With World Cup qualifying on hold until September, teams in the CONCACAF region will look to remain in form during July's Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is the premier tournament involving North American, Central American and Caribbean teams, so the action is sure to be fast-paced and exciting.
The Gold Cup has been an official tournament since 1991, and it has been dominated by the United States and Mexico. Team USA has won it four times, while Mexico has taken the Gold Cup on six occasions, including the past two. The only other team to win was Canada back in 2000, so expect the United States and Mexico to reign supreme once again.
Here is all the information you need to know about the 2013 Gold Cup, including when and where to watch every match as well as a listing of each group involved in the tournament.
Where: Various venues in United States
When: Sunday, July 7 through Sunday, July 28
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel and Fox
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
|Trinidad and Tobago|
|Canada vs. Martinique||Sunday, July 7||5:30 p.m.|
|Mexico vs. Panama||Sunday, July 7||8 p.m.|
|El Salvador vs. Trinidad and Tobago||Monday, July 8||7 p.m.|
|Haiti vs. Honduras||Monday, July 8||9:30 p.m.|
|Costa Rica vs. Cuba||Tuesday, July 9||8:30 p.m.|
|Belize vs. United States||Tuesday, July 9||11 p.m.|
|Panama vs. Martinique||Thursday, July 11||8:30 p.m.|
|Mexico vs. Canada||Thursday, July 11||11 p.m.|
|Trinidad and Tobago vs. Haiti||Friday, July 12||7 p.m.|
|Honduras vs. El Salvador||Friday, July 12||9:30 p.m.|
|United States vs. Cuba||Saturday, July 13||4:30 p.m.|
|Costa Rica vs. Belize||Saturday, July 13||6 p.m.|
|Panama vs. Canada||Sunday, July 14||3:30 p.m.|
|Martinique vs. Mexico||Sunday, July 14||6 p.m.|
|El Salvador vs. Haiti||Monday, July 15||7 p.m.|
|Honduras vs. Trinidad and Tobago||Monday, July 15||9:30 p.m.|
|Cuba vs. Belize||Tuesday, July 16||5:30 p.m.|
|United States vs. Costa Rica||Tuesday, July 16||8 p.m.|
Teams to Watch
As the host nation for the Gold Cup, all eyes will be on Team USA when play commences in July. The United States has lost to Mexico in each of the past two Gold Cup finals, so look for the Stars and Stripes to come into the tournament with something to prove. The United States has been absolutely fantastic in World Cup qualifying and it aims to carry that momentum into this tournament.
The United States leads the CONCACAF region in World Cup qualifying with 13 points and a record of 4-1-1. It realistically needs only one more win to essentially clinch a spot in Brazil. While the Gold Cup roster is a mix of first-team guys and reserves, a strong performance will likely boost Team USA even further. One player who is sure to provide a spark is Landon Donovan, as he is slated to make his return to the national team, according to Fox Soccer.
Landon Donovan will finally make his return to the U.S. men's national team in next month's Gold Cup. Full roster: http://t.co/iBt4npfq5U— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 27, 2013
The Yanks have been playing their best soccer in recent memory under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann as of late and they have done it without their all-time best player. Donovan has more Gold Cup goals than anyone in the tournament's history with 13, and if he turns in another fine showing this year, he will bolster the United States' World Cup chances.
Team USA may be in better form than Mexico right now, but most consider El Tri to be the favorites heading into the Gold Cup. Mexico won the tournament in 2011 and 2009, and it holds a 4-1 record against the United States in Gold Cup finals since the event's inception. Mexico can't just expect its reputation to carry it to victory, however.
Which team will win the 2013 Gold Cup?
Mexico's roster is talented, but there are some notable names missing from it. Attackers such as Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado are notably absent from the team. That could pose a problem because Mexico has struggled mightily to score this year even with those players in the fold. One can only assume that Mexico will have an even bigger issue without them.
Mexico has had a nightmarish 2013 season, as it has won just twice. Mexico's lone World Cup qualifying win was a 1-0 decision against Jamaica as El Tri has tied every other match in the hex thus far. With that said, Mexico and the United States still appear to be on a collision course in the final, but the USA could have the upper hand this time around.
Most soccer fans will understandably be fixated on the United States and Mexico in the Gold Cup, as they have traditionally been the tournament's most successful teams. Group B is there for the taking, however, and Honduras appears to have the best squad in that particular group. Honduras has made it to the semifinals in the past two Gold Cups as well, so perhaps it can take that next step.
Honduras is currently hanging tough in fourth place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and it has both a win over the United States and a draw against Mexico to its credit. Los Catrachos are hoping they can catch lightning in a bottle in this tournament. It won't be easy, though, as Honduras will be without regular players such as Oscar Boniek Garcia and others, according to Darrell Lovell of MLSsoccer.com.
Najar and Lopez on Honduras team coming to Houston for the Gold Cup. No Boniek Garcia or many "1st" teamers. http://t.co/twb8jV7yyr— Darrell Lovell (@DarrellLovell) June 28, 2013
Even so, Honduras has plenty of talent, and it seems to believe that it can compete with teams such as the United States and Mexico. Having belief is often half the battle when it comes to beating favored teams. The United States seems focused and is playing well, so it will be tough for Honduras to beat Team USA, but Mexico is ripe for the picking, so maybe a rematch from the 1991 Gold Cup final pitting USA vs. Honduras is in the cards.
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