2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Your ultimate guide to North America's tournament

The 14th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which crowns North America's top national soccer team, will see regional powers and eternal rivals USA and Mexico battle for CONCACAF supremacy.

But a host of other nations will feel they are capable of springing the upset, including Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and Canada. And there's always the chance for a Cinderella run by smaller nations like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Curacao, Martinique and French Guiana.

Want to be a part of the Gold Cup conversation? Tune in to Club & Country: After the Whistle on MLSsoccer.com immediately following every US national team game during the tournament!

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How the tournament works: The Gold Cup field is made up of 12 teams divided into three groups of four. Each team plays the other three in their group. The top two teams from each group, along with the two best third-place teams, advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals (July 19-20), followed by the semis (July 22-23) and the tournament final (July 26). Use our 2017 Gold Cup bracket to track the tournament's progress.

Canada

Basics Gold Cup Group A | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 109
How qualified Automatic berth
Gold Cup history Appeared in 12 of 13 previous editions, withdrawing from the 1998 Gold Cup (tournament record: 15W-15L-11D). They are the only nation other than the USA and Mexico to win the title (2000).
Head coach Former MLS head coach Octavio Zambrano was recently hired on March 17, 2017. The Ecuadorean is charged with ushering in a youth movement to lead Canada into the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.
Top 3 stars While veterans Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact) and Marcel de Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps) may be the most recognizable faces, all eyes will be on young, exciting up-and-comers Raheem Edwards (Toronto FC), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Montreal Impact).
MLS connections In addition to Zambrano's MLS past, 17 players from the team's 40-man preliminary roster hail from the league.
Projections The Canadians aim to send a clear message that their next generation will make them a force to be reckoned with in the region. To achieve that they'll need to get out of Group A and impress in the quarterfinal stage.

Costa Rica

Basics Gold Cup Group A | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 19
How qualified Fourth-place finishers at 2017 Copa Centroamericana
Gold Cup history Appeared in 12 of 13 previous editions; finished runners-up in 2002 (won the CONCACAF Championship, prior to Gold Cup, in 1963, 1969 and 1989).
Head coach A Costa Rican international during his playing days, Oscar Ramirez has led Los Ticos since 2015. "El Macho" has steered his country to a strong start in the final round of World Cup qualifying, where the Ticos are in second place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal.
Top 3 stars Playmaker Bryan Ruiz has starred in top European leagues for the past decade and continues to be key for Costa Rica as he approaches his 100th cap. He will be supported by crafty Portland Timbers newcomer David Guzman in midfield. Joel Campbell has struggled to break into the lineup at Arsenal, yet remains one of his country's most talented attackers.
MLS connections Los Ticos are chock-full of current and former MLS standouts.Francisco Calvo, Johan Venegas, Rodney Wallace, Marco Ureña and Guzman are important contributors to their US clubs and key defender Giancarlo Gonzalez made it to Italy's Serie A in part via sterling performances with Columbus Crew SC.
Projections Costa Rica are one of a select few nations who can realistically aim to break the joint US-Mexico stranglehold on the Gold Cup trophy. They're favored to advance out of Group A and from there, anything's possible given their quality and defensive organization.

Curaçao

Basics Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 70
How qualified The small island nation, a constituent member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, finished as one of the Caribbean subregion's top four teams in the Caribbean Cup.
Gold Cup history This is Curacao's first Gold Cup; its predecessor, the Netherlands Antilles, participated in the CONCACAF Championship that preceded the Gold Cup, finishing in third place in 1963 and 1969.
Head coach Remko Bicentini took over from retired Dutch legend Patrick Kluivert last September and has already won a trophy, as Curacao triumphed at the 2017 Caribbean Cup in June.
Top 3 stars Striker Elson Hooi plays in the Danish first division and was Curacao's Caribbean Cup hero, scoring two goals to beat Jamaica in the tournament final; midfielder Leandro Bacuna is a regular at England's Aston Villa, and captain Cuco Martina just finished a stint at Southampton and has been linked to Everton.
MLS connections Cuco's older brother Javier (who has also represented Curacao) played for Toronto FC in 2011, when the Reds brought in several Dutchmen during the head coaching tenure of Aron Winter.
Projections Considering that Curacao just knocked off the Reggae Boyz in the Caribbean Cup final, Jamaica had best beware of their island counterparts to the south, who could well ambush them in the pursuit of advancement out of Group C.

El Salvador

Basics Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 106
How qualified Third-place finish in the 2017 Copa Centroamericana
Gold Cup history This is the 10th appearance for Los Cuscatlecos, and they've gone as far as the quarterfinals on four occasions: 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2013.
Head coach The Colombian Eduardo Lara took over El Salvador last year and has Cuscatlecos supporters feeling optimistic about their prospects for advancement out of the Gold Cup group stage.
Top 3 stars San Jose's Darwin Ceren is a pivotal central midfield presence for El Salvador, Rodolfo Zelaya is a crafty playmaker who's been connected to MLS teams in the past and Andres Flores, who plays in the NASL for the New York Cosmos, can finish if provided with service.
MLS connections Many in this Cuscatlecos team have lived and played in the United States, and four currently do so in the US lower divisions. Gerson Mayen played for Chivas USA and Junior Burgos was on Atlanta United's books last year.
Projections As has usually been the case in this century, El Salvador will be pronounced underdogs this summer. But with the right chemistry, some vocal support from their expatriate fans in the US and a bit of luck, they could make a run for the semifinals.

French Guiana

Basics Gold Cup Group A | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: N/A
How qualified Les Yana Dòkòs ("Strong Guiana") worked their way through the long qualifying process (it kicked off in March of 2016) for this summer's Caribbean Cup, where they clinched a spot as one of the Caribbean subregion's top four teams.
Gold Cup history This is French Guiana's first time in the tournament. As an overseas department of France, the large and sparsely-populated territory perched on the corner of South America is ineligible for full FIFA competitions like the World Cup, but can take part in regional events.
Head coach French Guiana feature the relative rarity of dual head coaches: Local product Jaïr Karam and Frenchman Marie-Rose Carême. Karam has rather boldly stated that his team's goal is a run to the Gold Cup quarterfinals.
Top 3 stars The former colony's status as a de facto French province means that its most talented players can (and often do) play for the mother country. But France internationals of Guianese descent can also represent French Guiana. That's how former Chelsea and Lyon star Florent Malouda, a veteran of two France World Cup teams who's now 37 and playing in the Indian league, was able to make his French Guiana debut in the Caribbean Cup. Midfielder Ludovic Baal and striker Sloan Privat both ply their trade in France's Ligue 1 with Rennes and Guingamp, respectively.
MLS connections Not much to report on here. For the aforementioned, French Guianese footy has always looked northeast to France, less so to MLS to the northwest.
Projections It's hard to think of a bigger wild card than this one. Perhaps it's worth noting that French Guiana beat Haiti to reach the Caribbean Cup, but fell to Jamaica via a penalty-kick shootout in the semifinals on June 22. Surviving the Gold Cup's group stage would be a major achievement.

Honduras

Basics Gold Cup Group A | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 69
How qualified 2017 Copa Centroamericana winners
Gold Cup history Appeared in 12 of 13 previous editions; finished runners-up in 1991 (won the CONCACAF Championship, prior to the Gold Cup, in 1981).
Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto shot into worldwide prominence when he led Costa Rica on a Cinderella run at the 2014 World Cup. The Colombian's subsequent move to Honduras hasn't gone quite so swimmingly, though. "La H" sit in second-to-last place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal with a worst-in-show goal differential of -7 over six games.
Top 3 stars MLS fans will be familiar with the menace posed by the Houston Dynamo strike duo of Alberth "La Panterita" Elis and Romell "Romantico" Quioto, teammates of veteran midfielder Boniek Garcia with both club and country. But keep an eye on young attacker Anthony Lozano, who's fresh off a promising loan stint with Spain's Tenerife and could use a strong Gold Cup to fuel his career progress.
MLS connections Besides the Houston trio of Elis, Garcia and Quioto, FC Dallas' Maynor Figueroa made the current Catrachos squad, along with a few former MLSers like Johnny Leveron (ex-Vancouver) and Mario Martinez (ex-Seattle).
Projections Honduras have the talent to beat just about anyone in this tournament, but the program is at a low ebb right now, with Pinto on the hot seat. Given that, any run beyond the quarterfinals would be surprising.

Jamaica

Basics Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 79
How qualified Finished as one of the Caribbean subregion's top four teams during Caribbean Cup qualifying, advancing to the Caribbean Cup final.
Gold Cup history 2017 marks the Reggae Boyz' 10th Gold Cup campaign; two years ago they produced their best-ever performance, finishing second behind Mexico.
Head coach A key member of Jamaica's legendary 1998 World Cup team, Theodore "Tappa" Whitmore is in his second stint in charge of his homeland, having previously led the program from 2009-13.
Top 3 stars The Philadelphia Union's Andre Blake is one of CONCACAF's top goalkeepers and a linchpin for Jamaica's hopes; Portland's Darren Mattocks is similarly crucial to their attack and his Timbers teammate Alvas Powell is an important two-way presence at right back.
MLS connections MLS and Jamrock have a long and fruitful relationship. The league is the Reggae Boyz' leading overseas destination and beyond those mentioned above, this squad will rely heavily on the likes of Kemar Lawrence (NY Red Bulls), Je-Vaughn Watson (New England) and other MLSers.
Projections Jamaica should finish second behind Mexico in Group C. That said, they're as inconsistent as they are talented, and a few hiccups could leave them on an early flight home.

Martinique

Basics Gold Cup Group B | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: N/A
How qualified Finished as one of the Caribbean subregion's top four teams during Caribbean Cup qualifying, losing the third-place match to French Guiana.
Gold Cup history The French overseas department has participated in four previous editions of the tournament, highlighted by an upstart run to the quarterfinals in 2002.
Head coach Jean-Marc Civault was once again given the reins of the team last year, also juggling club duties with local sides Club Franciscain and now with Aiglon du Lamentin. 
Top 3 stars Big French-born forward Yoann Arquin is well traveled after stints in England, Scotland, Turkey and Sweden, and similarly winger Johan Audel carries ample experience in major European leagues. Forward Gregory Pastel is one of the top scorers in the domestic league.
MLS connections Longtime Les Matinino striker Kevin Parsemain spent nearly a year with the Seattle Sounders, who currently have his countryman Jordy Delem on their roster; former Portland striker Frederic Piquionne represented Martinique after his international hopes with France had run their course.
Projections The French islanders are another dark horse whose true prospects are tough to gauge. But they could well grab one of Group B's advancement slots, especially given that they're fresh off a semifinal run at the Caribbean Cup on home soil.

Mexico

Basics Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 17
How qualified Automatic
Gold Cup history The kings of Copa Oro, El Tri have participated in every edition of the tourney and won it seven times, more than any other nation.
Head coach Former Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls boss Juan Carlos Osorio has led Mexico to first place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, and has suffered just two losses in more than a year and a half at the helm.
Top 3 stars El Tri's busy summer of qualifiers and Confederations Cup play has led Osorio to pick something less than a full-strength roster. But the domestic-based Gold Cup squad will be hungry to seize the opportunity, led by Houston Dynamo scoring machine Erick "El Cubo" Torres, Pachuca star Erick "Guti" Gutierrez and a heavy Chivas Guadalajara contingent featuring Orbelin Pineda.
MLS connections After originally being left off the roster, Houston's "Cubo" Torres was brought in to replace the injured Alan Pulido. Goalkeeper Moises Munoz, has been a rumored MLS target and was raised in California's Bay Area, nearly pursuing an American football career instead of soccer.
Projections Any Gold Cup Mexico doesn't win is generally considered a failure; that said, with so much else going on for El Tri, Osorio seems to be approaching this year's edition with an experimental air.

Nicaragua

Basics Gold Cup Group B | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 100
How qualified Defeated Haiti in a playoff between the Caribbean zone's fifth-place team and the Central American zone fifth-place team.
Gold Cup history One of Central America's traditional underdogs and a country where baseball has historically been as popular as soccer, Los Pinoleros have only made it to this event once before, in 2009, when they didn't make it out of the group stage.
Head coach Well-traveled Costa Rican Henry Duarte has led Nicaragua since 2014.
Top 3 stars Defender Josue Quijano and midfielder Marlon Lopez are two of the most experienced players on a Pinoleros squad based almost entirely in the domestic league, mainly at Real Esteli. But striker Juan Barrera, the first Nicaraguan to gain opportunities in Europe and hat-trick hero of their playoff win over Haiti, is probably the top talent on this squad.
MLS connections Surprisingly scant, aside from a few MLS clubs meeting Real Esteli in CONCACAF Champions League over the years, most recently when the Nicaraguan side gave FC Dallas a tough test in last year's CCL group stage.
Projections With little in the way of pedigree or experience, hard work, discipline and unity will be key if Los Pinoleros are to beat the odds and make something memorable of this rare Gold Cup trip.

Panama

Basics Gold Cup Group B | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 59
How qualified 2017 Copa Centroamericana runners-up
Gold Cup history 2017 marks Panama's eighth Gold Cup; after qualifying just once over its first seven editions, Los Canaleros finished second in the 2005 tournament and have taken part in every one since.
Head coach Hernan Dario Gomez, better known as El Bolillo to many, is a Colombian whose resume includes stints in charge of Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and several Colombian clubs; named CONCACAF Male Coach of the Year in 2015.
Top 3 stars The San Jose Earthquakes' Anibal Godoy will be a key cog in central midfield alongside onetime Philadelphia Union signing Gabriel Gomez, while former Colorado Rapid Gabriel Torres, now playing in Switzerland, is the most experienced striker on the roster.
MLS connections Beyond the MLSers, current and former, mentioned above, the Canaleros will also look to NYCFC's Antonio Camargo, the Red Bulls' Michael Murillo and Toronto FC's Armando Cooper.
Projections Panama are strong favorites to advance out of Group B along with the US. Depending on their scoring efficiency and the luck of the knockout-round draw, they could easily match 2015's run to the semifinals.

United States

Basics Gold Cup Group B | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 23
How qualified Automatic berth
Gold Cup history The Yanks have used the relatively new tournament in their backyard to signal their modern climb in international soccer, winning the event in 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013 and reaching the final on four other occasions (1993, 1998, 2009, 2011). The fourth-place finish in the 2015 edition ranks as one of the USMNT's lowlights, though.
Head coach Bruce Arena is half a year into his second stint at the US helm, having led the Yanks from 1998 to 2006. During his first term he lifted the Gold Cup trophy in 2002 and 2005; this time around the event ranks a distant second behind 2018 World Cup qualification.
Top 3 stars Freshly arrived at his new club in Atlanta, goalkeeper Brad Guzan brings veteran experience and leadership to a group that needs it, as does midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. And this tournament could well mark a true breakout moment in Kellyn Acosta's international career.
MLS connections Myriad. All but seven members of the Gold Cup roster ply their trade in the domestic league, while three of those foreign-based players (Omar Gonzalez, Jorge Villafana and Matt Miazga) made their names in MLS.
Projections The Yanks enter every Gold Cup with the aim of winning it and this year is no exception. That said, Arena has made clear that World Cup qualification is the top priority and his roster choices reflect that this event is an audition for many players.

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