Copa Oro team debrief, cheat sheet, predictions

Every quick breakdown of every team at the 2024 Gold Cup, with histories, key players and cheeky stats.

Copa Oro team debrief, cheat sheet, predictions
Courtesy of Concacaf

🫑 Alright, alright, alright. Good morning! And happy W Gold Cup to all who celebrate!

Intros often run too long and there are 12 teams to get to so I will try not to bore you.

But for those who don't know, here's what you need to know:

- The 2024 Women's Gold Cup kicks off TODAY, 20th February. Check out the full fixture list here. Watch on Paramount+ in the U.S. and ESPN+ in Spanish, as well as ESPN in most of Central and South America.
- In the year 2000 there was a women's Gold Cup, but since then it has been exclusively played by the men. This is an overdue return but a rather exciting one.
- The host city for Groups A is in Carson, CA. Group B is in San Diego, CA. Group C is Houston, TX. The quarterfinals will be in Los Angeles, CA, and the semifinals and final will take place in San Diego, CA.
- Although it is traditionally a North American and Central American tournament there are four teams from South America invited to participate.
- Why? Well, you know money, capitalism, but also to increase the competition level and to attract more nations to get tournament experience before this summer's Olympics. This is not uncommon in the region.
- There will be a group stage, with three groups of four teams. Then a quarterfinal, with the top eight teams (three 1st place, three 2nd place, and two 3rd place finishers). Then a semifinal, and then the grand final.

Phew. Let's get to previewing every team so you have a cheat sheet to get a little debrief on the nations you are less familiar with. My ill-advised predictions will be at the very end.

Group A


2023 WC Performance: Round of 16

2022 Continental Performance: Winner

Star player: Naomi Girma – What more is left to say about the United States' flawless rock at the back? Intelligent. Wise. Tactful when isolated 1-v-1. Incisive passer in possession.

Young player to watch: Jaedyn Shaw – Creativity and cohesion are the two big questions surrounding the favourites heading into the tournament. The 19-year-old Texan could be the answer. She can pop up anywhere around the box, breaking lines with passes or nifty runs.

Cheeky stat: The USA has never lost a match it has played in the state of California, the state that will host its entire Gold Cup path. Their record is W:49 L: 0 D: 4.


2023 WC Performance: DNQ

2022 Continental Performance: Group stage

Star player: Steph Mayor – 'The General', as she is known in Mexico, recently became the first-ever UANL Tigres player to reach 100 goals for the club. The attacking midfielder can be a decisive matchwinner.

Young player to watch: Diana OrdΓ³Γ±ez – There's been some corners of the fanbase perplexed by her inclusion in the Gold Cup squad after a poor 2023 NWSL season with the Houston Dash. The powerful 22-year-old centre forward will have plenty to prove.

Cheeky stat: El Tri went unbeaten in all competitions in 2023, winning 17 matches and drawing two. The last time they lost a match was a 1-0 defeat to New Zealand in September 2022. Curiously, also at Gold Cup venue Dignity Health Sports Park, in Carson, CA.


2023 WC Performance: Group Stage

2022 Continental Performance: Semifinal

Star player:
Mariana Larroquette β€“ The Orlando Pride forward hasn't played for her country since a shocking 8-0 defeat to Japan in September 2023. Preparation for the Gold Cup has been slim. Her end product in the final third will be crucial.

Young player to watch: Chiara Singarella – The left-footed wide forward has a penchant for tricks when playing for the University of South Alabama, where she notched 16 goals (9G/7A) involvements in 18 matches last season. She likely won't start but should offer spice off the bench. Decent on set pieces too.

Cheeky stat: Argentina, coached by GermΓ‘n Portanova, has scored in only one of their last eight matches.

Dominican Republic

2023 WC Performance: DNQ

2022 Continental Performance: DNQ

Star player: Lucia Leon – Team captain and journeywoman, the winger's experience going up against intimidating opposition in the English Women's Super League and Spain's Liga F will be vital.

Young player to watch: Jaylen Vallecillo – The 17-year-old from New York got the assist in the 1-0 prelim win over Guyana. She showed verve and tenacity carrying the ball in tight spaces. In 2023, the midfielder averaged a goal or an assist every 61 minutes for Queensboro FC in the USLW.

Cheeky stat: 12 of the D.R. squad currently play their football in the United States college system, five are currently without a senior team, and two play professionally in Europe.

Group B


Nayra Halm / Staff Images Woman | Courtesy of CBF

2023 WC Performance: Group Stage

2022 Continental Performance: Winner

Star player: Adriana– There is a constellation of bright supernovas on the Selecao. But the Orlando Pride forward stands out because of her astonishing world-class dribbling ability. A potential player of the year candidate in the NWSL.

Young player to watch: Tarciane – A 20-year-old centreback who was fast-tracked through the Fluminese youth system and turned professional at 17. Now with 2023 Copa Libertadores winners Corinthians, she is beginning to break into the senior national team. Excellent timing on tackles and recovery speed.

Cheeky stat: Brazil participated in the original inaugural 2000 W Gold Cup, eventually losing 1-0 to the United States.


2023 WC Performance: Quarterfinals

2022 Continental Performance: Runner-up

Star player: Linda Caicedo – A once-in-a-generation talent who has an impossibly high ceiling. Sprinkles magic wherever she goes. Absent attacking teammates, Mayra Ramirez and Leicy Santos, will likely increase the defensive focus on her.

Young player to watch: Linda Caicedo – At just 18 years old the Real Madrid forward is also the youngest player on the Chicas Ponderosas' squad. Phenomenal balance and close control combines with insouciant shot selection.

Cheeky stat: Caicedo scored every shot on target that she had at the 2023 World Cup (two).


2023 WC Performance: Group Stage

2022 Continental Performance: Group Stage

Star player: Marta Cox – Reports suggest that the 'No.10' turned down interest from West Ham United and Liverpool to stay closer to the U.S, eventually signing a short-term contract with Tijuana in January. Although she has struggled for minutes and fitness since the move, do not underestimate her technical ability, especially from set pieces.

Young player to watch: Kat Parris – Another young dual national, who grew up in the D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, MD. She now plays for the University of Maryland having transferred after a successful spell at Radford. The centre forward won't be expected to start, but could make an impact late on in matches.

Cheeky stat: Head coach Ignacio 'Nacho' Quintana opted for continuity, and called up 17 of the 23 players that went to the 2023 World Cup.

Puerto Rico

2023 WC Performance: DNQ

2022 Continental Performance: DNQ

Star player: Sydney Martinez – After the game of her life in the prelims against Haiti, it's hard not to spotlight the goalkeeper who plies her trade in the Norwegian second division. Good footwork helped maximize her athletic saves. She will be kept busy.

Young player to watch: Jailene de Jesus – Often a creative midfielder for St. John's University, the 20-year-old from Pennsylvania has often become a defensive 'No.10' for her country. An advanced shield who will also help lead counter attacks or help the team reset shape behind her.

Cheeky stat: Puerto Rico average 39% possession over the past 12 months. Park the bus. Stay compact.

Group C


2023 WC Performance: Group Stage

2022 Continental Performance: Runner up

Star player: Ashley Lawrence – It was a bit of rocky start to life with Chelsea after the full back arrived from Paris Saint Germain in the summer of 2023. But gradually Lawrence has rediscovered her form and potential to be one of the best two-way defenders in the world. She can make Canada tick.

Young player to watch: Livy Smith – After struggling to break into the Penn State team in 2022, the right-sided attacker opted to turn pro in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon. The 19-year-old has hit the ground running with six goals in 12 matches (868 minutes) during her debut season.

Cheeky stat: The last time Canada won a competitive American continental tournament was in 2010, when they defeated Mexico in the final of the World Cup qualifying Concacaf championship.


2023 WC Performance: DNQ

2022 Continental Performance: Semifinal

Star player: Jessica Martinez – The forward scored in every group match at the 2023 Pan-American Games as well as every group match at the 2022 Copa America. Can strike the ball devilishly from range, happy to take touches to work an angle and take players on.

Young player to watch: Fatima Acosta – Before her 18th birthday, the forward marched through the Paraguayan youth ranks and into the senior national team. Now 19, she's playing in her first season for Sao Paulo in Brazil. Scoring goals could be a challenge. And Acosta will need to have a knack of making the most of what falls her way.

Cheeky stat: Paraguay has never finished higher than fourth at any tournament it has competed in. Could this Gold Cup be different?

Costa Rica

2023 WC Performance: Group Stage

2022 Continental Performance: Semifinals

Star player: Rocky Rodriguez – After four seasons with the Portland Thorns, the midfielder was a marquee $275,000 signing for Angel City FC this winter. While primarily known as a box-to-box type in the NWSL, she has more creative responsibility for her country. At 29, Rodriguez is already the record goalscorer for Las Ticas with 55.

Young player to watch: Priscila Chinchilla – The 21-year-old left winger's club career is stuttering after a recent contract release from Pachuca, where she averaged a more-than-solid 0.39 goals p90. She is currently a free agent and will put herself in the shop window with a bright display in Houston.

Cheeky stat: Despite exiting at the Group Stage, goalkeeper Dani Solera made more saves (24) than any other player at the 2023 World Cup. Her post-shot expected goals - goals conceded (sometimes known as goals prevented) metric was a very admirable +1.2 too.

El Salvador

2023 WC Performance: DNQ

2022 Continental Performance: DNQ

Star player: Brenda Ceren – The compact forward, who plays for Atlas in Mexico, scored a splashy hat-trick in the prelims against Guatemala. It showcased her jittery skills as a player who can bear down on goal and make sharp movements to find space in the box to take shots.

Young player to watch: Victoria Meza – One of two players who played for Texas State in 2023, the holding midfielder is a disruptor and distributor in the middle of the pitch for La Selecta. Her uncle, Mario, made 36 caps for the men's national team in the 1990s and has helped Victoria as a mentor.

Cheeky stat: Won seven from seven in qualifying (including the prelims), scoring 27 goals and conceding 3. Confidence is high.

Winner: Brazil
Runner up: USA
SFs: Brazil-El Salvador, USA-Mexico
QFs: Brazil, Colombia, USA, Mexico, Canada, El Salvador, Panama, Costa Rica
Top scorer: Geyse, Brazil