2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Group A Preview

Matt Kremkau

By JACK HAZZARD

Gold Cup logoNow that the Confederations Cup is over, attention can shift from Russia to the United States for the it is time to celebrate the return of the biennial CONCACAF Gold Cup. With the tournament set to kick off on Friday, here is a preview of what to expect in Group A.

Honduras

FIFA World Ranking: 72

Players to Watch: Emilio Izaguirre, Anthony Lozano, Maynor Figueroa

Manager: Jorge Luis Pinto

Honduras is always a wild-card. Honduras has players with impressive experience with domestic stars, Major League Soccer veterans and a Glasgow Celtic starter. The captain is FC Dallas defender Maynor Figueroa, whose career has seen him play in England for Hull City and Wigan Athletic. Figueroa, 34, is the most capped player on the team with 138 appearances. The second-most capped player is Boniek Garcia, a winger for the Houston Dynamo, with 120 caps.

In the 2015 Gold Cup, Honduras was knocked out in the group stage and finished winless in 11the place.

Costa Rica

FIFA World Ranking: 26

Notable Players: Ronald Matarrita, Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Keylor Navas

Manager: Óscar Ramirez

Costa Rica is the ultimate underdog. Every tournament cycle, media outlets peg either Mexico or the United States to win the Gold Cup; however, this year may see a new victor. Within the past years, Costa Rica has accumulated a squad full of veterans who play in Europe: Joel Campbell (Sporting CP), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting CP) and Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) bring Champions League experience to this tournament. Deportivo La Coruña’s Celso Borges is the country’s most-capped player with 100. Notable MLS players on the roster are New York City FC’s Ronald Matarrita and the former New York Red Bull and current Portland Timbers defender Roy Miller.

Costa Rica finished seventh in the 2015 Gold Cup, losing in the quarterfinals after having never won a match in its four previous appearances.

French Guiana

FIFA World Ranking: N/A

Players to Watch: Kevin Rimane, Ludovic Baal, Sloan Privat

Managers: Marie-Rose Careme & Jair Karam

French Guiana is an odd entrant in the Gold Cup. Not recognized as a member of FIFA, the country acts as an overseas department for France, meaning that players from French Guiana can play for both France’s national team and their own. This Gold Cup will be the country’s first appearance.

Canada

FIFA World Ranking: 100

Players to Watch: Junior Hoilett, Scott Arfield, Russell Teibert

Manager: Octavio Zambrano

Canada has struggled in international play for the past 30 years. The squad has been getting better, but international wins have been hard to come by. Canada was unable to make it out of the group stage in 2015, placing 10th out of the 12 teams. This will be the first Gold Cup without Julian de Guzman (Canada’s most capped player, 89) and Dwayne De Rosario (Canada’s top scorer with 22 goals).

Schedule

  • French Guiana vs. Canada – July 7 (7 p.m.) at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
  • Honduras vs. Costa Rica – July 7 (9 p.m.) at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
  • Costa Rica vs. Canada – July 11 (7:30 p.m.) at BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
  • Honduras vs. French Guiana  – July 11 (10 p.m.) at BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
  • Costa Rica vs. French Guiana – July 14 (8:30 p.m.) at Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Tex.
  • Canada vs. Honduras – July 14 (10 p.m. p.m.) at Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Tex.