July 24 – The US squad changes after the group stages of the CONCACAF Gold Cup bore fruit at the weekend with the host country beating Costa Rica 2-0 to qualify for the final. In contrast, Mexico, who left a number of big names off their roster, crashed 1-0 in their semi-final against Jamaica.
Gold Cup tournament rules allow six players to be parachuted in to replace existed squad players at the end of the group stages of the competition.
For the USA that saw a full six changes with two of those changes, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, scoring the semi-final goals that put them through.
Dempsey, making his 136th international appearance, scored his 57th international goal, equalling Landon Donovan’s national team goalscoring record.
At the other end of the pitch, Tim Howard, also subbed into the squad after the group stages, made two crucial saves to keep a clean sheet. He also kept a clean sheet in the quarter final.
Mexican fiesta fizzles out
In contrast Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio, watching from the stands due to a FIFA ban following bad behaviour at the Confederations Cup in Russia last month, will likely be rueing the missed opportunity to bring in his own heavy hitters.
Osorio had opted for a younger squad after the exertions of the Confederations Cup that saw them reach the semi-final stage. That meant no Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela, Guillermo Ochoa or Giovani dos Santos. Dos Santos would have been an easy addition as he plays his club football in the MLS which is in season.
However, the 1-0 loss to a jubilant Jamaica – a rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup final – saw the Mexicans relinquish their hold of the Gold Cup trophy and made it a second successive miserable summer in the US for Osorio whose Mexican team was hammered 7-0 last year in the Copa America.
Jamaica and the US will now meet in the final in Santa Clarita, California, on Wednesday. Not perhaps the dream final the organisers and their commercial partners had scripted with Mexico having spoiled their lines.
The US will start as overwhelming favourites to win the final and the bi-annual competition for the first time since 2013. It is their tenth appearance in the final. It is Jamaica’s second appearance in the final – they lost in 2015 1-0 to Mexico. For the Reggae Boyz it is a fitting tribute for their recently deceased federation president Captain Horace Burrell who will doubtless be ‘jammin in the name of the Lord’ on the other side
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