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2017 Gold Cup: Group C preview

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Even without a familiar cast of characters, Mexico remains the favorite to reach the knockout phase in its group.

But, who will join El Tri in the quarterfinals?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2017 Gold Cup coverage ]

Jamaica looks to avenge its finals defeat to El Tri in the 2015 edition of the competition, while El Salvador attempts to defy the odds in the group stage.

Meanwhile, Curacao looks to make some noise in Group C and beyond as the nation plays in the tournament for the first time since 1973.

Here’s a full look at the four teams that will represent Group C at this summer’s Gold Cup.


Group C

Mexico

How it qualified: Automatic qualification as North American nation.

FIFA ranking: 16

One to watch: Erick “Cubo” Torres — The Houston Dynamo goalscorer is red-hot in 2017, so this may be Torres’ best chance to make an impression on the international scene for his native country.

Manager: Juan Carlos Osorio — The former MLS manager has opted for a younger, less experienced squad following El Tri’s run at the FIFA Confederations Cup. Even with drastic changes in the roster, Mexico is still considered one of the tournament favorites.

Chance of winning group: 70% — This Mexico side should still be far superior to its Group C competition despite not boasting a star-studded lineup.

El Salvador

How it qualified: Third place at 2017 Copa Centroamericana.

FIFA ranking: 103

One to watch: Rodolfo Zelaya — Zelaya will be the one for opposing backlines to watch this month, and he’s got 20 goals to prove just how dangerous he can be up top.

Manager: Eduardo Lara – El Salvador has never finished better than second at Gold Cup, and with the group its facing it’s difficult to figure out a scenario where Los Cuscatlecos make a run.

Chance of winning group: 0.5% — While it may not be out of the realm of possibilities for El Salvador to reach the knockout phase, it’s very hard to imagine them topping Mexico and one of the Caribbean sides.

Curacao

How it qualified: Winners at the 2017 Caribbean Cup.

FIFA ranking: 68

One to watch: Gino van Kessel — The Slavia Praha striker is second on Curacao in international goals (7), and Van Kessel will be the one to pace this team if they are to make a run in the competition.

Manager: Remko Bicentini — By no means is Curacao a power within CONCACAF, but the island nation is still riding its wave after defeating Jamaica to win the Caribbean Cup.

Chance of winning group: 14.5% — This team did manage to top Jamaica in the Caribbean Cup, so it’s not completely impossible that they could rack up a few wins in group play. They’d still have to get past Mexico, though.

Jamaica

How it qualified: Runners’ up at 2017 Caribbean Cup.

FIFA ranking: 76

One to watch: Kemar Lawrence — The New York Red Bulls left back has been one of the top outside defenders in MLS when healthy, and his ability to deliver dangerous crosses could pose a massive threat to opposing backlines at Gold Cup.

Manager: Theodore Whitmore — The good news for Whitmore is that with a predominantly MLS-driven roster there is a lot of familiarity with other nations in the competition.

Chances of winning group: 15% — The Reggae Boyz met Mexico in the last Gold Cup final, and with many of the same faces in this squad there’s a strong shot at revenge in Group C.

MLS Playoff bracket, dates set: Chicago, Vancouver host Tues.

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Major League Soccer’s playoff bracket is set. Our staff predictions are coming Tuesday before the first round match-ups, but here’s what we’ll be watching…

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

The chase begins with Chicago and the Red Bulls, and San Jose heading to Vancouver. The Quakes drew the ‘Caps just over a week ago, on Oct. 15.

First round
(E3) Chicago vs. (E6) New York Red Bulls — 8:30 p.m. ET Tuesday
(W3) Vancouver vs. (W6) San Jose — 10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday
(E4) Atlanta vs. (E5) Columbus — 7 p.m. ET Wednesday
(W4) Houston vs. (W5) Sporting KC — 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Conference semifinals
(W1) Portland vs.  San Jose, Houston, or Sporting KC
(W2) Seattle vs. Houston, Sporting KC, or Vancouver
(E1) Toronto vs. New York Red Bulls, Atlanta, or Columbus
(E2) New York City vs. Atlanta, Columbus, or Chicago

Conference finals
Eastern Conference — Nov. 21 and Nov. 28 or 29
Western Conference — Nov. 21 and Nov. 30

MLS Cup Final
At finalist with best record — 4 p.m. ET Dec. 9

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Who will replace Koeman at Everton?

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Where will Everton turn in search of their next manager?

U23s coach David Unsworth is the front-runner to take over, according to several betting sites — not that we’d partake in such madness — and the 44-year-old boasts 312 career appaearances for the Toffees.

[ MORE: Everton sacks Ronald Koeman ]

As for who else could be in frame for the gig, there are names (quite) familiar and new.

David Moyes — This one is an eyebrow-raiser, as Moyes has had little if any success since leaving Everton and ended his time at Sunderland with a sexist takedown of a journalist. But the 54-year-old Scot spent more than 11 years at Everton before leaving for Manchester United, and it’s not like the Toffees wanted him to skip town. He was thrice League Manager of the Year at Goodison Park.

Sean Dyche — The Burnley boss has overachieved time and again at Turf Moor, and the Clarets are one of the smallest outfits the Premier League has ever seen. A move to Everton could be a big and safe enough step to warrant his affection.

Carlo Ancelotti — He’s said he’s not returning to a manager’s seat this season, but the Italian may relish the chance to take a skillful team and organize it into its rightful potential. And we think he’s do a magnificent job.

Chris Coleman — He’s waffled on staying in his position at Wales, and the club’s absence from this summer’s World Cup must have him eyeing the club scene. He’s hasn’t led a club since 2012, having led AEL, Coventry City, Real Sociedad, and Fulham.

Phil Neville — The Manchester United and Everton playing legend doesn’t have first chair experience, but may be able to rally the troops. His latest stint was as an assistant in brother Gary’s tough, short campaign at Valencia.

Although… his recent prediction record isn’t hot.

Longshots: Mikel Arteta, Luis Enrique, Eddie Howe, Thomas Tuchel, Sam Allardyce, Manuel Pellegrini, Frank De Boer.

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Three seriously injured, 120 detained in Bruges hooligan riot

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BRUSSELS (AP) Authorities are investigating a hooligan riot which seriously injured three people and forced Brugge police to detain 120 following the match between Club Brugge and Antwerp.

[ MORE: Mbappe wins Golden Boy ]

Local police chief Dirk Van Nuffel says one policeman was among the seriously wounded as authorities sought to contain a brawl between Belgian fans reinforced by others who had come from the Netherlands.

By Monday morning all were released but investigators were still seeking to see who was at the core of the fighting. Van Nuffel says such hooligan fighting “hadn’t been seen for years.”

Everton fires Ronald Koeman

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A 5-2 home loss versus Arsenal sent Everton into the Premier League drop zone, and that’s apparently a bridge too far for the Toffees when it comes to their managerial position.

Ronald Koeman is out at Goodison Park.

[ MORE: Who will replace him? ]

Everton sits 18th in the Premier League with eight points, it’s minus-11 goal differential second-worst in the top flight. Its 18 goals conceded are third-worst, and only three clubs have scored fewer goals than its seven.

The Toffees won two rounds in the Europa League, beating Ružomberok and Hajduk Split, but have lost to Atalanta and Lyon while drawing Apollon Limassol in Group E play.

Everton faces Chelsea in League Cup play on Wednesday before a critical early season match at Leicester City on Sunday.

[ MORE: Mbappe named Golden Boy ]

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