Of the 12 teams that arrived in the United States for the 2013 Gold Cup, only 8 remain. There was certainly some drama for the final 3rd place spot in the knockout round. Before we get into the knockout preview, let’s take a look at how things shook out in each group. Our predictor, xCRO, did a fantastic job in forecasting who would end up where in each group as you’ll see below.
There was very little suspense in Group A. After Martinique’s somewhat surprising win over Canada, things played out as expected. Panama defeated Martinique to secure a spot in the knockout round while Mexico defeated Canada to get back on track. Mexico then had little difficulty with Martinique while Panama sent out a backup squad knowing they had advanced. xCRO had the standings nailed. Martinique, on 3 points, felt fairly confident that they would be able to progress, but Group C would have something to say about that.
As expected, Group B was by far the most competitive group. Honduras separated themselves from the pack, but the other 3 teams were very evenly matched. Trinidad, Haiti and El Salvador all had an opportunity to seize the moment on the final match day. Haiti and El Salvador battled back and forth, and finally El Salvador was able to break through late in the match. The win, which put them on 4 points, assured El Salvador of continuing their campaign. Trinidad, meanwhile, was fortunate to face a less than full strength Honduras side. Likewise, they seized the opportunity and claimed their spot in the knockout round. Just to show how even this group was, 2 teams finished with a 0 goal differential while the other two were just +1 and -1.
Again, our predictor xCRO came through on Group C. The USA and Costa Rica were clear powerhouses in this group, and it was evident that Cuba and Belize would be left clawing for scraps. What was unexpected was the final match between two teams on 0 points. Prior to their final match, Cuba and Belize were the only two teams in Gold Cup play without a point to their name. Each had 2 losses and been outscored 7-1. Even our rankings, which factor all games played had these teams identical. Conventional wisdom would tell you that the match should be even. Additionally, Martinique would advance unless either team won by 4 goals.
Cuba got on the board and looked like they had it in them to accomplish this arduous task. With just over 10 minutes to play, Cuba needed 2 goals to advance. An unfortunate Belize red card left the Belizeans a man down and disheartened. It looked like they truly gave up. Immediately, Cuba scored a 3rd. In the dying moments, Cuba scored the tying goal only to be flagged for offsides. It looked like they’d be unable to do it. But there was one bit of magic left, and Jenier Marquez scored the winner at the death. It was a mob scene as the Cubans had knocked out Martinique and advanced.
Down to 8 teams in a single elimination tournament, you can be sure you’ll get the best every team has to offer. Here is what the bracket looks like. (click the image to see a larger version)
Mexico vs. Trinidad and Tobago
What you can be certain of is that Trinidad will not be intimidated by this Mexican squad. Mexico has virtually a ‘B’ team, and they were beaten by Panama. Meanwhile, Trinidad must certainly be excited to be in Hotlanta. They’ve come a long way and certainly earned their place.in this spot. Our predictor certainly doesn’t know the quality of the squad Mexico has, so the prediction is most likely ambitious. Mexico should still come away victorious, but it should be a very tight game.
Prediction: Mexico by 3
Panama vs. Cuba
The Cubans will certainly need to channel the momentum from the Belize game if they want to have a chance at advancing further. They looked completely overmatched by top teams before beating up on a demoralized squad. Panama finished top of Group A, but they haven’t looked all that impressive themselves. They won 2 games by 1 goal and drew with Canada. If you’re looking for an upset to pick in the quarterfinals, this could be it. Saturday’s games should be close. Let’s see if Panama finally lives up to the hype.
Prediction: Panama by 2
Honduras vs. Costa Rica
This is the best matchup in the quarterfinals. 5 of the 6 remaining teams in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying reached the Gold Cup (no Jamaica), and they were all expected to do well. With 5 teams and only 4 games to be played in the quarterfinals, two teams mathematically must be matched up. This was virtually certain. Honduras was always top the class in Group B while Costa Rica had it tough being drawn with USA on their home turf. Don’t be surprised if this one goes to kicks, but we’ll pick a side here. Costa Rica looked strong even in defeat against the United States, and they’re probably playing better right now.
Prediction: Costa Rica by 1
USA vs. El Salvador
While El Salvador isn’t our lowest ranked team remaining (Cuba is), they’re gonna have a tough go of it against the USA. Our merciless xCRO predictor gives El Salvador only a 3.5% chance of advancing. The USA steamrolled lesser opponents in Cuba and Belize, and El Salvador isn’t that far ahead of them. Look for Chris Wondolowski to continue his newly found scoring touch and tickle the twine multiple times. Ranch on the stars and stripes.
Prediction: USA by 4
If the predictions hold true, we’d have two rematches from the Group stage with Mexico against Panama and the USA against Costa Rica from Dallas. What an amazing venue to host the semifinals. This is what a match in Cowboys stadium looks like:
The two semifinals should be the best matches of the tournament to that point. Mexico will certainly be looking for revenge against Panama while Costa Rica will look to do the same. In the end, we are predicting yet another Mexico-USA final and sticking to our prediction. We think the USA will come away victorious this time around. Here are the odds we give each team heading into the knockout round.
|Trinidad and Tobago||12.4%||4.5%||0.4%|
Best of luck to the 8 remaining teams in the Gold Cup. There have been a number of twists and turns thus far, and a couple more upsets wouldn’t really shock anybody. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @We_Global to stay up to date with all of our posts. Thanks for reading!