Chalk holds up in 2017 Gold Cup group stage

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

By Andrew Ryan
BETCRIS Soccer Gold Cup odds  Costa Rica vs Panama

The group stage of the Gold Cup is said and done with, and it's hard to say that there are too many sides that are all that happy.

That said, there's plenty to be unhappy about, beginning with Martinique. The poor Caribbean nation was bounced out of this tournament with three points only after CONCACAF ruled that French Guiana would forfeit what was a 0-0 draw against Honduras. The end result gave the Hondurans three points for that match instead of just one and moved them from two points in the three group stage matches to four. The end result saw Martinique left out of the knockout rounds in a cruel and unfair turn of events.

The bottom line, though, is that there are probably only five teams who have any chance to win the Gold Cup whatsoever, and most of them won't be all that happy with the way they played in the group stage either.

Mexico and the USA have been jockeying as the favorites to win the Gold Cup all tournament long.

The Stars and Stripes ultimately won Group B on goal differential over Panama. The seven points Bruce Arena's squad came up with weren't all that impressive, especially when the squad blew a 2-0 lead against Martinique and had to be rescued by a Jordan Morris goal in the 76th minute.

Mexico finished on seven points as well, taking all three from El Salvador and Curacao while struggling in a scoreless draw against Jamaica.

It's hard to say which one of these two teams has been the stronger, but we do know that the United States is starting to take things seriously. Six players have been called up to the squad for the knockout rounds as permitted by CONCACAF, and Arena has brought in five men who will clearly start immediately in Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Darlington Nagbe, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey.

The United States will start its knockout rounds of this tourney against El Salvador, a team which finished third in Group C with four points.

Mexico, which has yet to confirm who its six call-ups will be for the quarterfinals, will take on Honduras in the quarters.

Mexico will still be the favorite to win the Gold Cup at a price of +150, but the USA is just behind at +170 and could easily be justified as the favorite if these two teams meet in the Gold Cup final as is expected to be the case.

But let's not count out the other four teams in the quarterfinals quite yet.

The USA will await the winner of the Costa Rica/Panama match. Panama already has drawn with the Americans and will surely love to take another bite at the apple against the big boys of the tourney. Costa Rica hasn't been all that impressive throughout, including struggling mightily against both Honduras and Canada. Still, Los Ticos have consistently been the third favorites to win this tournament and remain that way at +600.

Canada and Jamaica are both still double-digit longshots to win the Gold Cup, but one of the two will advance to the semifinals, most likely to take on Mexico at the Rose Bowl. This could be the most intriguing of the quarterfinals ties even though no one really expects to see either of these teams playing in the finale by the time El Tri are done with the winner. Still, with talent like Alphonso Davies, Cyle Larin, Darron Mattocks and Andre Blake on the pitch, this Canada/Jamaica match could be must-see viewing for soccer buffs.

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