(Originally posted at Fansided.com in July, 2017)
The 2017 Gold Cup begins on Friday, July 7. How do the 12 teams stack up in our power rankings?
The Gold Cup group stage begins on Friday, July 7. The 12 teams that compete in the competition are the United States, Mexico, Canada, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Curacao, Jamaica, French Guiana, Martinique and Nicaragua. How do they rank going into the competition?
12. French Guiana
This is the first appearance for French Guiana in the Gold Cup. They finished third in the 2017 Caribbean Cup to reach the tournament. French Guiana are currently ranked 110th in the ELO world rankings, and don’t have a FIFA ranking.
Nicaragua won in a playoff between fifth place teams in the 2017 Caribbean Cup and the 2017 Copa Centroamericana tournaments. They have only been in the Gold Cup tournament twice, and never made the World Cup. Nicaragua are also currently 130th in the world rankings according to ELO, and 100th according to FIFA.
Curacao are a tough team to rank in this tournament. They have the biggest gap from FIFA to ELO rankings, 70 and 138 respectively. They also won the 2017 Caribbean Cup to qualify for the Gold Cup, beating the likes of Jamaica and Martinique, two teams that will also compete in this competition. Forward Felitciano Zschusschen only has 11 caps, but has scored nine goals.
Martinique rank 100th in the ELO world rankings, and qualified by finishing fourth in the Caribbean Cup. They’ve appeared in the Gold Cup five times, and reached the quarterfinals in 2002. Martinique are led by Kévin Parsemain, who has 27 goals for his country, and midfielder Daniel Hérelle, whose 62 caps lead the squad.
Jamaica are a mainstay in the Gold Cup competition. They will be making their 11th appearance in the tournament, and qualified by finishing runners-up to Curacao in the Caribbean Cup. Jamaica rank 86th in the ELO world rankings, and 79th in FIFA. They don’t have the most flashy players or squad, but will make any team work extra hard to get a result.
7. El Salvador
El Salvador finished fourth in the Copa Centroamericana tournament to place in the 2017 Gold Cup. They have previously appeared 13 times in this competition, making the quarterfinals in 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2013. They twice finished runners-up in the older version of this tournament.
Honduras won the Copa Centroamericana tournament to qualify for the Gold Cup, beating the likes of Panama, El Salvador and Costa Rica in the process. Honduras rank 69th in the FIFA rankings, while 63rd in the ELO. They will not be an easy out in the Gold Cup, and have appeared 13 other times.
Canada automatically qualified for the Gold Cup, and have been a mainstay in the competition for years. They currently sit 77th in the ELO world rankings, but 109th in FIFA’s. Canada are the only other team besides the USA and Mexico to win the Gold Cup. Tosaint Ricketts leads the team in both caps and goals.
Panama boast a top 50 ranking in ELO (50th) and were runners-up in the Copa Centroamerica tournament. They have been in the Gold Cup eight other times before this and finished runners-up twice; once in 2005 and once in 2013.4. Panama
3. Costa Rica
Costa Rica barely qualified for the Gold Cup, finishing fourth in the Copa Centroamericana tournament. Only four teams qualify for the Gold Cup through that specific competition. However, they rank 29th in the ELO world rankings and 20th in FIFA’s. Costa Rica are also a team that regularly qualifies for the Gold Cup, and will be making their 14th appearance. Their best finish was in 2002 where they were runners-up. Captain Bryan Ruiz and Arsenal man Joel Campbell lead the forwards, and will look to play big roles in the competition.
It was always down to the USA and Mexico for the top spot in the power rankings. The USA have won this tournament five times to Mexico’s seven. Canada are the only other team to have won. USMNT manager Bruce Arena has won it twice before, and will be looking for a third. The U.S. will field a younger squad without some of their biggest names, but will still be a favorite come July 7.
Mexico are the title holders, and until someone knocks them off, they will be ranked first. They’re the highest ranked team in both FIFA and ELO’s rankings, and have won the Gold Cup seven different times. However, Mexico are also bringing a young, inexperienced squad to the tournament, with no field players having over 31 caps for the national team. They will still be favorites with the U.S, however.