Gold Cup Draw: First, and Quick, Impressions

Though it appears I can take my pick of sites and sources to credit as the place to go for the draw for this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup, I'm going to roll with the first one I saw: Mike H at My Soccer Blog. There is no prize.

Seeing as we're miles from the tournament and appreciating that my knowledge of half the teams dates to qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, it seems a bit silly for me to attempt analysis of this draw...but I'm going to do it anyway.

I have no excuse, but will only say, expect something better closer to June. And if you're curious as to who plays who, when, and where, check Mike H's blog; he did a good job organizing the Byzantine mess that is qualifying for the quarterfinal round (stupid twelve-team tournaments....).

Group A - Costa Rica, Haiti, Canada, Guadelope
I think the question for Group A is what kind of Costa Rica shows up; the one currently on something of a streak for World Cup qualifying, or the team from the 1990s that suffered from periodic freakouts. If it's the former, I'd expect them to top this group, leaving Canada and Haiti to pick up the scraps; and I'd watch my back closely if I were Canada as Haiti can fool a body. As for Guadeloupe, I'm willing to concede that their presence in the tournament means they probably exist, but that's as far as I'll go.

Group B - United States, Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala, El Salvador
If we don't get out of this group, I can't say what will happen with any certainty, but I would fear for my personal safety. Between them, I'd only count El Salvador as an automatic U.S. win; T & T has enough to beat us on a good day and frustrate us even on a bad one, while, somewhere in my head, I've operate on the belief that Guatemala is one of the most frustrating teams in the region. But it should still go something like the U.S. in first, with T & T and Guatemala duking it out below.

Group C - Mexico, Panama, Honduras, Cuba
Now, if the 2005 Gold Cup taught us anything (and that was the last one, right?), it should be a warning against under-estimating Panam; the same tournament suggests Honduras can be scrappy on its day as well. That's all to say, a wary Mexico ought to remain a winning one, but that the wary bit matters. The form of the individual countries tells me that trying to call second is something of a mug's game.

Well, that's all I got...for now. This will require more research down the road, but there's time for that later.

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