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Curacao vs. El Salvador: CONCACAF Gold Cup Prediction and Preview

Curacao vs. El Salvador: CONCACAF Gold Cup Prediction and Preview

Curacao vs. El Salvador: CONCACAF Gold Cup Prediction and Preview

Here are two teams who aren't exactly strangers to the Gold Cup, but have yet to make a true impact in this tournament. El Salvador and Curacao will begin their portion of the 2019 Gold Cup when they face each other on Monday to kick off Group C play. El Salvador is one of seven teams representing Latin America, while Curacao is among seven island nations taking part in this year's event. After Tuesday's match, each will move to the rest of group play, which will include games against Jamaica and Honduras.

Curacao vs. El Salvador

When: Monday, June 17 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: National Stadium (Kingston, Jamaica)

TV: FS1 and Univision

Three Things to Watch

1. Hello, Curacao

Most soccer fans may not be familiar with this country but the team is familiar to the Gold Cup. The Island of Curacao is a territory of the Netherlands located in the southern portion of the Caribbean, just a few miles north of the South American coast. Curacao is more known for producing Major League Baseball players such as retired outfielder Andruw Jones, and current Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons among others. But this island also has a talented soccer team that is ready to put on a show in Kingston.

Curacao is making its second straight Gold Cup appearance. They went 0-3 in the group stage back in 2017, and they did qualify for the '05 edition but withdrew without playing a match. They are, however, the defending Caribbean Cup Champions (2017), and they've posted a 5-1-2 record in their last eight games leading into this Gold Cup. They also played in the old CONCACAF Championship tournament in which they posted two third-place finishes (1963, '69). Midfielder Leandro Bacuna (20 caps, 12 goals) is the player to pay attention to on this roster.

2. El Salvador is ready to take the next step

The Salvadorians are making their seventh trip to the Gold Cup and their 11th appearance overall. They've reached the quarterfinals in three of the last four Gold Cups, but they're looking to finally reach the next level in this event. El Salvador has an 8-17-7 Gold Cup record. They've also found success in the previous CONCACAF Championship in which they were the runners-up twice (1963, '81), and also posted a third-place finish (1977). They've never played in the FIFA World Cup as they withdrew from the 1950 edition, and have yet to qualify for any other (2022 still to be determined).

El Salvador has finished in either third or fourth place in every Copa Centroamericana except for 2005. They were also winners of the 1943 CCCF (pre-CONCACAF) Championship and have picked up eight medals overall in the Central American Games through the years. Led by forward Nelson Bonilla (40 caps and 14 goals scored), the Salvadorian team has gone 8-3 in their previous 11 matches while outscoring their opposition in those games 15-8.

3. Making history

With this game being played in Kingston it'll mark just the second time that Gold Cup matches will be contested outside of North America. Costa Rica had the honor of being the first country to do so this past weekend. It gives both teams a chance to play in front of local fans that may not have seen these national teams up close and personal before. It'll be interesting to see how these squads react to the environment.

Final Analysis

Curacao could be an exciting, young (20 of their 23 players are under the age of 30) team to watch but El Salvador has too much experience behind them. That experience will win this game for them, and it could benefit them as the tournament progresses.

Prediction: El Salvador 3, Curacao 2

— 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.