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Gold Cup predictions: 2019 tournament seems destined for US-Mexico final

The NCAA Tournament may be done and dusted, but that doesn't mean all your potential fun with filling out brackets has gone away.

Wednesday's Concacaf Gold Cup draw has set up a whole new prediction puzzle for soccer fans, and of course we're apt to join in the brain-racking prediction game.

We'll start by picking the two teams to advance from each of the four groups, and then start working through the knockouts to make a call on the 2019 champion.

The 2019 version of this continental tournament features an expanded field of 16 teams. The top two teams from each group of four will make the quarterfinal round, then single elimination sets in before the final July 7 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Group A

Predicted order of finish: Mexico, Canada, Martinique, Cuba

El Tri are the star side here, but plenty of eyes will be on an up-and-coming Canada team. The Maple Leaf boys can make it back-to-back trips to the quarters provided they handle business against an oft-pesky Martinique side.

Group B

Predicted order of finish: Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua, Bermuda

The Ticos should sail into the knockouts, leaving a dogfight for the second quarterfinal berth. Though they're a team in transition, Haiti will be expected to grab it.

Group C

Predicted order of finish: Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador, Curacao

The Reggae Boyz seemingly hold the key to finishing first, as they open at home against the group’s toughest foe, Honduras. Both would do well to not sleep on a suddenly-warming El Salvador side (like Jamaica did last month). 

Group D

Predicted order of finish: United States, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana

Wouldn't ya know it? The US national team draws the toughest overall group assignment, including a revenge shot at Trinidad and Tobago. The Soca Warriors could well be desperate in that match after opening with an experienced Panama outfit that has steeled itself against high-level foes for the last year. 

Alphonso Davies will look to inspire Canada in the Gold Cup again | Imagn Images

Quarterfinals

Canada over Costa Rica 
Mexico over Haiti
Jamaica over Panama
USMNT over Honduras

The US shouldn't get too much resistance from a rebuilding Honduras group, and Mexico will have even less from Haiti. We'll give Jamaica the edge over Panama due to their strength in goal and at the back. That leaves our tournament upset special, which sees Canada win a thrilling run-and-gun affair with Costa Rica.

Semifinals

Mexico over Canada
USMNT over Jamaica

Jamaica's lack of midfield might catches up to them against the Nats, who will own central park to reach the final for the seventh time in the last eight tries. Meanwhile, Canada's fun run will come to an end against a Mexico side they haven't solved in nearly 20 years. 

Finals

Mexico over USMNT

It's worth noting that only two US managers (Bob Bradley and Bora Milutinovic) have captured the Gold Cup crown inside their first year at the helm, so it's definitely not the easiest first competitive mission for Gregg Berhalter.

Expect yet another epic throwdown between the two top dogs in the region, and one that probably goes down to the wire. It may not be a popular opinion around these parts, but I can't help but feel this tight contest will be decided by the biggest positional mismatch on the field.

That means it comes down to either Hirving Lozano or Carlos Vela (or more likely both, in turns) against whomever takes up the US left back spot, which means El Tri reclaim the crown. Don't fret, though. Sometimes, tough defeats are also part of the process.

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