The tournament was once again held in the United States, in Los Angeles, Miami, and Oakland. The format of the tournament changed from 1996: it was expanded to ten teams, with four in Group A and three each in Groups B and C. The top team in each group, plus the second place in Group A would advance to the semifinals. Brazil was invited again, and brought their senior team this time.
Jamaica, getting ready for the 1998 World Cup, pulled the stunner of the first round. They didn't even qualify for the tournament, but Canada withdrew, granting them a spot. The Reggae Boyz then topped Group A over Brazil (they tied the South Americans 0-0). In the semifinals, the US beat Brazil, as Preki scored the lone goal and Kasey Keller preserved the clean sheet. The United States couldn't repeat that performance in front of a pro-Mexican final crowd in Los Angeles. The tri-colores won their third straight Gold Cup, 1-0, on a Luis Hernández goal.
A playoff between Cuba, the runner-up from the 1996 Caribbean Cup and Saint Kitts and Nevis, the runner-up from the 1997 Caribbean Cup, was held to determine which nation should qualify for the 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup.