USMNT Captures Gold Cup With 2-1 Win Over Jamaica
The United States Men's National Team has won the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 2-1 win in the final match over Jamaica. With the win, the US qualifies for the CONCACAF Cup Match against the winner of the 2019 Gold Cup for a spot in the 2021 Confederations Cup.
If the US wins the Gold Cup in 2019, they will automatically earn a spot in the Confederations Cup in 2021. That's a pretty nice recovery from where the team was a few months ago when they replaced coach Jurgen Klinsmann with Bruce Arenas after dropping a pair of November matches in World Cup qualifying. Since Arenas took over, the USMNT has not lost.
They began this tournament as one of the top teams, though Mexico was the favorite to win the championship. The Mexican team was the defending champion and held a FIFA ranking of 16 while the US came in at number 35.
The Americans found themselves in Group B with Panama, Martinique and Nicaragua. They faced Panama in the opener and were held 1-1 against Panama, ranked number 52. Next, Martinique and Nicaragua were outmatched against the US with the Yanks winning 3-2 over Martinique and 3-0 over Nicaragua, meaning USNMT advanced to the Knockout Stage.
This was a rematch of the final game of Klinsmann’s reign, when Costa Rica won 4-0. Could the Americans get a measure of revenge and show that they were a much better team than in November? The answer is yes. The US won 2-0, dominating the match late. Jozy Altidore scored on an assist from Clint Dempsey in the 72nd minute and then Dempsey put the game away in the 82nd minute on a free kick just inside the near post.
It was on to the Championship match against Jamaica.
In an absolutely thrilling match, Jordan Morris came through with perhaps the biggest play of his life when he sent one past the goalkeeper from about 25 yards out to win the game in the 88th minute. The Americans have now won the Gold Cup for the sixth time, perhaps none bigger than this one.
With the World Cup Qualifying disasters of November, and the coaching change, the team needed this. The players have gotten back to playing for the name on the front of the jersey and pride of country and it shows. Perhaps we will see them in the World Cup after all?
With four matches to go in qualifying, the US needs to take care of business in their two remaining home matches against Costa Rica and Panama and perhaps get a draw in the road matches against Honduras and Trinidad to advance. After their Gold Cup triumph, this seems highly likely.
What should we expect in gold Cup 2019? It's difficult to say. A lot can happen in two years, especially with an American team led by so many veterans such as Dempsey, Altidore and Tim Howard. Some of the younger players will need to step it up if they are to defend their title. But at least they do not have to win it to get to the CONCACAF Cup, so there won't be a lot of pressure.