1. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO (1st Group C, 2W-0L-1D, 7 pts / QF vs. PAN)
There haven't been a lot of good games in this CONCACAF Gold Cup, to the surprise of no one, but the halves and games that have been good have largely involved T&T. Their first halves against Guatemala and Cuba put those games out of reach and that second half against Mexico was beyond some of the best soccer of the tournament, but some of the best soccer I've seen period. Giving up four goals to Mexico is a little worrying on the defensive end but with Kenwyne Jones and Co. leading the attack they'll be a dangerous team in the knockout stages as well as next year in World Cup Qualifying.
2. UNITED STATES (1st Group A 2-0-1, 7 pts / QF vs. CUB)
No, I'm not snubbing the USA, they've been good enough, but not great. They clinched the hardest group in the tournament by winning their first two games and shut down a solid Panama squad with a lot to play for in the second half. There's a lot of room to improve, but other performances have gifted an fairly easy road to the final which is why taking care of business early might give them an advantage later on.
3. HAITI (2nd Group A, 1-1-1, 4 pts / QF vs. JAM)
Aside from T&T probably the one team that has surprised me the most and they had far less expectations is Haiti. A solid team relegated to the role of minnow in Group A and they shed that title quickly with some of the best counter-attacking play I've seen in the region. Johnny Placide in goal has been awesome, Duckens Nazon is the breakout, young player of the tournament (odds of a discovery claim from MLS teams probably high) and there have been not only solid individual performances across the board but impressive team ones as well. Haiti gave Panama all they could handle in a draw, largely outplayed the US for long stretches in a loss and beat lackluster Honduras to clinch second in the group. They now have a legitimate shot at the semifinals though getting past Jamaica will not be easy and a rematch in the semis against the US could be looming.
4. JAMAICA (1st Group B, 2-0-1, 7 pts / QF vs. HAI)
Perhaps a bit harsh to have them at fourth, played their best game against Costa Rica and we're very US like against Canada and El Salvador. Yes they won but they were far from convincing needing a stoppage strike from Rodolph Austin to beat Canada and a 71st minute goal from Garath McCleary to down El Salvador. They're the favorites against Haiti, but it's closer than most people think and if the USA meets them in the semi finals it could be a great matchup like the one played at Jamaica for World Cup qualifying back in 2013.
5. MEXICO (2nd Group C, 1-0-2, 5 pts / QF vs. CRC)
Oh El Tri, what to do with you. Held scoreless by Guatemala, losing Javier Hernandez to injury before the tournament started, losing Giovani Dos Santos to injury in the tournament. But at the same time, this is still Mexico and they did post a four spot on Trinidad and absolutely routed, albeit a shorthanded, Cuba team before that epic 4-4 draw with Trinidad. Meeting Costa Rica in the quarters is more a punishment for Los Ticos but Mexico failed to clinch their group and now what could've been an easy half of the bracket for Mexico turns into a nightmare quarterfinal.
6. PANAMA (3rd Group A, 0-3-0, 3 pts / QF vs. TRI)
The tie-breaker between Costa Rica and Panama is the difficulty of the group. But it's hard to rate Panama because they're a solid overall team, they scored first in each of their games and conceded in the half to draw all three games 1-1. Andy Najar scored after the 80th minute for Honduras as did Nazon for Haiti so I'm not sure we've seen Panama play a complete game yet. Now they get probably the most confident and/or in-form team of the region in the quarters and last year's runner up could be looking at an earlier than expected exit.
7. COSTA RICA (2nd Group B, 0-0-3, 3 pts / QF vs. MEX)
I can live with the draw against Jamaica but I do not understand how this team seems to struggle every year in this tournament. For a team that just made the World Cup quarters, surviving the group of death to put up three draws does not inspire much confidence. Even after the draw against Jamaica I expected this team to take care of business against the rest of the group and they didn't. Karma strikes quickly with a early matchup against Mexico is what they deserve for only managing three points which was lucky to clinch second place this time around. One of the three best teams in the region is getting knocked out in the quarters and right now, Mexico is playing better and should be the favorite in that one.
8. CUBA (3rd Group C, 1-0-2, 3 pts / QF vs. USA)
It's hard to root against Cuba, not just because Brendan Doherty is on staff, but even getting players in country for the tournament was a struggle for Cuba. If there was ever a team that needed a win like they got over Guatemala on Wednesday it was them and they deserve to get one more game from their Gold Cup experience. Already bounced from the 2018 World Cup in the second round of CONCACAF qualifying to Curacao on away goals, Cuba survived a massive blowout from Mexico to advance with one of it not the worst goal difference in the history of the Gold Cup. Maikel Reyes was the hero but if all he's done is given Cuba one more game to play that might be enough for this team given the circumstances.
9. EL SALVADOR (3rd Group B, 0-1-2, 2 pts / Eliminated)
I do like watching El Salvador, I don't think they're an untalented team. But a goalless draw against Canada to start the Gold Cup likely doomed any chance they had of getting out of the group stages. Dustin Corea gave them a deserved draw against Costa Rica but in the end they just didn't have the offense to get them over the top. They'll have to settle for best team not in the knockout stages instead.
10. CANADA (4th Group B, 0-1-2, 2pts / Eliminated)
I'm about to justify why a team that scored zero goals deserves to be ranked higher than two other teams in this tournament. First, Kenny Stamatopoulos will not win the Golden Glove for this tournament (I've penciled in Haiti's Johnny Placide if they make the semis) but he should be in the running. Aside from a Rodolph Austin goal in stoppage time (bringing back nightmarish flashbacks to Martinique in 2013), Canada's keeper was flawless and the defense is worthy of a lot of praise. The offense is a work in progress but with youngsters Cyle Larin and Tesho Akindele getting valuable minutes in the tournament, there's a bright future ahead for Canada and they should be around for qualifying next year, I hope. Or I'll jump off that bandwagon again, faster than Fabrice Reuperne's goal went past Milan Borjan two years ago.
11. GUATEMALA (4th Group C, 0-2-1, 1 pt / Eliminated)
Yes, we still dislike Carlos Ruiz but even at 35 he is still good at soccer and if this was his last Gold Cup he put in a very solid effort up top. But aside from that, Los Chapines were wasteful in front of goal and lost to arguably the worst team in the tournament. There's pride in holding Mexico to a 0-0 draw and forcing El Tri to settle for awful long range shots but this is a team that is almost punchless in the attack right now and that needs to change going forward.
12. HONDURAS (4th Group A, 0-2-1, 1 pt / Eliminated)
I don't know what to say about Honduras other than they're a train wreck right now. Aside from Andy Najar they lacked any creativity going forward and I admit it, they really do need Jerry Bengtson up front to finish goals. We know this team can play better, which makes their exit and last place finish in Group A all the more surprising despite the last 18 months of less than stellar results on the field. The fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying begins next year and in their current form, I'm not sure this is a team that makes The Hex.