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?

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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.