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Inside the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

The CONCACAF Gold Cup is currently underway in the US. Though Mexico tends to take the limelight in CONCACAF competitions, this year has seen promising teams from Canada and El Salvador.

Ankit Kanaujia
Last updated: 23.07.2021
Inside the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

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The CONCACAF Gold Cup is currently underway in the US. CONCACAF is FIFA’s overseeing body that governs football (or soccer) competitions in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.


Though not nearly as popular as the UEFA European Championship (Euro 2020) or the Copa America competition in South America, the Gold Cup has slowly gained more attention from fans around the world. In general, the region has top competitors in Mexico, Costa Rica, and, this year, El Salvador. Many also watch to keep an eye on the USMNT and the Canadian squads. 



The Gold Cup began on 10 July and will conclude on August 1 with a championship match. On 24 July, knockout stages begin, starting with quarterfinals and progressing on 29 July to semi-finals.


Though Mexico tends to take the limelight in CONCACAF competitions, this year has seen promising teams from Canada and El Salvador. Canada entered the tournament with a strong roster, while El Salvador has surpassed early predictions by placing second in Group A behind Mexico.


Despite El Salvador’s early success in Group A, the latest in football betting lists Mexico as the favorite for the final August 1st faceoff. If the team wins, it would be the country’s second consecutive title in the competition.


Though the Gold Cup is important as a standalone tournament, pundits study tournament matches as a precursor to the World Cup Qualifiers, which will begin shortly after the CONCACAF tournament ends.


Mexico Likely to Repeat

As the most successful team in Gold Cup history and one of the most consistent national teams to come out of CONCACAF, there’s no surprise that El Tri is a consistent favorite amongst pundits and bettors.


They’ve tallied eight Gold Cup titles since the competition began in 1991. The team has a penchant for performing well on home turf, as well as in the US (where the tournament is currently being hosted).


Back in 2019, the team had premier talents in Raúl Jiménez and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Though neither are on this year’s roster, headed again by coach Gerardo Martino, it seems Mexico has landed on its feet.


The team has a range of goal scorers, including defender Luis ‘Chaka’ Rodríguez, striker Funes Mori, and midfielder Orbelín Pineda. Originally, the squad looked flatfooted in their 0-0 opener against Trinidad and Tobago. However, Martino led the squad to a 3-0 win over Guatemala next, which was then followed by a 1-0 win against El Salvador.


With their momentum going strong, it looks like the Gold Cup will be in Mexican hands once again.

All Eyes on Canada & USNMT

Those who regularly follow the US and Canadian national teams were in for a treat in this year’s Gold Cup; both battled it out in Group B, along with Haiti and Martinique. Canada, in particular, entered the tournament with a star-studded roster.


The Canadian team has a solid blend of young and seasoned talents. Though most players (14 out of 23) have played less than 10 national matches, the Gold Cup tournament is a great time for the squad to notch more experience before heading into World Cup Qualifiers this fall.


Despite the hype, Canada wasn’t able to defeat the US. In their 18 July faceoff, the US scored in the first minute of play. Canada was unable to find an equalizer and lost 1-0. Despite the loss, the Canadian team could still pull through as a dark horse competitor in the knockout stages.


They’ve got Bayern Munich man Alphonso Davies, who will be an indispensable asset in leading the squad. However, the team has also suffered a few injuries, including Ayo Akinola and Cyle Larin.


Though the US squad, led by coach Gregg Berhalter, was victorious, the Canadian side gained momentum farther into the game. Looking ahead, both teams will need to create more opportunities for goalscoring.

A Dark Horse in El Salvador

Heading into the Gold Cup, most pundits selected Costa Rica as a dark horse contender. Though still a viable option for punters looking to make an underdog selection in the tournament, El Salvador has taken the limelight.


In Group A alongside Mexico, El Salvador’s early wins against Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago (both 2-0) had pundits at the edge of their seats. The team’s front line was strong, while Mexico’s 0-0 tie to Trinidad and Tobago left many wondering about El Tri’s defense.


The stakes were high for both teams in their July 18th faceoff. Though Mexico won 1-0 with a goal from Chaka in the 26th minute, El Salvador didn’t lay out an easy victory. Mexican goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera was a key player, though Mexico owes its win in part to El Salvador striker Alexander Larín, who deflected a penalty kick off the goal post.


El Salvador could potentially face the USMNT in the semi-finals, should both national teams prove successful in their quarter-final matches.

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