Huge day for the U.S. as they take on Mexico in tonight’s Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl.
The winner earns a spot in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, which serves as a warm-up for organizers of the 2014 World Cup. The U.S. earned a spot in the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa and knocked off Spain, providing the team with the confidence that carried it into the knockout stage of last year’s World Cup.
More importantly, the U.S. wants to earn a win over its biggest rival in a series that has been decidedly pro-USA for the past decade. Since losing to El Tri in Mexico City in 1999, the U.S. has gone 10-4-2 against Mexico.
That decade-long success should negate what is expected to be a home field advantage for the Mexican team playing in Southern California.
“It’s difficult. Anytime you play in the States against teams from Latin America, it’s always tough for us,” said midfielder Clint Dempsey in published reports. “We’ve gotten used to that. I think that makes us stronger as a team.”
It won’t be easy, as Mexico has scored 18 goals (to the Americans’ 7) on its way to the final, but the team needed extra time to get past Honduras on Wednesday night. So some of the early shine is off for Mexico.
There will be a lot of pressure on goalkeeper Tim Howard and the U.S. back line, especially in trying to keep Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in check. Hernandez has seven goals in the tournament so far (by comparison, Clint Dempsey leads the U.S. with 3).
The one advantage is that Howard (who hasn’t given up a goal since the second game of the tournament) knows how to play Hernandez, having faced him twice last year in the Premier League when Howard’s Everton team took on Hernandez and Manchester United.
“No player is unstoppable,” Howard said in published reports. “But they’ve got a good team. They’ve got a lot of big players. So it will take all of us to stop all of them.”
It what should be a close game, any little edge helps.
“When you come into these types of tournaments you grow along the way,” U.S. coach Bradley said in published reports. “You certainly grow when you lose and you look hard at certain things. I think that’s been important. The first round is always about advancing and using the games to figure out where you are. I think we’ve gotten better from start to finish. There’s a good level of confidence, and it’s a strong group that has been through this before.”
No matter what happens, it should be one heck of a match.