What is The Gold Cup?
The Gold Cup is a national soccer competition organized by CONCACAF. It is a significantly popular tournament in the confederation held every two years.
Competition: GOLD CUP
Founded: 1963 (Launched by CONCACAF in 1991)
Number of teams: 38
Region: North America, Central America & the Caribbean
The participating nations compete to find the regional champions. There have been 12 tournaments and Mexico has been the most successful team having won six titles. The current title holders are U.S who follow closely with five titles. Canada is the only other team to win the title having been victorious in 2000. Basically, only teams from the North American Zone have won the title. Other runners up of the competition are Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama.
History of The Gold Cup
After the integration of NAFC and CCCF in 1961, the newly formed CONCACAF set up a single competition for the nations in the region. The first competition was held in 1963 and El Salvador was chosen as the host nation. The inaugural tournament replaced the prior CCCF Championship that run from 1941-1961 which only had nations from Central America and the Caribbean competing.
Initially, the tournament had a six-team format and was referred as the CONCACAF Championship until 1989. The tournament transformed in 1991, acquiring a new title, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and a new format to accommodate eight teams. U.S became the first champions of the Gold Cup when they outscored Honduras 4-3 in the penalty kicks in the final.
Thereafter, Mexico made a record three straight-wins when it took the Gold Cup in 1993, 1996 and 1998. In 1996, Brazil became the very first guest nation in the tournament. The Gold Cup has now grown to the current number of twelve participants starting with the 2000 tournament. It also serves as the qualifying contest for the Copa America. Four top teams, excluding those that qualify automatically, go for play-offs to determine the two teams that play in the next Copa America.
CONCACAF Gold Cup regionals & participants
Teams taking part in the tournament represent three regions; North America, Central America and the Caribbean islands. UNCAF Copa Centroamericana determines the nations that qualify from Central America and the qualifiers from the Caribbean are decided through the Caribbean cup.
The Gold Cup is usually held in the United States. However, Mexico has been a co-host of the tournament in 1993 and 2003. The North Americans get three automatic entries to the tournament, five teams represent Central America and four teams for the Caribbean. The Gold Cup is customarily held in the month of June or July and each team presents a squad of 23 players.
Starting 2015, the fifth placed team in the Caribbean Cup and the Copa Centroamericana will head into a playoff to determine who qualifies. Hence, the Central America zone and the Caribbean zone will have either four or five teams qualifying.
Image below: CONCACAF's early international competitions were small enough to be held in Central America and even on the larger Caribgean Islands, but the advent of the Gold Cup has meant the US and Mexico have a stangehold on hosting rights. ( The Football Book )
CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament schedule & format
The previous tournaments have seen the eligible teams grouped into three groups, each with four teams. The Gold Cup Organizing Committee determines the draws. Each team plays three matches against the other teams in the group and earn three points for a win, none for a loss and one point for a drawn match.
In case of a tie in the second or third position, teams are then ranked in terms of greater goal difference, greater number of goals scored by a team, greater number of points garnered between the teams concerned and finally through the drawing of lots.
The third placed teams are ranked alongside each other to determine which two from the three groups make it to the quarter finals. Therefore, there are eight teams that advance from the group stage. The teams go into the knockout stage which is divided into the quarter finals, semifinals and final. Matches can go into extra time and even penalty kicks in order to find the winner of each match.
In the previous tournaments, the champion qualified for the following FIFA Confederations Cup with the exception of the times when both were held in the same year. However, this team ought to be a member of FIFA as well. From the 2013 tournament, the winners of two consecutive Gold Cups will have to take part in a playoff to find who qualifies for the next Confederations Cup. There is no play off held if one nation wins successive titles. For instance, the U.S. will play the 2015 Gold Cup winners in a playoff to decide the qualifier for the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Example of CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament format: 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament Schedule
CONCACAF Gold Cup host nations
|United States||1991, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013|
CONCACAF Gold Cup participating nations
|COUNTRY||NUMBER OF YEARS|
|North American Football Union Members|
|Caribbean Football Union Members|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||1|
|Trinidad and Tobago||8|
|Central American Football Union Members|
CONCACAF Gold Cup Top Goalscorers
|Name of Player||Country||Goals|
|Landon Donovan||United States||18|
|Luis Roberto Alves||Mexico||12|
|Eric Wynalda||United States||9|
|Walter Centeno||Costa Rica||9|
|Brian McBride||United States||8|
|Rodolfo Zelaya||El Salvador||8|
CONCACAF Gold Cup Most Valuable Players
|Name of Player||Country||Year|
|Tony Meola||United States||1991|
|Kasey Keller||United States||1998|
|Brian McBride||United States||2002|
|Julian de Guzman||Canada||2007|
|Giovani dos Santos||Mexico||2009|
|Landon Donovan||United States||2013|
CONCACAF Gold Cup Winning Head Coaches
|Name of Coach||Country or Team||Year|
|Bora Milutinovic||United States||1991|
|Miguel Mejía Barón||Mexico||1993|
|Bruce Arena||United States||2002|
|Ricardo La Volpe||Mexico||2003|
|Bruce Arena||United States||2005|
|Bob Bradley||United States||2007|
|José Manuel de la Torre||Mexico||2011|
|Jürgen Klinsmann||United States||2013|