Concacaf Gold Cup power rankings: Mexico leads the field

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Denis Poroy
The reigning champions from the United States look vulnerable, with a Mexico B team looking capable of securing the Gold Cup title.

The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup is lacking some of the appeal of past competitions, with several top nations going through transition periods, and perennial title favorite Mexico playing without many of its top stars.

That isn't stopping Tata Martino's men from entering the tournament as the favorites to win an eighth Gold Cup title, and El Tri's first since 2015. The United States enters as defending champion after lifting the title in 2017, but Gregg Berhalter enters his first Gold Cup with plenty oc questions surrounding the American squad.

Jamaica has spoiled the chances for a USA-Mexico final in each of the past two Gold Cups, but the Reggae Boyz could be ready to go beyond being spoilers now that Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey is in the field. With Bailey scoring goals, and Jamaica's tough defense working in front of standout goalkeeper Andre Blake, Jamaica could win its first Gold Cup title.

It's been 19 years since Canada won a surprising Gold Cup title in 2000, but this could be the year we see the Canadians make a deep run. Boasting Alphonso Davies and Cyle Larin in attack, along with Atiba Hutchinson in midfield, the Canucks have the talent to be a handful.

Costa Rica is a perennial threat, but with no Keylor Navas, and with the nucleus of its to players reaching the tail-end of their careers, the Ticos look much less threatening than in year's past.

How does the Gold Cup field shape up heading into the 2019 tournament? Here is a look at how all 16 teams rank.

 

  1. #1 Mexico

    FIFA Ranking: 18

    Gold Cup titles: 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015

    Players to Watch: Raul Jimenez, Andres Guardado, Edson Alvarez, Hector Moreno

    Outlook: Tata Martino is no stranger to navigating teams through tournament competition, but he will be trying to win his first international title by winning with a patchwork El Tri squad. What Mexico does have is a strong nucleus, and some talented fringe players who should help Mexico win its eighth Gold Cup.

  2. #2 United States

    FIFA Ranking: 30th

    Gold Cup titles: 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017

    Players to Watch: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Jozy Altidore, Zack Steffen

    Outlook: Gregg Behalter enters his first tournament as USMNT coach with plenty of questions surrounding the state of his team, and its adaptation to his system. Pulisic is one of the best players in the tournament, and McKennie could be a breakout star, but questions surrounding the U.S. defense make it tough to pick the Americans to repeat as champions.

  3. #3 Jamaica

    FIFA Ranking: 54

    Best Gold Cup finish: The 2015 (lost to Mexico) and 2017 (lost to the USA) Gold Cup finals.

    Players to Watch: Leon Bailey, Andre Blake, Kemar Lawrence, Michael Hector

    Outlook: The Reggae Boyz enter the tournament with some confidence after beating the United States. and they boast one of the tougher defenses in the tournament. The real question is how will Bailey fare in his first tournament with the team. If he can dominate in the Jamaica attack, then another run to the final isn't out of the question.

  4. #4 Costa Rica

    FIFA Ranking: 39th

    Best Gold Cup finish: Second place in 2002 (lost to USA),Third Place in 1993, semifinals in 2017 (lost to USA).

    Players to Watch: Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Celso Borges, Oscar Duarte

    Outlook: The Ticos had a disappointing showing at the 2018 World Cup, but till have many of the key figures from the squad that reached the Gold Cup semiinals in 2017. Not having Keylor Navas is a big blow, but having most of their nucleus on the wrong side of 30 will make it tough for Costa Rica to win its first Gold Cup.

  5. #5 Canada

    FIFA Ranking: 78

    Gold Cup titles: 2000

    Players to Watch: Alphonso Davies, Atiba Hutchinson, Lucas Cavallini, Scott Arfield

    Outlook: Head coach John Herdman takes part in his first tournament leading the men since taking over from the Canadian women's national team. He has plenty of attacking weapons to choose from, but it's Canada's defense that is the real question mark. Doneil Henry has played well in MLS, but is coming off an injury, while LAFC standout Mark-Anthony Kaye could factor into the back-line. A run to the semifinals isn't out of the question.

  6. #6 Honduras

    FIFA Ranking: 61st

    Best Gold Cup finish: 1991 Final (lost to USA). 

    Players to Watch: Alberth Elis, Brayan Beckeles, Antony Lozano, Emilio Izaguirre

    Outlook: The attacking trio of Elis, Lozano and Romell Quioto give the Catrachos the firepower to secure a place in the knockout rounds, but it will be up to the defense, led by Izaguirre and Maynor Figueroa, to help Honduras top Jamaica for first place in the group, to pave the way for a deep tournament run. Losing Andy Najar to a major knee injury was a brutal blow, but Honduras has the weapons to make some noise.

  7. #7 Panama

    FIFA Ranking: 75th

    Best Gold Cup finish: 2005 final (lost to USA), 2013 final (lost to USA) 

    Players to Watch: Roman Torres, Michael Murillo, Jose Rodriguez, Edgar Barcenas

    Outlook: The Canaleros made history by playing in their first World Cup in 2018, but the nation's 'Golden Generation' has mostly departed after that achievement. Panama's attack lack's game-changing weapons, though the team's athletic defense should keep the Central American squad in every match in the group stage, with a place in the quarterfinals a good possibility.

  8. #8 Haiti

    FIFA Ranking: 101st

    Best Gold Cup finish: 2015 Quarterfinals (lost to Jamaica).

    Players to Watch: Duckens Nazon, Carlens Arcus, Frantzdy Pierrot, Derrick Etienne

    Outlook: Haiti is poised for a memorable Gold Cup, boasting what is arguably its strongest-ever squad, combined with a favorable group draw. A place in the quarterfinals is well within reach, but the Haitians will need to top Costa Rica for first place in Group B in order to avoid having to face Mexico in the quarterfinals. 

  9. #9 Trinidad and Tobago

    FIFA Ranking: 92nd

    Best Gold Cup finish: 2000 semifinals (lost to Canada)

    Players to Watch: Kevin Molino, Joevin Jones, Khaleem Hyland, Levi Garcia

    Outlook: The Soca Warriors are an underdog to reach the knockout rounds, but the ghost of their historic World Cup qualfiying win against the USMNT gives them some cache heading into the tournament. Unfortunately, Trinidad's defense is the weak link, and will be too much to overcome for a team that will struggle to survive the group stage.

  10. #10 Curacao

    FIFA Ranking: 79th

    Best Gold Cup finish: Group stage in 2017

    Players to Watch: Leandro Bacuna, Gevaro Nepomuceno, Edson Hooi, Cuco Martina

    Outlook: After failing to score a goal in three group stage losses in 2017, Curacao heads into this summer's Gold Cup facing another tough group, but more experience and talent to compete. They'll face two of the same teams they lost to in 2017 (Jamaica and El Salvador), but the Caribbean side will be hoping to start strong with a win against El Salvador to set the tone for a surprise showing.

  11. #11 Martinique

    FIFA Ranking: No ranking

    Best Gold Cup finish: 2017 group stage

    Players to Watch: Kevin Parsemain, Jordy Delem, Wesley Jobello, Kevin Fortune

    Outlook: In a group with favorites Mexico and Canada, Martinique will look to build on an impressive showing in 2017, when it opened with a victory and pushed the U.S. national team to the bring in a 3-2 loss. Striker Kevin Parsemain is a handful, while Seattle Sounders midfielder Jordy Delem gives the Caribbean side a tough midfielder leader. If Canada stumbles in the group stage, a quarterfinal spot is within reach. 

  12. #12 El Salvador

    FIFA Ranking: 69th

    Best Gold Cup finish: 2013 and 2017 quarterfinals (lost both to USA), lost 2011 quarterfinals (to Panama).

    Players to Watch: Nelson Bonilla, Gerson Mayen, Jaime Alas, Darwin Ceren

    Outlook: The expansion of the Gold Cup field to 16 teams was supposed to dilute the strength of the groups, but El Salvador is facing a daunting task in trying to reach its fourth quarterfinals in five Gold Cups. The absence of star striker Rodolfo Zelaya will put the pressure on the strike tandem of Bonilla and Mayen to deliver goals in a group with some strong defenses. It could be a rough tournament for Carlos De Los Cobos' squad.

  13. #13 Bermuda

    FIFA Ranking: 174th

    Best Gold Cup finish: First Gold Cup

    Players to Watch: Nahki Wells, Zeiko Lewis, Reggie Thompson-Lambe, Roger Lee

    Outlook: Looking for a sleeper that could sneak into the quarterfinals? Bermuda is a good candidate. With a proven scorer in Nahki Wells, Bermuda could set the tone for a surprise run by beating Haiti in its opening match.

  14. #14 Cuba

    FIFA Ranking: 175

    Best Gold Cup finish : 2015 quarterfinals (lost to USA).

    Players to Watch: Yordan Santa Cruz, Luis Paradela, Yasmany Lopez, Andy Baquero

    Outlook: An impressive run in the early stages of the Concacaf Nations League suggests Cuba is ready to make things tough for opponents at the Gold Cup, but Group A is too strong to see Cuba surviving the group stage, and a last-place finish seems more likely.

  15. #15 Nicaragua

    FIFA Ranking: 129th

    Best Gold Cup finish: 2017 group stage.

    Players to Watch: Juan Barrera, Luis Galeano, Bryan Bonilla, Manuel Rosas

    Outlook: It is shaping up to be another rough Gold Cup for the Central Americans, after going 0-3 in 2017. Haiti beat Nicaragua recently in Concacaf Nations League, while Costa Rica is a notch above.

  16. #16 Guyana

    FIFA Ranking: 177th

    Best Gold Cup finish: First Gold Cup

    Players to Watch: Callum Harriott, Matthew Briggs, Michael Johnson, Emery Welshman

    Outlook: The Caribbean Gold Cup newcomers find themselves in a very tough group, with an opening match against the host U.S. national team. Guyana has some solid players, such as Harriott and Johnson, but simply not enough depth to compete in a stacked group.