Gold Cup Team Preview: Trinidad & Tobago by Kevin Minkus

I have pretty fond memories of watching Trinidad and Tobago's 2006 World Cup team. I remember their two spirited showings against England and Paraguay, but mostly I remember Shaka Hislop and the Soca Warriors CONCACAFing Henrik Larsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Freddy Ljunberg, and Sweden while down a man.

It's definitely unfair to expect it, but this iteration of the T&T national team is not a breathtaking one. This iteration enters the Gold Cup having suffered losses to Jordan, Curacao, and Panama in the last three months. They currently sit 67th in the FIFA World Rankings, and 88th in the World Football Elo Ratings, their worst Elo rank since 2013. In order to have a successful tournament, they will need to recapture the form that saw them advance to the final of the 2014 Caribbean Cup (played last November), where they lost to Jamaica on penalty kicks.

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Gold Cup Team Preview: Guatemala by Drew Olsen

Guatemala is one of the teams being talked about the least, but don’t count them out. A favorable group draw and an experienced roster make this team a contender to become this year’s tournament surprise. Still, with only one win in their last eight games, questions about their coach and an overreliance on players well into their 30s may prove tough obstacles to overcome.

How did they get here?
They qualified for the Gold Cup by finishing 2nd in the 2014 Copa Centroamericana, losing  1-2 to Costa Rica in the final.

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Gold Cup Team Preview: El Salvador by Harrison Crow

They're here and they're not terrible. I think that's all I really have about them. 61% of their roster is comprised of guys from the local league, which most know practically nothing about, and those that are playing abroad aren't exactly playing in top leagues. The team has hipster pick written all over it and I feel like I could get on that train.

How did they get here?
Qualified through Central American zone coming in fourth place in 2014 Copa Centroamericana, losing to Panama 1-0 in the 3rd place game.

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Gold Cup Team Preview: Canada by Jared Young

Despite having the worst FIFA Ranking in the tournament, Canada is a good bet to get out of Group B and advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. They have quietly been playing very solid soccer for the last year and collected a 5-4-2 (W-D-L) record in their last eleven matches, including impressive draws against Bulgaria, Iceland and Panama. They are 5-1-0 in their last six CONCACAF matches as well. 

How did they get here?
Canada is a co-host for the tournament and therefore an automatic qualifier. This marks their 12th Gold Cup appearance out of thirteen, so they were a good bet to qualify regardless.

What Group are they in?
They are in Group B, along with favorite Costa Rica, Jamaica, and El Salvador. The winner of the group will play the Group A runner-up (probably Panama), the runner-up will play the Group C runner-up (probably Trinidad & Tobago or Guatemala) and third place will play either the Group C (Mexico) or Group A (USA) winner.

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Gold Cup Team Preview: Costa Rica by Harrison Crow

I know the popular thought going into this tournament is that the suave and cool pick to win everything is Costa Rica. They have a lot of very talented individuals throughout their roster rooted in various European leagues. It's basically everyone's best case scenario of how the United States roster would be constructed. A little bit of Serie A and a little bit of Premier League, a guy from La Liga. It's a recipe for either Jurgen Klinsmann's best XI or his family's bakery for cinnamon rolls. One or the other.

The thing about the roster is regardless of where the players are reporting from it hasn't directly influenced the recent results. Their current state is that they've done just enough to stay where they were coming out of the World Cup. Overall they've not been good, not necessarily bad, but not good. The last six months has seen them suffer draws to Paraguay and Mexico, losses to Panama, Colombia and Spain. They haven't actually won since 14 October last year against South Korea.

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Gold Cup Team Preview: Jamaica by Harrison Crow

This is a young and dynamic team that has all the various attributes that are so often associated with Jamaica. They've got speed and are a very attacking club, but they come with a bit more technique this time around. Unfortunately, after just participating in the Copa America, this call-up is a bit weaker than what we'd normally expect for a Gold Cup.
Speaking of the Copa America, they only managed 8 shots inside the box against Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina, and surrendered 16 across their three group games. Which seems… not good. Until you consider that Uruguay is ranked 12th , Paraguay is ranked 37th and Argentina is still number deuce in the world according to ELOrating.net. Things look suddenly a little bit more rosy.

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How to fix the Colorado Rapids by Harrison Crow

There are certain times of the season that my soul just resonates with some supporters. Being a Seattle fan for the vast majority of my life, there have been very few opportunities to gloat about good things. The mid-90's Seattle Mariners... that never really won anything, the mid-90's Sonics... that no longer exist, and now the Seattle Sounders (I never grew up really following football so I don't count the Seahawks as their Superbowl win didn't mean anything to me).

The Rapids need something. Anything. This article by Matthew Perry, broke my heart as I could just relate so much to the tragedy of it all. Chris White, another writer over at Burgundy Wave, wrote another article that was a bit more in depth as to why they suck but another great read.

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Gold Cup Team Preview: Honduras by Drew Olsen

Honduras is the team nobody wants to play. With the USA and Panama the clear favorites to finish 1st and 2nd in Group A, Honduras has little pressure on their backs. This was a difficult group draw for them, but their path to the knockout stages isn't unimaginable. Featuring a cohesive and experienced pool of talent, this is a team that is capable of surprising some experts. Still, the big names left off the final roster have raised some questions about if they’re taking this tournament seriously.

How did they get here?
Honduras was the last team to qualify for the Gold Cup after beating French Guiana over two legs. In a battle between the 5th place teams in the Caribbean Football Union and Central American Football Union respectively, Anderlect player and DC United veteran Andy Najar was the hero when his brace helped “La H” come back from a 3-1 defeat in the 1st leg to win 4-3 on aggregate.

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Gold Cup Team Preview: United States by Jared Young

On July 7th the United States Men will play their first competitive match in nearly a year, and in so doing begin their defense of the Gold Cup. A successful run through the final in Philadelphia would guarantee their place in the Confederations Cup in 2017, and confirm them as the dominant force in CONCACAF. Failure to win would not be the end of the world, but it would put a damper on the momentum the team has recently built with a positive World Cup run followed by overall strong performances in this cycle’s friendlies. In the end, a Gold Cup win keeps the U.S. on Jurgen Klinsmann’s aggressive path to improvement. An exit of any kind will start to raise doubts if the team has the talent to make a serious run this cycle.

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Gold Cup Team Preview: Haiti by Drew Olsen

With no disrespect, Haiti falls into the “just happy to be there” category of teams in the 2015 Gold Cup. Having only five appearances previously, they have fewer than any other team in this year's tournament. Placed into the “group of death” alongside Honduras, Panama, and the United States, a result in any game will be difficult, and replicating the three points they earned in 2013 will be a challenge.

How did they get here?
“Les Grenadiers” (best team nickname in the tournament) qualified by finishing third in the 2014 Caribbean Cup, beating Cuba 2-1 in the third place game in November for their second straight bronze in that tournament. The biggest standout player for Haiti was 26 year old striker Kervens Belfort, who won the golden boot. Playing in France's 3rd division, there isn't much known about Belfort, but opposing teams will likely be focusing on him as a likely source of Haiti's goals.

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