Curacao looks to end Team USA's quest for a seventh Gold Cup crown
On paper, this looks like one of those "David vs. Goliath" matchups. And come this weekend we will find out whether or not Curacao (second in Group C) can slay the giant that is Team USA (Group D winner). This quarterfinal match of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup features two teams that took completely different paths to get to this point. The U.S. is just one of three teams that went a perfect 3-0 in group play (Mexico and Haiti are the others), while Curacao pulled off a couple of surprises to advance from their challenging group block. Now, these teams meet with a spot in the semifinals on the line.
United States vs. Curacao
When: Sunday, June 30 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia)
TV: FS1 and Univision
Three Things to Watch
1. Don't sleep on Curacao
In just their second Gold Cup appearance, Curacao has turned heads at this tournament. After starting Group C with a loss to El Salvador, Curacao then picked up the pace by shutting out Honduras and picked up another much-deserved point in playing Jamaica to a 1-1 tie. Curacao finished group play tied El Salvador record-wise (1-1-1, 4 points), but a plus-three goal differential secured their spot in the quarterfinals. Midfielder Leandro Bacuna and defender Jurien Gaari (one goal each) have provided the scoring while the defense has allowed two goals through three games.
2. Team USA is one step closer to their seventh Gold Cup title
In their Group D finale, the U.S. faced a very tough test from Panama. A goal by Jozy Altidore in the 66th minute ended up being the difference-maker as the Americans claimed Group D with a narrow, 1-0 victory. Team USA outscored the opposition 11-0 in group play, but Panama held them in check for most of the match. Rest assured that Curacao is watching the tape from that game, and the United States Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) will need to get back in high gear if they want to reach the semifinals for the 13th time. Team USA can't even think about that seventh Gold Cup title if they overlook Curacao.
This will actually be the first-ever meeting between these two countries. And since neither team has any history to draw from, they can only review film of the other's Gold Cup games this far. Curacao is 0-2 against both Mexico and Canada, so a victory against the U.S. would be their first against a North American team, not to mention the biggest win in team history. The U.S., on the other hand, is 74-20-14 against CONCACAF's Caribbean members.
I expect Curacao to be ready and put up a hell of a fight against the favored Americans. But in the end, Team USA's talent and depth will prevail.
Prediction: United States 3, Curacao 2
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.