Previewing the Gold Cup quarterfinals
As the Gold Cup quarterfinals begin Saturday, here are five notes for the rest of the tournament, including Soccer Power Index predictions.
• Mexico has dominated the Gold Cup thus far, scoring 14 goals, double the total of any other team. Javier Hernández leads the tournament with five goals. The only player to score more goals in a single Gold Cup was Luis Roberto Alves, who tallied 11 goals for champion Mexico in 1993, including seven against Martinique in the group stage. The Soccer Power Index considers Mexico an 89.1 percent favorite to advance.
• The SPI odds for the rest of the tournament also reflect Mexico's dominance. At the beginning of the tournament, SPI gave the United States and Mexico virtually identical chances to win the title. After their drastically different performances in the group stage, Mexico is now a significant favorite, projected to win in nearly half of simulations. USA remains the second choice by a wide margin, in part because the tournament is in the United States. But the Americans' odds have dropped to 32.2 percent, from 38.8 percent before the tournament.
• Quarterfinal opponents Costa Rica and Honduras are nearly even as the third and fourth favorites, and SPI sees the game as a toss-up, with Group A winner Costa Rica a marginal 50.7 percent favorite to advance. Los Ticos are in the quarterfinals for the seventh straight time and seeks their second straight semifinal appearance. Group B runner-up Honduras is in the quarters for the fourth straight tournament and has reached the semis in two of the previous three tournaments. Neither has ever won the Gold Cup, and each country lost to the United States in its sole final appearance.
• The United States failed to win its group for the first time in Gold Cup history. As Group C runner-up, the United States faces Group B winner Jamaica, the only team other than Mexico to win all of its group games. USA has reached the semis in nine of the 10 previous tournaments, while Jamaica hasn't reached the semifinals since 1998. Despite tournament form, SPI rates USA an 83.9 percent favorite to advance and extend its unbeaten (9-0-8) record against the Reggae Boyz. Jamaica has lost all four of its Gold Cup elimination games.
• Panama won Group C ahead of the United States. Panama is in the quarters for the fourth straight time and made its only semifinal appearance in 2005. Group A third-place finisher El Salvador is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2003 and has never reached the semifinals. Panama is 6-1-2 in their past nine meetings, but is considered only a marginal favorite (52.1 percent to win) by SPI.