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2019 Gold Cup Group B Primers - Bermuda, Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua

Costa Rica are the favorites, but can Zach Herivaux and Haiti challenge the Ticos for the top spot in Group B?

Argentina v Haiti - International Friendly
New England Revolution homegrown player Zachary Herivaux playing for Haiti against someone from Argentina who’s never played at the Gold Cup.
Photo by Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

Yesterday the two favorites of Group A, Mexico and Canada, were decisive winners in their first matchups, routing their underdog opponents by a combined 11-0 scoreline.

Will group B feature a similar day of blowouts? I certainly hope not. The expanded 16-team format has opened the competition up to more teams and Nicaragua and Bermuda are two of the teams that benefited from the expanded format.

Bermuda will make their Gold Cup debut off a strong Nations League qualification campaign that will see them in one of the top groups with Mexico and Panama this fall. Nicaragua makes just their third overall appearance but second consecutive tournament as they look to gain more experience on a bigger stage in the region.

Costa Rica are the clear favorites, but that leaves Haiti as an unlikely favorite as well. Two years ago Haiti held a 3-1 lead going into the second leg at Nicaragua of the Caribbean-Central America play-in series and promptly lost 0-3 and missed out on the 2017 Gold Cup. This is a big year for Haiti as they can claim not just a Gold Cup quarterfinal appearance but also test themselves for their Nations League matches, also against Costa Rica, in the fall.

TV SCHEDULE

Sunday June 16th, 2019

6 p.m.: Haiti vs. Bermuda at Estadio Nacional, San José, Costa Rica

Fox Sports 2, Univision, and Univision Deportes

8:30 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. Nicaragua at Estadio Nacional, San José, Costa Rica

Fox Sports 1, Univision, and Univision Deportes

Thursday, June 20th 2019

7 p.m.: Nicaragua vs. Haiti at Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas

Fox Sports 1, UniMás, and Univision Deportes

9:30 p.m.: Costa Rica vs. Bermuda at Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas

Fox Sports 1, UniMás, and Univision Deportes

Monday June 24th, 2019

6:30 p.m.: Bermuda vs. Nicaragua at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.

Fox Sports 1, UniMás, and Univision Deportes

9 p.m.: Haiti vs. Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.

Fox Sports 1, UniMás, and Univision Deportes

GROUP B TEAM PREVIEWS

BERMUDA [BER/B4]

Head Coach: Kyle Lightbourne (BER)

FIFA Ranking: 174

Nickname: Gombey Warriors

Qualification: Nations League 5th Place

Appearance: N/A - Best Finish: Debut

Roster Breakdown: 10 Domestic, 7 England, 2 USA, 1 Iceland, 1 Ireland, 1 Italy, 1 Estonia

Player To Watch: FWD Zeiko Lewis, Charleston Battery (USA), 19 Int’l Appearances, 6 Goals – The former BC Eagle was an MLS Draft pick a few years ago, and made quite the impression with our friends at Once A Metro. He also led Bermuda with 4 goals in Nations League qualification including a hat trick in a 12-0 demoition of minnos Sint Maarten.

Tournament Outlook

As far as group draws go, this one is pretty favorable for Bermuda. While it’s unlikely they can get a result against Costa Rica to top the group, it’s not impossible for them to get results against Nicaragua or Haiti. They beat El Salvador 1-0 at home in the Nations League and beat Guyana in a pre-tournament friendly and both of those teams are in the Gold Cup. For a debutant team looking to cause some havoc in the group stages, it’s certainly possible to see Bermuda make the quarters.

COSTA RICA [CRC/B1]

Head Coach: Gustavo Matosas (ARG)

FIFA Ranking: 39

Nickname: Los Ticos

Qualification: The Hex, 2nd Place

Appearance: 14th / Best Finish: Runners-up (2002)

Roster Breakdown: 7 Domestic, 5 MLS, 2 Mexico, 1 Spain, 1 England, 1 Scotland, 1 Turkey, 1 Brazil, 1 South Korea, 1 Israel, 1 Denmark, 1 Qatar

Player To Know: FWD Joel Campbell, Leon (MEX), 86 Int’l Appearances, 17 Goals - The former Arsenal attacker, Campbell has spent a significant amount of his career on loan despite his immense talents. If Costa Rica is going to break through and make a final, they’ll need him and their other stars to have big tournaments.

Player To Watch: GKs Bryan Segura, Marco Madrigal, Leonel Moreira - Keylor Navas isn’t walking through that door, which means Costa Rica have a total of 12 international caps in net on their roster and 11 of those belong to Moreira. For all the depth and experience on this roster, this position could be a huge question mark in the knockout stages.

Tournament Outlook

For all of the obvious and overwhelming talent Costa Rica has and the number of knockout stages Los Ticos make, they have just two semifinal appearances in the last seven tournaments. We talked about the questions at goalkeeper but we’ve been waiting for this team to have the same kind of performance as they did at the 2014 World Cup. This generation is more than talented enough to win the Gold Cup more than once, yet they rarely sniff the title game. They should dominate this group but if they’re not pouring on the goals there will be doubts about how deep they can go in the knockout stages.

HAITI [HAI/B2]

Head Coach: Marc Collat (FRA)

FIFA Ranking: 101

Nickname: Les Grenadiers

Qualification: Nations League 1st Place

Appearance: 7th / Best Finish: Quarterfinals (2002, 2009, 2015)

Roster Breakdown: 3 Domestic, 5 USA, 4 France, 2 Belgium, 2 Armenia, 1 Chile, 1 Portugal, 1 Azerbaijan, 1 Dominican Republic, 1 Spain, 1 Sweden, 1 Unattached

Player To Know: MID Zachary Herivaux, New England Revolution (USA), 5 Int’l Apperances, 0 Goals - Blatant homerism alert, Go Zach!

Player To Watch: FWD Duckens Nazon, Sint Truiden (BEL), 26 Int’l Apperances, 16 Goals - Nazon is a legit goal scorer and scored twice in the 2015 Gold Cup as Haiti stormed their way into the knockout stages that year. A repeat performance could see Haiti make the quarters again.

Tournament Outlook

Haiti is another squad that has two recent wins over Gold Cup teams, defeating Nicaragua in Nations League play on the road and also beating Cuba at home to secure the top of the table in the qualifying tournament. Ranking wise, this is the second best team in the group and they can easily prove that on the field. But this is also CONCACAF, where logic doesn’t always play out and if Haiti are to have a significant breakthrough in the region, this is the year to do it and a quarterfinal run is a good way to start.

NICARAGUA [NCA/B3]

Head Coach: Henry Duarte (CRC)

FIFA Ranking: 129

Nickname: Los Pinoleros

Qualification: Nations League, 9th Place

Appearance: 3rd / Best Finish: Group Stage (2009, 2017)

Roster Breakdown: 13 Domestic, 4 Costa Rica, 1 Boliva, 1 Spain, 1 Greece, 1 Guatemala, 1 Iran, 1 Norway

Player To Watch: F/M Juan Barrera, Municipal (GUA), 48 Int’l Appearances, 17 Goals - It’s a short list of potential stars on the roster, but the Nicaraguan captain certainly qualifies. He’s got decent experience including short stints in Venezuela and Austria. Was a big time scorer with Real Esteli, one of Nicaragua’s best clubs, back in 2013-15.

Tournament Outlook

In any other group, this would likely be a short tournament for Los Pinoleros, but Group B is as wide open as they get for second place. Nicaragua will have to turn around that Nations League loss to Haiti or at least draw the Grenadiers and hope to advance on four points with a win over Bermuda and goal difference. It’s not impossible, as Nicaragua did win the second leg of that Gold Cup Playoff just two years ago, but with Haiti’s current form it still seems unlikely.

GROUP OVERVIEW

I don’t think anyone can take down the Ticos besides themselves, but Haiti can certainly give them fits if Costa Rica doesn’t bring their “A” game. I think the back end of this group is going to have a lot of entertaining soccer and I’m really rooting for Bermuda to grab a point or two in this group. I still think Haiti will be the second team through to the quarters, but the Gombey Warriors earned their top flight Nations League spot and I think they’ll prove why even without making the knockouts.

PREDICTIONS

(1) Costa Rica, (2) Haiti, (3) Bermuda, (4) Nicaragua