Discover more from The Blazing Musket
2023 Gold Cup Group D Primer, TV Schedule - Canada, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Guatemala
Canada looks to build on their rise to CONCACAF powerhouse while Cuba, Guatemala and Guadeloupe look to build upon recent mid-region successes.
Group D begins their group play tonight, and while Canada might be missing a lot of their big-name stars, they’re still the favorites of this group.
The interesting part is the other three teams are all around the same level - worthy Gold Cup sides but perhaps can be overwhelmed in a CNL A Flight group or a top-heavy Gold Cup group.
With an under-strength Canucks team perhaps capable of dropping a result, there’s a real potential for all of the other three teams to advance into the knockouts. But I think only one of the second-tier trio has a real chance to threaten in the quarters.
The Blazing Musket is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
TV SCHEDULE (all times US Eastern, games on FS1, Univision, TUDN)
June 27: Canada vs Guadeloupe – BMO Field, Toronto, CAN, 7 p.m.
June 27: Guatemala vs Cuba – DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 8:45 p.m.
July 1: Cuba vs Guadeloupe – Shell Energy Stadium, Houston, TX, 7:30 p.m.
July 1: Guatemala vs Canada – Shell Energy Stadium, Houston, TX
July 4: Guadeloupe vs Guatemala – Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ, 6:30 p.m.
July 4: Canada vs Cuba – Shell Energy Stadium, Houston, TX, 6:30 p.m.
Head Coach: John Herdman (ENG)
FIFA Ranking: 47 Nickname: The Canucks
Qualification: CNL A Flight, Group C Winners
Appearance: 16th / Best Finish: Champions (2000)
Roster Breakdown: 10 MLS (USA/CAN), 2 England, 2 Scotland, 2 Portugal, 1 Germany, 1 Mexico, 1 Netherlands, 1 Poland, 1 Serbia, 1 Switzerland, 1 Turkey
Recent Matches: CNL Semifinal W vs Panama 2-0, CNL Final L vs USA 2-0 (both games played in Paradise/Las Vegas, NV)
Player To Know: MID Stephen Eustaquio, Porto (POR), 32 Int’l Caps / 3 Int’l Goals
Player To Watch: FWD Lucas Cavallini, Tijuana (MEX), 36 Int’l Caps / 18 Int’l Goals
Eustaquio is one of the sneaky great players in the region at center midfield, and his playmaking will be key with a lot of the Canada heavy hitters sitting out the tournament with a lot of major contact moves taking place this summer window. Cavallini was a major scorer for Canada a few years ago and is a known talent from his MLS days in Vancouver. It will be up to him and Junior Hoilett to lead the way up top.
Canada’s rise last WCQ cycle was immense, and their talent and form carried them to a deserved Nations League Final despite losing to the USA. This is not an untalented group, but it doesn’t have the major firepower Canada can rely on to get them past the semifinals where they were last year. They should get out of this group and likely win it, but a tough matchup against a Group A team likely awaits them in the quarters regardless so another semi is not a sure thing this time around but this squad has much higher expectations than in years past to succeed in the knockouts.
Head Coach: Pablo Elier Sanchez (CUB)
FIFA Ranking: 165 Nickname: Los Leones del Caribe
Qualification: CNL B Flight Group A Winners
Appearance: 10th Best Finish: Quarterfinals (four times)
Roster Breakdown: 5 Domestic, 3 USA/USL, 6 Costa Rica, 4 Guatemala, 1 Austria, 1 Dominican Republic, 1 Finland, 1 Gibraltar, 1 Nicaragua
Recent Matches: Friendly L at Chile 0-3, Friendly L at Uruguay 0-2
Player To Know/Watch: MID Arichel Hernandez, Deportivo Mixco (GUA), 36 Int’l Caps / 7 Int’l Goals
Captain Hernandez led Cuba with four goals in the CNL B Flight, earning Cuba promotion back to the A Flight where maybe they won’t get paired with the USA and Canada again cause that was really unfair. Strikers Luis Paradela and Maikel Reyes notched a pair of goals each in CNL play as well, as Cuba tries to rebound from a dismal couple of years in the region.
So this is just Cuba’s second Gold Cup in eight years, failing to qualify twice and getting pasted in 2019 in a group with Mexico and Canada. Much like their CNL A Flight campaign against the USA and Canada in 2019-20, it didn’t go very well for Cuba who have rebounded nicely against B flight competition including a sweep of Guadeloupe in CNL play. They aren’t a high-scoring outfit but should be far more organized than in years past. Can they make the knockouts, yes, but anything further would probably involve a significant upset along the way.
Head Coach: Jocelyn Angloma (GLP)
FIFA Ranking: N/A Nickname: The Gwada Boys
Qualification: CNL B Flight Group A Runners-up, Preliminary Qualification Winners
Appearance: 5th Best Finish: Quarterfinals (2007)
Roster Breakdown: 7 Domestic, 10 France, 2 Switzerland, 1 Belgium, 1 Israel, 1 Italy, 1 USA/USL
Recent Matches: GCQ W vs Antigua and Barbuda 5-0, GCQ W vs Guyana 2-0
Players To Know/Watch: FWDs Matthias Phaeton and Thierry Ambrose, Combined 25 Int’l Caps / 10 Int’l Goals
It’s always hard to judge the talent level the French overseas teams cause they aren’t full FIFA members and only play at the CONCACAF level, but Phaeton and Ambrose notched a handful of goals in CNL and qualifying play and Ambrose came up through the Man City academy (yes that one) and though he never made a first team appearance has a few solid European teams on loan to his resume.
Were it not for Cuba already beating them head-to-head, I would say they are right in the thick of it for second place. They lost all three games in the last Gold Cup but made things really difficult for Costa Rica and Jamaica in a tough group. They might be on the outside of the knockouts again this time but they will make the rest of the group earn it for sure at the very least.
Head Coach: Luis Fernando Tena (MEX)
FIFA Ranking: 116 Nickname: Los Chapines
Qualification: CNL B Flight Group D Winners
Appearance: 12th Best Finish: Fourth Place (1996)
Roster Breakdown: 16 Domestic, 3 USA/Canada (MLS/USL), 1 Brazil, 1 England, 1 Norway
Recent Matches: Friendly W vs Costa Rica 1-0 (Carson, CA); Friendly L vs Venezuela 0-1 (E Hartford, CT)
Player To Know/Watch: FWD Rubio Rubin, Real Salt Lake (USA/MLS), 10 Int’l Caps* / 3 Int’l Goals
Rubin made 7 appearances for the USMNT before filing for a one-time switch to represent Guatemala and has totaled three goals in the last year for Los Chapines. Darwin Lom could partner with him up top.
Guatemala stealing a Pot 2 spot over Honduras (by two rankings points), makes this group interesting because there is really three “Pot Three” quality teams fighting for a second spot. If Rubin can be a match-winner quality player over the other teams, Guatemala can a knockout spot and maybe give someone in Group A a solid game in the quarters.
Canada should advance as much as the USA even without their stars they should be able to navigate to at least a couple of wins. From there it gets very tricky as the race for second and/or the second team out of the group gets a little wild. I’ll give Guatemala the edge over Cuba but it could honestly come down to goal difference if those two tie each other. Guadeloupe’s solid outings in the qualifier rounds could mean a result or two for them as well.
Canada / Guatemala / Cuba / Guadeloupe