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Gold Cup Preview Group B

by smart

hello again and welcome to the international soccer preview by soccer files canada i’m kevin and i’m connor yeah and uh i forgot in uh podcast uh in the group a one to uh publicly congratulate you on on your child oh thank you very much yeah a little girl um one more screaming voice uh to support canada that’s great all right uh should we begin here yeah so we are continuing with our group by group preview of gold cup 2021 and within that our team by team overview so as always with part one we’re going to begin with an overview of group b uh giving a brief introduction of the teams and countries uh including looking at the location and size of each country that’s right and then part two is the longest part we’ll launch into a team by team overview looking at their long history their recent history their qualifying record for this cup and then a brief overview of their players and then part three we’ll have a discussion of their prospects and our predictions uh looking at the rankings the head-to-head records and and again our discussion on how we think each team will do all right so uh please check out our preliminary podcast for this series uh there we provided some overriding information uh in order to avoid too much repetition of kind of explaining uh things like the concacaf championship and the uncaff cup what those things are we also have an introduction of ourselves on the podcast a history of concacaf regional tournaments and the format changes over the years and an intro to some of the relevant tournaments that concacaf is involved with and finally a discussion by a discussion of fifa and elo rankings right and you can find us on the internet by searching soccer files or soccer file canada and that’s soccer files with a ph you can also search international soccer preview or podcast we’ve already done a euro cup 2020 preview as well as a preview of copa america 2021 um so this is our our third our third series looking at the gold cup right and we’ve already done uh the preliminary podcast and group a so here we go with group b do you wanna introduce us a little bit connor yeah so the four teams in group b um we’ll begin with the united states they are six times winners of the gold cup and are the second most successful team uh in the tournament behind mexico uh they last won the championship in 2017 right i got to introduce canada and i should say at this point that i don’t have a canada jersey corner i am so disappointed in myself well we have just a couple days to to fix that i have my canada scarf that’s uh that’s not bad yeah you’re you’re a little better than me i do have this kind of optical illusion uh t-shirt with canada color so i’m hoping it’ll kind of baffle people into thinking i’m wearing a canada jersey and that that wall on your shirt represents canada’s stringent defense no doubt oh of course of course that’s what i was thinking anyway canada won the tournament twice uh most recently in 2000 they’ve gone out at the quarterfinal stage in the last two gold cups next is martinique they are competing in their third straight gold cup and seventh overall uh they have only managed though uh to pass the group stage on one of those occasions all right and finally haiti were winners of the concacaf championship in 1973 when they hosted it they reached the semifinals in 2019 for their best tournament finish in over 40 years that’s right great let’s take a look at the uh countries uh one by one uh starting with the usa yeah so the usa is the uh largest uh country in the concacaf region in terms of population with 332 million people uh that’s third overall in the world just behind china and india all right uh how about canada how does canada compare right they’re northern neighbors um canada has 38 million people so so roughly a tenth of the population of the u.s that’s the 37th largest population among all countries um though canada with the the largest area largest geography of any team in uh of any country in north america okay so uh we have the two biggest uh in terms of size uh how about martinique yeah we shrink down quite a bit here um the island of martinique just over a thousand square kilometers um and a population of just 375 000 uh that’s 171st in the world out of about just over 200 countries okay and finally haiti haiti um they split the island of hispaniola with dominican republic they have 11 million people uh which is 81st uh largest uh country in the in the world overall and they’re the sixth most populous country in north america and the second most populous caribbean country uh just behind cuba right okay well let’s take a look at uh just all four of them together in comparison and uh do you have any comments on on that connor yeah so just in terms of size we have the usa with 332 million people canada with about a tenth of that at 38 million haiti is third with 11 million people and martinique really the minnows here at 375 000 um so about a thousandth the population of the united states right great okay well now we move to our uh head-to-head uh sorry or not our head-to-head our team by team uh look at the countries and let’s start with the usa uh do we have any nicknames for these guys yeah the nicknames that the u.s goes by most commonly are the stars and stripes um or the yanks um so are you familiar with either of those and no i mean of course i’m familiar with the terms but not really i don’t really hear them being used much in discussion how about you yeah not so much with the national team certainly i don’t think they go about either those nicknames as much as some other countries right yeah okay well we’re going to start with uh the long history their tournament participation and an overview of their major achievements and we’ll be following this format for all four teams uh the usa has a much longer soccer history than a soccer tradition than most people would guess a few people realized that they not only entered the first world cup in 1930 but they took third place there the only cup they failed to participate in was in 1938 when they withdrew actually a lot of north american teams withdrew because uh fifa decided to hold it in in europe for a second straight time uh kind of breaking their promise to alternate between uh the two the americas and europe um anyway continuing on ironically their participation in the regional cup is not as good they didn’t enter the first four four out of the first five editions but they participated consistently from 1973 they’ve won the competition several times in recent years uh but their first title was relatively late in 1991 and uh unlike most teams in the region they don’t have a kind of a local competition but they have participated in uh the odd confederation cup and the copa america uh let’s take a look at those and just get them out of the way uh though they did miserably in their first confederations cup in 2003 they pulled two amazing results to finish second in the 2009 confederations cup that’s interesting to take a closer look at but we won’t do that here they have failed to qualify since losing a playoff against mexico for the 2017 edition this absence from the world stage is further evidence of a lack of recent form that we’ll be talking about they were also sometimes invited to play in the copa america and have done so four times they were knocked out in the group stage in 1993 and 2007 but they managed a fourth place finish in 1995 and again in 2016. so that’s kind of an overview and we’ll get into some of the details starting with the world cup by connor all right thanks for that so looking at their world cup um despite the impressive continuity uh in world cup play at least their history is best described as two separate periods of ascendancy uh the first was in the early years where they participated in the first world cups and and sometimes surprised uh in addition to third place in 1930 they pulled off a shock win over england in the 1950 cup uh beating the 250 to 1 odds against them so incredible absolutely from 1954 to 1994 however they failed to qualify for the world cup even at times when mexico left the door open their second period of ascendancy started from 1994 and was motivated by their hosting of the world cup that year from that time they had been almost on par with mexico and the two dominate the concacaf region uh the usa have qualified for every world cup from 1994 to 2014 uh although it is partly the strength of their region uh that uh that makes it easy for them to get one of the three and a half spots available or perhaps lack of strength i should say it was there for a shock when they failed to qualify in 2018 which i’ll discuss a little bit more in a moment the usa made a big impact in 2002 reaching the quarterfinals and they have passed the group stage forward of the last six times by 2014 they looked a world-class team capable of making an impact at the international level uh but their failure in 2018 calls that into question all right and i was actually there at that quarter-final uh game and the 2002 world cup me and your dad saw that game right in south korea who were they playing against again uh no it was uh germany versus usa right right yeah i remember that uh more recently though at 2018 um they finished the usa finished fifth out of six in the hex with a record of just three wins three draws and four defeats despite a dreadful campaign which included a humiliating four-nil loss to costa rica the usa only needed a point in their final match in trinidad and tobago a team that had a one win zero draws and eight loss record up to that point and in fact we’re fielding a b team with a number of young and untested players however incredibly the usa lost the match two to one um and therefore finished fifth and failed to make it even to the uh intercontinental playoff um so a huge setback for a team that as we’ve described was was kind of on the ascendancy uh before that wow that was quite something uh what a shock when i uh when i didn’t watch those games or when i saw the reports on those games i i couldn’t believe trinidad and tobago did that trinidad actually took a two-nil lead in that game at to half time um the usa pulled one back but could not manage the second goal that uh that would have allowed them to get out of jail and qualify for the world cup right and i don’t think it was just that match was it i thought a few things came together to uh to make that happen other teams winning that’s right both panama and honduras pulled out necessary wins um i think one of them even beat mexico so it was really um just a series of unfortunate events for the us it was within their control and within their power and they really let it slip yeah but it must have been a huge shock nevertheless uh let’s take a look at the history in the uh in the region uh actually the same pattern reflects in regional soccer though it began slightly earlier shockingly they either didn’t enter or didn’t qualify for the regional final uh from 1963 all the way to 1981 and were knocked out in the group stage in their first successful qualification in 1985. however from 1989 they dominated along with mexico they finished second in 1989 and won the inaugural gold cup in 1991 since then they’ve rarely failed to finish in the top two their worst performance being in 2000 when they only reached the quarter final i can’t remember who won that tournament connor can you remind me that was canada oh yes how it was after a good period winning three out of four times from 2002 to 2007 they’ve kind of fallen off a little bit losing to mexico five nothing in 2009 and 4-2 in 2011 and then a fourth place finish in 2015. this was punctuated with the title over panama in 2013 though it was a tournament where a few teams sent their a team they won again in 2017 and came second in 2019 losing to mexico in the final they didn’t have to qualify for gold cups since 1991 unlike most other teams in the region whereas most teams qualified through more local zones the central american and caribbean zones mexico usa and canada had no local zone before 1991 the three of them made up kind of a north american zone strangely uh cuba was part of that zone for a while and uh with only one qualifying uh for the uh yeah sorry um i’ll begin again before 1991 the three of them made up kind of a north american zone with only one of them qualifying for the concacaf championship and that was usually mexico but uh for some reason they abandoned this idea with the start of the gold cup in 1991. recently however the concacaf nations league was formed so they will have to qualify through that to reach the gold cup okay and apologies to youtube people i was off on my graphics there but i will get back on track um yeah so there’s no kind of a local group to discover so we’ll just uh sorry to discuss so we’ll just kind of summarize here uh usa in summary is known for their grit this was certainly evident in the early years especially tenaciously clinging to that one-nothing win over england in the 1950 world cup they all but disappeared from the soccer scene after that but came roaring back in about 1990 to rival mexico as the top team in the region they did rival them for 20 years but have declined in the last decade uh 2018 and the the world cup qualification failure that conor described was something of a nadir but at the end uh they will probably qualify for uh every world cup they have some exciting talent coming in with players playing their trade at the top clubs in europe and they’ll want to get back on track well in advance of the 2026 world cup which they primarily host let’s turn our attention to a recent history and are you gonna talk about the nation’s league corner yeah so the usa along with the the other top six teams in the region did not have to undergo uh the qualifying or placement round in 2018-19 um that’s due to their participation in the hex um which qualifies them for the world cup um so they were automatically given a spot in concacaf nations league a and a spot in the 2019 gold cup so in 2019-20 uh they won their league a group over canada and cuba despite suffering a loss to canada for the first time in 35 years that took them to the final four to the final four tournament and they went on to beat honduras in the semi-final and mexico in the final uh in extra time uh to become the nation’s league champions um they will thus remain in league a for the slash 2022-2023 season right so uh we don’t get a a really good look at them uh through that because they missed the placement campaign but they looked fairly good in the uh in the uh 19 or 20 19 20 season uh we’re getting our best look at most teams through world cup qualifying uh however um usa is one of the top is it five teams yeah that’s right one of the top five teams that didn’t have to go through the first two rounds of qualifying so uh a bit unfairly the top five uh teams according to fifa rankings received a bye to the final i hope that doesn’t uh continue connor yeah um even though the us and and mexico too would be expected to reach the final round certainly 2018 where the u.s failed to qualify showed that anything is possible so kind of automatically giving them a spot in the final round um as we’ve as we’ve discussed kind of seems to go against the principle of meritocracy um that kind of defines world cup qualification right okay well at the risk of repeating our complaints about that let us talk about the recent scorers or some of the players for the usa team yeah the us does have uh several uh kind of regular top players missing for this tournament especially overseas players um players like christian pulisic uh giovanni reina weston mckenny who are all with top clubs um and regulars like deandre yedlin and zach steffen are all not part of this team um so the majority of their team this time is drawn from the mls um looking at some key players there uh giaci zardes with columbus crew and paul areola with dc united they’re the main goals threat or at least have um some of the most goals among active squad members as well as midfielder sebastian leggett uh with the la galaxy um those would kind of be the players they were looking on for creativity and goals right i was surprised when i looked at the roster also some of the new up-and-comers and i’m not can’t remember what their names are but i’ve been hearing about them they’re also missing and i was expecting them to to be here do you know about any of those yeah not not so much but i i was also surprised looking at the squad i mean some of the young players they have like giovanni reyna with dortmund and westin mckinney with juventus um you know those would have been really exciting players to see but it does seem like a lot of overseas players who apply their trade in europe and a lot of um up and comers who are who are with european clubs do seem to be missing so um i’m sure that’s an intentional strategy um perhaps they want to rely on more local players but it it perhaps does deprive fans of seeing some of the the top young talent in the us yeah and uh one other detail i’ve noticed is uh brad guzan back in that i think he missed the 2019 uh gold cup i actually thought he was retired yeah he’s he’s aging uh spent some time in england with aston villa but he’s still going strong in the mls he plays for atlanta united so um yeah certainly a regular and steady pair of hands for them yeah and i guess 36 years old is not that old for a goalkeeper okay so we move on to canada let’s do it all right any nicknames for canada corner yeah they have a couple um the maple leafs of course is one but probably more frequently you’d hear the canucks or in french canada you might hear les rouges the reds are different nicknames for for english and french speaking canada great all right well let’s take a look at their tournament participation and major achievements they’re one of the oldest teams in the region having first entered the world cup in 1958 and they did not enter in 1962 or 1966 but participated every time since 1970 they joined the concacaf regional competition long after its 1963 inception waiting until 1973 so a bit laggard in in joining world soccer there uh they’ve participated though consistently since then their only other involvement was as representatives of concacaf at the 2001 confederations cup which they earned by winning the uh gold cup in 2000. however they finished last in the group stage there sadly perhaps not a huge surprise though yeah well we’re not hiding our buyers for canada but we will kind of keep it under control let’s take a look at their world cup record so their major highlight in world cup qualifying is reaching the finals in 1986. they didn’t win or even score once they got there but it was an admirable qualification and and they were to be fair to canada i think in one of the more difficult groups uh they came somewhat close in 1994 by reaching um a one-quarter intercontinental uh semi-playoff they lost to australia but then would have had to beat argentina beyond that so they were never really a serious threat however it was still a good qualification run historically they do reach the final uh round of qualification about half the time um but in recent years uh they struggled to do so having failed since 1998. all right but they did make it in 2022 and we’re all excited about that indeed all right let’s take a look at their uh uh performance in the region uh at the regional level their highlight was winning the regional cup in 1985 which was a period of strength for them and in also in 2000 the 2000 gold cup so they are the only other team other than mexico and the usa to have won it in the gold cup era they also did well in 2002 and 2007 coming third passing the group stage is a measure of strength as they go through periods of failing to pass and periods of passing recently they failed to pass for three cups in a row between 2011 and 2015 but a new and stronger crop of players emerged in 2017 um and 2019 though they were stopped at the quarterfinal stage in both cases turning our attention to qualifying they do not as most do have a qualifying tournament for the gold cup along with mexico and usa they’re given automatic qualification and this seems particularly unfair in their case given that they’re not a known power in the region the way usa and mexico are but in fact it’s probably done them more harm than good to receive that automatic qualification because they really lacked competitive play and it gave them little preparation for gold cups and uh world cup qualifying tournaments so the creation of the concacaf nation the nations league solves this and has benefited them already its creation coincided with a strong squad so they have impressed so far uh including a win over the usa for the first time in is it 38 years or 35 years i think it was 35 okay uh yeah and we’re going to take a bit of a closer look at that a little bit later that conch caf nations league but first let’s just summarize uh by saying it’s only in the 1980s and the 2000 gold cup that they rivaled the top teams and made a realistic bid for the world cup or for the top four in the gold cup otherwise they struggle to pass the group stage or make the final round of the world cup qualifying with teams like honduras and panama proving stronger a squat a strong squad recently offers promise of another good period and they’ve looked impressive against weak opposition in the region so far and even against haiti recently but they have yet to be tested against the top teams let’s take a look at that concacaf nations league in their recent performances yeah so canada was involved in the uh in the qualifying round uh in in 2018-19 um where there was a table of all all teams in the concacaf region that were not involved in the hex um they were given four matches against four different teams and they performed impressively winning all four of those uh to finish joint top in fact with an identical goal difference to haiti who were top that placed them that qualified them for the 2019 gold cup and also placed them in league a for the 2019-20 nations league and there they performed quite well uh despite a victory over the united states as we mentioned uh they came a narrow second um and cuba was a distance distant last behind both teams um canada and the us both beat cuba and then had a win and a loss against each other so it was only goal difference uh that separated the top two teams canada and the us yeah we watched that game and uh it was very thrilling for us as canadians yeah as we mentioned canada hasn’t been they’ve improved but haven’t been tested against the top team so for them that was a real a real good test and i think they’ll draw a lot of confidence from that performance beating the us after such a long drought and with more meaningful games to come i i believe that gives them hope that they can perform uh even with the elite teams in the region oh you’re drawing me into a conversation a discussion that we’re supposed to have at the end of the podcast i’ll leave it there let’s take a look at their 2022 world cup qualifying do you want to talk us through that corner sure so canada’s the first round involved a five-team group which canada won easily they won all four games um including some some big away wins 11 nothing in cayman islands and seven nothing uh over aruba um so four wins from four 27 goals scored one against uh put them into round two that was a head-to-head home and away against haiti and canada won both matches uh winning one nil and on the road and then three nil at home um that home game um they were assisted though by a ghastly own goal from haiti which is quite recent so you know don’t remember it well well i do and i i’m actually glad canada won by more than one nothing in that game because it was a back-up keeper and uh i felt sorry for him i have a fondness for for haiti right yeah it was certainly an uncharacteristic error but it probably uh gave canada a bit of internet fame because i i’m sure it made the rounds on the internet yeah well also in my recent memory is their their quarterfinal win over over canada in the gold cup do you want to tell us about that yeah so canada and haiti uh who meet again here uh met in the quarterfinals um of the last gold cup they were up two nothing at half time and seemed in complete control dominant in in fact um only for haiti to stage a remarkable second half comeback and win the game 3-2 i’ll have a look now at some of their canada’s players um canada has a number of players playing overseas currently with top clubs and in fact includes title winners um in three different countries with alfonso davies at bayern munich kyle larin uh with bashiq tess and jonathan david at lille um so all quite impressive um to be playing and competing at at uh at top teams will be involved in the champions league next year uh jonathan david who has an incredible 15 goals and 16 appearances for the national team he’s actually being rested for this tournament um but lucas cavalini who himself has 16 goals and 22 appearances and plays with vancouver in the mls um he’s a worthy replacement and will likely step in to fill his boots uh alongside with kyle larin which demonstrates a surprising depth for canada in the attacking uh in the attacking positions yes i’m very disappointed that david is uh is missing to you uh is that it he’s just being arrested that’s what i understand he’s being rested for the upcoming season with with lille oh okay yeah well that’s too bad but nevertheless as you say we have a lot uh deeper pool to draw on than we’ve had in the past uh i think in the past missing a top player like that really would have um uh really would uh cause some trouble for us but um they have a uh quite a few players um coming up through the ranks absolutely and i i think canada’s been assisted massively through the academies of vancouver toronto and montreal in mls and as well as the new canadian premier league kind of like the us in 1994 they kind of developed their local league at that time and that helped bring new players in and really saw a period of strength after that 1994 world cup um canada really didn’t have any uh local league or local teams to bring in young canadian players but we have that now alfonso davies made his debut with vancouver at age just 15 years old so i think it’s giving canadian players an opportunity and it’s no surprise in my mind that um the emergence of young canadian talent has coincided um with the development of academies at at professional canadian clubs yeah that’s great i mean uh actually we should point out because we’re from edmonton that alfonso davies kind of grew up here uh do you know what age i think he emigrated from ghana he did as as a refugee i think was only five years old or so so he did spend uh his entire childhood uh in edmonton right and uh after just a personal note of interest your sister uh was a student teacher and had him in her classroom did he in alfonso davies grade seven year um so pretty neat he said at the time he wanted to be a a professional soccer player which you know lots of lots of 13 year olds say um so i think my sister kind of blew it off but uh here we are now and he’s got a champions league under his belt that’s right yeah that’s an incredible story and and we’re big fans uh we were watching the uh 2022 qualifications ones especially the games against haiti kind of keeping our eye on on david and davies and a couple of others uh who are kind of becoming names mark anthony k i think and uh but actually we were kind of taken by surprised by some names that we didn’t didn’t know and i’m thinking of uh buchanan and uh the guy who plays in portugal uh used to koi i i’m not sure if i’m pronouncing his name right but were you surprised by some of the uh new names there i was i was very pleasantly surprised i think it’s david and davies are making a name for themselves but it shouldn’t be overlooked that the supporting cast that canada has is probably much stronger than it’s been at at any other time and that gives these not only these uh creative players an opportunity to kind of go out express themselves but it provides a solid basis um for canada so yeah there’s there’s other players emerging who are always going to be overshadowed by the stars but i think the the development of a strong supporting cast and even some depth is uh is a huge positive for canada yeah that’s right and one other thing that shouldn’t be overlooked as the junior hoyler played for cardiff another card of city players yes he’s without a club now but i hope he finds one soon he’s been a very important part of the canadian national team for several years now yeah we’ve always been a fan of junior highland anyway we lingered on that possibly a bit too long but we can’t help it can we connor not at all go canada uh we can shorten the time by uh talking about martinique because they don’t participate in world cup play but let’s begin at the beginning by uh talking about their nicknames do they have one yeah the name i found was uh les matinos um which sounds kind of like the country name but is used to refer to people um from the island of martinique so just kind of a yeah a word to refer to martinique inhabitants in general i see not not specifically the team that’s right all right well as i just said martinique doesn’t compete in the world cup they do however compete in concacaf regional tournaments they didn’t start competing in the concacaf championship era but they started uh with the gold cup starting in two in 1999 1991 sorry they have reached the tournament six times i guess seven uh with this one but they’ve only passed the group stage once in uh 2002. uh they’re part of the caribbean zone and thus played in the caribbean cup and actually won that cup in 1993. uh let’s take a look at their well world cup history which is basically explaining why they’re not in the world cup yeah so martinique is not a country unto itself but is rather an overseas department or region of france so this really can be likened to a province of france and as such they are part of the european union and use euros as their currency however because they’re not an independent country they cannot be a member of fifa and so do not compete in world cup competition right and uh in the uh preliminary podcast i suggested that maybe guadalupe and french guyana who were not in this cup uh are the same and i hate to put you on the spot but i wonder if you know if it’s the same with them they are um yeah both countries um have the same status really and are really considered um for all intents and purposes part of the the french mainland um it just covers a very wide geographic area but like you said the being like a province like any other in france is kind of the best analogy great well your political science degree came in handy there let’s take a closer look at their concacaf regional performance and we’ve said they reached six gold cups in 1991 two in a row in 2002 and 2003 and the last two in a row in uh 2017 and 2019 their biggest success was reaching the quarterfinals in 2002 where they were narrowly narrowly defeated by canada who they face here on penalties otherwise they’ve been knocked out in the group stage their qualification for them depended on the caribbean cup where they also started participating in 1991 they’ve only failed to qualify four times for the caribbean cup and had a particularly successful period from 1992 to 94. placing in the top three three times in a row and winning in 1993. since then they have scattered success but equally as much failing to qualify their fourth place finish in 2012 was their first good campaign since 2001 but they have reached the finals uh since 2010 and they took fourth place in 2012 and in the last caribbean cup in 2017 and before we take a look at the uh concacaf nations league stuff i’ll just kind of summarize that they’ve come in and out of form over their last uh over their 30-year history sometimes they seem sidelined or even forgotten because they don’t compete in the world cup but they are at their best one of the stronger caribbean teams and a reasonably strong concave member after reaching the gold cups in 2000 and 2003 they kind of fell off the map uh qualifying for only half the caribbean cups and getting knocked out in the group stage when they did but they resurged in 2012 and as we saw they’ve made the uh last two gold cups so they are not a team to be forgotten and i think they’ll be in the thick of it a little bit more in the concacaf nations league do you want to talk about that yeah um so as you mentioned the caribbean cup is now defunct and uh qualification for gold cups now go through the concacaf nations league in the 2018-19 placement tournament they won all four games um and earned qualification for league a in the inaugural season um of the nations league as well as the 2019 gold cup uh ironically the other teams that had perfect records in that uh qualification round were canada and haiti whom they meet here the 2019 20 nations league saw them hold their own in league a um bested by honduras who won the group and and twice tying trinidad and tobago to finish above them this entitled them to both stay uh in league a and also qualify them for this gold cup super and uh let’s uh take a quick look at their teams um i’m not sure i know that much about them uh but a big name is kevin parsimon but i see he’s not there yeah a real surprise he’s uh kevin parsimon is our all-time leading goal scorer and actually among the top goal scorers in the uh gold cup among caribbean players uh he’s only 33 years old so i don’t believe it’s a retirement thing um and it does mean martinique kind of brings in quite a fresh uh relatively inexperienced team um more most of their players play in the domestic league and martinique uh though they do have a few players overseas um largely in in lower league uh in france um so for for martinique um missing really the one big name um will be a challenge for them but um you know they’ve done well recently and uh with with kind of a mix of youth and inexperience it’ll be a test for them to see how they do right well i am familiar with some of those names from the last two gold cups what i got to say uh one’s attention is kind of drawn to kevin parson uh when they play so uh it’ll be interesting to see how they do without him yeah an interesting thing on their players too is a number of connections they have to the french national team um of course players born in martinique are eligible to play for france um and including uh so some of their names over the years have included like the great thierry henry he would have been eligible to play for for martinique um of course playing for france raphael varane i believe is another one who’s currently with the team so they have uh even though they don’t compete in world cups um they have had players or ties to players who have done really well for the french national team right uh i believe the rule is uh that if they’ve retired for five years they they can join and i know one player uh did that a few years ago do you do you remember anything about that yeah because they are not a fifa member their their eligibility rules are a little bit laxer so i i i’m not sure if the five years thing applies it it may um but it does allow players um who perhaps have a couple caps for france to join martinique right we’ll uh we’ll try to get some more information on that because i as i recall uh i don’t think it was martinique but maybe guadalupe had uh had a french international a very famous one who was retired and then joined um uh and then they played some qualification games with him which seemed to be okay and then they played in the gold cup with him and uh they were they forfeited the game because they did that interesting yeah i’m sure it’s a bit of a murky realm which perhaps not even understood well by by some of these teams themselves yeah or maybe by concacaf itself i wish i had the clear details on that story but i’m sure it’ll come up at some point uh in our podcast meanwhile let’s move on to the uh final team that just made it in a couple of days ago uh haiti right pt go by the nickname uh la rouges blue um the red and blues or else uh la grenadieres i’m not quite sure the history of that um but the red and blue make sense based on their flag i was doing a little history uh walk around when i visited uh haiti and they were the the historian was really um bent on pointing out that the the haitian soldiers had defeated napoleon which actually ended up causing great problems for napoleon it was a very interesting history i wonder if that nickname had something to do with with that yeah that’s that’s a good thought anyway but uh back to soccer history they’re among the oldest teams in the region having first entered world cup qualification in 1934 thus they were they were founding members of concacaf and joined the regional tournament in 1963 and of course were there for the first caribbean cup in 1989. uh their participation has been a bit inconsistent however after 1934 they entered only at one world cup in 1954 until 1970 after that they participated consistently except for 1990 when they didn’t enter in gold cups and caribbean cups however they withdrew from most tournaments between 1989 and 1998 a 10-year period uh but they’ve they’ve entered consistently since even through a devastating earthquake in 2010 which cost the lives of a quarter of their football association staff wow i had no idea mm-hmm uh let’s take a look at their world cup history right so haiti participated in the 1934 world cup um and which is an accolade that few concacaf teams can boast they were knocked out there in a preliminary regional qualification set consisting of three games with cuba they’ve had little to boast of beyond that other than a strong period in the early 70s they came within minutes of reaching the cup in 1970 uh losing a final playoff to el salvador in extra time they did however reach the world cup in the following edition of 1974 and they came quite close again in 1978 uh their finest period in world football in the world cup itself they were knocked out in the first round losing all games but scoring a goal each against italy and argentina they have never come close again uh they reached the final round in 1982 but never again after that uh their best performance since was reaching around four or five uh in 2018. okay and i think they’ve done a bit better in the region and their golden period in the 1970s extends to the regional cup uh as we talked about in the first section in fact uh the two were intricately connected since the concacaf championship was the qualification tournament for the world cup thus their regional title in 1973 was what earned them a spot in the 1974 world cup and their two second place finishes in the addition surrounding that accounts for their close calls that conor just described even though the two became separated with the advent of the gold cup i mean the two the fact that concacaf qualification uh concave championship was qualification for the world world cup they followed the same pattern of never coming close to the achievement of the 1970s they had some success in the gold cup competition though they reached the cup more than half the time from 2000 onwards and they passed the group stage in 2002 and they did that they did do that again until other sorry they didn’t pass the group stage again until 2009 but they have done so half the time since in 2019 they better that one step by reaching the semi-final at the expense of canada okay um [Music] even though the caribbean cup was a qualifier for the gold cup until 2017 the results actually didn’t run parallel other than the poor performances resulting in their failure to reach the gold cup so for example their strongest period in the caribbean cup was around the turn of the century where they thrice finished in the top three but uh that was an unremarkable period in the gold cup they also won the caribbean cup their only title in 2007 but they were not noticeably strong in the gold cup in that period and i think uh connor moving on from the caribbean cup uh we should go directly to the concacaf nations league and maybe summarize after that sure so um qualification moved from the caribbean cup to the nation’s league in 2019 and haiti started well um coming first out of all 34 teams in the placement round in 2018-19 uh winning all four of their games that gave them passage to the 2019 gold cup where they reached the semi-finals as we’ve noted and also placed them in league a uh however despite tying costa rica twice in the 2019-20 nations league season they were relegated uh from league a to league b a consequence of being bested by curacao that’s right and so uh the league a teams that were relegated uh weren’t given passage to the gold cup instead they were given passage to a playoff um among the what second placing in league b and the and the winners of league c that’s correct so there were 12 teams in the playoffs um three teams advanced so they were kind of two or three sets of four um involving a semi-final and final so haiti won their semi-final 6-1 against saint vincent and the grenadines and then beat bermuda in the final 4-1 so they really didn’t have too much trouble um in qualifying through the play-off no they didn’t the other two teams uh who reached it uh went to went to a long penalty shootout but uh haiti had a relatively easy trip there um okay so in summary then um uh haiti’s a pretty uh inconsistent team uh apart from the 1970s their periods of strength don’t really show a pattern and do not track from uh the major tournaments uh in other words doing well in one doesn’t necessarily correlate with doing well uh in the other tournaments around the same time and it’s actually the same at the game level where in any given game they can challenge the best or drop points to the worst they’ve taken points off all the strong teams uh beating costa rica and canada in 2019 alone as well as taking mexico to extra time in the semi-final there but they also drop points to weaker teams like saint lucia surinami and guyana they do seem a bit stronger in recent times although their 2022 world cup qualification brings that into question and we’re gonna immediately take a look at that 2022 world cup qualification uh do you want to talk us through that sure so the first round they were placed in a group with uh with four other teams um however uh st lucia one of the teams withdrew so they ended up having a group of four um and haiti uh won all three of their games beating belize uh turks and caicos islands uh by a score of 10 nil and also nicaragua so some some decent uh central american teams in there um however once they got to the playoff um they met canada and as we’ve described canada beat them four nil on aggregate so haiti failed to advance to the octagon and their world cup 2022 journey is over yeah well i do like haiti but not quite enough that i would want them to win over canada let’s take a look at their players next and you have a few things to say about that yeah haiti is an interesting team is they have players playing with clubs scattered around the world they do have some playing domestically in haiti but they also have players playing in cyprus kazakhstan romania ecuador denmark and the usa [Music] so really all over the world um their top player is undoubtedly uh duckins nazan the 27 year old has scored 23 goals in 44 appearances so that’s a goal every other game and he plays for a team called saint trudean um in the belgian top flight um another player who scored three goals for them in 2022 world cup qualifying was francie perrault um he has 10 goals in 17 appearances and plays in the second tier in france right i i know i know from watching them that they can be like very fast on the attack and uh can be can be kind of overwhelming uh when they play like that and one player i notice who’s who’s missing is their long-term goalkeeper and i can’t remember his name but it said it’s called johnny in it and i remember talking at the edmonton heritage festival i went to the haiti tent and and talked to some of the some of the haitians about their team and they were a huge fan of of this goalkeeper and i’m actually surprised not to see him there do you know who i mean or i don’t mean to uh put you on the spot there yeah i don’t uh i don’t remember the name but yeah he’s been around um johnny placid yes yes that’s it yeah popular figure um yeah he he missed the final uh world cup qualify match against canada so i’m not i’m not quite sure what the what the situation is but um yeah he’s been one of their more consistent uh figures around the national team yeah i mean he plays in france as as a few of them do and um uh i mean we we saw that terrible mistake by the goalie um i hope that uh they come up with a replacement for uh johnny placeed because um [Music] uh the goalkeeper who who lost in the three-nothing loss to canada uh looks very new and and kind of weak yeah i agree okay well that brings us to the end of the team by team discussion and um now we are going to move on to part three of the podcast where we start thinking about the prospects of each team and maybe uh comparing their relative strengths so we’re going to start with the rankings and are you going to take us through that right conor yes i will yeah so the usa are currently 20th according to fifa and 23rd in elo rankings uh they’re at their uh or sorry their highest recent ranking was in june 2014 when they reached 13th in both um however they fell to 30th and 34th following their failure to reach the 2018 world cup the usa’s highest ever ranking was fifth in the world in fifa heading into the 2006 world cup though that was actually one of their poor performances as they finished last in their group um in recent years the usa seems to have settled just outside the top 20 in fifa and around 30th uh in ilo yeah i noticed that recently they’ve moved from 35th to 23rd in the um elo rankings but i’m not really sure what they’ve done in recent in the last half a year to merit that do you i guess they did beat the the usa in the final of the nation’s league tournament oh mexico you mean yeah yes yeah so that probably uh that probably would have given them a bit of a boost yeah i’m not sure it merits a 12 point boost uh but uh it kind of does reflect like the strongest team in in or you know the strongest teams in concacaf uh on the world stage are our fairly average teams and i don’t think we’ve really mentioned that but it’ll be interesting to have qatar in this tournament to see how they compare with uh teams outside of the region because i think it’s hard to kind of put a finger on them within the region because they can’t look stronger than they really are yeah agreed both mexico and usa have done well in in um in copa america but they um that’s not always reflected in in other tournaments such as the confederations cup or world cups yes that’s right okay well we won’t linger too much and move on to uh canada’s rankings right so canada is 70th in fifa uh ranking and they’re much higher in elo they’re 42nd um that’s kind of an unusual level of disparity um it places canada as a seventh ranked team in in concacaf according to fifa but the third ranked came in in elo so it’s a like i said the two systems view canada slightly differently um canada was as low as 117th in fifa in december 2016 um and 78th in elo so still higher according to that system canada in fact at their highest ever elo ranking um and at their highest ranking fifa since december 2012 when they were 64th um it’s looking at canada over the years it’s fair to say that there’s been a lot of movement both up and down over the years uh but they are on an upswing now uh coinciding with kind of a younger generation of exciting players uh yeah it is a bit odd because usually teams will be higher in in the fifa rankings than they are in the elo one so i wonder what there is in the elo system that’s uh giving them a boost here it’s generally a longer term view yeah that’s right i’m not sure what it is but it it does call into question um kind of some of the over reliance on fifa rankings uh in world cup qualifying um so you know fifa views canada as a seventh best team or outside kind of at the tr the top six whereas elo places them third so um we’ve talked a little bit about the reliance on fifa rankings to kind of place teams into the final round of qualifying and when you get this sort of disparity i think it just kind of emphasizes that the rankings can be kind of unreliable um or at least it can kind of be a little bit all over the place um yeah yeah i think we can’t hide a bit of cynicism towards the fifa rankings but you’re dead right i mean here in uh in the last couple of years they’ve beaten the usa they’ve done very well in the concacaf nations league they’ve reached the final round of the uh of the uh world cup and for all that they’ve moved up three places in fifa whereas they’ve moved up 16 places in the in the um yellow elo ranking so once again for me the elo seems a bit more accurate yeah we’ve discussed it previously but we do find the elo rankings to be a bit more reflective overall of the of a team’s general strength yeah anyway the upcoming competitions will uh help us to to nail that down and see where they really do stand in the region at least uh how about martinique i know they don’t have a fifa ranking uh but uh we can only look at the elo ranking yeah as they’re not a fifa member they’re not ranked by fifa um in elo they are 98 um they’ve been at 100 or just above a hundred ever since december 2014 and that follows a decade where they were just below a hundred kind of in the 100 to 120 marks so they’ve been fairly consistent over the years um and recently um their slightly higher ranking kind of reflects their their regular appearances at the gold cups right once again especially for them the gold cup is defining because they don’t participate in any world cup stuff let’s say go go to haiti next haiti are 83rd according to fifa and 74th and elo um compared to two years ago uh this is a rise in fifa from 101st but it’s actually a fall in elo from 65th so they moved in opposite directions in the ranking systems um in december 2020 december 2012 pardon me haiti were 39th in fifa um which was our highest ever ranking um but um 96 in elo so that’s a disparity of 57 places between the two ranking systems um so it’s a little bit hard to place them on these rankings because like i said they’re even moving in different directions but generally they’re in the 70 to 100 mark in fifa and 80 to 110 mark in elo so slightly lower right well that may be kind of a reflection of their inconsistencies that i spoke about in the summary because they really can tackle some top teams and and then sometimes drop points needlessly okay let’s go on uh do you want to summarize uh there because this this basically acts like our our odds for the tournament yeah so the usa is the second strongest team in the region um behind mexico um who has a better record in gold cups than the usa canada again is seventh in fifa but the third strongest in the region um haiti is next their 10th strongest according to fifa and eighth strongest according to elo um and martinique are the 11th strongest concacaf team um according to the elo ranking so all four teams in the top 11 um means this is a relatively strong group in the gold cup it certainly is and uh you know the fact that uh haiti is the top four team but they’re stronger than the pop three team um makes it a bit interesting um in most tournaments the pop 14 will be a really feeble team but um haiti is anything but that all right do you want to look at the head-to-head records you betcha okay well um yeah the usa and canada as we’ve said uh canada recently beat the usa uh but that was their first win in um that was their first win in 38 years and i don’t seem to have it here in my record i guess because it was fairly recent but uh um usa have had the better of them uh ever since the turn of the century uh however it’s kind of interesting to note that uh canada had the better of the usa uh when the usa were kind of a non-entity um from about 19 1950 to 90 and canada had a much better record than them then but the most significant one is the recent record and we see that uh the gold gold cup 2002 usa one on penalties there 2005 2007. 2011 the usa won all the time twice feeding them in the semi-finals so um you know as biased canadian fans were hoping that record will turn around usa and martinique have only met twice on usa one won both games uh usa has a better record over haiti uh in in that a good period for haiti around 1974 haiti did beat them twice but otherwise have lost to them most recently in the 2015 gold cup uh group stage where the usa won canada has a better record than martinique and they have played recently uh they played in 2019 and canada won four nothing so uh that is a good uh record to go in with they’ll be feeling confident uh having beaten martinique uh by that margin and maybe the most interesting uh pairing of all is canada versus haiti because of their recent uh recent record actually uh over the years canada have beaten them fairly consistently they tied um in their early meetings in 1977 and 81 but from 1985 canada won every game with them except for that 2019 gold cup quarterfinal where uh we noted uh but even in that case canada was dominant in the first half uh dominant in the first half and haiti made a great comeback to win so and we also saw in 2022 world cup qualifying that uh canada um handled them fairly easily i would say so we’ll see if that holds up in this cup and finally haiti and martinique uh haiti has won five games uh tied none and lost three but again those losses were kind of earlier on and in recent times haiti have won most of their games so there we have it uh corner great summary let’s uh get into a discussion on each team’s prospects first at the group stage level uh you betcha so uh i was a bit surprised when i looked at the usa’s roster um you know missing some of their big players i actually think opens the door a little bit for canada um uh how about you do you think canada has a chance against the usa yeah i think so i mean with the exception of jonathan david they’re really bringing their strongest team in and i think for canada they want to get there these players playing together as much as possible in preparation for the octagon um and to really make a push for qualifying for the 2022 world cup so i think canada will take this tournament very very seriously um not to suggest the usa aren’t but they’re obviously using it to kind of bring in and test out some new players as opposed to uh relying on on really some of the top talent that they would expect we’d expect them to bring to the octagon um later on this year yeah i mean i don’t want to kind of get too enthusiastic about canada because i think in general there’s still a ways behind the usa but honestly if they could uh take first place over usa i think that would give them an easier route going forward and possibly uh possibly a route to the finals yeah i agree i i do see a draw between canada and the usa as certainly possible um though again that would be considered a bit of an upset um it could come down to goal difference then um again you probably favor the usage for some of the attacking players they have but um i do think canada again will be motivated and and uh it’s not out of the question that they they give the usa a run for their money here that’s right well regardless i think both usa and canada will pass the group stage however the difference between them may come down to martinique and haiti who are certainly uh capable of pulling an upset and i actually think canada’s record over these two teams is a little bit uh a little bit better uh yeah yeah um they have lost to both teams in recent memory in the gold cup haiti in 2019 and martinique in a group stage game in 2013. um but canada seems to have put that right with convincing wins over both these teams um in their most recent meetings um i don’t see martinique or haiti really challenging canada the usa certainly get out of the group but it is possible that at their best um you know they can they can take a point off and kind of shake things up especially if if perhaps canada the usa takes them a bit lightly um between haiti and martinique um i think it could be close um i probably give the odds to haiti even though they’re the pot four team um they’re a bit unpredictable um but i do think that they’re they’re a bit of a stronger team overall and i for martinique i think losing kevin parseman or not having him in the lineup is a detriment to them um so i would favor haiti above martinique but what about you i i totally agree with what you say about uh overconfidence and and um i’m a bit worried about that with canada because i think that’s what cost them against haiti in the in the quarterfinal of the last tournament and maybe that will be a bit of a sobering experience for them so that they won’t take it for granted i also think usa was maybe a bit overconfident when canada beat them or or at least unprepared but they too in turn will be a bit more wary of canada having lost a game to them um i think yeah the the prospect of an upset uh is is possible but i wouldn’t say it’s likely uh and i definitely think haiti is a lot stronger than martinique in fact i’m not even sure that canada met haiti and met the best players the best of haiti in that gold sorry in that 2022 world cup uh qualification i’m kind of feeling uh like a couple of their better players were missing and they weren’t at their best uh but i think haiti is definitely stronger than martinique and as you said with uh kevin persimmon missing that’s got to be a blow to martinique okay but that’s enough chatter uh give it to me straight connor how is this group gonna turn out despite the possibility of upsets i’m gonna go kind of conventional and say usa first canada second both comfortable followed by haiti and martinique last do you agree no i do not i have said i have admitted to my bias here and even if it’s more in hope than in cold logic i will take canada to win the group and actually my cold logic for that is the is the usa roster i don’t think they’ve sent their best here and so i’m gonna take canada to pip usa in second and uh haiti definitely in third over martinique all right well hopefully you’re right we’ll be cheering hard for canada um what do you see about any of these teams prospects in the tournament overall well that’s a good question i think usa uh even with even if their team is more of an experimental team as you said would be definitely disappointed not to reach even the final or at least the semi-final and i think canada and it’s in its current form and the excitement about them will be hoping to reach the semi-final i don’t think that is uh uh premature or unrealistic because they should have reached the semi-final last time um if martinique or haiti get past the group stage i i’m pretty sure they would fall at the next hurdle and again though they’re capable of surprising as haiti did in in the last gold cup taking mexico to penalties in the semi-final how about you yeah really impressive but i don’t see a repeat there i don’t really see these teams getting out of the group that’s martinique or haiti and if they do i i think their tournament would end at the quarter-final stage uh for canada i think semi-finals would be satisfactory um they made it to the quarterfinals last times uh so getting to the semifinals would represent progress i think for canada they they would probably want to would fancy themselves against perhaps even a costa rica or honduras but if they met usa or mexico in the later rounds that’s probably where their tournament would end so it might depend when or how soon they meet either those teams again and for usa i agree anything less than the final would be a disappointment um interestingly in their their six victories in the gold cup they’ve only beaten mexico in the final once five of their victories have come against other teams such as jamaica and panama whereas when they meet mexico they tend to lose to them so i think for the usa i think if they met mexico in the final i i would favor mexico particularly with this u.s squad um however if mexico faltered down the line that would open up the door to the u.s that’s a really good observation uh um i think uh that’s one that you could actually put a soccer ball in your belly and run around the room celebrating uh having uh having noted that but um uh anyway yeah uh i’m not sure where to go do you want it do you want to sign us out i think that’s it i think that’s a good look at where we expect the teams to do and what we think would be realistic for them um it’d be exciting group canada usa of course is a is a game which will have a lot of interest on both sides of the border but particularly in canada um and we’ll be cheering for them hard and look forward to the games yes and uh thanks very much for uh joining on the podcast today connor great talking to you about this my pleasure as always i’ll see you next time you betcha and we will see uh you viewers or listeners uh for the groups c podcast um in in the next episode bye bye

Gold Cup Preview   Group B

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