Gold Cup quarterfinals – Will USMNT, Mexico fend off CONCACAF challengers?


The CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals are upon us, with defending champions Mexico and fellow co-favorites United States navigating some stern assessments throughout group-stage motion.

Joined by Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Canada, and invitees Qatar within the knockout spherical, El Tri and the USMNT will face additional challenges if they’re to get to the Aug. 1 remaining in Las Vegas.

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ESPN appears to be like on the upcoming matchups and what needs to be anticipated from this weekend’s clashes.

Soar to: United States vs. Jamaica | Mexico vs. Honduras | Qatar vs. El Salvador | Costa Rica vs. Canada

United States vs. Jamaica

When: Sunday, 9:30 p.m. ET (Arlington, Texas)

Kind information: USMNT supervisor Gregg Berhalter introduced a younger group to the Gold Cup, and but like a lot of its predecessors, took most factors from its three group stage video games. That does not imply the trail has been straightforward.

Whereas the U.S. simply dispatched Martinique 6-1 within the second match, it made tougher work of getting by Haiti and Canada, every by 1-0 scorelines. The U.S. is a bit dinged up as nicely, with veteran defender Walker Zimmerman out with a hamstring harm, midfielder Paul Arriola affected by an identical ailment and ahead Daryl Dike scuffling with a shoulder harm.

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The lack of Zimmerman is problematic in that it makes an already skinny corps of middle backs even thinner. That mentioned, the protection has impressed, with Miles Robinson, James Sands and Sam Vines taking part in past their years. Shaq Moore has restated his case for future inclusion with the U.S.

Additional up the sector, the performances have been extra blended, particularly by way of managing video games. Now that the knockout levels have arrived, it will not get any simpler.

Following 2-0 and 2-1 wins over Suriname and Guadeloupe, respectively, a 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica within the group stage finale meant the “Reggae Boyz” completed second in Group C. The final outcome was harsh on Jamaica given the variety of possibilities it squandered, with Andre Grey among the many most profligate. However this was additionally a match during which supervisor Theodore Whitmore rested a lot of his first-choice squad, which was completed partly to keep away from yellow card suspensions.

When accessible, Jamaica’s beginning lineup has appeared dynamic at occasions going ahead — with Leon Bailey, Shamar Nicholson and the Philadelphia Union‘s Cory Burke catching the attention. The protection has been stable, and the Union’s Andre Blake has appeared spectacular in aim when known as upon.

The way it will play out: The united stateswill need to do higher by way of controlling the sport’s tempo. That was a difficulty in opposition to Haiti and particularly Canada, and given the uncertainty alongside the again line, an edge in possession will assist protect a unit that lacks expertise. The massive query is whether or not the diminished choices within the again signifies that Berhalter will go together with a four-man backline or maintain going with the three center-back alignment.

The house aspect may even need to restrict transition alternatives, the place Bailey and Co. can assault the U.S. at velocity. Bailey’s possible matchup with Vines will likely be one to observe, although each Vines and Moore may even be seeking to get ahead and assist pin Jamaica again.

For Jamaica, ending has been a difficulty, although after they’ve transformed, they’ve tended to be spectacular. The expectation has additionally been that Jamaica ought to maintain possession higher, nevertheless it has completed nicely sufficient to advance. An athletic, skilled Jamaica aspect will give the U.S. all it could actually deal with, particularly in transition. — Jeff Carlisle

Mexico vs. Honduras

When: Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET (Glendale, Ariz.)

Kind information: Since Hirving “Chucky” Lozano went down within the Group A opener in opposition to Trinidad and Tobago with a scary head harm, Mexico has struggled mightily to create and end possibilities in opposition to each opponent it has confronted on the Gold Cup.

Mexico’s 4 targets account for the bottom whole amongst all the eight groups who punched their ticket for the quarterfinals, and, after a powerful begin in his pleasant debut in opposition to Nigeria, striker Rogelio Funes Mori has cooled off considerably. As anticipated, Mexico has dominated possession in its matchups to this point, however with one exception, has struggled to interrupt by way of in opposition to stingy defensive setups in each recreation. Towards Trinidad and Tobago, El Tri held the ball for a powerful 83% of the sport, and managed 30 photographs on aim within the course of, solely to stroll away with a 0-0 draw.

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Fortunately for the defending champs, they will be dealing with off in opposition to a Honduras aspect that has given up probably the most quantity of targets amongst all match survivors. If Mexico can rating early within the quarterfinal match, the stress will likely be considerably lessened as the sport goes on, permitting speedy wingers Jesus “Tecatito” Corona and Orbelin Pineda to stage counterattacks when Honduras is inevitably pressured to push ahead after doing down.

Not like their subsequent opponents, Honduras hasn’t lacked firepower up entrance. Of their first two video games, Los Catrachos scored seven targets in opposition to Grenada and Panama to lock down passage to the subsequent spherical. Nevertheless, they had been totally outmatched in opposition to Asian Cup champs Qatar within the Group D coda and noticed a number of star gamers — together with playmaker Alberth “La Pantera” Elis, offensive engine Romell Quioto, and defensive chief Maynor Figueroa — undergo accidents.

The largest query dealing with Honduras shifting ahead won’t simply be whether or not Quioto and Figueroa are good to go in opposition to Mexico (Elis is out with a damaged toe), however how efficient they are going to be and whether or not anybody else can decide up the slack if these two miss motion.

The way it will play out: There are basically two eventualities figuring out what every workforce will got down to do. Mexico, in its function as aggressor, will possible proceed utilizing the 4-3-3 formation that has yielded blended outcomes with out Lozano because the anchor. Honduras will cling again with eight or 9 gamers in protection no matter their formation in an try to pressure errors, yielding counterattacks in opposition to a largely untested Mexican again line.

As talked about above, it behooves El Tri to get an early aim so it could actually proceed to dictate the sport’s tempo and mount counterattacks of its personal after Honduras is pressured to go ahead in an elimination recreation. If Honduras can stand up to Mexico’s assaults and even discover a aim of its personal, it’ll put each final little bit of stress on their opponents as time marches on.

As with each CONCACAF match, Mexico cannot afford to lose, particularly after shedding the Nations League remaining to the USMNT in June. That being mentioned, El Tri is fortunate to play a banged up Honduras aspect who didn’t impress within the group stage. — Eric Gomez

Qatar vs. El Salvador

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (Glendale, Ariz.)

Kind information: New supervisor Hugo Perez has El Salvador on the rise, as La Selecta have solely misplaced two occasions in 9 matches below the previous U.S. worldwide and have certified for the ultimate stage of World Cup qualifying for the primary time in three cycles. Led by ex-Fiorentina man Josh Perez (son of Hugo) and the vigorous Jairo Henriquez, El Salvador had been an thrilling watch in group play, producing tons of possibilities in 2-0 wins over Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago.

Backed by spectacular crowd help on the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, El Salvador’s displaying in a slim 1-0 defeat in opposition to Mexico proved they won’t be daunted by any opponent at this match.

Invitees Qatar arrived because the thriller outfit on the Gold Cup however have shortly proven the defending Asian Cup champions will not be right here to merely make up the numbers. Felix Sanchez’s males surprisingly pipped Honduras to high spot in Group D because of a 2-0 win on Tuesday evening and are the highest scorers in the complete match up to now with 9 targets.

Xavi’s Al Sadd disciple Akram Afif leads the match in possibilities created with 16, and alongside Almoez Ali and Abdelaziz Hatem, is considered one of three Qatari gamers with two targets.

The way it will play out: Whereas El Salvador’s frantic fashion gained over neutrals throughout group play, taking part in that manner in opposition to high-scoring Qatar could be a harmful recreation. La Selecta rode their luck a bit and the good Mario Gonzalez in aim (5 saves) in opposition to Mexico, so Hugo Perez can be well-served to try to tighten up his workforce on the again a bit to keep away from being punished within the quarterfinals.

For Qatar, recreation administration will likely be key, as future World Cup hosts should keep away from conceding sloppy targets and surrendering leads like they did on three events of their opener in opposition to Panama. Qatar can get carried away attacking, and in a knockout recreation, they’ll ailing afford to change off on the again, particularly on set items.

Whereas not probably the most high-profile of the quarterfinal matchups, this conflict guarantees to be among the many most entertaining, as each groups are drilled to assault the aim, that means this needs to be a vigorous affair. Qatar can have a slight edge resulting from their wealth of attacking expertise and medical ending in entrance of aim in what needs to be a pulsating, back-and-forth match. — Gus Elvin

Costa Rica vs. Canada

When: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET (Arlington, Texas)

Kind information: Canada went into its remaining group stage match in opposition to america on an eight-game profitable streak and whereas it resulted in a 1-0 defeat, Canada outplayed the People for lengthy stretches and is a harmful aspect within the knockout rounds. Even with out the 2 headliners — Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David — Canada cruised by Haiti and Martinique with a pair of 4-1 wins and would have owned the tiebreaker had it drawn with the USMNT.

After coming into the match on a poor run of type, Costa Rica reestablished itself as a menace to advance deep into the match with three group-stage wins. Bryan Ruiz‘s aim secured a pivotal 1-0 win in opposition to Jamaica to high the group, whereas Joel Campbell contributed to Los Ticos’ win in opposition to Guadeloupe.

The way it will play out: It wasn’t an issue within the first two matches in opposition to overmatched opposition, however Canada was unable to create many harmful possibilities in opposition to america. Costa Rica have not been as stout defensive as america, however ought to present an identical problem to interrupt down — particularly contemplating each Ayo Akinola and Cyle Larin will likely be unavailable resulting from accidents. With none of their greatest attacking choices accessible, Canada could possibly be pressured to sit down deeper than it might have in any other case and hope to strike on the counter.

Costa Rica’s skilled squad was a little bit of an unknown coming into the match as a result of Luis Fernando Suarez’s appointment got here simply weeks earlier than it started. That additionally makes it powerful to forecast what doable wrinkles could possibly be unveiled at this stage of the competitors. As a result of it is such a veteran group, although, it is honest to imagine Costa Rica will likely be comfy within the high-stakes match in opposition to extra of an upstart opponent. — Kyle Bonagura



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