The 2019 edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup is almost here, and with the regional championship kicking off on Saturday with a doubleheader between Canada-Martinique (7:30 pm ET | FS2, TSN3) and Mexico-Cuba (10 pm ET | FS2, TSN2) at the Rose Bowl, MLS talent weigh in with their picks ahead of the tournament.
Final and winner
Matt Doyle: Canada 3, USA 2. It's the start of a golden generation for the Canucks. They need to plant a flag to show they're for real, and they will – right at the center stripe of Soldier Field on July 7 following one of the biggest wins in program history.
Bobby Warshaw: USA 2, Mexico 1. Because it doesn't do anyone any good to lower the bar.
Jillian Sakovits: USA 3, Mexico 2. Keeping my expectations for U.S. Soccer where they should be: high. Also, I want to see former MLS bosses battle in Gregg Berhalter and Tata Martino.
The USMNT lift the 2017 Gold Cup trophy | USA Today Images
Charlie Davies: USA 2, Mexico 1. Two underwhelming friendlies ahead of the Gold Cup aren’t enough to shake my confidence in the squad. With their full team available, the USMNT catch form in the group stage and get into a groove. I expect Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore to awaken the attack. The Mexican team are missing too many key players and have all the pressure on them as the favorites.
David Gass: Mexico 3, Jamaica 1. The sky isn't falling for USA but Jamaica have a home game for the first time in the Gold Cup to start their run, and a reasonable quarterfinal matchup on tap so I am feeling three straight finals. I think Leon Bailey brings the attacking spark to one of the top defensive sides in the tournament. For Mexico, they have the most talented group and something to prove playing for a new coach in his first competitive games.
Calen Carr: Mexico 3, USA 1. Mexico are the overwhelming favorites in the tournament despite missing the majority of their top stars. Still, under the guidance of new manager Tata Martino, I expect them to enjoy a relatively straightforward path to the final, holding their place as the dominant force of the region.
Andrew Wiebe: Mexico 4, USA 2. I’d pick against the two incumbent powers – both have big absences and notable flaws – but the rest of the contenders are in flux, too, and it seems like we’re due for the final to revert back to US-Mexico after Jamaica played spoilers in 2015 and 2017.
Perhaps the US will figure themselves out over the course of the group stage, quarterfinals and semis and put the last two results in the rear-view mirror. Perhaps not. Tata Martino’s Mexico is the safer pick on paper. You know what I think about predictions (guesses) already anyway.
Susannah Collins: Mexico 3, USA 1. As much as I want to believe the US can win this tournament and eliminate the bad taste that’s been left in our mouths over the last few months, Mexico are simply too talented, even with a bulk of their stars gone. Add a new attacking-minded coach in Tata Martino and I think this El Tri team will shine.
Jimenez (right) in action for Mexico. | USA Today Images
Doyle: Raul Jimenez (MEX). No Chicharito, no Carlos Vela, no Chucky Lozano or Tecatito Corona? No problem for the big target forward, who had a superb season for Wolves.
Warshaw: Joel Campbell (CRC). Costa Rica have an easy group and he might win the award in the first three games.
Sakovits: Raul Jimenez. This week on Univision Deportes, Tata Martino called him one of the most important strikers in the Premier League and said Mexico are lucky to have him. Based on this, I think Tata will be looking for his attack to get Jimenez the ball as much as possible.
Davies: Raul Jimenez. Due to many absences in the Mexican attack, he will be the focal point in front of goal. His hold-up play and runs off the ball are impressive – not to mention he can finish, scoring 13 goals in his debut season in the EPL.
Gass: Jozy Altidore (USA). A man on a mission and with few other central striker options everything is geared to set up him and Pulisic in the box. If he doesn't drop a couple on T&T alone fueled by pure rage, I will be disappointed. I'm looking forward to seeing MLS playoff mode Jozy Altidore back with the national team.
Carr: Raul Jimenez and Jozy Altidore. Both of these guys are going to score a lot of goals.
Wiebe: Lucas Cavallini (CAN). Jimenez and Altidore are the obvious picks, with Alvaro Saborio (he’s back!) my heart’s preference. I think Canada are going to be scary in attack and reach a semifinal, giving the Puebla man plenty of time to feast on the service of Junior Hoilett, Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies and Jonathan Osorio.
Collins: Jozy Altidore. Just a hunch he’ll have a monster tournament with so much to prove and a chip on his shoulder.
Doyle: Jamaica. They're in much better shape than they were a few years ago, with a ton of guys getting minutes both in MLS and USL. And Leon Bailey is potentially the best player at the tournament. He's a match-winner, as is Andre Blake in goal.
Alberth Elis is expected to lead Honduras' efforts. | USA Today Images
Warshaw: Honduras. As Jamaica and Canada have stepped up, everyone has stopped thinking and worrying about Honduras. They still have four or five guys who could end up on the Best XI team at the end.
Sakovits: Honduras. Going with my heart on this one! I visited Alberth Elis there a few months ago, I was struck by their love for the national team and their MLS players. There's a number of guys you can't overlook, and with their country behind them, I think Honduras will be sneaky good. Also, they always make things tough for their opponents, even when there may be more star power on the other side.
Davies: Canada. The most talented Canadian team I’ve seen with loads of potential. This team has youth, speed and talent. They have what it takes to make a strong run and a solid tournament will be a great foundation in World Cup qualifying.
Gass: Curacao. I am going to stick with Group C here and stay on my brand of going outside the box. Curacao have slowly been building up the program with a number of players from the diaspora and seem to have their strongest group to date. With Jamaica making the last two finals, Canada's strong performance in 2017, and Costa Rica's semifinal performances recently, it may look bad, but unless one of those teams win the whole thing what is more surprising than Curacao getting out of the group?!
Carr: USA. Expectations for the USMNT are about as low as any time that I can remember. With the reintroduction of Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Michael Bradley, and Jozy Altidore to the starting lineup, Gregg Berhalter’s system will come to life. seeing the US grow into the tournament to reach the final. As much as I would like to pick them there, I believe Mexico are still the better team.
Wiebe: Haiti or Curacao. Haiti has the easier group. Curacao’s results since the 2017 Gold Cup ought to raise some eyebrows. Both have talent and conceivable paths to the quarterfinals.
Collins: Jamaica. After watching them against the US and their tough, grind-it-out performance, they have the potential to be a Cinderella in this tournament. Shamar Nicholson and Andre Blake are definitely ones to watch.