The United States is experiencing a soccer awakening! Long considered the red-headed step-children of the soccer world, the US Men’s team has been making many of the sport’s officianados bite their proverbial tongue. With the US team’s surprising performance in the FIFA Confederation Cup final last month, many around the globe are rethinking America’s international ranking. In this month’s CONCACAF tournament of North American, Central American, and Caribbean countries, the US defeated Honduras 2 – 0 to meet Mexico in the Gold Cup Final this Sunday, July 26th at 2pm central in Giants Stadium, New Jersey.
The United States / Mexico rivalry is one of the most intense and passionate contests in international soccer. The match is known as el clasico, a moniker befitting the importance of the outcome to both neighboring countries. The last time the two teams played, the US won 2 – 0 in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match, the Mexican captain Rafa Marquez was sent off with a red card and US midfielder Frankie Hejduk was slapped across the face by a Mexican assistant coach. Drama, excitement, and raw emotion were in full effect.
The Mexican team is sure to have plenty of cheering fans (likely to vastly outnumber the US) that they hope might help them overcome the fact that they have not won on American soil in the last 10 years! And the US team has a very different roster than during their successful run in the Confederation Cup, with Coach Bob Bradley opting to try out a number of different players to get them international experience. The Americans are counting on Holden, captain and veteran Brian Ching, the impressive Kyle Beckerman and the offensively dangerous Kenny Cooper. However, we won’t know until game time about the whole roster because Bradley is allowed to call up any one of his players from the Confederations Cup. Mexico, for their part, has Tottenham Hotspurs' Gio dos Santos , Carlos Vela, top scorer Miguel Sabah and Memo Ochoa complementing veteran captain Gerardo Torrado.
The US has won the last two Gold Cups in 2005 and 2007. The winner of the final will have the most CONCACAF championships of all time, with both Mexico and the US at 4 championships a piece. I can’t wait to put on my jersey (yes, believe it, I bought one), order a tasty light ale, and cheer for another Gold Cup.
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Gold Cup Final Sunday, July 26th at 2pm central in Giants Stadium, New Jersey.
The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the main football (soccer) competition of the men's national football teams governed by CONCACAF.
When the Gold Cup does not fall the same year as an edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup, the winner, or highest place team that is a member of both CONCACAF and FIFA, qualifies for the next staging of that tournament.