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 exams 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 closing in Las Vegas.

Gold Cup fixtures, results, schedule and more
Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
– Haven’t got ESPN? Get instant access

ESPN seems to be on the upcoming matchups and what ought to be anticipated from this weekend’s clashes.

Leap 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)

Type 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 simple.

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 damage, midfielder Paul Arriola affected by the same ailment and ahead Daryl Dike battling a shoulder damage.

– Carlisle: U.S. win over Canada shows a team still in finding form
Q&A with USMNT’s Mark McKenzie on racial abuse, social justice

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

Additional up the sphere, the performances have been extra combined, particularly when it comes to 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 consequence was harsh on Jamaica given the variety of possibilities it squandered, with Andre Gray 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 partially to keep away from yellow card suspensions.

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

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

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

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

Mexico vs. Honduras

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

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

Mexico’s 4 objectives account for the bottom complete amongst the entire 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 in opposition to stingy defensive setups in each sport. Towards Trinidad and Tobago, El Tri held the ball for a formidable 83% of the sport, and managed 30 photographs on purpose within the course of, solely to stroll away with a 0-0 draw.

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

In contrast to their subsequent opponents, Honduras hasn’t lacked firepower up entrance. Of their first two video games, Los Catrachos scored seven objectives in opposition to Grenada and Panama to lock down passage to the subsequent spherical. Nonetheless, they have been completely 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 — endure 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 primarily two situations understanding what every staff will got down to do. Mexico, in its position as aggressor, will seemingly proceed utilizing the 4-3-3 formation that has yielded combined 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 drive errors, yielding counterattacks in opposition to a largely untested Mexican again line.

As talked about above, it behooves El Tri to get an early purpose so it may proceed to dictate the sport’s tempo and mount counterattacks of its personal after Honduras is compelled to go ahead in an elimination sport. If Honduras can face up to Mexico’s assaults and even discover a purpose 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 closing to the USMNT in June. That being mentioned, El Tri is fortunate to play a banged up Honduras facet who did not impress within the group stage. — Eric Gomez

Qatar vs. El Salvador

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

Type information: New supervisor Hugo Perez has El Salvador on the rise, as La Selecta have solely misplaced two occasions in 9 matches underneath 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 have 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 exhibiting 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 prime spot in Group D because of a 2-0 win on Tuesday night time and are the highest scorers in your complete match up to now with 9 objectives.

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 objectives.

The way it will play out: Whereas El Salvador’s frantic type gained over neutrals throughout group play, enjoying that approach in opposition to high-scoring Qatar is likely to be a harmful sport. La Selecta rode their luck a bit and the good Mario Gonzalez in purpose (5 saves) in opposition to Mexico, so Hugo Perez could be well-served to attempt to tighten up his staff on the again a bit to keep away from being punished within the quarterfinals.

For Qatar, sport administration can be key, as future World Cup hosts should keep away from conceding sloppy objectives 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 sport, they’ll unwell afford to modify 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 purpose, which means this ought to be a vigorous affair. Qatar may have a slight edge as a result of their wealth of attacking expertise and scientific ending in entrance of purpose in what ought to be a pulsating, back-and-forth match. — Gus Elvin

Costa Rica vs. Canada

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

Type information: Canada went into its closing group stage match in opposition to the USA on an eight-game successful streak and whereas it led to a 1-0 defeat, Canada outplayed the People for lengthy stretches and is a harmful facet 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 kind, Costa Rica reestablished itself as a risk to advance deep into the match with three group-stage wins. Bryan Ruiz‘s purpose secured a pivotal 1-0 win in opposition to Jamaica to prime 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 the USA. Costa Rica have not been as stout defensive as the USA, however ought to present the same problem to interrupt down — particularly contemplating each Ayo Akinola and Cyle Larin can be unavailable as a result of accidents. With none of their finest attacking choices accessible, Canada might be compelled to sit down deeper than it could 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 robust to forecast what attainable wrinkles might be unveiled at this stage of the competitors. As a result of it is such a veteran group, although, it is truthful to imagine Costa Rica can be snug within the high-stakes match in opposition to extra of an upstart opponent. — Kyle Bonagura