Team USA continues to ride the momentum from the success it had in the Nations League, as the Americans have reached the semifinals of the Concacaf Gold Cup for the 14th time in team history. All that stands between them and a shot at a seventh Gold Cup title is Qatar, a country that isn't even a Concacaf member. The Middle Eastern nation was invited to play in this year's Gold Cup and has made quite the first impression. And now the Asian Football Confederation member has an opportunity to pad its international resume by knocking out the United States from its signature soccer event. The winner of this match will face either Mexico or Canada on Sunday in the Gold Cup championship game.
Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals: United States vs. Qatar
When: Thursday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Q2 Stadium (Austin, Texas)
TV: FS1 and Univision
Three Things to Watch
1. The U.S. is one step closer to glory, again
The USMNT's defense continues to be at the forefront in this tournament. The Americans held Jamaica scoreless in their 1-0 quarterfinal win, their third shutout in this Gold Cup. While many American soccer fans are eager for a rematch with either Canada or Mexico, Team USA shouldn't underestimate Qatar. This is a team that went unbeaten in group play and has lit up the scoreboard along the way.
2. Qatar is no stranger to success
Hailing from the Middle East and members of a different international association, Qatar has made the most of its special invitation to participate in the Gold Cup. Qatar won Group D on the strength of shutout wins over Grenada and Honduras and a draw (3-3) with Panama. On Saturday, Qatar outlasted El Salvador 3-2 to reach the semifinals. Overall, Qatar has outscored its opponents 12-5.
A non-Concacaf member has never won the Gold Cup but Qatar is no stranger to collecting trophies. The nation won the most recent AFC Asian Cup in 2019, are three-time champions of the Arabian Gulf Cup (1992, 2004, 2014), and won the 2014 West Asian Football Federation championship. Qatar also is hosting next year's FIFA World Cup. If anything, the country's showing in his Gold Cup will offer momentum headed into what should be a memorable 2022.
Qatar is just the fourth non-Concacaf member to play in the Gold Cup, and the second AFC team to do so (South Korea). Brazil and Peru (South America) are the other non-regional members that have participated. The best showing from the other three teams was when Brazil finished as the runner-up in both 1996 and 2003.
3. Players to watch
Qatar's Almoez Ali leads all scorers in this Gold Cup with four goals. His teammate, Abdulaziz Hatem, is among six players that have recorded three goals. Akram Afif has found the back of the net twice, while Homam Ahmed, Hassan Al-Haydos, and Mohammed Muntari have contributed one goal each. Qatar's 12 total goals are the most of any team to this point.
Qatar's offense will have to contend with American goaltender Matt Turner, who has started in every game thus far. He's allowed just one goal, on a penalty kick against Martinique in group play, and has been credited with 18 saves. Offensively, the United States has gotten goals from Daryl Dike (2 goals), Nicholas Gioacchini, Matthew Hoppe, Shaquell Moore (scored the fastest goal in Gold Cup history against Canada), Miles Robinson, Gyasi Zardes, and Sam Vines (goal each).
This will be the first-ever meeting between the United States and Qatar. When you include Qatar's performance here at the Gold Cup, the Middle Eastern nation is 4-2-2 against Concacaf teams. Qatar also is unbeaten in its last 10 matches overall (8-0-2). Team USA has had its share of success against other teams from the Asian Football Confederation. The Americans are 14-10-7 record against the confederation, outscoring the opposition 46-33.
Overall, Team USA has won seven in a row and 10 of its last 11 matches. The reigning Nations League champions have momentum and will be on home tuft. Qatar will find the back of the net but in the end, the Americans will stand their ground and move on.