The 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup gets underway on Friday, July 7th with two Group A games at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. Two days later, Group C gets kicked off from Qualcomm stadium in San Diego, CA. Headlined by continental “co-giant” in Mexico, Group C also is home to a few upstart squads in El Salavador and Curacao. We’ll break down each one of them and who to pay attention to as well.
2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group C Preview
The Mexican National team has to be somewhat disappointed with their showing in the Confederations cup, as their best result was a draw against Portugal. They will still bring a strong, and experienced squad with them to the Gold Cup and should definitely be considered contenders.
They will be without the likes of Carlos Vela, Giovanni Dos Santos, Chicharito, Andres Guardado, and Memo Ochoa, but have plenty of players with quality to fill in for them. Their squad is mainly made of players from Liga MX, with the exception of Cubo Torres. While this Mexico team is nowhere near their first team, they should have enough quality to win group C. As Jamaica and El Salvador aren’t that strong.
Player to Watch: Erick “Cubo” Torres is the only non Liga MX on their roster, and is probably the one that most who don’t pay attention to Liga MX would know. Cubo has really come alive this year for Houston, after struggling mightily in 2016. I’m sure many of the Mexican fans would love to see him play well.
Squad (Club in parentheses)
Goalkeepers- Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Miguel Fraga (Atlas), Moises Munoz (Puebla)
Defenders- Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Raul Lopez (Pachuca), Hedgardo Marin (Chivas), Alejandro Mayorga (Chivas), Jesus Molina (Monterrey), Cesar Montes, (Monterrey), Jair Pereira (Chivas), Luis Reyes (Atlas), Luis Rodriguez (Tigres)
Midfielders- Edson Alvarez (América), Jesus Dueñas (Tigres), Jesus Gallardo (Pumas UNAM), Jorge Hernandez (Pachuca), Rodolfo Pizarro (Chivas)
Strikers- Martin Barragan (Necaxa), Erick Gutierrez (Pachuca), Elias Hernandez (León), Orbelin Pineda (Chivas), Angel Sepulveda (Monarcas), Erick Torres (Houston Dynamo)
Soccer in El Salvador has taken a bit of a down-turn since they were really competitive in the 2010 World Cup Qualifying cycle. This is one of their better campaigns in recent years to get to this tournament. El Salvador’s oldest player is 29, so there is quite a bit of youth in this team.
They will be led in the midfield by San Jose Earthquakes midfielder, Darwin Ceren. Many of these players on this roster are made up from Alianza FC, Santa Tecla, and C.D. Aguila, the three giants of the El Salvadorian League. A few nice stories are the NASL and USL players they have in there, as well as a player from Santa Clara in Portugal.
The three forwards they bring have plenty of experience, but the key will be their young midfield in what they can do. With so much youth in both the midfield and the backline, the hope would have to be that a good showing in this tournament could spur them on into future World Cup Qualifying campaigns.
It will be difficult for El Salvador to get out of this group simply because of the lack of experience they have. With the finalists from the 2015 edition, plus a strong Curacao side, El Salvador is going to have to pull off a shocker to get out of the group.
Player to Watch: Rodolfo Zelaya – El Salvador’s leading goalscorer coming into the tournament should be a player to watch. He’s going to be the be relied on heavily for offense, which will be necessary in this group. Zelaya is quite the prolific scorer, with more than 100 goals in his professional career. If he can get a few in the group stage that would bode well for the El Salvador Squad.
Squad (Club in parentheses)
Goalkeepers– Oscar Arroyo (Alianza FC), Derby Carillo (IBV Vestmannaeyjar), Benji Villalobos (CD Aguila)
Defenders– Alexander Larin (FC Juárez), Iván Mania (Alianza FC), Ruben Marroquín (Alianza FC), Milton Molina (Isidro Metapán), Henry Romero (Alianza FC), Bryan Tamacas (Santa Tecla)
Midfielders– Efrain Burgos (Reno 1868 FC), Darwin Ceren (San Jose Earthquakes), Oscar Ceren (Alianza FC), Roberto Dominguez (Santa Tecla), Andres Flores (New York Cosmos), Victor Garcia (CD Aguila), Santa Tecla (Gerson Mayen), Richard Menjivar (New York Cosmos) Richard Menjivar (New York Cosmos), Narciso Orellana (Alianza FC), Denis Pineda (Santa Clara, Portugal), Edwin Sanchez (CD Aguila)
Strikers– Harold Alas (Santa Tecla), Nelson Bonilla (Gaziantepspor), Rodolfo Zelaya (Alianza FC)
The Reggae Boyz come into the 2017 Gold Cup as a reigning finalist. After losing to Mexico in the 2015 edition, Jamaica seemed to be on the upswing. But a bad time in World Cup Qualifying, and failure to reach the Hexagonal round left them in the lurch.
Jamaica still have a strong squad with them though, mixed with players who have good experience, and have had strong performances all along this season. The big thing with them is that they’ve lost a lot of their front attacking power. A lot of their strength in this squad lies in their defensive unit. That will put the pressure on their attacking players to get the job done when chances come there way.
If speedy players like Darren Mattocks can cause some problems for the El Salvador and Curacao back lines, Jamaica has a good shot to make the Quarter finals. If they can get a good win against El Salvador, and draw, or beat Curacao, they’ll be sitting pretty.
Player to Watch: Andre Blake – The Philadelphia Union net-minder is known to make some spectacular saves. With how good he’s been the last few years, Blake is certainly a player to keep your eyes on in this tournament. If he can stand on his head a bit, Jamaica will have a shot to make a run. ‘
Roster (Club in Parentheses)
Goalkeepers– Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Damion Hyatt (Arnett Gardens, JAM), Dwayne Miller (Valsta Syrianska IK, Sweden)
Defenders– Sergio Campbell (Pittsburgh Riverhounds), Oniel Fisher (Seattle Sounders), Shaun Francis (San Jose Earthquakes), Rosario Harriott (Harbour View, JAM), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Damion Lowe (Tampa Bay Rowdies), Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers), Ladale Richie (Montego Bay United FC), Jermaine Taylor (Minnesota United)
Midfielders– Michael Binns (Portmore United FC), Ewan Grandison (Portmore United FC), Kevon Lambert (FK Vojvodina), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United FC), Je-Vaugh Watson (New England Revolution)
Strikers– Cory Burke (Bethlehem Steel FC), Owayne Gordon (Montego Bay United FC), Jermaine Johnson (Tivoli Gardens FC), Darren Mattocks (Portland Timbers), Shamar Nicholson (Boys Town FC)
The little island nation has to be the most intriguing story in this tournament. There are a whole lot of Dutch cast-offs in this team. Coupled with the fact that Patrick Kluivert was coaching them up to 2016, the Dutch influence on this team is going to be felt and seen throughout. There are players from Vitesse, and plenty of other Dutch Eredivisie teams.
They have a few players to really keep an eye on, mainly because of their pedigree. One is Cuco Martina, who spent time with Twente and Southampton. The other is Leandro Bacuna from Aston Villa.
This team has to be a dark horse in this tournament. There is a lot of quality in this team, and some may or may not take them seriously. They have the ability to turn heads, and I think they have the ability to even finish second in this group. If there is any team this tournament to dig into, it’s Curacao.
Player to Watch: Gino Van Kessel- This player is their most prolific striker on the team. He scored 17 goals in the Slovakian division two seasons ago, and is playing in the Czech first division with one of the better clubs in that league. He has the ability to score, and it will be fun to see what he can do in a tournament like this.
Roster (Club in Parentheses)
Goalkeepers- Jairzinho Pieter (Centro Dominguito, CUR), Eloy Room (Vitesse, NED), Rowendy Sumter (Scherpenheuvel, Belgium)
Defenders– Shanon Carmelia, (Ijsselmeervogels,NED) Jurein Gaari (Kozakken Boys, NED), Quinten Jakoba (Kozakeen Boys, NED), Gillian Justiana (Helmond Sport, NED), Doriano Kortstam (Achilles 29, NED), Darryl Lachman (Willem II, NED), Cuco Martina (Southampton), Dustley Mulder (FC Eindhoven, NED), Ayrton Statie (FC Oss, NED)
Midfielders– Kemy Agustien (Global Cebu FC, Phillipines), Leandro Bacuna, (Aston Villa), Ashar Bernardus (Centro Dominguito, CUR), Michaël Maria (SG Sonnenhof Grobaspach, GER)
Strikers- Jarchino Antonina (Go Ahead Eagles, NED), Elsoon Hooi (Vendsyssel FF, DEN) Rangelo Janga (AS Trencin, Slovakia), Quenten Martinus, (Yokohama Marinos, Japan), Gevaro Nepomuceno (Famalicao, POR), Gino Van Kessel, (Lechia Gdansk, POL), Felitciano Zschusschen, (FC Saarbrücken, GER)
Group C Schedule
Sunday July, 9th- San Diego
Curacao vs. Jamaica- 7pm ET
Mexico vs. El Salvador- 9pm ET
Thursday July 13- Denver
El Salvador vs. Curacao- 8pm ET
Mexico vs Jamaica- 10 pm ET
Sunday, July 16- San Antonio
Jamaica vs. El Salvador – 6pm ET
Curacao vs Mexico -8pm ET