Five teams got off to the perfect start by winning their opening CONCACAF Gold Cup games – but the USA was not one of them. Bruce Arena’s team labored to a 1-1 draw against Panama, but will face far easier opposition in the next match as it takes on Martinique. Here we preview all six matches in the second round of the Gold Cup group stage
Both these teams took three points in their opening games. Costa Rica’s win was more impressive as it beat a strong Honduras team 1-0, putting forward a defensive masterclass and looking strong on the counter attack and earning victory courtesy of a composed finish from San Jose Earthquakes striker Marco Urena. Canada beat French Guiana 4-2, but that was to be expected against the small South American state (which, bizarrely, competes in this otherwise North American tournament). The Canadians went 3-0 up, only to concede twice and look nervy until Alphonso Davies wrapped up the win in the 85th minute. Costa Rica is the stronger team here and should make it two wins in a row, with odds of -115 looking very attractive at William Hill.
Honduras vs. French Guiana
You would expect Honduras to bounce back from defeat at the hands of Costa Rica with a win here. The bookmakers rank Honduras as the fifth best team in this competition, while French Guiana are rated the joint worst along with Nicaragua. Honduras acquitted itself well against a strong Costa Rica team and should have the edge. A Honduras win is -225 with Betway, which looks good for a parlay. For more value Honduras -1.25 Asian handicap is -107 with Betvictor and that looks a good bet as Honduras is easily as good as Canada, probably better, so should secure a similar winning margin.
Panama vs. Nicaragua
Panama played well as they stifled the USA once again to earn a very creditable draw. They went down to Dom Dwyer’s strike but really raised their tempo after that, peppering Brad Guzan’s goal with shots. Miguel Camargo equalized, and were it not for Guzan’s heroics and a costly miss from Ismael Diaz, Panama would have won it. Meanwhile, Nicaragua was losing to unfancied Martinique in a battle of the minnows, which suggests it is a poor team that will be well out of its depth in this game. Panama -1.5 Asian handicap is +100 with Bet365.
USA vs. Martinique
USA has a great chance to get back on track against the minnows of Martinique, who will be riding high after beating Nicaragua, but should be sent crashing back down to Earth by Dwyer and Co. here. The USA was sluggish against Panama, but these young players will know each other better now (the USA has left out its stars from this tournament and selected mostly untested players instead) and should get the win. Again it looks a bit of a mismatch and as such there is no value to be had in back the favorite, so once more you have to look at handicaps. USA -1.5 on the Asian handicap is -150.
El Salvador vs. Curacao
The bookmakers cannot split these two teams, which both lost their opening games against Mexico and Jamaica, respectively. Just like Nicaragua vs. Martinique, you have two tiny nations without a great deal of soccer playing pedigree going up against one another, and it might be better to leave this one alone as it is very unpredictable.
Mexico vs. Jamaica
Mexico is understandably the favorite to win this tournament, despite also leaving most of its star players out of its squad. It has the best strength in depth and the greatest pedigree, as it showed in beating El Salvador 3-1 in its first game. But Jamaica should not be taken lightly after beating Curacao 2-0. Still, Mexico has a strong domestic league and this is a great chance for some talented players to stake a claim for a place in the 2018 World Cup squad, so they will be highly motivated and should get the job done here. Mexico -1.25 Asian handicap is -137 with Betvictor.