Everything to Know About the 2019 Gold Cup

Very soon Canada will get the ball rolling in Pasadena to kick-off the 2019 Gold Cup. To get you ready for the tournament, we’ve put together a guide which should answer any format questions one may have. We will also cover Canada’s path to this point as well as an overview of all participating countries.


For the 2019 Gold Cup, a completely different qualifying format was implemented. In the past, Canada, USA and Mexico, the three members of the North American Football Union, received automatic qualification, while the Central America and Carribean zones would send 4 or 5 teams each based on their performances at the Copa Centroamericana and Carribean Cup, respectively. With the Concacaf Nations league introduced, the qualifying system was overhauled for the 2019 Gold Cup. The six countries who participated in the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup; Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, USA and, Trinidad and Tobago, all skipped the qualifying phase. Meanwhile, the remaining 34 Concacaf members were left to scrap it out in the in a one-off Concacaf Nations League qualifying round. Each team played four games, and after it was all done points and goals were tallied up to place each team from 1st to 34th. While the qualifying round allocated nations in Leagues A, B and C for the Nations League starting in September, it also sent the 10 top placed teams to this month’s Gold Cup. Joining Canada, USA and Mexico for the 2019 Gold Cup will be five of the seven countries making up the Central American zone and eight representing the Caribbean zone.


One of the changes Burnaby’s Victor Montagliani has put in place since taking over as president of Concacaf is to expand the Gold Cup from 12 to 16 teams. This means that for this edition, we have a new format to talk about.

The 16 qualified nations have been split up into four groups of four teams. Unlike last edition, where the two best third placed teams advanced to the knockout rounds, only the top two finishers in each group will advance to the quarter-finals. If teams are tied on points after the round-robin, goal differential, not the head-to-head result, will be used to determine group placement.

In the quarter-finals, group winners will face the runners up of a different group. Group A with B, and group C with D. This is where the format becomes a little unconventional. Unlike most 16 team tournaments, in this format both teams coming out of a group are placed on the same side of the bracket. This means that Canada, being in group A, will not face a team from group C or D until the final. The semi-finals will feature the two best teams from group A and B in one fixture, and two from group C/D in the other. Another particularity to take note of is that there is no third place match in this Gold Cup.

For all the visuals out there, this should help.

Canada’s Path

Canada made it to this stage after four victories over the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis and French Guiana combining for a +17 goal differential. The boys in Red and White finished second overall in the qualifying phase to Haiti. The difference was a giveaway by Milan Borjan in Vancouver on March 24th to French Guiana’s Kévin Rimane who walked the ball into the open net for Canada’s only goal conceded over the four games.

On April 10th, Canada learned it’s Group Stage opponents; Mexico, Martinique and Cuba. If the Quarter-finals are reached, John Herdman’s squad would be faced against a team from group B, most likely Costa Rica or Haiti. In the semi-finals, the two remaining teams from groups A and B will square-off. If Canada makes it to that stage, their most likely opponent would be Mexico. Finally, Soldier Field in Chicago will set the stage to decode the champion, where the semifinal winner from Canada’s half of the bracket will be pitted against a side from group C or D.

The objective for Canada is to surpass its last Gold Cup finish, a quarter-final loss against Jamaica. Anything less than the quarter-finals would be a major disappointment and a Semi-final finish or better would be a showing John Herdman’s men should be proud of.

The participating countries

An expanded tournament also means some new faces, so let’s take a look at where the 16 teams are coming from.

Group A

  1. Mexico (Seeded)
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 1
    • FIFA Ranking: 18
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Champion (7 times)
    • Population: 132 329 000
  2. Canada
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 6
    • FIFA Ranking: 78
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Champion
    • Population: 37 280 000
  3. Martinique
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 12
    • FIFA Ranking: Not a member of FIFA
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Quarter-finals
    • Population: 383 000
  4. Cuba
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 13
    • FIFA Ranking: 175
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Quarter-finals (3 times)
    • Population: 11 221 000

Group B

  1. Costa Rica (Seeded)
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 3
    • FIFA Ranking: 39
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Semi-final (3 times)
    • Population: 5 003 000
  2. Haiti
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 10
    • FIFA Ranking: 101
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Quarter-finals (3 times)
    • Population: 11 113 000
  3. Nicaragua
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 14
    • FIFA Ranking: 129
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Group stage (2 times)
    • Population: 6 285 000
  4. Bermuda
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 20
    • FIFA Ranking: 174
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Never qualified
    • Population: 65 000

Group C

  1. Honduras (Seeded)
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 4
    • FIFA Ranking: 61
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Final
    • Population: 9 012 000
  2. Jamaica
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 7
    • FIFA Ranking: 54
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Final (2 times)
    • Population: 2 729 000
  3. El Salvador
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 9
    • FIFA Ranking: 69
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Quarter-finals (5 times)
    • Population: 6 643 000
  4. Curaçao
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 15
    • FIFA Ranking: 79
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Group stage
    • Population: 160 000

Group D

  1. United States (Seeded)
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 2
    • FIFA Ranking: 30
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Champion (6 times)
    • Population: 327 929 000
  2. Panama
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 5
    • FIFA Ranking: 75
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Final (2 times)
    • Population: 4 159 000
  3. Trinidad and Tobago
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 11
    • FIFA Ranking: 92
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Semi-final
    • Population: 1 357 000
  4. Guyana
    • Concacaf Ranking Index: 22
    • FIFA Ranking: 177
    • Best Gold Cup Finish: Never qualified
    • Population: 747 000

*Concacaf Ranking Index as of June 1 2019

*FIFA Ranking as of June 14 2019

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