Los Angeles (AFP) – Defending champion Mexico faces Jamaica and host United States meets 2014 World Cup quarter-finalist Costa Rica in weekend semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Bruce Arena’s US squad is on a 12-match unbeaten run since he replaced Jurgen Klinsmann as coach with seven wins and five drawn, but figures to get a tough test from the Ticos on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in suburban Dallas, Texas.
“We’re hungry for more,” said US striker Jozy Altidore.
Seven-time tournament champion Mexico meets Jamaica on Sunday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in a rematch of the 2015 final, taken 3-1 by “El Tri”, and a group stage match from July 13 in which they played to a goal-less draw.
“We respect our rivals, but we think we have enough weapons to defeat Jamaica and be in the final,” said Mexico assistant coach Luis Pompilio, who is guiding the squad. “Mexico has been consolidating and has shown it can be in the final and win.”
Semi-final winners will meet for the title on Wednesday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
The Americans, five-time Gold Cup winners, are facing Costa Rica for the first time since a 4-0 away drubbing last November in a World Cup qualifier, the final match before Klinsmann was axed.
US defender Omar Gonzalez, whose two Gold Cup goals match forward Jordan Morris for the team lead, is among five players on the Gold Cup roster that were on the field for the blanking in Costa Rica, but the Texas hometown hero does not see that as extra motivation against the Ticos.
“Some people on this team can use that as motivation,” he said. “That’s in the past for me and I don’t think about that game ever. For me, it’s just another game, another opportunity for us to see what we’re made of. I’m excited to step on the field to hopefully get the result we need to get to the final.”
Costa Rica owns a 15-14 with six drawn edge over the US team in their all-time rivalry, but the Americans are 6-0 with one drawn in all-time Gold Cup matchups against Costa Rica, including a 2-0 win in the 2002 final, the Ticos’ only trip to the championship match.
The Mexicans, unbeaten in their past 10 Gold Cup matches, could capture the title for the fourth time in five tries despite fielding a B-team roster that includes just one player from their fourth-place Confederations Cup squad.
“We will try to reach the final and give that satisfaction to the people,” Pompilio said. “But they are a very serious team. For the open game to make a goal will be difficult.
“Jamaica has much more knowledge of our players and what this Cup means. Going to the clash with them, we are going to compete with courage and look for the best inside.”