Much like most of the Group Stage (and much like the Gold Cup quarter-final two years ago against Curacao) the US looked somewhat sluggish and disjointed during the bulk of Sunday’s game against Jamaica. And just like the Group Stage and the quarter-final two years ago the US were able to secure a 1-0 win, this time with a late winner from Matthew Hoppe. At the end of the day it’s a results oriented business and the US has been racking up the wins for quite some time now (12 wins in the last 13 games). But for any of those other wins to truly matter and finally prove to the fans that this team is for real, the US needs to win two more games and lift another trophy. The next step towards accomplishing that goal is against a surprise Qatar team in the Gold Cup semi-finals.
The run of form the US is in right is quite impressive. In fact, since the ugly 2-0 loss to Canada in the Nations League back in October of 2019 the US has been on absolute fire posting a record of 15 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw. They are currently on a seven game winning streak, the longest such stretch since winning twelve games in a row back during the heady days of 2013. However, many of the wins during that stretch have scores that would indicate the US has not been as dominant as the streak would suggest. Most of the wins have been by a single goal and during this current seven game win streak, four of those wins have come 1-0, including three so far at this tournament. While the wins are nice, the performances have to be better or else there will be a sense that the US played with fire for far too long before finally getting burned.
Seeing a team like Qatar in the Gold Cup has left many fans scratching their heads as to why they’re here (as hosts of the 2022 World Cup it seems that FIFA felt it would be a good idea to have them play in as many competitive games as possible). But this is not the first time Qatar has been a guest team and a tournament of this type as back in 2019 they were guests at the Copa America in Brazil where they finished last in a group with Colombia, Argentina, and Paraguay. At the Gold Cup however, they’ve been the surprise of the tournament as they’ve basically run roughshod over their CONCACAF foes. They topped Group D with 7 points following a 3-3 draw with Panama, a 4-0 thumping of Grenada, and a solid 2-0 over Honduras. In the quarter-finals they were matched up with another surprise team in El Salvador and went up 3-0 only to see El Salvador pull two back and set up a nervy finish that the Qataris were able to see out and lock up their spot in the semis. Their manager is Felix Sanchez who is from Barcelona but has spent almost his entire coaching career in Qatar with their youth national teams until taking the full-time job in July of 2017. To date he’s posted a record of 36-16-10 (W-L-D). The roster for the Qataris is entirely domestic based with the bulk of the players coming from club Al-Sadd. The man to watch is 30 year old Hassan Al-Haydos who has amassed a whopping 144 caps and tacked on 32 goals.
1. This is the USMNT’s first appearance in Austin, Texas but it won’t be the last as they return fairly soon for a World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica in October.
2. This is the first time that the US has played an opponent from the Asian Football Confederations since a January Camp friendly against South Korea in 2014.
When and where to watch the game on US TV
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Live on FS1, Univision, TUDN and fuboTV
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