The United States Men’s National Team and Mexico have been two of the most dominant forces in soccer over the past decade. However, as the Gold Cup final approaches, expectations for both teams are high for different reasons.
The 2021 gold cup is the final match of the 2019 Gold Cup. It will be played on July 7, 2021 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Mexico and the United States are expected to have different expectations for this game.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — When the United States men’s national team and Mexico face off in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final on Sunday, it will be the second time in 56 days that the two longstanding rivals will square off with a continental championship on the line. Despite this, the two matches could not be more different in terms of the stakes involved.
The teams met in the first CONCACAF Nations League final on June 6, and the United States was eager for a win since, throughout manager Gregg Berhalter’s tenure, there had yet to be a victory that validated the team’s return to form.
A statement was required, not just to instill faith in the coach’s tactics, but also to provide something concrete to this generation of players to go along with their obvious skill. Regardless of the crazy series of events that occurred throughout the game, the collective group rose to the occasion, absorbed the strain — and a few bottles to the head — to emerge victorious 3-2 after extra time.
While the defeat hurt, as it usually does against the US, there was hope that Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s team had played well enough to win, having led twice and had a chance to tie it up at 3-3 but for Ethan Horvath’s penalty save. El Tri would be back to fight another day as things were.
– Gold Cup bracket, results, and schedule, among other things – Watch ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (available in the United States only) – Don’t have ESPN? Get immediate access
What has changed in the lead-up to Sunday’s game at Allegiant Stadium? In a nutshell, expectations.
The United States entered this tournament with a deliberately young, inexperienced squad, with the goal of giving presumed first-team regulars like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Giovanni Reyna, and others a chance to relax ahead of a demanding season for both club and country.
However, a greater understanding of how influential up-and-coming members of the player pool might be at the international level was also required. This is particularly crucial since three-match windows loom on the horizon for World Cup qualifying, which starts in September, and depth will be put to the test.
This put the United States in a bit of a pickle in terms of expectations. Berhalter has said that the objective was to win the tournament regardless of squad composition from the start. Despite this, there have been instances when the team’s youth has been used as an excuse for poor results.
Gregg Berhalter has previously coached Mexico to a final victory. Will he be able to replicate the feat in the Gold Cup? Getty
A 1-0 group-stage victory against Canada, who had a small advantage in experience but also played some fresh faces in the absence of stars like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, was used as an example, but it was veterans who failed to step up that day, not the young players.
Qatar looked a cut above in the first half of Thursday’s semifinal triumph, but they were unable to find a way past the outstanding Matt Turner in goal, allowing the Americans to comeback late in the game and clinch victory with an all-important Gyasi Zardes goal.
The fact that this American team has made it to the final demonstrates its capacity to adapt, develop, and grind out results. Furthermore, although injuries to players such as defender Walker Zimmerman, midfielder Paul Arriola, and defender Reggie Cannon have restricted choices, they have provided Berhalter with data points on Shaq Moore, Miles Robinson, James Sands, and Matthew Hoppe.
Given these circumstances, the United States seems to be playing with house money on Sunday, despite Berhalter’s denial in his pregame news conference. Its goals have been mostly met, and little is anticipated of the pre-tournament favorite. Berhalter, on the other hand, wants his team to be hungry and complete the job.
After the semifinal, the US coach stated, “We’re not done, and that was the message to the squad.” “It’s great to be in the final, but we want to win it. Our primary objective is to win the Gold Cup. That was stated before the Gold Cup, and it will be repeated again.”
The stakes for Mexico, on the other hand, could not be higher. Even if key players like Raul Jimenez and Hirving Lozano aren’t available, it’s a game it can’t afford to lose. Beating a depleted US squad to win the Gold Cup for the 12th time would be meaningless.
In the case of a loss, though, pressure would mount and concerns would grow ahead of World Cup qualification. Is that even enough to put Martino’s job on the line?
That tendency has undoubtedly existed in the past, but the presidency of predecessor Juan Carlos Osorio is instructive. After a 7-0 humiliation by Chile in the 2016 Copa America Centenario quarters, the Mexican Football Federation stayed with him, and his patience and focus on stability were rewarded with World Cup qualifying and a historic win against holders Germany in Russia.
This Mexico squad has found a way to get results, even if the actual play hasn’t always reached their high expectations. Following the loss of his father, Jonathan dos Santos has been gathered around, and one would anticipate that his experience advantage would show at some point throughout the field, but particularly in a midfield headed by Hector Herrera.
Berhalter mentioned how bad his team was at winning duels against Qatar, with just 42.7 percent success, and much worse at 30 percent tackle success. If it occurs again, Rogelio Funes Mori and others should benefit, making it a difficult night for a back line that has been so good.
However, given the nature of this long-running rivalry, another dramatic chapter seems inescapable. Expect another exciting matchup, given the United States’ mental toughness over the last two weeks and Mexico’s need to win.
- gold cup 2021
- copa de oro