2017 Gold Cup: Group Stage Review

The group stage of the 2017 Gold Cup has drawn to a close, leaving us with not too many surprises but some enticing quarter-finals matchups coming up soon. But before we get our hands dirty with the knockout stages, let’s look at the goals, hard-fought results, and controversy of the last week.

GROUP A

Results:

French Guiana 2 – 4 Canada
Honduras 0 – 1 Costa Rica

Costa Rica 1 – 1 Canada
Honduras 3 – 0 French Guiana*

Costa Rica 3 – 0 French Guiana**
Canada 0 – 0 Honduras

*Match was originally a 0-0 draw, but French Guiana fielded an ineligible player, causing a forfeit.
**This match was not a forfeit, French Guiana just had a bad day.

GROUP C

Results:

What Happened Here:

Costa Rica, Canada, and Honduras all advanced from this group. The three teams showed strong performances, leaving French Guiana all alone at the bottom of the table.

The island nation were quite disappointing, especially since their one positive result, a 0-0 draw against Honduras, was forfeited. The controversy started very early on, as they fielded ex-France international Florent Malouda despite FIFA’s stance on the matter.

Although French Guiana are not a FIFA member, the rule stated that players cannot switch nationalities, and Malouda already had 80 caps for the French national team. The captain played anyway, but the results were predictable. The forfeit gifted Honduras three points and propelled them to the knockout stages. How fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on what team you support).

Goal of the Group:

Costa Rica’s goal against Honduras.

Marco Ureña’s goal proved to be the winner, and it came as a result of some excellent movement of the ball by the Costa Ricans. A pinpoint, first-time cross found Ureña in the center of the box, and his strike did the rest of the work to secure Costa Rica’s first win of the tournament.

GROUP B

Results:

USA 1 – 1 Panama
Martinique 2 – 0 Nicaragua

Panama 2 – 1 Nicaragua
USA 3 – 2 Martinique

Panama 3 – 0 Martinique
Nicaragua 0 – 3 USA

What Happened Here:

USA and Panama advanced from the group after a thrilling three rounds of matches. The big boys of the group drew in their meeting together and then matched goal difference after the next two games, meaning USA snatched first place on the last day purely because they scored one more goal than Panama.

The host nation have looked somewhat shaky considering their high expectations for the tournament, but it is reasonable to anticipate them improving as the tournament wears on.

Martinique will be disappointed to miss out on the quarter-finals by one point after a heartbreaking loss to USA, but they can still hold their heads high after some spirited performances.

Nicaragua, on the other hand, have a lot of work to do.

Goal of the Group:

Martinique’s second goal against USA.

Some goals come from individual skill. Some come from brilliant teamwork. Some come from both.

This was not one of those goals.

Kevin Parsemain’s second goal of the night embodied the magic of the Gold Cup. Only the most absurd circumstances could allow someone to score while lying on his back, and that was what we were working with when we saw that ball loop into the net from a hopeful shot.

The deflected effort left the USA defense stunned and in shambles. The equalizer was enough to give Martinique the hope that they could actually get a result against one of the titans of CONCACAF…

…right before that hope was snuffed out with USA’s third goal. The winner came within a minute of Martinique’s goal. Were they even done celebrating? Oh well, Kevin will always have that goal to cherish.

GROUP C

Results:

Curaçao 0 – 2 Jamaica
Mexico 3 – 1 El Salvador

El Salvador 2 – 0 Curaçao
Mexico 0 – 0 Jamaica

Jamaica 1 – 1 El Salvador
Curaçao 0 – 2 Mexico

What Happened Here:

Mexico, Jamaica, and Honduras all advanced from this group which was absolutely dripping with quality. Even with an extremely young and inexperienced team, Mexico run the show in the Gold Cup and that has been the case so far.

Jamaica have also experimented with unproven players and it looks like it’s paying off. And good luck getting anything past this El Salvador side, because they fight for everything and were unlucky not to get better results against Jamaica and Mexico.

In my Gold Cup Preview article, I called Curaçao the “the Caribbean force to be reckoned with at this tournament”. So, maybe I was a little wrong. Exiting the group stage with a whopping zero points, the team surely could have done a little better than losing every game 2-0. Despite the poor results, the team had promise and showed some flashes of decent football.

Maybe next time they’ll finally be able to score a goal.

Goal of the Group:

Mexico’s second goal against El Salvador.

Okay, so this one was actually really great. A swinging cross from the right found Elías Hernández in a tight spot at the far post. But this was nothing for the talented Mexican.

He struck the ball ever-so-cleanly on the volley to put it away for the eventual winner, propelling Mexico to their first win of the tournament against a tough opponent.

THE QUARTER-FINALS

Costa Rica vs Panama
USA vs El Salvador
Mexico vs Honduras
Jamaica vs Canada

And here we are: the quarter-finals of the Gold Cup. Many questions remain as we wait for the top eight teams of the tournament to face off.

Will USA walk their way to a final? Or choke it all away?

Are Mexico still kings of CONCACAF with this team?

And are Canada actually getting good at football?

Only time will tell. About a day and a half, to be specific. Stay tuned!

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