The soccer news starts with no surprises for the favorites at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup. Canada's new generation was under little pressure during their 4-0 shutout of Martinique and Mexico did a few goals better with a 7-0 win over Cuba in Saturday's opening doubleheader at the Rose Bowl. Haiti beat Bermuda 2-1 on Sunday and Costa Rica continued the run of form from the favorites with a 4-0 shutout of Nicaragua at home at the Estadio Nacional.
In other words, the favorites are progressing as expected. This is not a tournament field that should challenge any of the top teams in the region at the group stage level. That waits for the knockout rounds. The latest FIFA rankings came out on Friday and its easy enough to take the top five and slot them in as the teams most likely to give each other difficulties. Go with Concacaf's separate ranking and Panama and Canada get a slight boost as the 5th and 6th-place teams rather than 7th and 8th. There's plenty of quality here for the quarterfinals.
That's the Gold Cup scenario for the top teams in the expanded field. Navigate the group well enough to keep the momentum going into the knockout round. For the USMNT that means following the lead of the other contenders and controlling their opener against Guyana on Tuesday (10pm ET - FS1).
What that will take from the US is another similar Gold Cup scenario. Guyana's recent friendly results aren't exactly easy to judge. They're one of the teams in the region that doesn't use every available FIFA date. So far in 2019 they've beaten Belize 2-1 in March with a 1-0 loss at Bermuda and a 3-1 loss at home to Haiti in their Gold Cup warm-up friendlies. Go back to November 14, 2017 and they drew 1-1 at Trinidad and Tobago.
In this experimental moment for the USMNT, the entire setup could use the confidence that comes with scoring goals. No matter the assignments and the passing movements, it's the end result that's the proof of concept at any level. Ask all those teams that followed Barcelona and Spain's lead with lots of passing but forgot about the goals.
Inside World Football's Samindra Kunti explains the response to the Copa America in Brazil. World Soccer's Tim Vickery reports on Argentina losing their Copa America opener to Colombia. BBC Sport's Simon Stone with the latest on the Paul Pogba situation at Manchester United. Football365's Daniel Storey explains the issues with clubs hiring one of their former players as manager.
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