The 2013 Gold Cup features some good teams, and for the first time, they will be playing for something bigger.
The champion of the 2013 Gold Cup will earn a berth in a playoff match with the 2015 tournament winner with a chance to represent CONCACAF in the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Traditionally, the two dominant squads have been Mexico and the United States. They have faced off in the last three finals.
Will the two squads continue their dominance and reach the finals? Is there a sleeper team that could upset this balance of power?
Read below to see a power ranking of each contender with a legitimate chance to take the tournament crown.
1. United States
The return of Landon Donovan was a catalyst for the United States, as they absolutely dominated Guatemala, winning by a score of 6-0 in the friendly match. Donovan scored twice.
The match as a whole is a good sign for the Americans. They maintained possession for most of the match against Guatemala, and held their opponents to zero shots on goal.
The Americans are 5-0 in their last five matches, outscoring their opponents by a total of 15-4. They have shut out their opponents in their last three matches.
Donovan's return has given the team needed depth on the attack. It takes some of the pressure off Herculez Gomez and Stuart Holden.
When playing at their best, like they did against Guatemala, there is not a better team in this tournament.
Mexico boasts a talented but really young and inexperienced roster. Only two players have made more than 10 appearances with the national team.
El Tri was no match for the powerhouses in Group A of the Confederations Cup, where they lost twice to Brazil.
The summer has been a bit difficult for Mexico. According to ESPN FC, El Tri is behind both Costa Rica and the U.S. in the World Cup qualifying standings.
Will Mexico Rebound In the Gold Cup?
The Gold Cup could provide an opportunity for Mexico to break out of its slump. They are the defending champs, and their best player, Marco Fabian, helped lead them to an Olympic gold last summer.
Still, it will be hard for the young team to overcome the experienced Americans. Outside of Fabian and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, there is not enough scoring depth.
They should make the finals, because they are better than the rest of the competition. But as it stands now, they will have a tough time overcoming the Americans.
3. Costa Rica
There is a real drop-off in talent after the U.S. and Mexico.
The best of the rest is probably Costa Rica. They are already ahead of Mexico in the World Cup qualifying standings, although that has more to do with El Tri's incompetence than Costa Rica's overwhelming talent.
Does Costa Rica Have a Legitimate Chance of Winning the Gold Cup?
Still, the Ticos are experienced and have some top players. Led by Alvaro Saborio, who has 30 career international goals, up front, and Roy Miller and Michael Umana in back, there is a nice amount of talent.
But outside of the core group, there may not be enough scoring depth to overcome the Mexicans and Americans. In March, they lost to the Americans 1-0, albeit in snowy conditions.
There is a chance they surprise, but someone outside of the core—perhaps someone like Bryan Ruiz or Ceslo Borges—will have to step up.
Right now, the Ticos are a bit too one-dimensional.