The 2017 edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup will start on the 7th of July. In Harrisson, French Guiana and Canada kick off for the 14th edition of the Gold Cup. Hosts USA start their campaign one day later and defending champions Mexico appear for the first time on July 9th. Here is your usual preview in numbers:
12 participants There are twelve teams participating in the upcoming edition. Here is the all-time ranking with the 12 participants of 2017 highlighted:
Debutants Both Curacao and French Guyana will make their first ever appearance at the Gold Cup. Curacao last played a continental tournament in 1973 (CONCACAF Championship, the former Gold Cup) and currently find themselves on their record-high in the FIFA rankings: 70th. They will face Jamaica in their opening game. The same opponent as they saw on 26/6/2017 , when winning the final of the Caribbean Cup for the first time in their history and taking home the bonus cheque of 40,000USD (total, not per player). All except two of the 25 goals they scored during the 1-year event were scored by players that at one point played in the Dutch Eredivisie (7x Van Kessel, 7x Zschusschen, 4x Bacuna, 3x Janga and 2x Hooi).
The other debutants, French Guyana , are yet to play a game in 2017 and qualified for the first time ever for a continental event. They will play a country outside of the Caribbean Football Union for the first time ever. In other words; their first round opponents, Canada, have a population 13,5 times bigger the biggest nation they have ever played (Jamaica).
FIFA rankings Only three countries from the FIFA ranking top-50 are present in the tournament: Mexico (17), Costa Rica (19) and the USA (29). There are even two participants that are not FIFA members: first time participants French Guyana and 2015 quarterfinalists Martinique.
Your cheat sheet In the following image you find a table with historical Gold Cup info per group. Use it at your convenience:
Group massacre If you would discard the fact that Mexico arrives here with a B-team, you might expect them to win their group by a mile. They currently hold a 8-0-0 record (with a 26-3 goal difference) over their rivals in the group stage. Historically, only six of the 92 teams have finished their group stage with nine points from three games (4x USA, 1x Jamaica and 1x Mexico). In the 2011 Gold Cup Mexico did that with a goal difference of +13 (14-1), the current record.
Where them goals at The average goals per game have been falling over the last three editions with to a mean of 2.38 in the 2015 Gold Cup. And games have been close; 10 of the 15 games that were won by either side in that same edition were decided by only a one-goal margin (seven time a 1-0) (for comparison sake; at the 2016 Copa America that was 12 out of 26 (46%), the Euro 2016 saw 22 / 37 (59%) decided by one goal).
Where them goals at (Canada) Speaking of a lack of goals: Canada currently is on a six-game streak without scoring a single goal in the Gold Cup, 32 minutes away from making that 10 hours. And we can make it even worse, both goals they scored in the 2011 edition came from the penalty spot; making it 10 games or 962 minutes without field goals. No records to be broken; both are already the longest ever runs in the tournament’s history. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Yes, you would say, as they play against French Guyana in the opening match. Canada currently also is the team with most consecutive participations without making it past the group stage: three.
Domination All 13 editions of the Gold Cup have been won by a country from the North American Football Confederation. That is Mexico (7x), the USA (5x) and Canada (1x). The former two have made it through the group stage in each of their 13 participations. There is no team to have beaten each one of those three in Gold Cup history. Panama (only missing a win against Canada) seems to be closest, followed by Honduras (USA) and Jamaica (Mexico, who they’ll play in the group stage).
Mexico’s Kryptonite Mexico have won three out of the last four editions and, although not playing with their best team, might be seen as title contenders this time around as well. Since the start of the 2009 Gold Cup they have played 23 games in the tournament. The lost only two of them; both against Panama, both by 1-2 and both in 2013. And before you ask; it represents one of the five times a team beat the same opponent twice on the same Gold Cup.
Six perfect editions Mexico is the only team in history to finish a Gold Cup without conceding a single goal and winning all games. They that in 1996. In the first edition (1993) of the Cup Mexico set the record for most goals scored: 28 goals in 5 games (1/3 of those goals came against Martinique as we’ll see later). Both Mexico (2011) and the USA (2007 and 2013) have won a title with six straight victories.
Youngsters All eyes will be on USA youngster Christian Pulisic this 2017 Gold Cup. He is yet to turn 19 years old (in September) and could be the youngster ever goalscorer for the USA at the Gold Cup. There will be some players younger than him at the tournament: Alphonso Davies (16, Canada), Carlos Vargas (17, Mexico), Javain Brown (18, Jamaica) and Fabian Grant (18, Jamaica).
Juan Barrera This entire blog posts should be dedicated to the hero of Nicaragua but if you watch one thing today, make sure it is this video. Pure passion, emotion and happiness in the play-off game against Haiti for GC2017 qualification in which Nicaragua were practically out, having lost the first game 3-1 and with 0-0 on the board after 85 minutes in the return game. But then it’s Barrera time. If it’s still Barrera time is another question; he has not scored since.
Five records for Donovan Landon Donovan is the all-time top scorer of the Gold Cup. He scored a total of 18 goals (record #1), which he divided over 13 games (record #2) and six tournaments (record #3). Five of those 18 goals came from the penalty spot (record #4). He also is the player with most games played at the tournament; 34 (record #5).
Topscorers Donovan won’t be too nervous about losing his crown. From all players with six or more goals, Luis Tejada – who scored his first Gold Cup goal in 2005 – is the only one that will be active this edition, but he did not find the net in any of Panama’s last 12 games. Here is the entire top 20:
Most appearances Again, no immediate worries for Landon here. But, there is a player who could in theory equal his 34 matches played in the tournament. Panama’s goalkeeper Jaime Penedo is only six games away from that total and – would his team make the final with him present in all games – could equal him. Penedo surely will set another (joint) record. Both he and his teammate Gabriel Gómez are the first ever players that will make appearances in seven consecutive Gold Cup editions.
15 hat-tricks Donovan and 14 other players managed to score 3 or more goals in one game, but there is no player in Gold Cup history that has scored multiple hat-tricks. The fastest hat-trick was scored by McBride in 2002. He scored three goals within 12 minutes (9′, 11′ and 21′). No player managed to score a hat-trick against either USA or Mexico. Ruiz is the only player who did not win (he lost!) a game despite scoring a hat-trick (Guatemala – Jamaica 3-4 in 2005).
Player/manager Frank Yallop (1991, 1993 & 1996 / 2005 for Canada), Colin Miller (1991, 1993 & 1996, / 2013 for Canada), Dale Mitchell (1991 / 2007 for Canada), Paolo Wanchope (1998, 2000 & 2002 / 2015 for Costa Rica), Theodore Whitmore (1998, 2000 & 2003 / 2009 & 2011 for Jamaica), Jose Manuel de la Torre (1991 / 2013 for Mexico) and Julio César Dely Valdés (2005 / 2011 & 2013 for Panama) have all made appearances as both player and manager.