For years, the winner of the Gold Cup earned two prizes. First and foremost, the champion earned bragging rights for North American and the Caribbean. In addition, the tournament winner qualified for the FIFA Confederation’s Cup since 1997.
After 2005, every other Gold Cup winner earned a spot in the tournament that took place the year before the World Cup. The United States used the 2009 edition as a springboard to win its group in South Africa in 2010.
However, that changed in April 2018. FIFA announced that the Confederation’s Cup would be shuttered in advance of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. According to IOL, the plan at the moment is to replace that tournament with an expanded Club World Cup.
It would now be held every fourth June in the year before a World Cup — just as the Confederations Cup was. Last year’s Confederations Cup in Russia — won by Germany — would therefore be the last.
The competition would last 18 days. The new format means the club competition would interfere less with the rest of the football calendar, particularly in Europe.
Carlos Codeiro, president of the United States Soccer Federation, confirmed this past February to that FIFA would move ahead with this plan.
“It’s done and over with,” he said, according to The Athletic. “In place of Confederations Cup there will be intracontinental playoffs to get to that 48-team (World Cup).”
According to Yahoo Sports, this also could be the second-to-last Gold Cup. The final one could be played in 2021.
Cordeiro went on to say the Gold Cup could be scrapped after the 2021 edition.
“The Gold Cup is only legislated for this year and 2021, so it could go on but it may not happen,” he said.
“There have been talks in the last year between CONMEBOL (the South American confederation) and CONCACAF on a kind of combined Copa America,” he added, “but they haven’t been able to come to an agreement on that.”
This means that the winner tonight between the United States and Mexico are playing for national pride and bragging rights rather than any sort of qualification for something substantial.
First Half Stats for USA Mexico in the Gold Cup Final
The Gold Cup final is tied at 0-0 entering halftime.
El Tri and the Stars and Stripes played a chippy and close affair in the first 45 minutes Sunday night at Soldier Field. They combined for 14 fouls and got into more than a few shoving matches after excessive contact.
Both times earned tantalizing opportunities in front of the other’s net. Jozy Altidore, Christian Pulisic and Paul Arriola all barely missed wide, as the United States put up five shots overall. Meanwhile, Mexico launched eight shots, including two at Zach Steffen, while controlling possession by a 53-47 margin.
Both teams advanced to final on the back of excellent defense. The Americans allowed just one goal through the first five matches, while El Tri survived in the elimination rounds despite scoring just twice before penalty kicks.
The team that breaks through first should be able to leave Chicago with the title.