Sunday’s Gold Cup ActionThe group stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup was a lively, enjoyable affair. There was an average of 3.4 goals per game, and although the big guns of the US and Mexico topped their groups with ease, there were shocks too.
Curaçao, tipped here as rank outsiders to win the competition at 250/1, made it through their group ahead of good Central America opposition in El Salvador and Honduras, while third favourites Costa Rica failed to top their group as they lost their final match against Haiti.
Jamaica vs. Panama
Comfortably the closest-looking game in the quarter-finals sees Group C winners Jamaica face Group D runners-up Panama.
Jamaica won their group despite only beating Honduras on home soil, and it might be that the confidence that surrounded them before the tournament might have overstated their chances. They laboured to a 0-0 draw with El Salvador before a 1-1 draw with Curaçao put them through.
But Panama too look troubled. Their results have plummeted since qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, although they did put on a decent display in their last game against the US, which they lost 1-0.
Knockout football is nervy, and when there is no clear favourite, caution often reigns. That is particularly true when neither team is in the best of form. Panama are narrow favourites at 6/4 with Jamaica 19/10, but the draw, also at 19/10, looks the best bet.
Tip: Draw at 19/10
Prediction: Jamaica 1, Panama 1
USA vs. Curaçao
From a match that is almost 50/50, to a match with a 1/8 favourite. The US, the hosts and 15/8 second favourites to win the Gold Cup, face Curaçao, one of four teams ranked as the biggest outsiders before this tournament started.
That 250/1 price about Curaçao was a serious error. They are in fact the ninth highest ranked CONCACAF side - above Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti. They have progressed as the tournament has gone on. Everything looked doomed after they lost their first game to El Salvador, but a win against Honduras, a draw against Jamaica and Honduras’s win over El Salvador saw them go through.
The US won three out of three, most impressively demolishing Trinidad and Tobago 6-0 in game two. One big positive for Gregg Berhalter is that the goals have been spread around numerous players. Gyasi Zardes has three, while Tyler Boyd, Aaron Long and Paul Arriola have all hit the back of the net twice.
This is probably the end of the road for Curaçao, but they still hold value to outdo the handicap.
Tip: Curaçao +2 at 11/10
Prediction: USA 2, Curaçao 1