The knockout rounds of the Gold Cup will start this weekend, and the excitement can begin in earnest now. We had a couple of small surprises in the Group Stage with Haiti and Curacao making it into the quarterfinals, but neither result was too much of a shock. Seeing either of those Caribbean nations win now would be a surprise though. Haiti will have the first crack at an upset, and they are looking for their best performance at a Gold Cup since their golden era in the 1970s. Of course, the match everyone is excited for will follow shortly afterward when Mexico faces Costa Rica.
Canada -0.5 and -1 vs. Haiti, O/U 2 and 2.5
Les Grenadiers were not expected to win Group B. Virtually everyone pegged Costa Rica as the team to win that group, but Haiti won all three of their group stage games and overcame second half deficits against both Bermuda and Costa Rica to top the group.
Haiti is one of the fastest teams at this year’s Gold Cup, and that speed has Canada concerned. Frantzdy Pierrot netted a brace in the opener, and the youngster continues to improve after a promising year in Belgium. Duckens Nazon is a real playmaker with 17 goals in 35 matches for the national team, while Derrick Etienne has shown flashes of talent.
It’s hard to tell just how good this Canadian team might be. Canada was thoroughly outplayed in their loss against Mexico, but they smashed Martinique and Cuba by a combined score of 11-0 in their other two Group Stage games. Racing Gent’s Jonathan David led the way with five goals in those two matches, and Lucas Cavallini netted a hat trick against Cuba.
I believe these teams are more evenly matched than the oddsmakers believe. Haiti will be able to score at least once against Canada, but I am a little concerned about Haiti’s relatively inexperienced back line. Haiti is a solid play on the goal line, and the over might be worth a little coin as well.
Mexico -1 and -1.5 vs. Costa Rica, O/U 2.5
El Tri has now tallied three or more goals in seven straight matches. Tata Martino has been heralded as an offensive guru as Mexico have come alive during his short tenure, and they have emerged as the team to beat at the Gold Cup (sorry United States).
The goals have come from everywhere. Carlos Antuna has scored four goals at the Gold Cup and Raul Jimenez has added three. Even a player that doesn’t usually score, captain Andres Guardado, has gotten in on the action, and El Tri’s ability to come at defenses in waves has been difficult to stop.
Costa Rica looked sharp against Nicaragua in their first match, but they were not convincing in a 2-1 win over Bermuda and floundered against Haiti. The Ticos have a few offensive weapons, but their best players other than Joel Campbell are all 30 and up, and their age has really started to show in recent months.
I love the over in this match between Mexico and Costa Rica. We have seen a total of four goals or more in each of Mexico’s last seven games in all competitions, as Martino’s system will create chances for opponents too. Look for El Tri to triumph 3-1.
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