USMNT Vs. Mexico Prematch Coverage: Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas

This already feels like a classic.

Hello and welcome to our prematch coverage of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Final between the USMNT and Mexico in Las Vegas, Nevada. With kickoff set for 9 p.m. ET on FS1, Univision and TUDN, this is going to be a rowdy night in every sense of the word.

As was the case before a ball had even been kicked in anger at the tournament, Mexico remains the favorite on the strength of its squad. Both El Tri and the USA named their respective domestic-based all-stars (so Liga MX had the advantage there), but Tata Martino is also blessed with big-name overseas talent in Atlético’s Héctor Herrera, Porto’s Jesús Corona, Ajax’s Edson Álvarez, Celta Vigo’s Néstor Araujo and PSV’s Érick Gutiérrez.

But it’s the U.S. that boasts the Gold Cup’s only remaining unblemished record (Mexico drew against Trinidad and Tobago), and less heralded Europe-based players like Tenerife’s Shaq Moore, Schalke’s Matthew Hoppe and Caen’s Nicholas Gioacchini have had their moments alongside players that don’t always feel the love on Twitter, like Columbus’ Gyasi Zardes and Seattle’s Cristian Roldan. 

Not that Gregg Berhalter or Martino want to hear about all that roster nonsense, and rightfully so — this is a Gold Cup final between Mexico and the U.S. There are no excuses. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.  

“I think it’s a disservice to our guys,” Berhalter said about the underdog tag. “I think it’s a disservice to our team. The guys want to win this game. We’re gonna do everything we can to win this game, and if we don’t win this game, I can guarantee you we’re going to be bitterly disappointed.”

Martino echoed those sentiments: “We’ll play against the U.S. and against the players that their manager included for this Gold Cup … the reasoning for those picked isn’t relevant to us, we are facing the U.S. in another final and we seek to win.” 

It’s win, be a national hero; lose, be entirely forgotten and — on an individual level — maybe play no part in World Cup qualifying. 

History is against the U.S. tonight. This is the seventh Gold Cup final meeting between the two nations, and Mexico has claimed victory on five previous occasions, including the 2019 event.

The only USMNT win remains the 2007 final, when Benny Feilhaber brought Soldier Field to its feet.

Berhalter And Martino Get Feisty 

A little spice was added to the match when Berhalter effectively questioned the character of Mexico’s players beforehand by accusing them of frequently crossing the line between what's competitive and what's skullduggery.

“We want it to be a physical game,” Berhalter said. “We want it to be a tough, contested game, the same way as Mexico. They want the same thing. But we also want it to be fair, and that’s the referee’s role in this game, to manage the game in a fair way. You know I’ve seen numerous times when the players from Mexico are grabbing players’ necks and facial areas, and that has no place in the game. We can’t have that in the game. We want our guys to battle. We want both teams to battle. We want it to be physical. But that has no place in the game.

“When I saw the semifinal (between Mexico and Canada) I didn’t think the referee did a good job of managing that at all. And they need to get ahead of that. There can’t be any hands to the neck or to the face.”

Martino responded by questioning Berhalter’s own actions in the USMNT’s semifinal victory over Qatar. The USA manager wildly gesticulated at the fourth official following his side's late winner.

“The official will do the best he can during the match,” Martino said. “Against Qatar, I don’t think it was right how (Berhalter) behaved with the fourth official.” 

USA Vs Mexico Gold Cup Final Starting Lineups

USMNT

Matt Turner; Reggie Cannon, James Sands, Miles Robinson, George Bello; Sebastian Lletget, Kellyn Acosta, Eryk Williamson; Paul Arriola, Gyasi Zardes, Matthew Hoppe

Leading Scorers

Daryl Dike - 2 goals

Gyasi Zardes - 2 goals

Leading Providers

Cristian Roldan - 2 assists 

Mexico

Alfredo Talavera; Jesús Gallardo, Héctor Moreno, Néstor Araujo; Héctor Herrera, Edson Álvarez, Jonathan dos Santos, Rodríguez; Jesús Corona, Rogelio Funes Mori, Orbelín Pineda

Leading Scorers

Rogelio Funes Mori — 3 goals

Orbelín Pineda - 3 goals 

Leading Providers

Héctor Herrera - 2 assists 

Chaka Rodríguez - 2 assists  

USA Vs Mexico Gold Cup Final Time, Channel, Odds

Time: Kickoff is at 9:00 p.m. ET. Coverage begins at 8:00 p.m. ET on FS1, Univision and TUDN.

Channel: FS1, Univision and TUDN. 

Odds: William Hill has Mexico as a +115 favorite (risk $100 to win $115), whereas the USMNT is a +240 underdog. The over-under for goals scored is set at 2.5. Mexico is clearly the people's favorite:

Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada (home to the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders) 

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