The United States will look to earn a second straight continental title when it takes on favored Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Sunday.
The United States is coming off of a 3-1 victory over Jamaica on Wednesday night, while Mexico grinded out a 1-0 win over a surprisingly tough Haiti side.
Two Nations Dominate Gold Cup History
That sets up the final that fans have been hoping for since the Gold Cup began. Between the two nations, they have won 13 of the 14 previous editions of the tournament, with only Canada breaking their dominance with a win in 2000. Mexico has won seven times, with the Americans taking the title on six occasions.
But this is the first time that the two sides will meet in the final since 2011, when Mexico beat the United States 4-2.
“It’s definitely going to be a fun game,” said US midfielder Weston McKennie after the semifinal win over Jamaica. “I think the fans want it. You heard them saying, ‘We want Mexico!’ I think we want it. I think we’re ready for it, looking forward to it.”
While this has historically been the match between CONCACAF’s top two sides, the finals meetings between the two regional powers have been somewhat one-sided. Mexico has beaten the United States four of the five times the two have met in the Gold Cup final, including a 5-0 drubbing in the 2009 edition of the tournament.
Still, that history won’t do anything to help Mexico get past the USA on Sunday, says Mexican defender Carlos Salcedo.
“In football, there aren’t any giants anymore. You have to play the games,” Salcedo told reporters. “History says we’ve won a lot of Gold Cups, but that isn’t going to help us win on Sunday. We can only show our quality by lifting the cup.”
Mexico Favored, But USA Closing the Gap
The general consensus is that Mexico has more talent than the USA, a perception that was likely enhanced when the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018. The perceived gap between the teams might be shrinking, however, as the United States has looked dangerous throughout the tournament, with the possible exception of a tight 1-0 win over Curacao in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Mexico has struggled at times, such as in a 3-2 win over Martinique and its quarterfinal draw with Costa Rica, when El Tri advanced only after penalties. But those questionable results aren’t enough for the US to think it can overlook its biggest rival.
“It’s a good team, quality players, good team concept,” US manager Gregg Berhalter told reporters. “They can hurt teams. Having said that, they’re also vulnerable, and we’ll plan to be able to hurt them as well.”
While the United States has narrowed the gap during the tournament, oddsmakers still think Mexico is more likely to walk away with another Gold Cup win. FanDuel Sportsbook has made Mexico a -160 favorite to lift the cup on Sunday, with the USA a slight +110 underdog.