The latest chapter for North American soccer supremacy continues Sunday night when the United States faces Mexico in the 2021 Gold Cup championship game. These teams have already met this year with a title on the line, Team USA needing extra time to outlast Mexico in June for the Nations League title. Mexico also has a team playing in the semifinals of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, so the country is looking to double its championship pleasure in two different parts of the world.
Concacaf Gold Cup Championship: United States vs. Mexico
When: Sunday, August 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Allegiant Stadium, (Las Vegas)
TV: FS1 and Univision
Three Things to Watch
1. No Cinderella story this year
Middle East nation Qatar had made the most of its invitation to participate in this year’s Gold Cup before falling to the U.S. in the semifinals on Thursday. The USMNT ‘s defense once again came through, as one goal was all that was needed. It marked the fourth shutout for the Americans in this Gold Cup. Qatar had its chances, firing 15 shots, but the defense held strong. Team USA won the possession battle (58 percent to 42), but this win did not come easy.
Despite the loss, Qatar left a lasting impression on this side of the globe, something the country can lean on heading into next year when it will host the FIFA World Cup. Meanwhile, Team USA will need to bring its defensive game once again as it will look for a second straight win over their archrivals, something that hasn't happened since 2007. The Americans have outscored their opposition 10-1 thus far.
2. Mexico is on a mission
After losing to the U.S. in the Nations League championship game, "El Tri" refocused even though the roster has been divided due to the Summer Olympics. The Gold Cup squad went unbeaten in Group A (2-0-1, 7 points, won the group) and held Honduras scoreless in a 3-0 quarterfinal win. In the semifinals on Thursday, Canada gave Mexico all it could handle, sending the game to extra time tied at one. Mexico found the net in stoppage time to pick up the hard-fought 2-1 victory.
Next up is a chance at payback against Team USA on the biggest regional stage. This will be Mexico’s 14th Gold Cup championship game appearance with 11 titles to its credit.
3. Players to watch
It hasn't quite been the usual suspects for both teams this time around. Team USA adjusted its roster after the Nations League tournament, so players such as Christian Pulisic, Tim Weah, and Zack Steffen have not played in this Gold Cup. Mexico has divided its player pool between this event and the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. But the personnel changes shouldn’t take too much intrigue and energy away from this rivalry or this match.
Rogelio Funes Mori and Orbelin Pineda have three goals each for Mexico thus far while Jonathan dos Santos, Hector Herrera, and Luis Rodriguez have one goal each. Goalie Alfredo Talavera has only given up one goal with four shutouts, and he’s been credited with seven saves.
American netminder Matt Turner also has given up just one goal — on a penalty kick against Martinique in group play. Outside of that, Turner has posted four clean sheets and amassed 21 saves. Against Qatar, Gyasi Zardes notched his second goal, tying him with Daryl Dike for the team lead this tournament. Matthew Hoppe, Shaquell Moore, Miles Robinson, Sam Vines, and Nicholas Gioacchini have all found the back of the net once.
Mexico leads the all-time series with the United States 36-20-18 and has outscored the Americans 144-83 along the way. The Mexicans also have a 5-1 edge in Gold Cup title games (only loss was in 2007), including a 1-0 win in the last one in 2019. The teams have split the last five meetings (2-2-1) but Team USA has the momentum following its Nations League title game victory. That extra-time affair (final score was 3-2) was one of the most memorable games in the history of this rivalry.
Mexico has the most Gold Cup titles with 11, followed by the United States’ six. Historically, El Tri has had the upper hand in this situation, but the Americans have some momentum and have been playing fantastic defense. That may be just enough to make it two in a row over their archrivals on Sunday night.