2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup Preview

source: US Soccer

 

The 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off on Tuesday, June 7th. 12 teams will separate into 3 groups for a chance to progress to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. The USA won the 2013 edition of the tournament, and they’ll play the winner of this tournament in a playoff, unless they should win the tournaments. Back-to-back champions of the Gold Cup qualify automatically to the Confederations Cup.

Teams qualified through a variety of ways. Mexico, USA, and Canada qualified automatically, as is always the case with the Gold Cup. We think that really hurts Canada’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup. But until they relinquish their spot, they’ll continue to fight things out in the Gold Cup. Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador qualified through the Copa Centroamericana (Costa Rica also qualified for the 2016 Copa America Centenario). Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Cuba qualified through the 2014 Caribbean Cup (Jamaica also qualified for the 2016 Copa America Centenario as champions). And lastly, Honduras came back to dispatch French Guiana in a playoff for the final spot.

Also at stake in this tournament are the final two spots for the aforementioned Copa America Centenario, which will feature the 10 teams from CONMEBOL, the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica and two more teams TBD at the Gold Cup. It’ll be fantastic.

 

Group A

The USA, Panama, Haiti and Honduras will contest Group A. We rank the USA highest in this group at #21, and that’s before adding home advantage. The United States are playing extremely well right now with back-to-back road defeats of Germany and the Netherlands. They recently clowned Guatemala 4-0 in their final tuneup, and they’re the clear favorites here. We give them a 99.6% chance of advancing with an 82.3% chance to top the group.

Behind them, Panama is no slouch. They’re #47 in our rankings and are always a solid team. They’re our second choice behind the USA. They take up the lion’s share of the remaining odds to top the group at 14%. But overall, we really like what Panama is doing. They clearly look to be the 2nd best team in this group, and we give them an 85.6% chance to advance. It would be a real shock to see Panama not advance.

Haiti and Honduras are two teams with completely different fortunes of late. Haiti has gotten results, but it has been against weaker competition. Honduras hasn’t had the results, but they’ve had such a rough schedule. Don’t forget, they were in the World Cup just last year! But results are results, and Honduras has just 2 wins from their last 12 matches. That doesn’t sit well with us. We give the slight edge to Haiti in this group, but we think it’s a bit of a longshot either finishes top 2. Especially since Honduras has to start against the USA. We give both teams less than a 50% chance of advancing.

Projected Points
USA: 7.86
Panama: 4.77
Haiti: 2.45
Honduras: 1.80

Group A
1 2 3 4
1 USA 82.3% 15.6% 1.9% 0.3%
2 Panama 14.0% 54.4% 23.5% 8.1%
3 Haiti 2.4% 18.5% 43.7% 35.4%
4 Honduras 1.3% 11.5% 30.9% 56.2%

 

Group B

This should definitely be the most competitive group at the Gold Cup. While it looks like El Salvador is the most unlikely to advance, they still have about a 30% shot in our estimation. The other 3 teams are well over 60%. World Cup surprise package Los Ticos of Costa Rica are probably a little bit overrated by the oddsmakers, but they certainly are the favorites to top the group. Unlike Groups A and C, whose projected winners are over 80%, we only give Costa Rica a 48.8% chance to win it.

That’s largely in part to a perfect storm. We are fairly high on Canada (#48 in the world and #5 in CONCACAF), and they get a home game against Costa Rica. Without having to play a road match, we’d have Costa Rica near the 60% range. But the oddsmakers really do not favor Canada, and we think there is tremendous value there. Despite only an 18% chance according to Vegeez, we give Canada a 37% chance to win this group. That’s a pretty stark difference, and Canada is the team that WGF is hitching their horse to for this tournament. We fancy them ahead of Jamaica, as the Canucks have outscored opponents 10-0 in their last 4 games.

Jamaica is always a tough team that seems to beat the teams they should and not much more. They do not have a win against teams in our top 60 in their past 18 matches. They do not have a loss against teams below our top 60 in their past 8 matches. It’ll be interesting to see if they can break through here. And El Salvador is going to have a tough time of it. The last time they beat a team in our top 80 (!) was 3 years ago. If they finish anywhere but last in this group, it would be a shock. This is an awful tough group.

Projected Points
Costa Rica: 5.99
Canada: 5.35
Jamaica: 3.34
El Salvador: 1.81

Group B
1 2 3 4
1 Costa Rica 48.8% 34.1% 13.2% 4.0%
2 Canada 37.1% 36.2% 19.8% 6.9%
3 Jamaica 11.3% 21.1% 40.4% 27.2%
4 El Salvador 2.9% 8.6% 26.6% 61.9%

 

Group C

Talk about a gift, Mexico got away scot free with this year’s draw. Oh, that’s right. CONCACAF didn’t even do a draw for the Gold Cup, they just assigned groups. Trinidad and Cuba are our two lowest ranked teams in the entire tournament. They both ended up here with a Mexico team that has been far superior lately. Guatemala looks like the only team that can seriously challenge them, and we think they’re only the 6th best team in the tournament. If Mexico does not top this group, they should be embarrassed. We have them at 88%, with a 99.7% chance to advance out of this group. It’s theirs to lose.

Guatemala, however, must be happy with this draw. They have a really good chance to advance, even if they finish 3rd. We give them an over 80% chance of getting to the knockout round, despite their recent ambush by the USA. That’s awful ambitious given their recent allergy to the onion bag. They’ve scored just two goals in their past 8 matches.

Trinidad and Cuba equally can’t complain. Even if Mexico runs the table, Trinidad and Cuba both have a better chance in our estimation than Honduras and El Salvador of moving on. We give each around a 35-40% chance of moving on. Not too shabby. It’s unlikely either will threaten the top spot, but you don’t need to win the group to keep your dream alive. And given that spot in Copa America is available, there’s a lot at stake in the Gold Cup.

Projected Points
Mexico: 8.14
Guatemala: 4.45
Trinidad and Tobago: 2.27
Cuba: 2.06

Group C
1 2 3 4
1 Mexico 88.1% 10.6% 1.1% 0.2%
2 Guatemala 9.1% 57.0% 24.2% 9.7%
3 Trinidad and Tobago 1.9% 17.0% 39.4% 41.7%
4 Cuba 0.8% 15.4% 35.3% 48.4%

 

Final Gold Cup Odds

Finish Odds
Team QuartF Semis Finals Champion
1 USA 99.56% 87.16% 68.56% 44.40%
2 Mexico 99.68% 82.40% 63.52% 33.88%
3 Costa Rica 93.96% 58.88% 24.80% 10.32%
4 Canada 89.44% 47.24% 15.52% 5.12%
5 Panama 85.60% 41.88% 12.48% 4.08%
6 Guatemala 82.16% 28.84% 5.64% 0.92%
7 Jamaica 63.56% 21.84% 5.12% 0.76%
8 Haiti 48.40% 10.08% 1.64% 0.28%
9 Honduras 31.20% 5.24% 0.76% 0.08%
10 El Salvador 29.52% 5.92% 0.96% 0.08%
11 Trinidad and Tobago 41.52% 5.72% 0.44% 0.04%
12 Cuba 35.40% 4.80% 0.56% 0.04%

We think there are a lot of good teams in this field, but this tournament appears to be a two horse race. The USA is right up there currently with Mexico as the best team in CONCACAF, and they get to play all of their matches on home soil. We think they’re almost 50/50 to win the whole thing and go straight to the Confederations Cup.

After them, it’s wide open. Costa Rica, Canada, and Panama all have a shot, but it’s not a great one. Outside of those top 5, it’s really a long shot. If we were going to pick two teams to emerge and qualify for the Copa America, it’s Canada and Panama.

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