Gold Cup 2017: Predicting Semifinals

At last the four best teams have done their jobs. Some have smashed their way through to the semifinals, and some merely survived. This is where it gets harder to predict.

Costa Rica vs. United States

This is going to be a simply thrilling Saturday night in Phoenix. On one hand you have the sleeping American giant, fresh off absolutely dominating El Salvador. Then you have Los Ticos, who just barely scraped through against Panama. However, El Salvador is hardly on Panama’s level.

Costa Rica is missing four key players to injury, and star goalie Keylor Navas has not been allowed to come to the Gold Cup as he is in Real Madrid’s squad for the club’s preseason tour. The US are also without players that play for a European clubs, as Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson, and John Brooks are not able to come. The Americans should be able to get through to the final, as they can exploit Costa Rica’s lack of healthy wingers and second-string goalkeeper. Pick: USA

Mexico vs. Jamaica

Mexico brought their B-team to this Gold Cup, as many players including Hirving Lozano and Carlos Vela were subject to CONCACAF’s international playtime restrictions as they had taken part in the Confederations Cup recently. It hasn’t hindered El Tri yet as they face a full strength Jamaican team that made the final in 2015. Mexico’s midfield presence should dominate Jamaica, and the high press they’ve been utilizing should cause problems. Pick: Mexico

 

So what did you think of my predictions? Let me know in the comments below! Be sure to like and follow if you enjoyed!

 

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Upon Further Review: Gold Cup 2017 Group stage/QFs

Welcome back to Upon Further Review, where today I review my CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage and quarterfinal predictions. Here goes.

Group A contained the likes of Costa Rica, Canada, French Guiana, and Honduras. I predicted Costa Rica to top the group. The Ticos did so without a loss. I then said Honduras would finish second with Canada third. The teams swapped positions in real life unfortunately. Everyone would’ve anticipated French Guiana to finish bottom and they did so. However, the hilarious drama created by the French overseas department fielding the ineligible Florent Malouda brought a smile to many fans.

Group B consisted of Panama, Nicaragua, the United States, and island Martinique. Go right down the line as I correctly predicted the USA to top the group with Panama, Martinique, and Nicaragua following.

Group C was the most obvious outcome of them all.I predicted Mexico to top the group and Jamaica second. The final spots were a toss-up and I got them right, putting El Salvador third and Curaçao fourth.

The first quarterfinal featured an intensely boring game between Costa Rica and Panama where Los Ticos did as I predicted, vanquishing the bronze medalists of 2015.

Second and third quarterfinals. US and Mexico win comfortably. Next.

Finally, Jamaica and Canada faced off in the quarter everyone wanted to see. An early goal from Shaun Francis opened the scoring. Jamaica doubled their lead in the 50th minute before Junior Hoilett gave Canada hope 11 minutes later. No further goals were scored and Jamaica moves on, completing my perfect sweep of the quarters.

Group stage score: 10/12.

Quarterfinals score: 4/4

 

Semifinals predictions will be out later today.

 

CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Matchday 5 Roundup

Matchday five in the Hexagonal, CONCACAF’s fifth round of World Cup qualifying. Three games. Every nation with a chance to vault up the table should results go their way. Let’s get into it.

At 8:00 ET, the United States took on Trinidad and Tobago. Many fans of the Americans were already looking ahead to Sunday’s clash with Mexico, but their team didn’t want to get ahead of themselves. T&T may have been in the cellar, but with a win the Trinidadians could bounce into the top three.

The US had plenty of chances early on. In the 15th minute, Clint Dempsey received the ball on the edge of the box. His strike flew just over the bar. Then in the 20th minute, John Brooks found himself in a similar position. He kept his shot on target, but J. M. Martinez was more than equal to it.

The Americans exhibited a shocking lack of energy in the 33rd minute, where Kevin Molino launched a terrific cross into the area for T&T striker Kenwyn Jones, but Jones could only watch his header hit the bar.

After the halftime break, the US put the pressure on Trinidad and Tobago. It paid off in the 52nd minute, when Darlington Nagbe found Pennsylvania-born Christian Pulisic for the first goal of the game.

Pulisic added to his track record, scoring another goal and putting the game away ten minutes later. And what a remarkable record he has. This 18 year old would be a college freshman if not for soccer. Instead he has 44 appearances for German giants Borussia Dortmund, won the DFB Pokal with his club, and is the youngest American to score in the UEFA Champions League. He also has seven goals and five assists in 15 international caps for his country. That’s downright impressive.

Pulisic’s brace carried the Americans to a 2-0 win. The other two games were unfortunately not nearly as exciting. Mexico absolutely thrashed Honduras 3-0 with goals from Osvaldo Alanis, Raul Jimenez, and 21 year old wonderkid Hirving Lozano.

Costa Rica faced Panama in the final game of the night. Both sides were missing key players due to injuries. The game finished 0-0 in immensely boring fashion.

Table analysis

At the end of the day, the CONCACAF table looks like what you see at the top of the article.

Mexico is sitting nicely in the top spot with thirteen points. They have the opportunity to cement that position with a win on Sunday against the United States. However, the US will be looking to defeat El Tri, stabilize their position in the top three, and even jump to second if Costa Rica lose. Panama, T&T, and Honduras look to be fighting it out for fourth place.

A quick note: Mexico currently sits in 17th in the world in the FIFA Rankings. If they can move into the top ten AND grab 20 points or more total in qualifying, FIFA will be forced to seed them in the World Cup, which means El Tri will almost certainly get an easier group in Russia.