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Jamaica 2-1 Canada: Reggae Boyz reach 2nd straight Gold Cup semifinals

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Two years after their stunning finals appearance, Jamaica is back into the Gold Cup semifinals after holding off Junior Hoilett and Canada 2-1.

Shaun Francis put Jamaica in front just five minutes into the match, as Darren Mattocks expertly cut back to the far side of the box where Francis was trailing the play, and the Montreal Impact full-back put the Reggae Boyz in front.

There was no more action until past the halftime break. Jamaica doubled its lead thanks to a superb strike by Romario Williams, who leaned back and rifled one off the hands of goalkeeper Milan Borjan and into the top corner.

Darren Mattocks got his second assist of the game on the goal with his little nudge backwards to Williams at the top of the box.

The two-goal cushion wouldn’t last long, however, as the fireworks show continued. Now, it was Canada’s turn to put on a show as Junior Hoilett stunned the crowd with a long-distance curler from even further outside the box than Williams’ just 11 minutes earlier.

That would do it for the scoring, although the show wasn’t completely over. With just 15 minutes left, Hoilett unleashed another would-be stunner, but Andre Blake matched the shot with a spectacular save, getting his fingertips to the shot to keep it out.

Blake was critical down the stretch to squelch any chances Canada had late as they pushed for an equalizer. The Reggae Boyz held on to reach the semifinal, where they will take on either Mexico or Honduras.

Ranking the Gold Cup quarterfinalists; New front-runner?

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No pats on the back for correctly selecting the Gold Cup quarterfinal field — well, maybe a little pat… it was almost to a T, after all — as PST correctly tabbed the absurd 8 of 12 nations to move onto the knockout rounds.

But the United States men’s national team threw the proverbial spanner in the works when it comes to our knockout round predictions by calling up CONCACAF killer Jozy Altidore as well as Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Darlington Nagbe, and Jesse Gonzalez.

Canada improved as well, while Mexico decided to make no changes to its squad. That means you should make no mistake about it: The Yanks’ status as stuttering group stage side just turned into tournament favorites.

[ MORE: USMNT stock up, stock down ]

Canada’s draw with Costa Rica stopped our predictions from being spot-on — joking aside, it’s pretty easy to select the field — but would we make any other changes given the group stage? Let’s see.

8. El Salvador — A scrappy bunch that could’ve given the U.S. B-Team a hassle, it won’t be able to handle Altidore, Dempsey, and Bradley.

7. Honduras — Didn’t score a single goal aside from their awarded 3-0 win over French Guiana.

6. Canada — This is where the difference in win probability between sides gets razor-thin; Inexperience has us pegging the Canucks just behind their quarterfinal foes.

5. Jamaica — On the flip side of Canada, running to the 2015 Gold Cup final while knocking off the USMNT will have the Reggae Boyz feeling okay.

4. Panama — Allowed just two goals in the knockout rounds, including a relatively dominant performance against the U.S., and was the only team to shutout Kevin Parsemain and Martinique.

3. Costa Rica — Tabbed before the tournament as a possible first time winner, allowed just a single goal to Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies.

2. Mexico — El Tri is El Tri, even as a B Team, and will like avoiding Costa Rica and the U.S. until the final.

  1. USMNT — Should be able to clinch the first of two lottery chances at being CONCACAF’s representative in the 2021 Confederations Cup.

Canada add star striker Larin to squad for Gold Cup KO rounds

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Canada are through to the knockout stage of the Gold Cup for the first time since 2009, and they’re calling in the big guns as they ready themselves for a quarterfinal matchup with Jamaica (most likely) on Thursday.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USA 3-0 Nicaragua | Three things we learned ]

Cyle Larin, the Canucks’ star striker from Orlando City SC (8 goals in 17 games this season), has been added to the 23-man squad as Octavio Zambrano’s one (of six allowed) roster change between the group stage and knockout rounds.

Larin, who was left off the roster for the group stage after he was arrested for driving under the influence on June 15, three weeks before the start of the Gold Cup, takes the place of Toronto FC left back Raheem Edwards. Larin has since returned to the field for Orlando City after undergoing an assessment by MLS’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.

FOLLOW LIVE — Canada, Costa Rica look to seal spots in quarterfinals

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Two teams can guarantee their place in the quarterfinals on Friday night as the CONCACAF Gold Cup rolls on from Toyota Stadium.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Group A action concludes on the evening as CONCACAF power Costa Rica takes on French Guiana at 7:30 p.m. ET. Les Yana Dokos are coming off of an odd second group stage match, which saw ineligible player Florent Malouda appear for the Caribbean country, thus forcing CONCACAF to ban the ex-Chelsea midfielder for two matches on top of the team’s forfeiture against Honduras.

Meanwhile, group leaders Canada will face off with Honduras in their finale (10:00 p.m. ET).

Canadian supporters can breathe a sigh of relief after head coach Octavio Zambrano revealed that Vancouver Whitecaps attacker Alphonso Davies will be involved in Friday’s match after exiting the team’s 1-1 draw against Costa Rica with an apparent foot/ankle injury.

Davies is currently the Gold Cup’s Golden Boot leader with three goals in Canada’s first two fixtures.

Here’s a look at the Group A standings with a one match remaining.

  1. Canada — 4 pts (GD +2)
  2. Costa Rica — 4 pts (GD +1)
  3. Honduras — 3 pts
  4. French Guiana — 1 pt

Closer look at Gold Cup standings

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Through two matches at the Gold Cup, results have mostly gone as expected, with the United States and Mexico at the top of their groups along with Costa Rica in a tie with Canada for first place.

All four nations have a win and a draw to their names through the first two games, with plenty on the line in the final matches of the group stage.

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

In Group A, Honduras, participants of the last two World Cups, sit only one point behind the leaders and could force its way into the knockout round with a win over Canada in its next match.

It’s a similar situation in groups B and C.

In Group B, Martinique lost by a goal to the U.S. but can advance to the next round with a win over Panama in it’s last game. And in Group C, El Salvador, which lost to Mexico but beat Curacao, can advance with a win over Jamaica.

There’s plenty of more drama to unfold as the group stage reaches its conclusion in the 2017 Gold Cup. Here’s a look at the current standings below and the final matches of the group stage.