Raul Jimenez (Mexico)
It is difficult to envisage Mexico not winning the Gold Cup this summer, even if they will have to make do without Carlos Vela, Hirving Lozano and Javier Hernandez. The absence of that trio means Jimenez will be the main man in attack, with the Wolves frontman looking to build on an excellent season at club level. Mexico should take nine points from nine in Group A and are heavy favourites to win the tournament for a record-extending 11th time, so Jimenez is a good shoot for the Golden Boot.
Leandro Bacuna (Curacao)
Group C is the tightest of all four segments, with Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador and Curacao all harbouring ambitions of a place in the knockout rounds. Curacao have never made it that far in the competition’s current format, but the presence in the squad of the likes of Bacuna – as well as Eredivisie-based trio Cuco Martina, Eloy Room and Elson Hooi – offers hopes this time around. The Cardiff midfielder is used in more of an attacking role on the international stage, and he will be important in both the creation and conversion of chances.
Neil Danns (Guyana)
Born and bred in Liverpool, Danns probably dreamt of pulling on an England shirt as a youngster. Yet although he was an excellent Championship player at the peak of his powers, the midfielder never came close to representing the Three Lions. However, Guyana offered him the chance to have an international career in 2015, and Danns is now set to play for the Caribbean nation – who he qualifies for through his grandfather – at the Gold Cup. The debutants have little chance of making it to the knockout phase, though, with the United States, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago likely to prove formidable opposition.
Junior Hoilett (Canada)
Another Cardiff representative, Hoilett will be central to Canada’s hopes of winning the Gold Cup for a third time. John Herdman has some talented young players to call upon – not least Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies – but the former Blackburn winger, now 29, will play an integral role too. Canada are likely to finish second in Group A behind Mexico, which could set up a quarter-final clash with Costa Rica – a tricky encounter but by no means an unwinnable one for Herdman’s charges.
Bryan Oviedo (Costa Rica)
Costa Rica brought the oldest squad to last summer’s World Cup, and they will again lean heavily upon a group of veterans – albeit supplemented by some promising youngsters – on the continental stage. Oviedo falls somewhere between the two camps at 29 years of age and with 51 caps to his name, and the Sunderland man’s versatility could come in handy as the Costa Ricans target Gold Cup glory for the first time in 30 years.
Michael Hector (Jamaica)
Runners-up in both 2015 and 2017, Jamaica will be desperate to go one better this year. The fact that they will play their opening game against Honduras on home soil is a major boost, and they will fancy their chances of getting the better of El Salvador and Curacao in their other group games. Sheffield Wednesday defender Hector will be tasked with helping the Regga Boyz remain solid at the back, a characteristic they showed in a 1-0 friendly victory over the United States last week.
Christian Pulisic (United States)
The United States are a team in transition following their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Gregg Berhalter is the manager who has been tasked with leading a rebuild, which is likely to centre on bringing the best out of Pulisic. The Chelsea forward has scored 10 goals in 25 caps for the United States – an impressive return given that he is not a central striker – and he will again be instrumental to the side’s chances of success.
Nahki Wells (Bermuda)
Game time has proved hard to come by for Wells at Burnley, so much so that he spent last season on loan at Queens Park Rangers in the Championship. There is no doubt about his prominent status with Bermuda, however; the former Bradford striker is the main man for his country, having scored seven goals in his 11 outings to date. Costa Rica should win Group B with a minimum of fuss, but Bermuda could sneak past Haiti and Nicaragua into second place if Wells is on form.
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