The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup breaks new ground as the Group C encounter between Curaçao and El Salvador marks the tournament debut at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

The two teams meet again after facing each other in group action in the 2017 edition – a match El Salvador won 2-0 on its way to the quarterfinals.

Monday’s match is the second time the two sides have met at the Gold Cup after Curacao made their debut in the competition two years ago. The two nations have met seven previous times, with four going El Salvador’s way, while the other three ended in draws.

El Salvador Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos returns to the Gold Cup after managing the team at the 2007 and 2009 editions. He will likely look to Nelson Bonilla and Oscar Ceren, the country’s top scorers in Concacaf Nations League Qualifying, to help the team off on the right track.

Curacao will be looking for their first favorable result in the competition after going winless in their maiden voyage. Manager Remko Bicentini believes his team can be the surprise of the tournament and has called on 12 returning players from the 2017 roster.

A brace from Frantzdy Pierrot allowed Haiti to showcase experience with a 2-1 win over Bermuda on Sunday evening at the Estadio Nacional of Costa Rica to open Group B of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.

After both teams had a 50-50 ball possession for the first half, Bermuda responded with a total of two shots on target before the breaking the deadlock at the end of the first half. One minute was added when Dante Leverock found the back of the net with a header which was assisted by Osagi Bascome in the 45+1’.

Haiti looked to mount a comeback as the second half started with a very fast pace, which is when Pierrot waited for his chance, burying a shot in the 54’ with a header from the right side of the six-yard box allowing Haiti to tie the match.

Twelve minutes later Frantzdy was back at it in the 66’ with a right-footed shot that went straight to the center of the goal.

The historical night in Costa Rica was then capped by the Haiti defense finishing the match to pocket Les Grenadiers’ first three points of the Gold Cup.

Costa Rica’s attack led the way to a 4-0 victory over Nicaragua as it kicked off its participation in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday night at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica went ahead early on the scoreboard when just seven minutes into the match Bryan Oviedo poked it home to get a 1-0 lead.

With Costa Rica playing at home for the very first time in a Gold Cup match, Los Ticos captain Celso Borges doubled the side’s lead to 2-0 with a strong strike in the 19’.

Then Elias Aguilar found himself at the right place and the right time shortly before halftime, as he made it 3-0 in the 46’ when he found the back of the net with a free kick.

Nicaragua who had several opportunities during the first half, but was not able to finish its chances. It continued to push until the final minutes with its best look in the 72’ from Jorge Betancur’s right-footed shot from the right side, but it was blocked by Costa Rica GK Leonel Moreira.

As the final minutes played out, Costa Rica’s attack continued to push forward for one last goal. MF Allan Cruz scored his first of the night in the 75’ to put the 4-0 on the scoreboard, which marked an unforgettable night for Los Ticos.

Justin Rose conceded his bid for U.S. Open glory was undermined by not having his "A-game" all week at Pebble Beach.

First-time major winner Gary Woodland teed off on Sunday with a one-stroke lead over Rose, but a three-over par 74 saw the Englishman finish six shots off the pace.

It meant a share of third position alongside Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm and Chez Reavie for the world number three and 2013 champion.

Knowing what it takes to claim one of golf's biggest prizes, Rose acknowledged he was not where he needed to be over the course of the past four days.

"There's no point in letting it hurt too much," he said. "It hurts if you lose at the death and you make a mistake.

"The way it happened for me here, I'm more proud of the fact I even gave myself a chance. I didn't have my A-game this week.

"And to contend in a major with no game, really, I take the positive from that. I came out and responded early with a couple of good swings, made birdie, felt really good, drove it great down the middle of two.

"I felt good within myself in the situation [but] you need to be really on point. And I just gave a couple of cheap bogeys away early on the back nine."

Rose finished tied for second at last year's Open Championship and is looking forward to the final major of 2019 at Royal Portrush.

"I'm getting closer for sure and I'm getting hungrier, and I'm determined. So I feel good about preparing for that one now," he added.

"And in these situations you definitely enjoy them and want more of them. Today there's still a couple of things to be learned from.

"You can't get sloppy out there. It shows up in these big events if that happens down the stretch."

For the first time, Costa Rica will play a match on home soil in the Concacaf Gold Cup, as it meets Nicaragua at Estadio Nacional on Sunday June 16 to open Group B play. 

Although the teams have never met in the Gold Cup, Costa Rica leads the all-time series that dates back to 1941, with a 16W-1D-1L record.

Costa Rica, who is seeking its first Gold Cup title, has plenty of firepower in its attack and boasts five players who scored in Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Russia 2018: Marco Urena, Joel Campbell, Christian Bolanos, Johan Venegas and Kendall Waston. Those five combined for a total of 14 goals in 10 matches. 

Costa Rica will certainly be aware of the expectations after finishing second in the Hexagonal stage of World Cup 2018 qualifying and reaching the Gold Cup quarterfinals 10 consecutive times.

Meanwhile, Nicaragua, who will be making its third Gold Cup appearance and its second in a row, will be led by veteran winger and captain Juan Barrera, who has 18 goals in 50 caps.

As it looks to have a better run in the 2019 Gold Cup, Nicaragua’s defensive end has more experience with Manuel Rosas on its side. The defender is key to the Pinolero defense, registering the most effective passes (161) in Concacaf National League Qualifying. 

Nicaragua will be leaning on its past experiences against Costa Rica. 

Haiti and Concacaf Gold Cup debutant Bermuda will kick off the very first Gold Cup match ever played in Costa Rica.

The opening match of the Group B doubleheader will take place at Estadio Nacional in San Jose on Sunday night and will star a lot of young talent.

Both Haiti and Bermuda have the youngest rosters of the 2019 Gold Cup with an approximate age group of 24 years and five months. For Haiti, who will be participating in its seventh Gold Cup match, its attack has experienced FW Duckens Nazon, who is one of the top goal scorers in the 2018-19 Concacaf Nations League Qualifier with six goals in just two games.

Nazon, who is expected to play its fifth Gold Cup, is the only player on Haiti’s roster to score goals in a Gold Cup, however Derrick Etienne Jr. will also be one to watch in the Haiti attack.

Meanwhile, Bermuda can rely on a strong DF Willie Clemons, who will be key for the debutants.

Clemons led Bermuda in ball recoveries in 2018-19 Concacaf Nations League Qualifying, with five. Even though Bermuda will be making its first appearance of the tournament against Haiti, it is known for its fighting spirit until the very last minute. The Bermudians enjoyed an impressive CNLQ campaign as they ended with a record of 3W-0D-1L, including a 12-0 victory over Sint Maarten.

Now, the stage is set for the first all-time meeting between Haiti and Bermuda in the Gold Cup.

A brace from Jonathan David helped power Canada past Martinique 4-0 in the opening match of 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup Group A on Saturday afternoon at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

After the two teams traded chances in the first half-hour, Canada broke through when a heavy touch from the Martinique defense allowed David to fire in past Martinique GK Loic Chauvet in the 33’ for the 2019 Gold Cup’s first goal and a 1-0 Canada lead.

Martinique looked to respond and FW Kevin Parsemain had three separate cracks at goal right before halftime, but was denied each time by Canada GK Milan Borjan.

 

Canada looked to wrestle back control and it doubled its lead to 2-0 in the 53’ when Samuel Piette flighted in a pass to David, who calmly stroked home his second goal.

 

The momentum was with Canada and 10 minutes later in the 63’ Junior Hoilett managed to push in a cross from an Alphonso Davies cross for a 3-0 Canada lead. That was then followed by a Scott Arfield strike in the 67’ for a 4-0 advantage.

 

From there, the Canada defense did the rest to secure the clean sheet win and three points.

Uriel Antuna scored a hat-trick as Mexico thrashed Cuba 7-0 in their CONCACAF Gold Cup opener in California on Saturday.

Antuna stole the show with his treble, which went with a Raul Jimenez brace and goals from Diego Reyes and Alexis Vega in what was a one-sided encounter at the Rose Bowl.

Gerardo Martino's men struck four times in the first half, marking their fifth win in as many games since he took over in January.

Cuba were outclassed by a Mexico side who showed why they are once again among the favourites for the title.

Mexico dominated from the outset and needed just two minutes to open the scoring through Antuna, who was a late addition to the Mexico squad as an injury replacement.

Jimenez hit the post after a cross from the left and Antuna was on hand to scramble in his first international goal.

Mexico's second just after the half-hour mark through Jimenez had been coming as the forward caused Cuba plenty of problems.

Andres Guardado chipped a pass through a poor Cuba defence, Jimenez producing a composed finish into the bottom corner.

Mexico struck twice more before half-time through Reyes and Antuna.

Jimenez side-footed a corner that drew a save from Cuba goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez, but the rebound fell straight to Reyes to tap in.

Antuna completed his brace just prior to the break as Jimenez's cross was blocked by a last-ditch clearance, the LA Galaxy forward – who is on loan from Manchester City – on hand to rifle into the roof of the net from close range.

Mexico's intensity dropped slightly to begin the second half, but Jimenez struck again, firing through Sanchez's legs after a pass from Carlos Rodriguez.

Vega came off the bench to net his first at international level, tapping in after Antuna unselfishly crossed for him to score the easiest of goals in the 74th minute.

In just his third international, Antuna completed his hat-trick, putting away a rebound after Sanchez did well to keep out a Rodriguez effort.

 

What does it mean? Mexico flex muscle

This was meant to be a one-sided affair and Mexico ensured it was with a blistering first half. Mexico are seven-time Gold Cup champions and they deserve to be favourites for number eight.

Jimenez provides major impact

Jimenez, who starred on loan at Wolves from Benfica last season before the deal became permanent, impressed. As well as scoring his 18th and 19th international goals, the forward was involved in three other goals.

Martino proven right so far

Martino said in the lead up he would prefer Mexico to play at the Copa America over the CONCACAF Gold Cup. With wins over Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela and Ecuador this year, Mexico were never going to be threatened by Cuba and it remains to be seen how much they will be tested throughout the tournament.

What's next?

Mexico's campaign continues against Canada on Wednesday, while Cuba face Martinique on the same day.

Both Mexico and Cuba will be seeking a bright start to their respective 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup campaigns when they meet in the opening round of Group A on Saturday night at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. 

The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup kicks off this Saturday with an interesting battle in Group A between Canada and Martinique at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

The two teams arrive into the contest fresh off of a successful 2018-19 Concacaf Nations League Qualifying campaign in which they both took collected victories in each of their four matches.

Saturday’s clash marks the fourth Gold Cup contest between the two sides, with Martinique taking the three points in their last meeting, a 1-0 win in Group A in the 2013 Gold Cup, also played at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl.

Martinique will be led by dangerman Kevin Parsemain, who took the Gold Cup by storm two years ago in the 2017 edition when he scored three goals in the group stage.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of young talent on the Canadian side, led by Bayern Munich man Alphonso Davies, who served up four assists during CNLQ.

Canada is appearing in its 14thGold Cup, while Martinique will take the field in the Gold Cup for the sixth time in its history.

West Indies A all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall is harbouring hopes of breaking into the regional side in the near future after being selected for an A team to face India A next month. 

Nine players set to feature for West Indies “A” in their upcoming home series against India “A” next month are among 15 players chosen to attend a Cricket West Indies High-Performance training camp, starting Monday, June 17, aimed at enhancing their red-ball cricket skills.

Also this week; Brigadier Wood marches to victory at Garrison Savanah and Blue Navigator gets to winner's enclosure at Santa Rosa Park.

Jamaica men’s football national coach Theodore Whitmore has admitted to being awed by the talent of the Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey but more so the player’s positive attitude and work ethic.

The 21-year-old underwent a tumultuous couple of years relating to his involvement with the national, as a dispute with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) kept him off the field.  All that seems to be firmly behind the parties involved, however, as by all accounts, the player has fit into the Reggae Boyz squad with little fuss.

“We've been very impressed with Leon Bailey from day one as his attitude around the group has been simply fantastic. He's definitely a team player and the group has embraced him very well. This was important given all the noise over the past few years around his selection to the national team,” the team’s head coach Theodore Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer.

Bailey was expected to make his debut for the national team in a friendly against the United States but did not play due to an injury.  According to Whitmore, however, the player is not ready to go.

“On the pitch, Leon has been sizzling. He is now fit and raring to go. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he should line- up at the start of the game on Monday. We still have a few more sessions to go, but his production at all the sessions has been spot on,” Whitmore said.

“He is ready to make his international debut for Jamaica and will play with not only his talent but also his heart. This is what I sense in him since his arrival to the group… he's a really talented young man and very coachable.”

 

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