Before the first ball was ever kicked in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the list of serious title contenders was a short one. Two teams long. to be exact. After the United States limped into the quarters, and Mexico destroyed its group, the Gold Cup now feels more like the inevitable coronation of El Tri than a wide-open race.
Before you chisel Mexico's name on the trophy, keep in mind that the United States is still in the tournament despite not finding its top form yet, Jamaica and Panama are riding high after winning their respective groups and Costa Rica is still lurking.
Here is a rundown of the eight teams still alive in the raise for the Gold Cup, in order from worst chance to best chance of being crowned CONCACAF champion:
#8. Guatemala 75/1 You might think the Chapines have momentum going into the group stage after a 4-0 thumping of Grenada in their last match. Think again. Those were Guatemala's first goals of the tournament. With Mexico up next, Carlos Ruiz and Co. won't be around much longer.
#7. El Salvador 50/1 Speaking of momentum, El Salvador overcame a Mexico thrashing to tie Costa Rica and destroy Cuba. So why so low on this list? Panama is playing great soccer and even if El Salvador knocks off its Central American rival, a semifinal against the USA/Jamaica winner would be a hurdle too high.
#6. Honduras 25/1 We will never know how the Catrachos might have done with their European stars, but we do know Honduras is short-handed and facing a brutal path to the final. A win against underachieving Costa Rica likely means a semifinal date with mighty Mexico, an impossible task without the likes of Wilson Palacios and Maynor Figueroa.
#5. Costa Rica 20/1 Why is a team coming off a 4-1 loss ranked this highly? The Ticos have the talent to make a run, and while Mexico already beat Costa Rica handily, something tells me a rematch would be a much closer contest.
#4. Panama 15/1 The biggest surprise of the group stage, Panama is riding a dangerous attack and better than expected defense. Confidence is high after beating USA and netting a late equalizer to win Group C and eliminate Canada. An easy quarterfinal and potential rematch with USA in semis could be the path Panama takes to an improbable final.
#3. Jamaica 10/1 After years of struggling, the Reggae Boyz are back and riding high after a perfect group stage. Boasting their trademark speed along with a better than usual defense, the Caribbean champions stand a good chance of knocking off USA in the quarters if the Americans come out flat again. If Jamaica pulls that upset, Theodore Whitmore's squad should reach the finals, where it would have a decent chance of surprising Mexico.
#2. U.S.A. 5/1 If it seems absurd to have the USA this high, it is because you have forgotten the fact that the nucleus of this U.S. Tteam won two previous Gold Cups. Jamaica is a tough quarterfinal test but the USA has the players and the home-field advantage to get to the final, especially if the team's wayward finishing improves. It's tough to imagine stars Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan not improving and Tim Howard is capable of carrying the team on his back. It should also be noted that Mexico hasn't beaten a full-strength U.S. team on American soil in more than a decade.
#1. Mexico 2/1 Remember when Mexico was tied 0-0 at halftime of its opening match vs. El Salvador? No? Fourteen goals in the next 225 minutes probably made you forget. A run to the final seems inevitable, where only the United States wouldn't be considered a huge underdog. With Gio Dos Santos and Javier Hernandez playing extremely well, the only hope the rest of the field has may be if fatigue kicks in on a team missing six players from its roster.
Ives Galarcep is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering Major League Soccer and the U.S. national team.