Here are two teams that don't get a ton of international exposure. Canada and Martinique will play each other in the official opener of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup this weekend. Our neighbors to the north are the only team other than the U.S. and Mexico to win a Gold Cup title, and they've hosted this event in the past as well. Now the Canadians are making their 11th straight appearance, 14th appearance overall, and they look to prove that Canada can succeed in this sport.
Martinique isn't too well known outside of CONCACAF circles. They're playing in the Gold Cup for the sixth time, and they'll have a tall task ahead of them in Group A, which also includes Mexico and Cuba. They don't necessarily have the talent level that other teams in this event do, but they are fearless every time they take the field.
Canada vs. Martinique
When: Saturday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
TV: FOX or FS1 and Univision
Three Things to Watch
1. Getting to know Martinique
The island of Martinique is a territory of France in the Caribbean, located between the islands of St. Lucia and Dominica. Their national soccer team is a member of CONCACAF, but not a member of FIFA, which prevents them from participating in events such as the FIFA World Cup. But they are well known to the Gold Cup as they are playing in this tournament for the sixth time. They reached the quarterfinals back in 2002 where they actually lost to Canada on penalty kicks.
They've actually gone 1-2 against Canada in this event. Gold Cup aside, however, Martinique has won two Caribbean Football Union championships (1983, '85), one Caribbean Cup title (1993), and the 2010 Coupe de l'Outre-Mer, which was a tournament held exclusively for all French Overseas Territories. But the Gold Cup is the most high-profile event that they've played in, and they're hoping to add a Gold Cup trophy to their list.
2. Oh Canada
The country has just started to celebrate the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA title and historically Canada has been a hockey-centric nation. But the Canadian National Soccer team does have some success on its resume. In 2000 they became the first nation other than Mexico or the United States to win a Gold Cup title. In 2015, they became the first team other than the aforementioned nations to host the event.
Since the Gold Cup began in 1991, Canada has qualified for every edition although they did withdraw from the tournament in '98. Canada has also won the former CONCACAF Championship (1985), they played in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, played in three summer Olympic games (1904, '76, '84), and played in the 1986 World Cup. They will co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup alongside its North American neighbors (U.S. and Mexico).
3. Talent advantage goes to Canada
Twelve of Canada's 23 players also suit up in Major League Soccer (MLS). Other players on their roster sport uniforms for professional leagues such as the Scottish Premiership, the Premier League (U.K.), the German Bundesliga, and Mexico's Liga MX. Midfielders Will Johnson (44 caps, 4 goals) and Atiba Hutchinson (82 caps, 7 goals) are their top players.
Martinique is led by midfielder Daniel Herelle (70 caps, 3 goals) and forward Kevin Parsemain (52 caps, 34 goals), but the majority of their players suit up for local club teams throughout the various French islands. Experience and talent advantage goes to "The Canucks" as Team Canada is affectionately known.
Herelle and Parsemain give Martinique a chance, but Canada's experience and overall talent win out in the end. But this game will be close to some degree.
Prediction: Canada 3, Martinique 1
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.