The Gold Cup is always full of surprises and upsets and the 2023 edition is no difference. Minnows Martinique, Guatemala and Guadeloupe all stand a chance to advance while Canada is at risk of going home. The USA seems set to go through but can still be eliminated along with Jamaica while Costa Rica is in last place heading into the final match day.
There’s obviously a lot to play for in terms of seeding for Mexico and Panama who are through. Let’s look at the different ways things might shake out as the final group matches kick-off today.
Group A: The USA isn’t through just yet
Starting off with group A, the USA and Jamaica control their own destiny as the teams atop the group each have four points and are separated by goal difference. Jamaica will be heavy favorites to beat St. Kitts & Nevis while the USA have a slightly more challenging match against Trinidad & Tobago. A draw for both teams at the top puts them through while T&T can go through with a draw and a heavy loss for Jamaica or a win against the USA and a draw or win by Jamaica.
The winner of the group will face the second place team from group D while the runner up takes on the top team from that group.
Group B: Mexico is through but everyone is still alive
El Tri are through with six points and a +6 goal differential. A win or draw against Qatar guarantees them the top spot while Haiti can finish first if they beat Honduras and catch Mexico in goal difference. Haiti is also through with a draw against Honduras is Qatar loses or draws to Mexico. Honduras can go through with a win against Haiti and Qatar loss or draw to Mexico. If Qatar beats El Tri, they’re through with a Haiti loss or draw so long as Honduras doesn’t overcome their deficit in goal difference.
The winner of group B will face the second place team from group C with the team in second position taking on the winner of that group.
Group C: Martinique could make some noise
Panama are currently in first in the group with six points and can win the group with a win or draw to Costa Rica. A loss could see them fall to second if Martinique beats Costa Rica and takes the goal difference tie breaker. The next tie breaker is total goals scored in the group followed by head to head record, so things could be up in the air if Panama doesn’t get at least a point.
Costa Rica has a point and needs to beat Martinique and needs a loss or draw for El Salvador against Panama if they don’t want to face tie breakers. El Salvador needs to win against Panama while hoping for Los Ticos to draw against Martinique, they’d then need to win by a high enough margin to take the goal difference lead or tie breaker scenarios will determine who goes through.
Group D: Canada meets its fate
Prior to the tournament Canada probably couldn’t have asked for a better draw than a group with Guatemala, Cuba and Guadeloupe. Then they drew both Guadeloupe and Guatemala. Luckily, they face Cuba who has been eliminated and a win with a loss from Guadeloupe or Guatemala sees them through. If Canada somehow manage to only draw against Cuba, they are eliminated.
Guatemala and Guadeloupe both sit with four points and Guadeloupe leads the goal difference at +3 to Guatemala’s +1. The winner wins the group, a draw puts Guadeloupe ahead of Guatemala in goal difference. The most likely decider of the group if this game ends in a draw is how many goals Canada beats Cuba by.
The quarter-finals and beyond
With Group A facing off against Group D in the quarters, the USA could meet Canada depending on how each team finishes. Mexico’s side of the bracket gives them a chance to face any of the teams from Group C since the group is alive for all of its sides.
While the USA sits in first in the group, they could face Mexico in the semi-finals if they finish second or if they win the group but somehow El Tri falls to runner up in group B. Jamaica has looked strong in the tournament so far and could give El Tri a challenge in a semi-final match if they face off on that side of the bracket.