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Preview: USA vs. Mexico - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Monday's CONCACAF Gold Cup clash between USA and Mexico, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Sunday will be a carbon copy from 2019 when the USA take on Mexico in the final of the Gold Cup from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The Yanks scored four minutes from the end to beat Qatar 1-0 in their semi-final, while the Mexicans outlasted Canada with a late goal to win 2-1, advancing to their second successive Gold Cup final.

Match preview

United States head coach Gregg Berhalter pictured in December, 2020© Reuters

The final that we all expected to see has materialised once again, but Gregg Berhalter and his side are hoping for a more favourable outcome against the Mexicans this time out, after falling 1-0 to them in 2019.

In their semi-final, the Americans were able to weather an early storm of pressure from Qatar before they finally got into the match against one of the most talented sides in the tournament.

The turning point seemed to come when Hassan Al-Haydos missed a penalty in the 62nd minute with the score deadlocked at zero-zero, and the US eventually took advantage, scoring in the dying minutes for a second successive fixture and winning their fourth match at this competition by a 1-0 score.

It has not always been pretty, but they seem to be doing just enough to get by in every match, as they were outshot 17-6 in their semi-final but still maintained 59% possession.

Berhalter became the fastest manager for the American men to reach 25 wins with their semi-final victory, while he also picked up his 10th Gold Cup victory, surpassing Jurgen Klinsmann for the third-most wins at this competition among US head coaches.

Just like in 2019, they have been rock-solid defensively through their first five matches, allowing only one goal, which was all they had conceded before losing the Gold Cup final to El Tri two years ago.

This will be the seventh time that the Stars and Stripes will have to defeat Mexico in order to capture this competition, and history is not on their side, as they have only beaten them in the Gold Cup final once, back in 2007, although they defeated Mexico 3-2 in the final of the CONCACAF Nations League in June.

The US team is made up primarily of youngsters playing in MLS, with the average age of their starting lineup for their previous match at 23 years and 284 days, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure of a final against an experienced Mexican team, who are also the reigning champions.

Mexico manager Gerardo Martino on June 6, 2021© Reuters

Mexico will have a chance to defend their Gold Cup crown, but they really had to work hard to get here after outlasting a Canadian side who gave absolutely everything to keep pace with them before conceding the winner in the ninth minute of stoppage time.

Gerardo Martino saw his backline look vulnerable in that match for the first time in this competition, conceding their first goal since the Nations League final in June, while goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera saw more action than he has seen in any match at this tournament to date.

The Mexicans will have revenge on their minds when they face the Americans on Sunday, just over a month after they lost the Nations League final to them in extra time.

Playing a youthful side like Canada who can catch you in transition may be a good thing for Martino and his team going into the final of the Gold Cup, as they will have to deal with another young team in the US, many of whom are in their early twenties, so the Mexicans will need to be sharp and on their toes.

If they can win on Sunday, it would be the first time that anyone has successfully defended their title since 2011, when the Mexicans defeated the United States in the Gold Cup final 4-2 after beating them 5-0 two years before that.

Mexico have never been short on quality scoring opportunities, firing at least six shots on target in every one of their matches at this tournament, but they have not converted as much as they would like.

They have come up against some strong goalkeepers at the top of their game, with Marvin Phillip making seven saves for Trinidad and Tobago in their opener, while Mario Gonzalez stopped five of the six shots that he faced in goal for El Salvador and Maxime Crepeau saved a penalty kick in the semi-final.

Having to beat American keeper Matt Turner will be a difficult challenge, as the New England Revolution man has four clean sheets while starting in all five matches for the US.

USA CONCACAF Gold Cup form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

USA form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Mexico CONCACAF Gold Cup form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Mexico form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

United States forward Paul Arriola (7) celebrates his goal against Guyana at the Gold Cup on June 18, 2019© Reuters

Goalkeeper Matt Turner and defender Miles Robinson are the only Americans who have played in every minute of the Gold Cup, while Sebastian Lletget captained the US versus Qatar for the second time.

Midfielder Kellyn Acosta made his 13th straight appearance for the Yanks, substitute Gyasi Zardes scored his second goal of the competition against Qatar to draw even with Daryl Dike for the most on the team, and Donovan Pines did not dress in their semi-final clash for a second consecutive match.

Paul Arriola and Cristian Roldan both saw the field in the last Gold Cup final for the US in 2019, while Henry Kessler is looking to earn his first international cap after being called up as a medical replacement for the injured Walker Zimmerman.

Mexican midfielder Hector Herrera picked an excellent time to score his first goal of the competition, as his left-footed strike in injury-time sent Mexico into the final.

Jonathan dos Santos has started in both knockout matches for El Tri, and he was the hero in their last Gold Cup final, scoring the lone goal to help them beat the US, while Orbelin Pineda scored his third goal of the tournament versus Canada to draw even with Rogelio Funes Mori for the team lead.

The Mexicans used a back three in the semi-finals as Martino dropped Nestor Araujo from the starting 11 and moved Luis Rodriguez up to midfield, and Rodolfo Pizarro made his third appearance of the tournament off the bench to set up the winning goal versus Canada.

USA possible starting lineup:
Turner; Vines, Robinson, Sands, Moore; Lletget, Acosta, Busio; Hoppe, Dike, Arriola

Mexico possible starting lineup:
Talavera; L. Rodriguez, Salcedo, Moreno, Gallardo; Dos Santos, Alvarez, Herrera; Corona, Funes Mori, Pineda

SM words green background

We say: USA 1-2 Mexico

Mexico have only lost one Gold Cup final against the US, and they have only conceded in three of their nine appearances in the big game, so aside from some anxious moments in their semi-final, they have looked fairly comfortable.

It comes as no surprise to see the Americans make it to a third straight Gold Cup final, but this group of players lack the big-game experience that their opponents possess, and they have struggled to score against defences who are far inferior to the Mexicans.

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Jurgen Klinsmann pictured in September 2019
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