Compared to other continental championships around the world, the Gold Cup is a relatively recent tournament, only debuting in 1991. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that the tournament lacks history. Join us as we look back to the winners of previous Gold Cups, and the paths they took to arrive at the championship.
USA - 1991 Gold Cup
While the United States had historically struggled to make their mark on Concacaf, they surprised the region by winning the first iteration of the Gold Cup, held in 1991. Hosted by the United States, with matches held exclusively in Los Angeles, the US team shocked Mexico 2-0 in the semifinals, before squuezing past Honduras in the final through penalties. With a team that included US soccer mainstays like Marcelo Balboa, Peter Vermes, Paul Caligiuri and Dominic Kinnear, the 1991 squad played an influential role in developing soccer in the United States.
Mexico - 1993 Gold Cup
Perhaps influenced by their unexpected loss to the United States in the 1991 Gold Cup semifinals, Mexico stormed back in 1993, winning the tournament while scoring a total of 28 goals, and conceding only 2. So dominant were the Mexican team, that leading goalscorer, Zaguinho, set a Gold Cup record by scoring 11 goals during the course of the tournament, with 7 put in during an individual game against Martinique.
Mexico - 1996 Gold Cup
While Brazil's agreement to take part in the 1996 Gold Cup, coming just two years after they took home the 1994 World Cup, seemed to throw a wrench into Mexico's plans, the tournament managed to be just as memorable for the Mexican team as 1993. Blistering through their matches, the Mexicans did not concede throughout the course of the tourament, culminating in a 2-0 victory over Brazil in front of 88,000 fans in Los Angeles. Eric Wynalda scored the most goals during the tournament with four, but the real plaudits trailed Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who pushed Mexico past a tough Guatemala side, before scoring a clinhing goal against Brazil.
Mexico - 1998 Gold Cup
While the United States seemed on the verge of winning the 1998 Gold Cup, with hard-fought victories coming against Costa Rica and Brazil on their path towards the final , Mexico once again managed to take home the trophy, prevailing over the US 1-0 in front of 91,000 fans at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The Mexicans, for their part, did not have a straight-forward tournament either, suffering during a tight match against Jamaica that they only won after a goal in the 105th minute. For that reason, colorful Mexican goalkeeper, Jorge Campos, was named as player of the tournament.
Canada - 2000 Gold Cup
Given the stranglehold that Mexico and the United States had held over the tournament, it was a complete shock when Canada managed to win the 2000 Gold Cup. In fact, it was surprising that Canada managed to advance out of the group stage at all, relying on a coin toss to move forward after all three teams in their group finished with 2 points. Unexpected defeats to Colombia and Canada for the US and Mexico, respectively, paved the way for the Cannadians. A 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago saw them advance to the final, where they defeated Colombia 2-0. Unfortunately for the Canadians, they have yet to be able to replicate the form which propelled their unlikely victory.
USA - 2002 Gold Cup
11 years had passed since the United States won their first, and at the time, only Gold Cup, but 2002 proved to be a tournament worth remembering for the Americans. Conceding only 1 goal on their path to the final, the Americans were in good form, bolstered by Mexico's early exit against South Korea in the quarterfinals. Coming up against Canada in the semifinals, luck once more seemed to side with the Canadians, who had to rely on another coin flip to advance from the group stages. Nevertheless, the US beat Canada in penalties, and advanced to a final in which they took down a relatively listless Costa Rica, 2-0. American legend Brian McBride scored the most goals in the tournament with four, on his way to being named most valuable player.
Mexico - 2003 Gold Cup
Drawn into a difficult group alongside Brazil and Honduras, the 2003 Gold Cup seemed a difficult proposition for the Mexican side. A late winner from Jared Borgetti stole a win against Brazil in their opening match, but a 0-0 draw against Honduras ensured that the Mexicans would not take the tournament lightly. A 5-0 quarterfinal hammering of Jamiaca took Mexico to the semifinals, where they took down Costa Rica 2-0, while Brazil struggled past the Americans 2-1 in extra time, setting up a final rematch of the tournament's opening game. The final was a tight affair, a give-and-take match, but an extra-time goal from Daniel Osorno proved decisive, winning Mexico their fourth Gold Cup title.
USA - 2005 Gold Cup
While Panama seemed on the verge of winning the 2005 Gold Cup, with Panamanians winning both the tournament's Most Valuable Player and Best Goalkeeper awards, they ultimately slipped in the final, losing to the United States in penalties. For their part, the Americans were driven by a team-wide effort. Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley both scored three goals, and crucial goals from John O'Brien and Oguchi Onyewu drove the US past Honduras in the semifinals when they were only five minutes from elimination.The victory proved to be decisive in giving the United State's their third Gold Cup championship.
USA - 2007 Gold Cup
The 2007 Gold Cup saw a reversal in the typical fortunes of the United States and Mexico. The United States started strong, not conceding in their group, while Mexico slumped to a second place finish after an unexpected loss to Honduras. Nevertheless, both teams found their way to the final, a close match fought in front of 60,000 fans at Chicago's Soldier Field. Mexico struck first, with a 44th minute goal courtesy of Andres Guardado, but the US refused to capitulate, winning a penalty in the 62nd minute that leveled the score. Benny Feilhaber then scored late in the match, giving the United States their second consecutive Gold Cup, and fourth overall.
Mexico - 2009 Gold Cup
Driven by the recent struggles they had faced, Mexico entered the 2009 Gold Cup looking for vengeance. With a squad underlined by young stars such as Giovani dos Santos, Pablo Barrera and Carlos Vela, they rarely faced a challenge during the duration of the tournament, with the only roadbump an extra-time victory over Costa Rica in the semifinals. A much anticipated final against the United States proved non-competitive, as Mexico hammered the US 5-0, winning the team their fifth Gold Cup.
Mexico - 2011 Gold Cup
The 2011 Gold Cup is one remembered primarily for the final, and rightfully so. As expected, both the United States and Mexico advanced to the final, setting up a rematch of the 2009 final which Mexico had won 5-0. The US struck first, and second, as early goals gave them a 2-0 lead by the 23rd minute which seemed to have clinched the match before it had really gotten underway. Mexico fought back, netting two goals before the half that made the game level. Coming out of the locker rooms, the United States seemed overwhelmed, ultimately conceding a well-placed strike to Pablo Barrera just as the game restarted, before Giovani dos Santos made it 4-2 with a goal in which he danced around the US defense, before chipping the ball past a group of helpless defenders. The Gold Cup victory was Mexico's sixth overall, and second consecutive. Will they be able to keep the pace during this year's tournament?