2017 Gold Cup Soccer Predictions : USA and Panama Square Off in Gold Cup Group B Match
by Matt Cash @MattCashCapper
The CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off this weekend and USA will meet Panama in their opening match. A little history about this tournament, it started in 1991 and has been held 13 times.
Mexico has won the tournament seven times and the US is right behind with five. Canada shocked the soccer world with the lone win not had by the superpowers, but that came back in 2000.
Mexico is the defending champion and has won three of the last four tournaments. The US last won the tournament in 2013.
In 2015 they were upset in the third place game on penalty kicks by none other than the Panama team they’ll be facing on Saturday.
Heading into this tournament, these two teams are the overwhelming favorites to claim the top-two spots in Group B and get the automatic berths into the knockout stage. They are sharing the group with upstarts Nicaragua and Martinique.
The US is coached by Bruce Arena and he has chosen a squad long on potential and speed, but they are young and inexperienced in international play. They are coming into the tournament with some confidence after beating Ghana in a 2-1 friendly last weekend. Striker Dom Dwyer scored in his debut for team USA and Kellyn Acosta fired home the game winner on a free kick.
If you’re looking for a team to break through the stranglehold that the USA and Mexico have on this tournament, look no further than the Panamanians. Once considered Cinderella team of the CONCACAF due to the fact they are a country of four million people, their string of positive results has increased expectations that a breakthrough major tournament win should be coming. In the past 12 years they have made it to the final stages of World Cup qualifying, they were runners up here in 2005 and 2013 and finished third in 2011 and 2015.
Coach Hernan Dario Gomez has also erred on the side of youth, leaving some long time veterans Jaime Penedo, Luis Tejada and Roman Torres off the roster. In their place comes Abdiel Arroyo and Ricardo Clarke to provide some offensive punch.
These teams have some recent history of inflicting heartbreak towards one another. The USA won in the final moments in Panama in 2014 to deny the hosts a spot in the World Cup play-in playoffs. And Panama had the big win for third the last time this tournament was held.
Cash It In: USA is -155 favorites, Panama +500 and the draw sits at +260. Both these teams want to get their tournament off to fast starts and I think they both have something to prove. The US is the better team, but Panama will put up a strong fight and earn a split. Draw 1-1.
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