Armchair Analyst: Getting CONCACAF'd, getting dirty, and more on the Gold Cup

"They got CONCACAF'd."

Watch our game long enough, and spend enough time on social media, and you will see that turn of phrase. It's not meant as a compliment.

Did every member of the opposing team all suffer some sort of cramp – really bad ones that require stretchers – all while protecting a result? You're getting CONCACAF'd:

Did a clear goal get called back via a "questionable" officiating decision? CONCACAF'd:

Did the hosts refuse to move or postpone a crucial game that ended up having to be played in a blizzard? You've been CONCACAF'd:

How about an opponent flopping to the ground, feigning contact, and then the ref showing a yellow card that gets you suspended for the next game? That is a proper CONCACAF'ing:

I maintain pretty strongly that the level of play in CONCACAF is much higher than given credit for around the world. There's a reason why multiple teams from the region have advanced to the knockout round in three of the last four World Cups, including three (Costa Rica, USA, Mexico) in 2014, and it's not because there's bad soccer being played in the region. Quite the opposite.

But there will be gamesmanship – more, pound-for-pound, than you'll see anywhere in the world besides a Gonzalo Jara mixtape – and there will be a blind eye turned toward said gamesmanship:

This sort of hilarity and more will be heading our way in the Gold Cup, which starts on July 7. Sure, the teams will play different styles (the US currently look like a turbo-charged 4-4-2 that want to extend the game; El Tri will be in more of a 5-3-2 that aims to compress teams in the attacking half; Jamaica's 4-4-1-1 was solid defensively in Copa America, but predictably lacked punch; Canada's 4-1-4-1 puts emphasis on Cyle Larin's ability to hold the ball up and bring the wingers into the play; etc etc etc), but what unites them all on some level is both a commitment to the dark arts and the commitment of the region's refs in allowing them to get away with it.

The Gold Cup is, in other words, a hell of a lot of fun. As long as you can check your frustration, keep your cool and, you know, deal with it:

Series: