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2023 Gold Cup Preview

By Tom Sweezy

The USMNT after winning the Gold Cup (Photo courtesy of Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)


Only a few days after the United States Men’s National Team defeated Canada 2-0 in the CONCACAF Nations League Final we see the start of the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup! For those who don’t know, the Gold Cup is the competition to name the top national soccer team in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The United States Men’s National Soccer Team is also the reigning champion of this CONCACAF competition, defeating Mexico 1-0 (after extra time) back in 2021.


The 2023 version of the competition is going to be hosted across the United States this year from June 24th until July 6th. The top eight teams of the CONCACAF Nations League A, the top four teams of the CONCACAF Nations League B, and the Qatar Men’s National Soccer Team all automatically qualified for the 2023 Gold Cup.


The remaining four teams of the CONCACAF Nations League A, the next four best teams of the CONCACAF Nations League B, and the top four teams of the CONCACAF Nations League C all qualified for the 2023 Gold Cup Qualifying Tournament. The top three teams from this tournament will also qualify for the 2023 Gold Cup.


Below are complete breakdowns of each group and team from this upcoming Gold Cup:


Group A:


Jamaica


Jamaica made the 2023 Gold Cup as they were CONCACAF Nations League A (Group A) runners-up. This will be the “Reggae Boyz” 13th appearance all-time in this competition. Their best finish in this competition all time came in 2015 and 2017 as runners-up. The Jamaica National Team has always been headlined globally by Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey, but now the nation welcomes a new English Premier League star in winger Demarai Gray from Everton.


Between Bailey, Gray, & striker Michail Antonio, the Jamaica National Team has an attacking three that played roughly 6,000 minutes of Premier League soccer last season (including 13 goals and 8 assists). Jamaica can continue to show their depth with two more Premier League players, one English Championship player, one Russian Premier Liga player, and one MLS star. 30 year old centerback Ethan Pinnock played 2,700 minutes for Brentford last season in which they finished 9th.


Attacking midfielder Bobby De Cordova-Reid played roughly 2,500 minutes for Fulham last season adding four goals of his own. Left-back Amari’i Bell was a crucial part of Luton Town’s promotion season finishing with about 3,900 Championship minutes under his belt. Backup striker Shamar Nicholson had 1,000 minutes played across multiple Russian competitions and of course the big man in net for the Philadelphia Union, Andre Blake.


Star Player to Watch: Winger - Leon Bailey - Aston Villa


MLS Player to Watch: Goalkeeper - Andre Blake - Philadelphia Union


Other MLS Talent: Cory Burke (New York Red Bulls), Javain Brown (Vancouver Whitecaps), Damion Lowe (Philadelphia Union), Kemar Lawrence (Minnesota United)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Right-Back - Dexter Lembikisa - Wolverhampton Wanderers U21


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Winger: Leon Bailey

Striker: Michail Antonio

Winger: Demarai Gray

Attacking Midfielder: Bobby De Cordova-Reid

Central Midfielder: Daniel Johnson

Defensive Midfielder: Jon Russell

Left-Back: Amari’i Bell

Center-back: Ethan Pinnock

Center-back: Joel Latibeaudiere

Right-Back: Javian Brown

Goalkeeper: Andre Blake


Trinidad & Tobago


The “Soca Warriors” will make their 12th all-time Gold Cup appearance in 2023 after qualifying as the CONCACAF Nations League (Group C) runners-up. Historically their best finish in the Gold Cup came in 2000 when they lost in the Semi-Finals to eventual champions, Canada.


Unfortunately for Trinidad and Tobago, there are no global name-switching national team allegiances for this tournament like Jamaica. The biggest star for this team heading into the Gold Cup is AEK Athens winger Levi Garcia. The 25-year-old had 18 goals and 7 assists across his 2,700 minutes for the club in the 2022/2023 season. Garcia will look to link up in the attack with longtime national team legend Kevin Molino. Molino has not played much for the Columbus Crew in 2023 due to injury (only 14 minutes of 1st team action) but the man has been capped 56 times for a reason. He is a major talent.


Another player of note here is Scottish Premier League midfielder, Daniel Phillips. The 22-year-old defensive midfielder played close to 1,500 minutes in his first season at St. Johnstone. Last but not least, we should highlight 32-year-old center-back Sheldon Bateau who played close to 3,000 minutes for SK Beveren in the Belgian 2nd Division. He is another long-time staple of this national team with 50 caps to his name. Trinidad and Tobago will be without left-back Keston Julien who most recently played for FC Sheriff in Moldova, I am assuming due to his club situation.


Star Player to Watch: Winger - Levi Garcia - AEK Athens


MLS Player to Watch: Central Midfielder - Ajani Fortune - Atlanta United FC

Other MLS Talent: Kevin Molino (Columbus Crew SC)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Central Midfielder - Ajani Fortune - Atlanta United FC


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Striker: Malcolm Shaw

Winger: Levi Garcia

Attacking Midfielder: Kevin Molino

Winger: Ryan Telfer

Central Midfielder: Daniel Phillips

Central Midfielder: Ajani Fortune

Left-Back: Joevin Jones

Center-back: Leland Archer

Center-back: Sheldon Bateau

Right-Back: Shannon Gomez

Goalkeeper: Marvin Phillip


United States of America


The reigning champions of this competition are back after qualifying by winning the CONCACAF Nations League A (Group D). The United States is one of the best teams historically in this competition winning it seven times, making them possibly the most familiar group to the readers of this article.


Similar to the 2021 version of the Gold Cup, the U.S. is going to be rolling out a group that mainly consists of MLS talent as the “European lead group” took on the Nations League competition. The most difficult thing about this specific group for the U.S. Men’s National Team is them lacking a star. They have some notable names from the Nations League Group; Matt Turner, Miles Robinson, Alex Zendejas, and Alan Soñora.


They have some notable players from the U20 World Cup group; Cade Cowell and Gaga Slonina. They have top MLS talent looking for that move to Europe; Jesus Ferreira, Brandon Vazquez, John Tolkin, and Aidan Morris. They have European talent in need to prove more; Djordje Mihailovic, Bryan Reynolds, and Gianluca Busio, and they have key core veterans of USMNT groups past; Sean Johnson, Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldán, DeAndre Yedlin, Matt Miazga, and Aaron Long. BJ Callaghan is going to have a tough task with minutes and tactics for this group.


Star Player to Watch: Centerback - Miles Robinson - Atlanta United FC


MLS Player to Watch: Winger - Cade Cowell - San Jose Earthquakes


Other MLS Talent: Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Brandon Vazquez (FC Cincinnati), Cristian Roldán (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC), DeJuan Jones (New England Revolution), Aaron Long (LAFC), Julian Gressel (Vancouver Whitecaps), James Sands (NYCFC), John Tolkin (New York Red Bulls), Matt Miazga (FC Cincinnati), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami CF), Sean Johnson (Toronto FC), Aidan Morris (Columbus Crew SC), and Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Center-back - Jalen Neal - LA Galaxy


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Winger: Cade Cowell

Striker: Jesus Ferriera

Winger: Alex Zendejas

Attacking Midfielder: Djordje Mihailovic

Central Midfielder: Alan Soñora

Defensive Midfielder: Aidan Morris

Left-Back: John Tolkin

Center-back: Matt Miazga

Center-back: Miles Robinson

Right-Back: Bryan Reynolds

Goalkeeper: Matt Turner


Saint Kitts and Nevis


Saint Kitts is the final team to qualify for the Gold Cup after defeating French Guiana in the qualifying tournament. This is also a very special moment for Saint Kitts and Nevis as this is the first time that the nation will be playing in the Gold Cup. Unfortunately, when previewing this team there isn’t a ton on paper to be overly excited about.


First and foremost, you have to take a look at their star attacking midfielder Romaine Sawyers who plays in the English Championship at Cardiff City. Sawyers was able to score 3 goals last season across 2,000 minutes in the “Champo”. The 31-year-old does bring with him English Premier League experience as well playing for West Brom back in 2020/2021.


The other players that I feel you should be keeping an eye on are midfielder Raheem Somersall and center-back Gerard Williams. Somersall plays his ball with North Carolina FC in USL League One during the prime of his career. Williams will be the most capped player on this roster (77 caps) and at 35 years old is playing his club soccer in the I-League (India’s 2nd Division) where he racked up 2,100 minutes played last season.


Star Player to Watch: Attacking Midfielder - Romaine Sawyers - Cardiff City


MLS Player to Watch: N/A

Other MLS Talent: N/A


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Center-back - Rico Browne - Birmingham City U21s


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Striker: Rowan Liburd

Stiker: Keithroy Freeman

Left Midfielder: Jacob Hazel

Attacking Midfielder: Romaine Sawyers

Defensive Midfielder: Raheem Somersall

Right Midfielder: Omari Sterling-James

Left-Back: Raheem Hanley

Center-back: Gerard Williams

Center-back: Rico Browne

Right-Back: Malique Roberts

Goalkeeper: Julani Archibald


Group B:


Haiti


This is a very interesting and I think talented Haiti squad heading into their 9th Gold Cup appearance of all time. Haiti has had its best Gold Cup finishes in recent history, losing in the semi-finals back in 2019. I don’t think this team has one true star, but that is also what I think makes this team even better; the spread-out talent across positions.


The attacking talent is what gets me excited to watch Haiti in this competition. Strikers Duckens Nazon and Frantzdy Pierrot come into this after two amazing seasons. 29-year-old striker, Nazon, scored 20 goals and 5 assists across a Bulgarian soccer season, having CSKA Sofia finish 2nd. Pierrot would not be too far behind that scoring mark, finishing with 14 goals and 8 assists over the Israeli soccer season, winning Ligat ha’Al. Outside of the striker position, Haiti also has two known names in the MLS community; Derrick Etienne Jr. and Fafà Picault.


Etienne has been part of this Haiti group for years now, sitting at 31 caps currently. However, Picault is new to the Haiti National Team getting his switch from the U.S. to Haiti at 32 years old. 26-year-old right-back Carlens Arcus playing out of Vitesse in the Eredivisie and Danley Jean Jacques playing out of Metz in Ligue 2 should also be heavy features of this squad this summer.


Star Player to Watch: Striker - Duckens Nazon - CSKA Sofia


MLS Player to Watch: Winger - Derrick Etienne Jr. - Atlanta United FC


Other MLS Talent: Fafà Picault (Nashville SC)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Defensive Midfielder - Carl Sainte - North Texas SC


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Striker: Duckens Nazon

Striker: Frantzdy Pierrot

Left Midfielder: Derrick Etienne Jr.

Central Midfielder: Danley Jean Jacques

Central Midfielder: Bryan Alecus

Right Midfielder: Fafà Picault

Left-Back: Alex Junior

Center-back: Ricardo Ade

Center-back: Garven Metusala

Right-Back: Carlens Arcus

Goalkeeper: Garissone Innocent


Honduras


Recent years of Honduran soccer have not been the best for the nation, especially in the Gold Cup. Honduras’s best Gold Cup finish came in 1991 when they were Runners-Up in the competition. The nation is a constant staple of this competition, however, as this will be their 16th time in the Gold Cup overall. When you take a look at this roster, MLS eyes immediately should be excited to see Alberth Elis again.


Although some transfer sagas haven’t been the best to him in recent years, the 27-year-old winger is still wildly talented enough to show out in this Gold Cup. Elis split his last season between Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 struggling to score a bit. But it wasn’t too long ago that Elis was scoring a ton in Ligue 1, Liga Portugal, and MLS. Outside of Elis, MLS also takes hold of the next “big names” on this roster; Bryan Acosta and Joseph Rosales.


Acosta has been a staple of the Colorado Rapids starting lineup over the last season and a half as well as Joseph Rosales with Minnesota United. The only other player of note that I want to highlight for you is Defensive Midfielder Deybi Flores who racked up roughly 2,300 minutes over the Hungary soccer season. La Liga and MLS forwards Choco Lozano and Romell Quioto have been ruled out from the tournament due to injury.


Star Player to Watch: Winger - Alberth Elis - Stade Brestois


MLS Player to Watch: Midfielder - Joseph Rosales - Minnesota United FC


Other MLS Talent: Bryan Acosta (Colorado Rapids)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Center-back - Luis Vega - Marathón


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Striker: Alberth Elis

Striker: Jerry Bengston

Left-Midfielder: Joseph Rosales

Central Midfielder: Bryan Acosta

Defensive Midfielder: Deybi Flores

Right-Midfielder: Alexander Lopez

Left-Back: Franklin Flores

Center-back: Luis Vega

Center-back: Devron Garcia

Right-Back: Maylor Nunez

Goalkeeper: Luis Lopez


Mexico


The other “top dogs” of CONCACAF are spiraling a bit as of late, especially after firing manager Diego Cocca after only seven games in charge of El Tri. But the eight-time Gold Cup champions should not be overlooked as this is one of the deepest rosters in this tournament. Mexico’s two biggest stars play their club soccer out of the Eredivisie; Edson Álvarez (plays for Ajax) and Santiago Giménez (plays for Feyenoord).


Álvarez has been gaining the attention of some of the top clubs in the world, but mainly Borussia Dortmund as their Jude Bellingham replacement. Giménez as well has gained some interest from Premier League clubs after 25 goals for Feyenoord last season. There is a ton of Liga MX talent on this roster and veterans of El Tri who have played a ton of minutes together over the last few years. Érick Sánchez and Luis Chávez help bolster the midfield for Mexico and Pachuca.


Alexis Vega and Henry Martín bring some more offensive talent as they are major talents out of Liga MX, but the big man in net is one that everyone needs to know about, Memo Ochoa. The 37-year-old has proven for years now that he is a game-winner in net. He was even given the opportunity to move to the Italian Serie A last season, making 20 appearances for Salernitana. Even in a slump, Mexico should be respected as one of the favorites for winning the Gold Cup this summer. The one player of note not on this Mexico roster is stud winger, Hirving Lozano.


Star Player to Watch: Striker - Santiago Giménez - Feyenoord


MLS Player to Watch: N/A

Other MLS Talent: N/A


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Right-Back - Julián Araujo - FC Barcelona


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Left Winger: Alexis Vega

Striker: Santiago Giménez

Right Winger: Uriel Antuna

Attacking Midfielder: Sebastián Córdova

Central Midfielder: Érick Sánchez

Defensive Midfielder: Edson Álvarez

Left-Back: Gerardo Arteaga

Center-back: César Montes

Center-back: Víctor Guzmán

Right-Back: Julián Araujo

Goalkeeper: Memo Ochoa


Qatar


The 2022 World Cup hosts will make their second appearance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup after agreeing to a two-tournament appearance deal with CONCACAF prior to the World Cup. In 2021, Qatar did finish in the semi-finals losing to the United States 1-0. The major strength of this roster continues to be continuity and familiarity.


Every single player from this roster plays within the Qatar Stars League, with 7 clubs being represented. The roster is pretty even as far as talent across the Qatar Stars League, but one player does stand above them all when it comes to “stars”. The 26 year old striker, Almoez Ali, has 39 goals in 82 caps for Qatar and finished as the Golden Boot Winner last Gold Cup. Ali can score. This team will rely a ton on its core strength.


Homam Ahmed, Bassam Al-Rawi, Tarek Salman, and others will be relied upon to lock down some of these high flying attacks in this group. The one player to note that will be missing is winger Akram Afif who seems to be going through a transfer journey right now.


Star Player to Watch: Striker - Almoez Ali - Al-Duhail SC


MLS Player to Watch: N/A


Other MLS Talent: N/A


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Winger - Tameem Mansour Al-Abdullah - Al Rayyan SC


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Striker: Mohammed Muntari

Left Winger: Almoez Ali

Central Midfielder: Mohammed Waad

Defensive Midfielder: Assim Madibo

Right Winger: Ali Asad

Left-Back: Hazem Ahmed

Center-back: Bassam Al-Rawi

Center-back: Tarek Salman

Center-back: Yousef Aymen

Right-Back: Musab Khoder

Goalkeeper: Meshaal Barsham


Group C:


Costa Rica


The 2002 Gold Cup runners-up haven’t had their best showings in recent CONCACAF competitions as their stars are now leaning towards the tagline “former stars”, but “Los Ticos” will be back for their 16th Gold Cup appearance to try and transition into a newer and younger generation.


I do have to make note; star goalkeeper Keylor Navas, talented striker, Manfred Uglade, and young talent, Jewison Bennette, will not be playing in this Gold Cup for this squad which is a major shot to the team. My concerns for this group don't come from the defensive side of the ball. We know what the backline of Costa Rica can do. Being led by veterans Kendall Waston and Francisco Calvo, the backline will hold up strong against the other teams in this group. Calvo is one that stands out to me as he has had a fantastic season in the Turkish Super Lig.


My concern is that I don’t think that this team has many options to scare the opposition's backline. Calvo is also an option there on set pieces, but in the run of play I am going to keep my eyes on Joel Campbell and Diego Campos. Campbell is another veteran of this group who is leaving Liga MX now for a move back to Costa Rica and Alajulenese.


Campos is a versatile attacking player that recorded 3 goals and 3 assists in roughly 1,000 Allsvenskan minutes. I would keep an eye on maybe the striker of the next generation for Costa Rica, Anthony Contreras, who scored 17 goals over the Costa Rican soccer season last year.


Star Player to Watch: Centerback - Francisco Calvo - Konyaspor


MLS Player to Watch: N/A

Other MLS Talent: N/A


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Attacking Midfielder - Aaron Suarez - Alajuelense


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Striker: Anthony Contreras

Striker: Joel Campbell

Attacking Midfielder: Diego Campos

Central Midfielder: Celso Borges

Central Midfielder: Roan Wilson

Left WingBack: Suhander Zúñiga

Center-back: Francisco Calvo

Center-back: Juan Pablo Vargas

Center-back: Pablo Arboine

Right WingBack: Keysher Fuller

Goalkeeper: Kevin Chamorro


El Salvador


The El Salvador National Team has been on the rise since the introduction of Hugo Perez as manager. Perez has utilized the dual national in CONCACAF and in the 2021 Gold Cup we saw El Salvador tie their best finish in the competition ever, a Quater-Finals finish (also finished in the Quarter-Finals in 2017, 2013, 2011, 2003, and 2002).


Two of the dual nationals who have changed the image of the El Salvadorian National Team are the Seattle Sounders fullback Alex Roldan and LA Galaxy defender Eriq Zavaleta. Roldan, who I feel has been the best right-back in the first half of the 2023 MLS season, should stand out for this team once again as he affects the game both offensively and defensively.


Roldan might shift over to the left-back position as the long-time El Salvador captain is right-back Bryan Tamacas. As mentioned before, Eriq Zavaleta is also a big part of this backline as he has had major success within MLS, mainly during his time at Toronto FC. Now, Zavaleta brings that experience to a backline and defense that should hold up against most attacks in this group.


My concerns come from the offensive side of the ball for this team where there is going to be a heavy reliance on Italian Serie C attacker Joshua Perez, 21-year-old striker Brayan Gil, and USL Championship winger Jairo Henriquez.


Star Player to Watch: Fullback - Alex Roldan - Seattle Sounders


MLS Player to Watch: Fullback - Alex Roldan - Seattle Sounders


Other MLS Talent: Eriq Zavaleta (LA Galaxy) and Tomas Romero (Toronto FC)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Striker - Brayan Gil - Deportes Tolima


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Left Winger: Kevin Reyes

Striker: Brayan Gil

Right Winger: Jairo Henriquez

Attacking Midfielder: Josh Perez

Defensive Midfielder: Christian Martinez

Defensive Midfielder: Narciso Orellana

Left-Back: Alex Roldan

Center-back: Eriq Zavaleta

Center-back: Roberto Dominguez

Right-Back: Bryan Tamacas

Goalkeeper: Mario Gonzalez


Panama


Panama is back for another Gold Cup competition, marking the 11th time in their history. Panama has had a decent amount of time since their last successful tournament, finishing as runners-up in 2013 and 2005. Similar to El Salvador, I do believe if Panama wants to find success it will come through the defensive efforts.


Arguably their best player is fullback Michael Murillo, who played almost 4,000 minutes for Anderlecht in Belgium last season. Along with Murillo on that backline, I am keeping an eye out for Bundesliga center-back Andres Andrade who played about 2,400 minutes for the German side last season. Helping bolster the defense is veteran defensive midfielder Anibal Godoy who continues to play strong for Nashville SC in MLS as well as Panama.


However, the two players in the attack that I am excited to watch are Adaleberto Carrasquilla and Yoel Barcenas. Carrasquillas has been a strong central midfielder for the Houston Dynamo in their surprisingly good 2023 season. The 24-year-old has a goal and four assists in his 17 games paired next to Hector Herrera and Artur. Barcenas is an interesting one to me as well as the winger is playing in Liga MX with Mazatlan FC. The 29-year-old had 5 assists last season in Liga MX and I am sure will be looked upon to raise the floor of this squad.


Star Player to Watch: Central Midfielder - Adalberto Carrasquilla - Houston Dynamo FC


MLS Player to Watch: Defensive Midfielder - Anibal Godoy - Nashville SC

Other MLS Talent: Adalberto Carrasquilla (Houston Dynamo FC)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): N/A


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Left Winger: Freddy Gondola

Striker: Cecilio Waterman

Right Winger: Yoel Barcenas

Central Midfielder: Adalberto Carrasquilla

Defensive Midfielder: Anibal Godoy

Left-Back: Michael Murillo

Center-back: Andres Andrade

Center-back: Fidel Escobar

Center-back: Jose Fajardo

Right-Back: Caesar Blackmon

Goalkeeper: Luis Mejia


Martinique


One of the most interesting “nations” in CONCACAF is back for their eight Gold Cup appearance and looking to shock the world and have a 2002-esc run where they had their best finish in the Quarter-Finals. Martinique will be without arguably their two best players; Mickael Malsa and Mickael Biron.


But for the players who did make this Gold Cup roster you will notice one major theme, a ton of French lower-division players. Five of the most talented guys on this roster are; Patrick Burner, Ronny Labonne, Cyril Mandouki, Jonathan Mexique, and Kevin Fortune who all play in Ligue 2 or the Championnat National. The last player of note comes from the Swiss 2nd Division in striker Brighton Labeau who scored 23 goals last season.


Star Player to Watch: Striker - Brighton Labeau - Lausanne-Sport


MLS Player to Watch: N/A


Other MLS Talent: N/A


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): N/A


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Striker: Brighton Labeau

Striker: Kevin Fortune

Central Midfielder: Jonathan Mexique

Defensive Midfielder: Cyril Mandouki

Defensive Midfielder: Daniel Herelle

Central Midfielder: Ghislain Arbaut

Left-Back: Yordan Thimon Center-back: Jonathan Rivierez

Center-back: Jean-Claude Michalet

Right-Back: Patrick Burner

Goalkeeper: Emmanuel Vermignon


Group D:


Canada


Along with the United States and Mexico, Canada has to be considered one of the true contenders for the Gold Cup title. One of the interesting things about this group is that John Herdman has decided to go out with an almost “B Team” to see more players and test the depth of the Canadian side. To me, the “A-Team" are the ones that need to lead for Canada to take home the title.


That "A-Team" includes guys like; Milan Borjan, Kamal Miller, Richie Laryea, Sam Adekugbe, Jonathan Osorio, Scott Kennedy, and Stephen Eustaquio. It will be interesting to see who steps up around that group. To me, I think that winger Jacob Shaffelburg and center-back Zac McGraw could be two guys to play in the Canadian Men’s National Team for the long term. Shaffelburg has played very well with Nashville SC this season recording 3 goals and 3 assists in his 20 games played.


McGraw has also been a staple center-back for the Timbers in 2023, earning his first international call-up. This tournament could have amazing effects leading into 2026 if things go right here for Canada.


Star Player to Watch: Central Midfielder - Stephen Eustaquio - FC Porto


MLS Player to Watch: Winger - Jacob Shaffelburg - Nashville SC

Other MLS Talent: Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC), Kamal Miller (Inter Miami CF), Zac McGraw (Portland Timbers), Richie Laryea (Toronto FC), Dayne St. Clair (Minnesota United FC), Moise Bombito (Colorado Rapids), Zachary Brault-Guillard (CF Montreal), Ali Ahmed (Vancouver Whitecaps), Jacen Russell-Rowe (Columbus Crew SC)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Striker - Jacen Russell-Rowe - Columbus Crew SC


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Left Winger: Jacob Shaffelburg

Striker: Lucas Cavallini

Right Winger: Charles-Andreas Byrm

Central Midfielder: Jonathan Osorio

Central Midfielder: Stephen Eustaquio

Left-Back: Sam Adekugbe

Center-back: Kamal Miller

Center-back: Zac McGraw

Center-back: Scott Kennedy

Right-Back: Richie Laryea

Goalkeeper: Milan Borjan


Cuba


The 3x Gold Cup Quarter-Finalists are back for their 10th time in this competition. For the 2023 version of this tournament “Los Leones del Caribe '' are going to be without their top player, 30 year old winger Onel Hernandez.


The main attacking options are going to come from Maikel Reyes, Luis Paradela, Willian Pozo, and Aricheell Hernandez. 25 year old winger, Willian Pozo, is someone who Cuba is going to need to rely upon as he is arguably playing at the highest level in the Finnish top division. Along the backline Jorge Corrales, Yosel Piedra, and Cavafe will all need to play at their best in order to advance out of this group.


My eyes gravitate towards Cavafe as he is playing at a high club level himself over in the Austrian 2nd division. I am not getting overly excited about the possibilities of Cuba showing out in this tournament, but they could sneak their way out of the group.


Star Player to Watch: Winger - Willian Pozo - FC KTP


MLS Player to Watch: N/A

Other MLS Talent: N/A


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): Winger - Yasniel Matos - CSD Municipal


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Left Winger: Willian Pozo

Striker: Maikel Reyes

Right Winger: Aldair Ruiz

Attacking Midfielder: Luis Paradela

Attacking Midfielder: Aricheell Hernandez

Defensive Midfielder: Yunior Perez

Left-Back: Yosel Piedra

Center-back: Modesto Menedez

Center-back: Cavafe

Right-Back: Dariel Morejon

Goalkeeper: Sandy Sanchez


Guadeloupe


“Les Gwada Boys” have some sneaky top end talent on this roster heading into their 5th Gold Cup tournament. The French owned nation will look to match their best finish ever in this competition that came back in 2007 where Guadeloupe finished 4th. The talent on this roster that I am excited to watch in some CONCACAF action are strikers Thierry Ambrose and Matthias Phaeton as well as centerback Andreaw Gravillon.


The 26 year old Ambrose finished his Belgian league season with 7 goals and 3 assists, tacking on an additional goal and assist in cup competition as well. 23 year old, Phaeton, recorded 9 goals and 2 assists across his Ligue 2 season with Grenoble. Finally, the 25 year old Gavillon had roughly 1,500 minutes played last season across his time at Stade Reims and Torino.


This trio alone could push Guadeloupe a bit here to potentially make it out of this group, but will take an overall team performance from the rest of the Guadeloupe squad to get the job done.


Star Player to Watch: Striker - Thierry Ambrose - KV Oostende


MLS Player to Watch: N/A


Other MLS Talent: N/A


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): N/A


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Left Winger: Ange-Freddy Plumain

Striker: Matthias Phaeton

Right Winger: Thierry Ambrose

Central Midfielder: Johan Rotsen

Central Midfielder: Jordan Leborgne

Defensive Midfielder: Quentin Annette

Left-Back: Anthony Baron

Center-back: Andreaw Gravillon

Center-back: Meddy Lina

Right-Back: Mickael Alphonse

Goalkeeper: Davy Rouyard


Guatemala


The final club to preview for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup and it comes in the shape of Guatemala who now make their 12th appearance in the competition. Guatemala hasn’t seen success in recent history. Their best finish came in 1996 with a fourth place finish, but this Guatemala squad is taking some notes from El Salvador and acquiring some dual nationals from CONCACAF.


Up top we should see former U.S. international striker who transferred via a one time switch, Rubio Rubin who has 3 goals in 8 caps for Guatemala. Along with Rubin, another former U.S. International made the one time switch, CF Montreal defender Aaron Herrera. Along with Rubin and Herrera, Guatemala should expect some positive play from England League One winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing from Derby County, Brazilian Serie B centerback Gerardo Gordillo from Juventude, and Eliteserien goalkeeper Nicholas Hagen from HamKam.


Star Player to Watch: Right-Back - Aaron Herrera - CF Montreal


MLS Player to Watch: Striker - Rubio Rubin - Real Salt Lake

Other MLS Talent: Aaron Herrera (CF Montreal)


Young Player to Watch (21 and Under): N/A


How I’d Line The Team Up:


Left Winger: Carlos Mejia

Striker: Rubio Rubin

Right Winger: Nathaniel Mendez-Laing

Attacking Midfielder: Alejandro Galindo

Defensive Midfielder: Rodrigo Saravia

Defensive Midfielder: Jorge Aparicio

Left-Back: Jose Morales

Center-back: Jose Carlos Pinto

Center-back: Gerardo Gordillo

Right-Back: Aaron Herrera

Goalkeeper: Nicholas Hagen


Below are my predictions for group finishes and the knockout bracket:


Group A:


1st - United States of America

2nd - Jamaica

3rd - Trinidad and Tobago

4th - Saint Kitts and Nevis


Group B:


1st - Haiti

2nd - Mexico

3rd - Qatar

4th - Honduras


Group C:


1st - El Salvador

2nd - Costa Rica

3rd - Panama

4th - Martinique


Group D:


1st - Canada

2nd - Guatemala

3rd - Guadeloupe

4th - Cuba


Quarterfinals:


Canada vs Jamaica - Winner is Canada

Haiti vs Costa Rica - Winner is Haiti

United States vs Guatemala - Winner is the United States

El Salvador vs Mexico - Winner is Mexico


Semifinals:


Canada vs Haiti - Winner is Canada

United States vs Mexico - Winner is the United States


Finals:


Canada vs United States - Winner is the United States