The Gold Cup Final is all set, and the U.S. will be looking to seek revenge on the team that stunned them in the semifinals and knocked them out of the title game two years ago. Jamaica, after another shocking semifinal win this time against Mexico, surprisingly finds their way into the final.
The U.S. took care of business in their matchup versus Costa Rica in the semifinals. Clint Dempsey came on in the second half and put his stamp on the game. He set up Jozy Altidore for the game winner by beating a few defenders then playing a perfectly timed ball to Altidore who slotted it past the keeper. He then tallied a goal himself off a free kick, which tied him with Landon Donovan as the all-time leading goal scorer for the national team with 57 goals.
Jamaica’s upset over Mexico came late into regulation with a curling free kick in the 88th minute into the upper corner of the net from Kemar Lawrence. The Reggae Boyz played a well-organized match against El Tri and had some big time plays made again from their MVP of the tournament, Andre Blake. Blake made five saves throughout the game, some of which were spectacular, highlight-reel stops.
To win the cup, Jamaica again will have to heavily rely on Blake and their defense to be solid as they have been most of the tournament earning three clean sheets thus far. They have shown they have some goal scoring capabilities relying on their forwards, Darren Mattocks and Romario Williams.
As far as what the U.S. has to be aware of, they need to make sure they don’t have any lapses at the back and become exposed off of the counterattack. The center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler will have to continue to use their veteran experience and keep communication strong so the team’s defensive shape is strong. The midfield has gained more stability since Bruce Arena has brought in the roster changes for the group stage and will need to continue to dictate the pace of the game and control the possession.
The starting XI that Arena used against Costa Rica will probably be similar to the one you see lineup when they take on Jamaica. I could possibly see Eric Lichaj start at right back over Graham Zusi. It will also be interesting to see if Arena plugs Dempsey into a starting role or brings him in again off the bench as he tries to etch his name in history and be alone at the top of the all-time goal scoring list.
It is a match you expect the U.S. to win, but they still have to go out and perform to their abilities for 90 minutes. Either way, there will be a new champion of CONCACAF crowned tomorrow night in Santa Clara, California.
(photos: US Soccer, USA Today)