With the start of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup just a matter of days away, the attention is drawing towards the opening matches, with tournament hosts the USA taking on Panama on Saturday night. The USA are bidding to win a sixth Gold Cup title, however an opening encounter with Panama may not be as easy as some are predicting. With a residence of less than four million people, Panama are the undoubted underdogs for the encounter, however they have shown on more than one occasion that they are no pushovers.
The duo are the two favourites to make it through to the knockout stages from Group B, as they look to take advantage of an understrength US side. Let’s take a closer look at the two teams, along with our top betting tip for the match.
Head Coach, Bruce Arena, has gone for a mix of youth and inexperience for his Gold Cup squad, however despite this, many are predicting a positive competition for the host nation. Having defeated Ghana in a pre-tournament friendly just last week, the team head into the event full of confidence. Dom Dwyer scored on his international debut against Ghana, while New England’s Kelyn Rowe also enjoyed a good performance on his maiden appearance at this level. Meanwhile, despite also being a newcomer to the international set-up, Kellyn Acosta will have been delighted with his winning goal last time around. Despite Kenny Saief having been ruled out of the competition, Arena has a good selection of players to choose from.
Panama have grown into one of the best teams within the CONCACAF, finishing as runners up in this competition back in 2005 and 2013, as well as taking third place in 2011 and 2015. Coach Hernan Dario Gomez will be hoping to go one better this time around, with the emphasis on Abdiel Arroyo and Ricardo Clarke to step into the void left by Blas Perez and Luis Tejada. Meanwhile, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Anibal Godoy will be hoping to get the better of some of his club team mates on Saturday.
Our Top Betting Tip
Given their status as the tournament hosts, along with their win over Ghana last week, we are backing the USA to come away with three points against Panama. Ladbrokes offer best odds of 4/6 for them to do just that, which is well worth taking advantage of given the talent within their ranks.