How qualified: As last-minute replacements for Curacao, whose inclusion was doomed by COVID-19. “Unfortunately, the Curaçao delegation returned a significant number of positive results across their staff and players in the last round of testing,” read a Concacaf statement
Gold Cup history: Guatemala were a regional power in the ’60’s, but haven’t gone as far as the quarters since 2011. This will be their 11th Gold Cup foray.
Head coach: Under-20 coach Rafael Loredo jumped into the breach on an interim basis when the team were suddenly entered into the field. He steps in for Amarini Villatoro, who was let go earlier this week after failing to qualify for Gold Cup through traditional means.
Key man: Most of Guatemala’s strong runs of results over the past decade have come with Ricardo Jerez in goal. The 35-year-old positions well, so while he may be beaten behind this defense, it won’t be cheaply. In a wide open group race for second place behind Mexico, they’ll need his best.
Player to watch: Darwin Lom may play in the American third flight, but he has taken to international soccer swimmingly. The 23-year-old forward has six goals in a dozen caps and various ways to notch more.
MLS connections: Former FC Dallas left back Moises Hernandez developed in the MLS side’s renowned academy. Rodrigo Saravia was briefly with Columbus.
Projection: It was a surprise that Los Chapines didn’t qualify in the first place, as they’re a balanced team that was in decent form until the once-damning shootout loss to Guadeloupe. In another group, their chances to advance to the knockouts might be a lot slimmer. In a group with two question mark sides and Mexico, whom they tend to play tough at Gold Cups, their chances are fairly good for a team that snuck in the tournament’s back door.