What is The Gold Cup?

The Gold Cup is a national soccer competition organized by CONCACAF. It is a significantly popular tournament in the confederation held every two years.

CONCACAF GOLD CUP Trophy;  the tournament in the confederation is held every two yearsCompetition: GOLD CUP
Founded: 1963 (Launched by CONCACAF in 1991)
Confederation: CONCACAF
Number of teams: 38
Region: North America, Central America & the Caribbean

The participating nations compete to find the regional champions. There have been 12 tournaments and Mexico has been the most successful team having won six titles. The current title holders are U.S who follow closely with five titles. Canada is the only other team to win the title having been victorious in 2000. Basically, only teams from the North American Zone have won the title. Other runners up of the competition are Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama.

U.S became the first champions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 1991History of The Gold Cup

After the integration of NAFC and CCCF in 1961, the newly formed CONCACAF set up a single competition for the nations in the region. The first competition was held in 1963 and El Salvador was chosen as the host nation. The inaugural tournament replaced the prior CCCF Championship that run from 1941-1961 which only had nations from Central America and the Caribbean competing.

Initially, the tournament had a six-team format and was referred as the CONCACAF Championship until 1989. The tournament transformed in 1991, acquiring a new title, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and a new format to accommodate eight teams. U.S became the first champions of the Gold Cup when they outscored Honduras 4-3 in the penalty kicks in the final.

Thereafter, Mexico made a record three straight-wins when it took the Gold Cup in 1993, 1996 and 1998. In 1996, Brazil became the very first guest nation in the tournament. The Gold Cup has now grown to the current number of twelve participants starting with the 2000 tournament. It also serves as the qualifying contest for the Copa America. Four top teams, excluding those that qualify automatically, go for play-offs to determine the two teams that play in the next Copa America.

USA - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup ChampionCONCACAF Gold Cup regionals & participants

Teams taking part in the tournament represent three regions; North America, Central America and the Caribbean islands. UNCAF Copa Centroamericana determines the nations that qualify from Central America and the qualifiers from the Caribbean are decided through the Caribbean cup.

The Gold Cup is usually held in the United States. However, Mexico has been a co-host of the tournament in 1993 and 2003. The North Americans get three automatic entries to the tournament, five teams represent Central America and four teams for the Caribbean. The Gold Cup is customarily held in the month of June or July and each team presents a squad of 23 players.

Starting 2015, the fifth placed team in the Caribbean Cup and the Copa Centroamericana will head into a playoff to determine who qualifies. Hence, the Central America zone and the Caribbean zone will have either four or five teams qualifying.

Image below: CONCACAF's early international competitions were small enough to be held in Central America and even on the larger Caribgean Islands, but the advent of the Gold Cup has meant the US and Mexico have a stangehold on hosting rights. ( The Football Book )

CONCACAF Gold Cup early international competitors

A member of FIFA, Mexico is the most successful team in The Gold Cup with 6 titlesCONCACAF Gold Cup tournament schedule & format

The previous tournaments have seen the eligible teams grouped into three groups, each with four teams. The Gold Cup Organizing Committee determines the draws. Each team plays three matches against the other teams in the group and earn three points for a win, none for a loss and one point for a drawn match.

In case of a tie in the second or third position, teams are then ranked in terms of greater goal difference, greater number of goals scored by a team, greater number of points garnered between the teams concerned and finally through the drawing of lots.

The third placed teams are ranked alongside each other to determine which two from the three groups make it to the quarter finals. Therefore, there are eight teams that advance from the group stage. The teams go into the knockout stage which is divided into the quarter finals, semifinals and final. Matches can go into extra time and even penalty kicks in order to find the winner of each match.

In the previous tournaments, the champion qualified for the following FIFA Confederations Cup with the exception of the times when both were held in the same year. However, this team ought to be a member of FIFA as well. From the 2013 tournament, the winners of two consecutive Gold Cups will have to take part in a playoff to find who qualifies for the next Confederations Cup. There is no play off held if one nation wins successive titles. For instance, the U.S. will play the 2015 Gold Cup winners in a playoff to decide the qualifier for the 2017 Confederations Cup.

Example of CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament format: 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament Schedule

2013 Gold Cup Tournament Schedule

CONCACAF Gold Cup host nations

United States 1991, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013
Mexico 1993, 2003


CONCACAF Gold Cup participating nations

North American Football Union Members
Canada 11
Mexico 12
United States 12
Caribbean Football Union Members
Cuba 7
Grenada 2
Guadeloupe 3
Haiti 5
Jamaica 8
Martinique 4
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1
Trinidad and Tobago 8
Central American Football Union Members
Belize 1
Costa Rica 11
El Salvador 8
Guatemala 9
Honduras 11
Nicaragua 1
Panama 6
Guest Nations
Brazil 3
Colombia 3
Ecuador 1
Peru 1
South Africa 1
South Korea 2


CONCACAF Gold Cup Top Goalscorers

Name of Player Country Goals
Landon Donovan United States 18
Luis Roberto Alves Mexico 12
Blas Perez Panama 10
Eric Wynalda United States 9
Carlos Pavón Honduras 9
Walter Centeno Costa Rica 9
Brian McBride United States 8
Rodolfo Zelaya El Salvador 8
Carlo Costly Honduras 8


CONCACAF Gold Cup Most Valuable Players

Name of Player Country Year
Tony Meola United States 1991
Ramón Ramírez Mexico 1993
Raúl Lara Mexico 1996
Kasey Keller United States 1998
Craig Forrest Canada 2000
Brian McBride United States 2002
Jesús Arellano Mexico 2003
Luis Tejada Panama 2005
Julian de Guzman Canada 2007
Giovani dos Santos Mexico 2009
Javier Hernández Mexico 2011
Landon Donovan United States 2013


CONCACAF Gold Cup Winning Head Coaches

Name of Coach Country or Team Year
Bora Milutinovic United States 1991
Miguel Mejía Barón Mexico 1993
Bora Milutinovic Mexico 1996
Manuel Lapuente Mexico 1998
Holger Osieck Canada 2000
Bruce Arena United States 2002
Ricardo La Volpe Mexico 2003
Bruce Arena United States 2005
Bob Bradley United States 2007
Javier Aguirre Mexico 2009
José Manuel de la Torre Mexico 2011
Jürgen Klinsmann United States 2013