side's seventh place finish, and the Gold Cup place that came with it.
Gold Cup history Like Bermuda, Guyana are set for their Gold Cup debut.
Head coach Since taking over last summer, Michael Johnson has steered Guyana to a 2-2-1 record. The longtime Birmingham City and Derby County defender is in his first head coaching job.
Top 3 stars Welshman is the danger man in attack. Though now 36, midfield general Neil Danns is blessed with loads of experience from England's top three flights. Johnson will be hoping that young defender Terence Vancooten can come of age during the tournament.
MLS connections Warren Creavalle has played 153 total MLS matches for current employers Philadelphia, Toronto FC and Houston.
Projections Avoiding a last place finish in this year's deepest group would be a feat in itself.


Basics Group B  –  FIFA ranking: 175
How qualified As one of three countries to execute a perfect 4-0 run through Nations League qualifying.
Gold Cup history Haiti will be playing in their seventh Gold Cup, and fifth in the last seven editions. They have yet to go past the quarterfinal stage, which they've reached twice.
Head coach Marc Collat has held some interesting jobs during a long career, including Youth Coordinator at PSG and France Olympic team manager. Combining his two Haiti stints, he has an 11-10-5 record with a Gold Cup 2015 quarterfinal run on his ledger.
Top 3 stars Forward Duckens Nazon is a bit of an enigma, but he's also powerful, pacy and capable of scoring in bushels. Young Red Bulls attacker Derrick Etienne Jr. was a big help to him during their qualifying run to Gold Cup and could be lethal if teams are too preoccupied with curtailing Nazon. Veteran goalkeeper Johny Placide may be without a club for nearly a year, but he also knows what it takes to shine at this tournament.
MLS connections New England midfielder Zachary Herivaux (now on loan to USL outfit Legion FC) is one of two current MLS players on the roster (along with Etienne Jr.). Andrew Jean-Baptiste played 42 total games for Portland, Chivas USA and the Red Bulls.
Projections Haiti should find themselves in a dogfight for second place in Group B, but for the first time, they will actually be favored to reach the knockout stage.


Basics Group C  –  FIFA ranking: 61
How qualified An automatic berth earned by reaching the final round (hexagonal) of World Cup 2018 qualifying.
Gold Cup history Los Catrachos are in their 14th Gold Cup, and ninth in a row. They dropped the final at the inaugural 1991 tourney and reached the semis four times between 2005 and 2013.
Head coach Setting aside a stunning rout of Mexico last fall in Houston in his lone game as Uruguay caretaker manager, this is Fabian Coito's first full-time national team job at the senior level. He started off with draws against Paraguay and Ecuador, but was handed a 7-0 friendly lesson by Brazil on Sunday.
Top 3 stars Houston wing terror Alberth Elis came up empty at Gold Cup 2017; don't expect a repeat. If Dynamo teammate Romell Quioto can rediscover his World Cup qualifying form from 2017, it would offer Elis extra space to destroy defenses. Meanwhile, FC Dallas man Bryan Acosta is the key midfield cog.
MLS connections Along with the aforementioned trio, defenders Danilo Acosta and Maynor Figueroa currently play in the league. Another three Honduras players, including 2010 Rookie of the Year Andy Najar, once did.
Projections They'll battle Jamaica for Group C supremacy. Reaching the final four could well hinge on winning that pre-knockouts duel.


Basics Group C  –  FIFA ranking: 56
How qualified Although they dropped their final Nations League qualifying match, Jamaica had already won the first three to secure a Gold Cup place early.
Gold Cup history The Reggae Boyz will be taking part in their 11th Gold Cup. They lost each of the last two finals, and reached the final four on two other occasions.
Head coach Former midfield ace Theodore Whitmore began his second stint as Jamaica boss back in the fall of 2016. All told, the engineer of their run to the 2017 Gold Cup final holds a 39-29-13 record as the Reggae Boyz conductor.
Top 3 stars At long last, Bayer Leverkusen wing stud Leon Bailey is set for what Jamaica fans hope will be a spotlight-grabbing international debut at Gold Cup. Philadelphia 'keeper Andre Blake is no stranger to starring at this tournament, having won the Golden Glove two years ago. The speed and two-way authority of New York Red Bulls left back Kemar Lawrence are difficult to deal with for even the best national teams.
MLS connections Aside from the two players listed above, Darren Mattocks, Alvas Powell and Peter-Lee Vassell also currently cash paychecks stateside. Six others formerly played for MLS clubs.
Projections Can they reach a third straight Gold Cup final? Or even finally win one? Anything is possible, but they'll probably need to repeat last week's friendly victory over the US along the way — except this time, all the red, white and blue stars will be present, making it a taller task.


Basics Group A  –  FIFA ranking: n/a
How qualified As one of three countries to execute a perfect 4-0 run through Nations League qualifying.
Gold Cup history Martinique have reached the Gold Cup for the sixth time, and are in back-to-back tournaments for the first time since 2003. The only time they escaped the group stage occurred in 2002, when they dropped a heartbreaking quarterfinal to Canada on penalties.
Head coach Mauro Bocaly has yet to lose (5-0-1) since taking over as Martinique manager near the end of 2017, but the competition degree of difficulty is about to rise a few levels.
Top 3 stars When it comes to attacking drive and production, Kevin Parsemain stands head and shoulders above the Martinique crowd, both now and historically. Wesley Jobello, who plays for Ligue 2 side Ajaccio, will be charged with helping him create offense. Whether used in central defense or at the midfield gate, Jordy Delem will be a key man at the back.
MLS connections Seattle's Delem has 40 games of MLS experience and has started eight games this year. Parsemain was also Sounders property for a year, but a knee injury prevented him from making a single first team appearance.
Projections This team is not so easy to play against, but they'll need to pull off a surprise result against opening foe Canada to have even a puncher's chance of reaching the knockouts.


Basics Group A  –  FIFA ranking: 18
How qualified An automatic berth earned by reaching the final round (hexagonal) of World Cup 2018 qualifying.
Gold Cup history El Tri are one of just two teams (along with the US) to qualify for all 15 Gold Cups to date. They've never failed to reach the knockouts and have played in eight finals, taking the crown home on seven of those occasions.
Head coach Just six months removed from taking Atlanta United to the MLS crown, Tata Martino needs no introduction around these parts. He's off to a perfect El Tri start, with four straight high-scoring wins over hearty Conmebol foes.
Top 3 stars Veteran midfield aces Andres Guardado and Jonathan dos Santos will be expected to keep traffic running in the right direction without the help of Héctor Herrera. And with no Chicharito, no Vela and no Lozano on board, Raul Jiménez will be counted on to translate sparkling Premier League form into Gold Cup goals.
MLS connections Beyond Martino and dos Santos, there are no Mexico names with MLS experience on their CV's. Of course, the majority of them have still gone up against Major League Soccer's best, either in Champions League or international play.
Projections Even with a throng of name brand stars missing from the squad, Mexico has to be considered the title favorite until someone knocks them off.


Basics Group B  –  FIFA ranking: 129
How qualified Los Pinoleros needed a 65th minute loan goal winner from Juan Barrera on the last day of Nations League qualifying in order to leap up to ninth place and clinch a Gold Cup invite.
Gold Cup history This will be the third tournament appearance for Nicaragua, and their second in succession. They've dropped all six of their previous Gold Cup matches while being outscored 15-1.
Head coach Henry Duarte has been Nicaragua manager since late 2014, going 15-17-7. Once a nomadic club manager, he favors a defensive-minded 4-2-3-1 set.
Top 3 stars Veteran winger Juan Barrera is the captain and the program's all-time leading scorer, with 18 tallies in 50 caps. Experienced internationals Luis Copete and Josue Quijano are the keys to keeping things quiet on the right side of Nicaragua's defense.
MLS connections Believe it or not, but no Nicaragua player has ever suited up for a Major League Soccer club. However, a handful of players on the roster did impressive battle with FC Dallas in the 2017 Concacaf Champions League group stage.
Projections Given their group draw, there is a decent chance they can pocket a first ever Gold Cup point, if not also their first win. If they can somehow accomplish one or both those feats before the group closer against Bermuda, they'd even stand a shot at reaching the quarters. Probably best not to put any money on that, though.


Basics Group D  –  FIFA ranking: 74
How qualified An automatic berth earned by reaching the final round (hexagonal) of World Cup 2018 qualifying.
Gold Cup history Panama are making their eighth consecutive Gold Cup appearance, and ninth in total. They have made it out of the group stage the last eight times, reaching the final in 2005 and 2013.
Head coach One of the greatest Panamanian players of all time, Julio Cesar Dely Valdes, is now on his third stint in charge of Panama. In total, his Panama record sits at 38-20-13. The former PSG and Malaga forward knows his way around a Gold Cup, having taken the team to the 2013 final and the 2011 semis.
Top 3 stars It may be time to turn the midfield engine room over to the hottest player on the roster, Montreal winger Omar Browne. Seattle defender Roman Torres is a national hero and remains the spiritual leader of this group. Red Bulls right back Michael Murillo, who already has 30 caps at the age of 23, is the backline's two-way flank ace.
MLS connections Beyond the three players listed directly above, the squad also features the San Jose veteran duo of Harold Cummings and Anibal Godoy, and youngster Ernesto Walker is with LA Galaxy II. Another six players, including associate captain Armando Cooper, once played in MLS.
Projections The Canaleros have struggled mightily since their World Cup 2018 wash-out. It says here they should at least get well enough to make it to the knockouts.

Trinidad & Tobago

Basics Group D  –  FIFA ranking: 93
How qualified An automatic berth earned by reaching the final round (hexagonal) of World Cup 2018 qualifying.
Gold Cup history The Soca Warriors are Gold Cup entrants for the 10th time, but have only made it out of the group phase thrice. They narrowly missed the final in 2000, losing 1-0 to eventual champs Canada. In both 2013 and 2015, they suffered harsh late quarterfinal losses.
Head coach After several years as Roberto Martinez's right hand man with Wigan and Everton, Dennis Lawrence took the reins in January of 2017. The longtime Trinidad & Tobago defender has gone 4-11-3 at the wheel, with his biggest win to date coming to keep the US out of World Cup 2018.
Top 3 stars Seattle left-sider Joevin Jones stirs the drink for the Soca Warriors' transition game. Though he's still trying to get back to his best after a long injury lay-off, Minnesota attacker Kevin Molino (who has a roster-high 18 international goals in 42 caps) might be handed the attack keys. The team has been pretty solid at the back since breaking US hearts nearly two years ago, and Daneil Cyrus has been the constant marshaling things back there.
MLS connections Aside from Jones and Molino, the only other Soca Warrior on an MLS roster is Orlando City backup goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh. Veteran midfielder Cordell Cato formerly played for the Sounders and Earthquakes, defender Mekeil Williams spent a couple of seasons with Colorado and Kevan George was once a depth piece in Columbus.
Projections While we all know Trinidad & Tobago can spring a big surprise, it would seem that they simply aren't deep enough in quality to escape the group phase this time.

United States

Basics Group D  –  FIFA ranking: 24
How qualified An automatic berth earned by reaching the final round (hexagonal) of World Cup 2018 qualifying.
Gold Cup history Their streak of playing in every Gold Cup continues. The United States has made it to all 14 previous knockout stages, and only failed to reach the semifinals back in 2000. They've raised the trophy in triumph six times, and finished as bested finalists another four times.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter is midway through his first year as USMNT manager, and the Gold Cup will be his first competitive test at this level. His tenure got off to a decent 3-0-1 start, but the pressure is on after the team dropped both of their June warm-up friendlies.
Top 3 stars Chelsea midfielder Christian Pulisic is the offensive leader of the team, with the wheels, ideas and execution to top the relevant stat charts by tourney's end. Coming off a fantastic debut Bundesliga half-season, Tyler Adams will be responsible for breaking up plays and quickly sending the ball in the other direction. At 29, Jozy Altidore remains the best, most well-rounded striker in the pool by a good margin.
MLS connections Sixteen players on the squad have played in Major League Soccer this season, and another three got their start there. In addition, Berhalter is fresh out of five seasons at the Columbus helm.
Projections Anything less than a title defense will upset fans, but failing to make a final appearance will be seen as an outright failure. If the new boss can figure out the right levers to pull, this team has the tools necessary to get the job done.

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