Thursday CONCACAF Gold Cup: Semifinals Preview.
The knockout stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup continues on Thursday with the semifinal matches on FS1.
The United States plays Qatar at 7:30 PM ET at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas. The Stars and Stripes beat Jamaica, 1-0, in the quarterfinals last Sunday. That match was deadlocked until the 83rd minute when Matthew Hope scored the lone goal for the Americans.
The Yanks began the tournament with a 1-0 win against Haiti before a 6-1 thumping against Martinique in their second match. They got their lone goal from Shaquell Moore in the first minute against Canada to give the USMNT their third victory in their three group stage matches. The USMNT has scored nine times and conceded only one goal.
The Stars and Stripes claimed the CONCACAF Nations League title last month with a 3-2 victory in extra time against Mexico. The USMNT won the Gold Cup for the seventh time in 2017. They finished in second place behind Mexico in the 2019 Gold Cup. Manager Gregg Berhalter is testing his B team at this event, with many of the players that lifted the trophy last month now training with their professional teams. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna, Werner Bremen’s Josh Sargent, and Manchester City’s Zack Steffan will not compete. Nineteen of the 23 players on Berhalter’s roster play on an MLS squad, led by Orlando City striker Daryl Dike. The Yanks are on a 12-1-1 run in their last 14 matches. They have not lost on home soil since an upset loss to Venezuela in a friendly on June 9th, 2019. In their most recent 13 games in the United States, the USMNT has scored 49 goals and has conceded only five times, with nine clean sheets. FIFA ranks the USA at 20th in the world. The ELO ratings place them 22nd.
Qatar advanced to the semifinals with a 3-2 victory on Saturday. The Maroon opened the scoring in the fifth minute with Almoez Ali’s goal. Abdulaziz Hatem followed that up with Qatar’s second goal three minutes later. Ali gave the Maroon a 3-0 lead with his penalty kick goal in the 55th minute of the second half. Things then got nervy for Qatar after El Salvador’s Joaquin Rivas scoring twice in five minutes to pull La Selecta to within one goal with 22 minutes left in regulation time.
The Maroon claimed first place in Group D with a 2-0 victory against Honduras in their final group stage match. Qatar opened the tournament with a 3-3 draw with Panama. They defeated Grenada, 4-0, in their second group stage match. The Maroon leads the tournament with 12 goals scored. They have conceded goals five times.
Qatar is a guest to participate in this North American tournament as preparation for their squad when they compete and host the 2021 World Cup next November. Most of the roster consists of club-level players in Qatar. Manager Felix Sanchez’s squad is led by forward Akram Afif, who has scored 19 goals in 64 caps for the national team. Forward Hassan Al-Haydos is the all-time leader in caps with 141. The Maroon entered the event with four straight victories from friendlies and World Cup qualifying matches. FIFA ranks Qatar 58th in the world. The ELO ratings place them 45th in the world.
MGM lists the USMNT as a -0.5 goal line favorite with the total set at 2.5.
Mexico plays Canada in the second semifinal match at 10 PM ET at NRG Stadium in Houston. El Tri advanced from the quarterfinals with a 3-0 victory against Honduras on Saturday. Rogelio Funes Mori opened the scoring with a goal in the 26th minute. Jonathan dos Santos added a second goal five minutes later. Orbelin Pineda gave Mexico their final goal seven minutes later.
El Tri won Group B with their 1-0 victory against El Salvador in their final group stage match. Mexico opened their defense of the 2019 Gold Cup title with a 0-0 draw with Trinidad and Tobago. They followed that up with a 3-0 victory against Guadeloupe. El Tri has scored seven goals and has yet to concede a goal in their four matches.
Manager Gerardo Martino has assembled most of the nation’s top players to compete in this event. The notable exceptions on the roster were forwards Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Raul Jimenez, and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Mexico lost for Napoli forward Hirving “Chucky” Lozano for the tournament after incurring a head injury in the opening match against Trinidad and Tobago. Mexico is led by Porto forward Jesus Corona, Atletico Madrid midfielder Hector Herrera, and Ajax defender Edson Alvarez. El Tri is ranked 11th in the world by FIFA. The ELO ratings place them 15th.
Canada advanced to the semifinals with a 2-0 victory against Costa Rica on Sunday. Junior Hoillet got the Canucks on the board with his goal in the 18th minute. Stephan Eustaquio added the second goal in the 68th minute in the second half.
Les Rouges opened the tournament with a 4-1 victory against Martinique. They followed that up with a 4-1 win against Haiti. The Canucks have scored ten times in this event while conceding three goals.
Canada won the Gold Cup in 2000, and they find themselves amidst a golden generation of talent. Les Rouges had not lost to a team from the CONCACAF region since 2019 before their loss to the Stars and Stripes last week. They entered this event with six straight victories with a 31 to 1 goal margin. Manager John Herman is without two of his best players for this tournament. Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Lille’s Jonathan David are training with their professional teams. The Canucks suffered another loss after Turkish Super League star Cyle Larin left the tournament with a muscle injury after the group stage. Canada ranks 70th in the world by FIFA and 41st in the ELO ratings.
MGM lists Mexico as a -1 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.5.