Two of the more underrated teams in this tournament will kick off Group D play
The group stage of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup heads to the Twin Cities on Tuesday. Panama and Trinidad and Tobago have combined to make 18 appearances in this event, but neither team has been able to walk away with the trophy. And they'll have to go through one another in Minnesota as the opening games of group play conclude and the tournament progresses. Group D also includes Team USA and Guyana so both teams will have some work to do if they want to advance to the knockout stages.
Panama vs. Trinidad and Tobago
When: Tuesday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Allianz Field (St. Paul, Minn.)
TV: FS1 and Univision
Three Things to Watch
1. The Red Tide
Is the nickname for team Panama, who's now reached eight straight Gold Cup Tournaments. The Central American country has reached the finals twice (2005, '13), but couldn't overcome Team USA either time. Since 2005, Panama has reached at least the knockout stage in every Gold Cup. Their first appearance back in 1993 was the only time in which the Panamanians didn't advance past group play. Panama does, however, have some championships on their resume.
Panama won the 1951 CCCF Championship, the 1963 CONCACAF Championship, the 2009 Copa Centroamericana title, and qualified for last year's FIFA World Cup. But this team also has struggled lately, coming into this Gold Cup with an 0-7-3 record in their last 10 matches (outscored 20-4 in that span). Roman (111 caps, 10 goals) and Gabriel (80 caps, 15 goals,) Torres — no relation — are the leaders and two of the most experienced players on Panama's roster.
2. The Soca Warriors
The team from Trinidad and Tobago, a south Caribbean country made up of neighboring islands just off the shores of Venezuela, is nicknamed after its most popular brand of music which occasionally draws comparisons to Reggae and genres from other Caribbean islands. This is the island nation's ninth Gold Cup appearance with their best finish thus far being reaching the semifinals back in 2000. They are best remembered, however, for their only World Cup appearance back in 2006 where they opened up against Sweden and held the European power to a scoreless draw while playing with just 10 men, including their backup goalkeeper (Shaka Hislop).
Trinidad and Tobago is the most decorated team when it comes to the Caribbean Cup with eight championships (1989, '92, '94, '95, '96, '97, '99, 2001). Jamaica is second with six. Their all-time Gold Cup record stands at 5-12-5 with 26 total games in this event. Midfielder Kevin Molino is very familiar with Allianz Field as his club team, Minnesota United of Major League Soccer, plays their home games there. He also leads his country in goals scored (19) and ranks fourth in caps (44).
Similar to Panama, Trinidad and Tobago has been struggling recently. The national team is just 1-4-1 in their last six games.
3. These teams have a history with one another
Not surprisingly, these two teams have faced each other numerous times before. Trinidad and Tobago leads the head-to-head series 10-6-6 advantage with both teams combining for 48 goals. That familiarity will play a critical role.
Both teams come into this match in need of a win. They're also evenly matched to some degree, they know one another well, and they know what it takes to be successful at the Gold Cup. Both teams pick up a point in this matchup but it will end in a stalemate.
Prediction: Panama 1, Trinidad and Tobago, 1 (Draw)
— 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.