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CONCACAF Gold Cup

Jimenez, Pulisic and the top 10 players to watch at the Gold Cup

12:10 AM MYT 16/06/2019
Raul Jimenez Mexico Christian Pulisic USMNT
The likes of USA, Mexico and Jamaica all have players worth keeping an eye out for heading into this year's competition

The CONCACAF regional championship is set to kick off on Saturday, with Mexico and the rest of Group A getting the ball rolling at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. 

The Gold Cup will feature the rest of the usual contenders in CONCACAF as well, with the U.S. national team, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Canada, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago all taking part. 

And while several of the big-name players are out of action, with the likes of Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Hector Herrera, Keylor Navas, Hirving Lozano, Carlos Vela, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin and Tyler Adams all ruled out, there are still plenty of players worth keeping an eye on this summer. 

Below, Goal runs through the top 10 players to watch during the Gold Cup. 

 

  • Raul Jimenez Mexico 2018

    Raul Jimenez | Mexico

    Mexico comes into the Gold Cup missing the most firepower up top. In Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela and Hirving Lozano, El Tri has a trio of attacking stars who will not take part this summer. 

    That leaves much of the attacking onus to fall on the broad shoulders of Raul Jimenez. 

    The Wolves forward is coming off a fine season in the Premier League, having scored 13 goals as his side finished seventh in the table, and is now being asked to lead the line for his country for the first time.

    Even missing so many stars, Mexico will be favored to win the tournament, but Jimenez providing goals will be crucial for Tata Martino's side. 

  • Christian Pulisic USA

    Christian Pulisic | USA

    The expectations for the U.S. national team will be to compete for the title in the Gold Cup. USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter has said as much. 

    For that to happen, Pulisic will have to be at his absolute best this summer. 

    The USA comes into the competition on the back of two bad losses in friendly, missing a number of key players across the backline and still lacking a real identity with Berhalter having only coached six matches. 

    The Gold Cup represents the first competitive action for the USA since that fateful night in 2017 when the side lost to Trinidad & Tobago. That night, Pulisic walked off the pitch in tears. He was already being asked to carry much of the attacking load then, probably more than the then teenager was ready to take on.

    Now, with two more years of high-level club football in the Bundesliga under his belt and a move to Chelsea looming, he'll be asked to do even more. 

  • Leon Bailey Bayer Leverkusen 2018

    Leon Bailey | Jamaica

    The Bayer Leverkusen winger is an impressive talent who has made quite the mark in the Bundesliga, though he has yet to make any kind of mark on the international scene. 

    A 21-year-old with world-class talent, Bailey has yet to play a single match for Jamaica but is expected to debut and play a major role over the next month. The Reggae Boyz​ are not lacking talent. With Bailey, they could be a real contender for the crown.

    Questions remain about where he will fit in with Jamaica and how quickly he can adjust to the style of play, but there is no doubt that he is worth keeping an eye on this summer. 

  • Alphonso Davies, Canada

    Alphonso Davies | Canada

    If you're looking for exciting talent, Alphonso Davies is your guy. 

    Finding playing time at Bayern Munich after making the jump from MLS was always going to be difficult for a player joining the club in the winter and that proved to be the case for Davies.

    He'll be back in his comfort zone with Canada, playing for a side that looks to be very much on the rise and playing against familiar opponents. What's more, Davies isn't coming off a long grind of a season and should have fresh legs, which should mean plenty of trouble for opposition defenders. 

  • Rodolfo Pizarro Monterrey Liga MX 2019

    Rodolfo Pizarro | Mexico

    It's hard to think of Mexico and not imagine some class on the wings. Carlos Vela and Hirving Lozano provided it in spades at the World Cup in Russia last year, and their absense has opened up the chance for Pizarro to make a name for himself at the international level. 

    The 25-year-old will be no surprise to Liga MX fans, and even those who follow the CONCACAF Champions League, but the Gold Cup will offer him a first real chance to star for Mexico. 

    His flowing locks will make him easy enough to spot, but his quality on the ball and running down the left should be more than enough to catch your eye. 

  • Andrew Blake Jamaica Gold Cup 07202017

    Andre Blake | Jamaica

    The Gold Cup has had its share of standout goalkeepers over the years and Andre Blake has the potential to be among the best of the bunch. 

    The Philadelphia Union star has turned into one of the top goalkeepers in MLS and will be looking to cement his place as the best in CONCACAF this summer. 

    The 28-year-old has already claimed the Golden Gloves at 2014 Caribbean Cup​ and holds the Union's club record for saves in a game with 10, and if Jamaica is going to contend for a trophy this summer, he'll have to be at his best. 

  • Andres Guardado Mexico 2019

    Andres Guardado | Mexico

    Despite all the absent stars, El Tri will have at least one constant to lean on in the form of Andres Guardado. 

    One of the most consistent midfielders in CONCACAF, Guardado will play a big part in setting the table for Mexico's attack, and his defensive work should not be overlooked. 

    The Real Betis star is coming off another solid season in La Liga, and in a tournament that lacks star power in the middle of the park will be expected to dominate matches. 

  • Jozy Altidore USMNT 2019

    Jozy Altidore | USA

    While Pulisic may be the star, there is little doubt that for the USA to defend its Gold Cup crown Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore is going to have to produce. 

    Berhalter has a history of making stars of forwards in MLS, but the biggest question for his national team heading into the summer is where the goals will come from if Pulisic isn't firing. 

    Altidore has taken his share of the blame over the years, but, when healthy, he has shown an increased ability to link play while continuing to show a nose for goal at Toronto. The USA, thin on options up top, will need him fit and firing to have any chance at claiming the Gold Cup crown. 

  • Alberth Elis Honduras Costa Rica

    Alberth Elis | Honduras

    MLS fans will know Alberth Elis well from his time with the Houston Dynamo, and CONCACAF defenses will be well aware of the threat the forward poses. 

    His combination of pace and skill are enough to make him a one-man wrecking crew when he's on his game, and Honduras will need that from him this summer. 

    Having Dynamo teammate Romell Quioto​ alongside him will help, but Elis is the one to watch for Honduras this summer. 

  • Joevin Jones MLS Seattle Sounders 06282017

    Joevin Jones | Trinidad & Tobago

    A tricky winger and fullback with speed to burn, Joevin Jones is among the most dangerous wing options heading into the competition. 

    A move to Germany from MLS didn't work out well and the 27-year-old has made a return to the Seattle Sounders. The Gold Cup should offer Jones a perfect chance to find his footing back in North America, and he'll be eyeing pulling another upset against the United States. 

    On a team that lacks attacking power, Jones, who posted 11 assists in his last full season with the Sounders, is a proven setup man and should be relied on heavily this summer.