The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the top soccer championship for all national teams in North America and the Caribbean. It is a federated CONCACAF tournament in which 12 national squads compete through a group stage and a knock-out stage in order to become the zone’s champions. Mexico is the most successful team in this tournament, with a total of 7 championships. The tournament was bornes in 1963 as the CONCACAF Nations Championship, and it was named as the COCACAF Gold Cup in 1990. Costa Rica was the first Champion, after defeating the host coutry, El Salvador. The US are the defending champions for the 2011 Gold Cup tournament.
CONCACAF was founded in 1961 when the North American Soccer Federation (NAFC) and the Central American and Caribbean Soccer Federation (CCCF) united, creating a single organ that regulates all soccer competitions in the North American continent. The first competition was held in 1963 as the CONCACAF Nations Championship, with El Salvador as host nation. Costa Rica became the first COCACAF Champion after winning the final game, against the host team.
From that moment on, the tournament was held every two years, with a second edition being hosted by Guatemala, In this second tournament, Mexico beat Guatemala on the final game to claim their first title. The 1967 tournament was hosted by Honduras and Guatemala was crowned champions. The 1971 edition was the first to take place in the Caribbean, with Mexico winning their second title, in Trinindad and Tobago.
En 1974, the competition gained a lot more interest, as the winner of the tournament was granted direct access to the FIFA World Cup. Haiti, the host nation, became the first CONCACAF national team to earn such rights.
The next two editions of the competition were held in Mexico City, 1977, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 1981, with the host nation taking the title. Canada and Costa Rica were Champions were declared Champions in 1985 and 1989, but without lifting a trophy.
The tournament was renamed CONCACAF Gold Cup for the 1991 edition. The US became the first regional chamion as the hosts of the 1991 Gold Cup. Mexico’s national team dominated the CONCACAF title for the decade, winning the Championship three consecutive times, in 1993, 1996, and 1998.
The 2000 edition saw the adition of three more teams to the tournament. Canada won their first internatioanl soccer title that year, after defeatin Colombia 2-0, at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. Canada’s goalkeeper, Craig Forrest, was awarded the MVP trophy, while Carlo Corazzin received the Gold Boot (for most goals scored) and Richard Hasting received the “rookie award”. The US has been the dominating team in this 21st century. The national US team are now the defending champions, after defeating Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup final, with a goal scored by Benny Feilhaber in the 77 minute of the game.
Past Gold Cup Winners