June 18 – Day 5 and the Concacaf group rotation starts again with Group A, the high scoring Mexicans and Canadians, and the altitude of the Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado.
Both teams impressed at the Rose Bowl in their opening games where they dominated Cuba and Martinique with 11 unanswered goals between them.
The Mexicans could have scored a lot more than the seven they finished with and will start as favourites in Denver. Coach Gerardo Martino has been managing a squad that has a number of players coming back from injury but said he was likely to stay with a similar starting line-up, though giving some pitch time to returning players looks likely.
That will likely mean starting places for Mexico’s young forward live wires, LA Galaxy’s Uriel Antuna who scored a hat trick against Cuba, and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez who scored twice. In 2017 the tournament’s top scorers
Such was the dominance of the Mexicans against Cuba it is difficult to make any assessment of their defense. Canada can be expected to test it through with their own youthful forward presence of Bayern Munich’s mercurial Alphonso Davies and 19-year old Gent striker Jonathan David who scored twice against Martinique.
Canadian coach John Herdman had indicated he might rotate his squad for this game. Canada play with a high tempo pressuring midfield that could find themselves run into the ground at altitude. The winner of this game guarantees themselves qualification for the quarter finals with a group game still to play.
Both Herdman and Martino are relatively new coaches for their countries – both are unbeaten on six and five matches respectively.
This is the fifth meeting between Mexico and Canada in the Gold Cup. Mexico have won three and Canada once.
Cuba vs Martinique
With just three days to recover from the shellshock of their opening matches, both teams have a point to prove. Both came into the tournament targeting qualifying from the group as a minimum.
Martinique in forward Kevin Parsemain have one of the genuine class strikers in the tournament. He was denied multiple times by Canada but given any space by Cuba’s porous defense he will cause damage.
Cuba qualified for the Gold Cup unbeaten but will need to completely reorganise their defensive speed and shape to get anything out of this match. Up front they do have a goal threat in Maikel Reyes.
Cuba have a strong record against Martinique. This is the eight time they have met and the first in the Gold Cup. Martinique has just one win – a 1-0 victory in 2012.
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