The US men’s national team is officially through to the Concacaf Gold Cup knockout phases after tagging a hexagonal (RIP) on Martinique Thursday night at Children’s Mercy Park in KC.
That’s a bare-minimum box to check for the Yanks at this tournament, of course, and the showpiece occasion of the Group B slate, a meaningful clash with Canada, now awaits on Sunday evening at the same venue. Here’s the breakdown.
Daryl wants that No. 9 spot
By now you’ve seen the highlights. Daryl Dike isn’t climbing the power rankings, he IS the power rankings.
Yes, allowances must be made for the limited opposition provided by a side representing a small French overseas department. That applies in all such scenarios like these, which are a perennial quirk of Concacaf life. And rough edges remain on the 21-year-old’s game: Cleaner technique would have bagged him a hat trick instead of allowing the USMNT’s second to turn out as a Samuel Camille own goal, for example.
The 3-4-2-1 can work, and James Sands is key to it
Berhalter has grown comfortable with a couple of tactical riffs based on a three-player back line. Though some of us initially expected a 3-5-2, Thursday’s XI was different from the 5-3-2 look the USMNT shifted into to hold off Haiti in the second half of their opener. As the Big Brain in the Comfy Seat himself noted:
I think this shape works better with this squad than previous groups with which Berhalter has tinkered with it, and the pleasing patterns that the Yanks carved out in their best moments were entertaining proof of its value. But the whole thing asks a lot of the center backs, and tends to hinge on their characteristics – and dependability. And until relatively recently it was not a very common system in MLS and other places where most US defenders ply their trade.
Some stakes for the next US-Canada grudge match
The US must win on Sunday in order to finish first in the group, which would drop them into the opposite side of the knockout bracket from where Mexico (and probably Honduras) are likely to land out of Group A. A draw will do for Canada to hold that spot, and their wily management of their earlier game vs. Haiti suggests they’re confident of keeping the USMNT to a point.
All that adds up to another spicy cross-border faceoff like the ones we enjoyed during the group stage of the Concacaf Nations League, where the two sides both held serve on home turf before the US advanced to the semifinals on superior goal differential. Will John Herdman & Co. turn the tables in KC? And to be fair, it’s also valid to ask whether any of it will really matter once the knockout stages are underway.
Whatever your perspective, Sunday figures to be a fun one.
U.S. Men’s National Team Gold Cup 2021 Fixtures
Sunday, July 18: USA vs Canada – Children’s Mercy Park (6 pm ET) – Buy Gold Cup Tickets
Gold Cup Knockout Stage
Saturday, July 24 – State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ (Quarterfinals) – Buy Gold Cup Tickets
QF1: 1D vs 2A (7:30 pm ET)
QF2: 1A vs 2D (10 pm ET)
Sunday, July 25 – AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX (Quarterfinals) – Buy Gold Cup Tickets
QF3: 1C vs 2B (7 pm ET)
QF4: 1B vs 2C (9:30 pm ET)
Thursday, July 29 – Q2 Stadium, Austin, TX and NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Semifinals) – Buy Gold Cup Tickets
SF1: Winner QF1 (1D or 2A) vs Winner QF4 (1B or 2C) – 7:30 pm ET
SF2: Winner QF2 (1A or 2D) vs Winner QF3 (1C or 2B) – 10 pm ET
Sunday, August 1 – Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV (Final) – Buy Gold Cup Tickets
Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2 (8:30 pm ET)
U.S. Men’s National Team World Cup Qualifying Fixtures
June: Honduras vs USMNT -TBD – Buy Gold Cup Tickets
June: USMNT vs Jamaica – TBD –
September: TBD vs USMNT – TBD –
September: USMNT vs Costa Rica – TBD
October: USMNT vs Mexico- TBD
October: Jamaica vs USMNT- TBD
November: USMNT vs TBD – TBD
November: TBD vs USMNT – TBD
January 2022: USMNT v Honduras – TBD
January 2022: Mexico v USMNT – TBD
March 2022: USMNT v TBD – TBD
March 2022: Costa Rica v USMNT