Canadian teenage sensation Davies leads Gold Cup group stage Best XI
The 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage is done and dusted, so now it's time to highlight the players who distinguished themselves in their first three respective matches.
Luis Lopez, GK, Honduras -- "I'm speechless," said Honduras defender Henry Figueroa to ESPN FC about Lopez's performance in the 0-0 draw vs. Canada. It's hard to disagree. Lopez made a number of sensational saves not just against Canada but in all three matches, conceding just one goal.
Edson Alvarez, DF, Mexico -- A star in the making. The 19-year-old Club America defender, who also plays center-back, featured as a right-back in the group stage and hardly looked out of his element. Capped Mexico's 2-0 win over Curacao with a late goal.
Maynor Figueroa, DF, Honduras -- While many back home are wringing their hands over Honduras' scoring struggles (no goals in three games), Figueroa has guided the Catrachos' back line through a tricky group stage. At 34, he played all three matches and showed no signs of fatigue.
Jermaine Taylor, DF, Jamaica -- The Reggae Boyz only allowed one goal in the group stage thanks in part to Taylor's performance. His best display was the 0-0 draw against Mexico in which he cleared a ball off the line with a header. An excellent tournament thus far.
Francisco Calvo, DF, Costa Rica -- The Minnesota United man scored the Ticos' lone goal in the 1-1 draw against Canada and was a steady presence at left-back in all three matches. Easy choice here.
Alphonso Davies, MF, Canada -- Yowza. The co-leader in goals scored for the tournament, Davies has been outstanding. The 16-year-old Vancouver Whitecap announced his presence on the international stage by galloping past the French Guiana defense before nutmegging the goalkeeper for his first Canada goal. He then ordered up a second goal via a second nutmeg to cap the 4-2 victory. Davies also showed some smarts in taking advantage of Cristian Gamboa's sleepy defending and powering home a shot to score Canada's goal in the 1-1 draw with Costa Rica. The most exciting player of the tournament.
Sam Piette, MF, Canada -- Piette, a defensive midfielder, was given the task of protecting Canada's back line and did so with aplomb. Of note were his performances against Costa Rica and Honduras, as he constantly broke up play as the Ticos tried to move forward, while against Honduras he dealt ably with the Catrachos' attacking duo of Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto.
Anibal Godoy, MF, Panama -- Godoy had some serious competition from teammate Miguel Camargo, but in the end the San Jose Earthquake gets the nod. Impressive with his passing and movement, Godoy's group stage was capped by a brilliant assist on Panama's third goal in the 3-0 win over Martinique.
Alejandro Bedoya, MF, United States -- It wasn't the prettiest of group stages from the U.S., but Bedoya came through for the Yanks when they needed it the most. After an average performance in the 1-1 draw against Panama, Bedoya's entrance as a substitute in the 62nd minute against Martinique gave the U.S. a big lift in attack in the 3-2 win. He then backed that up with a pair of assists and a won penalty against Nicaragua.
Kevin Parsemain, FW, Martinique -- Sharing scoring honors with Davies, Parsemain had minnows Martinique in the mix for a quarterfinal berth until the final day of the group stage thanks to his three goals. He got the islanders off to a strong start in the 2-0 win over Nicaragua and then tormented the U.S. defense with a pair of goals in Martinique's valiant 3-2 defeat. If not for some woodwork in the first half, it could have been a hat trick. Once a trialist for the Seattle Sounders, Parsemain may have played his way into an MLS team's plans with his group-stage display.
Rodolfo Zelaya, FW, El Salvador -- Teammate and fellow striker Nelson Bonilla had more goals (two) than Zelaya (one), but it was Zelaya who was doing the creating and playmaking for the Cuscatlecos during the group stage, helping the Central Americans reach the quarterfinals. El Salvador's players have always been blessed with having a good first touch, and no one embodies this more than Zelaya, who created space and left defenders in his wake with the simplest of moves. He'll be a headache for the U.S. in the next round.
Arch Bell is based in Austin, Texas and covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell .