The United States won Group D Wednesday night in the Gold Cup to advance to the quarterfinals. The men’s national team trotted out a new-look lineup against Panama, leading to a slow-paced 1-0 squeaker in Kansas City.
Jozy Altidore scored in the 66th minute for the deciding score. His bicycle kick led to a raucous reaction from the crowd at Children’s Mercy Park.
With both teams already qualified for the quarterfinals, Gregg Berhalter started new players at all levels of the pitch, including Sean Johnson in goal for Zach Steffen. He wasn’t tested much, as Panama only put up one shot on goal.
The Americans would’ve won the group with a tie based on goal differential. They won their first two matchups by a combined score of 10-0 over Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Meanwhile, Los Canaleros beat the same teams by an aggregate of just four goals.
This means a quarterfinals matchup against Curacao in Philadelphia on June 30 (8:30 p.m. EST, FS1 and Univision). The island nation finished second in Group C to Jamaica, who will face Panama in the game before at Lincoln Financial Field.
Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada and Haiti are all on the other side of the Gold Cup bracket. They all play on June 29 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Let’s look at the the Curacao matchup, as well as the road to a second straight tournament title.
USMNT Chances vs. Curacao & the Winning the Gold Cup
Out of all the island nations, Curacao is the only one outside of Jamaica that poses a threat at this time to the USMNT. The squad ranks No. 79 in the most recent FIFA/Coca-Cola world rankings, whereas the Jamaicans rank No. 54.
This is only the second-ever Gold Cup appearance for Curacao after it changed its name from the Netherland Antilles in 2011. The former Dutch province also has never played the United States.
Offensively, the team has only scored twice in three games so far this tournament, including a 1-0 loss to El Salvador, a 1-0 victory over Honduras and a 1-1 draw to Jamaica. Leandro Bacuna and Jurien Gaari are the only goal scorers, so far.
On the flip side, the United States kept opponents out of the nets in the first three games, while also tallying 11 goals total. While this game might be tighter than expected, the Americans should squeeze through to the semifinals.
This will set up a rematch of the 2017 Gold Cup final with Jamaica. Many will point out that the USMNT lost 1-0 on June 5, but that lineup featured three players that didn’t even make the 23-man roster (Josh Sargent, Jackson Yuehill and Antonee Robinson).
Altidore, Gyasi Zardes and Christian Pulisic were some of those not available, meaning the Americans will bring more offensive firepower this time around. Michael Bradley will also help control the midfield. With those reinforcements, expect another close win for a spot in the final.
At this point, the likeliest option is probably Mexico. El Tri has not sent its full A team, which has led to mediocre outings against the likes of Martinique (3-2 win). The Americans won the last meeting 1-0 in September, but have just a 1-4 mark in Gold Cup finals versus their rivals.
This one will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago. The USMNT won there in 2007 over Mexico and 2013 over Panama. This American team is young and lost badly to a quality team in Venezuela before the tournament. While the final will be close, the prediction here is to Mexico by a 3-2 margin.