Team Canada will be in command of Group A in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a win over Costa Rica on Tuesday night. It’s the 14th edition of the Gold Cup, which crowns North America’s top national soccer team. The tournament features 12 teams divided into three groups. The top two from each group, along with the two best third-place teams, advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals.
Canada vs. Costa Rica
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston
Sports Interaction Odds: Costa Rica -130, Canada +373, draw +231
Canada has played in all but one of the Gold Cups and won it in 2000, the only nation other than the United States or Mexico to ever win the event held every two years. Canada is led by former MLS head coach Octavio Zambrano, an Ecuadorian who was hired back in March. Last September, the Canadian Soccer Association didn’t renew head coach Benito Floro’s contract following Canada’s elimination from World Cup qualifying. The team had been led by interim coach Michael Findlay.
Team Canada is ranked 109th in the world by FIFA and beat little French Guiana in its opening match 4-2 to lead a Gold Cup group for the first time in seven years. It was also the country’s first win in the Gold Cup since 2011. Teenager Alphonso Davies – who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS — was named the Man of the Match as he had two goals (called a brace). The clincher came in the 85th minute after French Guiana had rallied from a 3-0 hole to make it 3-2. The 16-year-old Davies is Canada’s youngest goal-scorer ever and it came in his first start for the senior national team. Dejan Jakovic and Scott Anfield had Canada’s other goals.
A draw here likely would be enough for Canada to advance out of the group stage. A loss could mean a victory would be needed against Honduras on Friday. Honduras won the Copa Centroamericana earlier this year.
Team Costa Rica
Costa Rica is certainly a step up in competition as Los Ticos are ranked 19th in the world. They reached the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, losing to the Netherlands on penalty kicks. The country’s best finish in this tournament was runner-up in 2002. It won the CONCACAF Championship three times, which was a precursor to the Gold Cup. Costa Rica opened the tournament with a 1-0 win over Honduras.
Marco Urena was the Man of the Match in scoring the lone goal. Honduras was the better team for much of the match. The Catrachos held 67 percent of possession and generated seven shots compared to three for Costa Rica. Los Ticos also saw midfielder Johan Venegas forced out of the game in the 35th minute due to an injury. It’s not clear whether he will play Tuesday.
These two countries last met in the 2015 Gold Cup in Toronto, and it ended in a 0-0 draw. Canada had one goal waived off due to offside. The Canadian men failed to score in any of their group matches at the 2013 and 2015 Gold Cups.
Canada vs. Costa Rica Predictions
The favoured anytime goalscorer is Costa Rica’s Urena at +157. Davies is +506 for Canada. Anthony Jackson-Hamel is the side’s favourite on the prop at +296.
If this game is tied in the second half, one presumes that Team Canada will shift into a conservative mode and play for the draw. However, the Ticos are the stronger side, and they are the favorites in Group A. My recommendation is a draw no bet on Costa Rica at -323. Go under the 2.5-goal total.