Gold Cup soccer: Day 3 analysis and predictions

Gold Cup soccer: Day 3 analysis and predictions

Gold Cup soccer: Day 3 analysis and predictions
By Shawn Young

Group C kicks off Sunday at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, home of the Oakland A’s. The A’s are out East until the All-Star break, so let’s hope the infield base paths are well sodded (don’t count on it). The weather forecast is cloudy with temperatures in the 60s.

Mexico is the class of this group. Panama won the recent Central American championship. Nicaragua will likely be in over its head. This column is in love with Guadeloupe until the bookies wake up and show them some respect.

PANAMA (-0.5, -125) vs. GUADELOUPE

Soccer is on the rise in baseball-crazy Panama and half the Gold Cup team plays abroad in Mexico, Argentina, Europe and Israel. An unlucky draw pitted Panama and El Salvador as early-round opponents in World Cup qualifying. Panama lost 3-2 on aggregate. Panama then rebounded to win last winter’s Central American championship.

The form book on Guadeloupe is thin. The overseas French department is not allowed to enter World Cup qualifying. Guadeloupe reached the semifinals of this tournament in 2007. Most of their players play professionally in Europe.

Panama is a decent team, but this line should be much closer to a pick. Guadeloupe +0.5, plus money is probably the best bet of the first set of games. Some European books are posting Panama -1 +120.

If you can take the other side of that laying -145 or -155, that’s fantastic and even +1 -175 is OK. The field could be a disaster so taking Guadeloupe to win outright is tricky business, but if that’s all you can find, +350 is available if you want to cross your fingers.

Prediction: Panama 1, Guadeloupe 1

MEXICO (-2.5 -140) vs. NICARAGUA

Most of Mexico’s stars aren’t here. That’s confusing. Mexico has stumbled badly so far in World Cup qualifying and this should be a good place to work out the kinks before it’s too late.

Mexico is still too good for Nicaragua. Nicaragua is making their Gold Cup debut after finishing fifth in the Central American championship. They fell at the first hurdle in World Cup qualifying to the Netherlands Antilles. Most of the team plays in the Nicaraguan league and the players will find this tournament to be a huge step up in class.

From a betting perspective this game is probably worth passing. The whole game will be played in the Nicaraguan half and it’ll be all about how well Nicaragua defends and whether or not the Mexicans take their foot off the gas after going ahead. A 3-0 or 4-0 finish is well within reach for Mexico.

If you need action, Mexico is who you want to be on. But here’s a final word of warning: Mexico more than any team in the world likes the ball on the ground, played to the feet. The Mexicans can play their game on grass, sand, gravel or things in between, but they need the surface to be predictable and consistent. If the Oakland A’s infield is erratic, the Mexicans might not be “money ball”.

Prediction: Mexico 3, Nicaragua 0

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