The biggest tournament this year for the CONCACAF region is the CONCACAF W Championship which is set to start next week (Monday, July 4th). I’m joined by André Carlisle, Eugene Rupinski and Theo Lloyd-Hughes to put down in words some of our thoughts on who will thrive in Mexico this year.
First up, who do you think will be the Group winners and runner ups?
Eugene: For Group A, I think Mexico will win the group and Jamaica will be the runner ups. Group B winner will be Canada and the runner up will be Costa Rica.
Theo: I see Mexico winning Group A and Canada winning Group B. Not sure who the runner ups will be.
André: I’ll go with Mexico as my Group A winner and the USWNT as the runner ups. For Group B, my winner’s Canada and the runner up will be Costa Rica.
Kudzi: I may wrongly still believe but I see the US winning Group A and Mexico being the runner ups. My Group B picks are the same as everyone else though (Canada and Costa Rica).
For the overall tournament, who are your top four teams?
Eugene: I see Mexico winning the whole thing, beating Canada in the final. Jamaica and Costa Rica will round out the top four teams in the tournament.
Theo: I’m with Eugene. Mexico will beat Canada in the final to the be the CONCACAF W Championship winner. The USWNT and Costa Rica will finish third and fourth respectively.
André: Canada will defeat the USWNT in the final. Mexico and Costa Rica will be the other two teams who will finish in the top four spots.
Kudzi: Has to be Canada vs the US in the final right? They have the two strongest teams and the most depth. I do think Mexico but sneak into the final though and Costa Rica will be the fourth team in the semi-finals.
Which player do you think will have a breakout tournament?
Eugene: María Sánchez aka La ‘Bombi. Not sure if you can consider it a breakout as such but I think this will be her tournament.
Theo: Rebecca Bernal. She’s still not a household name to many but I think she’s due some praise for her game. Mexico’s success will ultimately come down to the game against the USWNT. If Bernal, and Cristina Ferral beside her, defensively hold it down on the biggest stage, then I think they will be remembered vividly.
A bonus breakout player might also be Costa Rica’s Priscilla Chinchilla. She’s coming into the tournament fresh from winning the Scottish league’s Player of the Season award. I’m very excited to watch her on the CONCACAF plateau.
André: Priscilla Chinchilla has the best name in woso.
My pick will be Katty Martínez.
Kudzi: I don’t really have a player at all but since I did interview her earlier this year, I hope Emily Alvarado has an outstanding tournament.
Next up, who do you think will be the dark horse team? The team that you think will surprise people the most?
Eugene: I’m going with Jamaica.
Kudzi: Me too.
Theo: I don’t think there’s going to be a serious dark horse. I think the big three (Canada, Mexico and the USA) will show up as expected. Costa Rica are the most likely team to complete out the semi-finalists.
If there was to be an outsider upset pick, then I would say Costa Rica beating Mexico or the USWNT in the semi-finals but oof, that feels like a remote chance.
André: I’m going to go with Haiti.
Okay, we’re about done here. Do any of you have any other comments you want to add?
Eugene: Group A is clearly the “Group of Death”, and I can see each of the four teams winning out, and each of the four teams losing all four games on any given day. Regardless, it should be a wonderful tournament showcasing the quality of women’s soccer in CONCACAF.
Theo: I wish Jamaica were not with Mexico and the USWNT. Haiti, who were so dominant in the pre-qualifiers, have also been dealt a rough hand. If Jamaica and Haiti go into Group B then I think that second spot becomes really interesting, with more opportunities for upsets.
I’m expecting Canada to go far but I do wonder how their squad’s transition from winning the Gold medal [at the Tokyo Olympics] is going. How are they integrating attacking players and intend to play more on the front foot (Kudzi: Hopefully not how they played against the Korea Republic because that wasn’t encouraging at all). Bev Priestman knows how to absorb pressure from top teams but perhaps unlike some prior tournaments, no one will underestimate this iteration of Canada.
André: The USWNT is coping with a lot of injuries, curious squad selection and a style of play that has yet to fully jive with the current crop of players. Canada won last year’s Olympics, Mexico is much better than they were last year and have a handful of genuine stars, and Jamaica and Haiti are intriguing high-tempo sides capable of taking points off teams. There’s potential for a lot of surprising results, which should make this tournament very intriguing, but also a lot of fun.
Kudzi: I hope Mexico turn out to be fantastic hosts and pushes the idea further in CONCACAF’s mind that not all big tournaments should be played in the US.
Who are your picks to come out on top in the tournament? Sound off below!