As previously noted , right now the 2017 Gold Cup is playing, and as might be expected, this entry is for those who are at least casual soccer fans . We are at the halfway point in the competition now, and it is worthwhile to explain how things went and where they go from here. Like many soccer competitions, the Gold Cup has a mixture between group games, which make up the first half of the competition, and the knockout round, which makes up the second half. Twelve teams started the competition and now after the bottom four have been eliminated, eight teams remain to play three rounds to crown a champion. How did the group games check out, and how do things look from here? Let’s look. Three teams were seeded for this year’s Gold Cup: Honduras for group A, the United States for Group B, and Mexico for Group C. All three seeded teams remain in the competition, but Honduras barely survived as one of the top third-place teams, while the United States won Group B on goal differential over Panama and Mexico won their Group.
Let us begin with Group A. On the first day of competition, Canada defeated French Guiana 4-2 while Costa Rica downed Honduras 1-0. On the second day of competition Costa Rica and Canada surprisingly tied 1-1 while Honduras and French Guiana played a goalless draw that was later awarded as a 3-0 win for Honduras because French Guiana had fielded an ineligible player who had previously capped for France. On the third day of competition Costa Rica defeated French Guiana 3-0 while Canada and Honduras played to a goalless draw. The top three teams from this group, Costa Rica on 7 points, Canada on 5 points, and Honduras on 4 points all went through to the knockout round thanks to the gift win that Honduras got against French Guiana.
Group B was a bit less surprising. On the first day of competition the United States and Panama tied 1-1 while Martinique downed wild card qualifier Nicaragua 2-0. On the second day of competition Martinique played the United States surprisingly close but ended up losing 3-2 in Tampa while Panama narrowly defeated Nicaragua 2-1. On the third day of competition Panama defeated Martinique 3-0 while the United States defeated Nicaragua by the same score. In this group the top two teams went through, with the United States narrowly winning on goals scored and Panama narrowly being consigned to second place. Martinique was the worst third place team on points and was eliminated.
Group C offered few surprises as either. On the first day of competition, Jamaica beat Gold Cup debutantes Curacao 2-0 while Mexico defeated El Salvador 3-1. On the second day of competition, it was El Salvador’s turn to defeat Curacao 2-0 while Jamaica and Mexico played to a scoreless draw. On the third day of competition it was Mexico’s turn to defeat Curacao 2-0 while El Salvador and Jamaica played to a 1-1 tie that allowed both teams to advance. Mexico won the group with 7 points while Jamaica was second place with 5 points and El Salvador went through as a third-place team with 4 points. None of the results was particularly surprising.
So, what do we see looking forward to the knockout round? In the top half of the bracket, the first two quarterfinal games feature Costa Rica versus Panama and the United States and El Salvador in Philadelphia. It is likely that the United States will be heavily favored to advance to the Semifinals against a capable team from Central America On the bottom half of the bracket, the second day’s worth of quarterfinal games in Glendale will pit Jamaica against a surprisingly strong Canada team and Mexico will be favored against Honduras. The semi-finals and finals look set to include some pretty strong teams, as it remains to be seen whether recent form holds. Only once in the last two decades has a team other than Mexico or the United States won the Gold Cup, when Canada was a surprise winner in 2000. Will any other team be able to step up and claim the coveted trophy?
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