The United States Men’s National Team takes on rival Mexico in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final. The match will be played Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Mexico enters the match with a 5-0 record during this Gold Cup. El Tri defeated Costa Rica 5-4 on penalties (after a 1-1 draw) in the quarterfinals and beat Haiti 1-0 (after extra time) in the semifinals.
Mexico holds a 2-2-1 (W-L-T) record in its last five matches against the USMNT, and a 34-19-15 all-time record against the U.S. The USMNT won its most recent meeting against El Tri 1-0 in a September 2018 friendly in Nashville.
Goalkeepers (3): Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege; 106/0), Jonathan Orozco (Santos Laguna; 8/0), Hugo Gonzalez (Necaxa; 2/0)
Defenders (8): Edson Alvarez (Club America; 27/1), Nestor Araujo (Celta de Vigo; 34/3), Cesar Montes (Monterrey; 8/0), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad; 100/4), Fernando Navarro (Club Leon; 2/1), Diego Reyes (Fenerbahce; 63/2), Luis Rodriguez (Tigres UANL; 16/1), Carlos Salcedo (Tigres UANL; 31/0)
Midfielders (8): Uriel Antuna (LA Galaxy; 7/4), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey; 40/0), Jonathan dos Santos (Los Angeles Galaxy; 44/2), Andres Guardado (Real Betis; 159/28), Erick Gutierrez (PSV Eindhoven; 17/0), Luis Montes (Club Leon; 25/5), Orbelin Pineda (Cruz Azul; 18/1), Carlos Rodriguez (Monterrey; 7/0)
Forwards (4): Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul; 13/2), Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton; 77/21), Rodolfo Pizarro (Monterrey; 21/4), Alexis Vega (Chivas Guadalajara; 5/1)
Mexico coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino has used a 4-3-3 in every match this tournament, except for the semifinal against Haiti. I expect him to stick with a 4-3-3, that will turn into a 4-5-1 when Mexico is defending. El Tri will look to dominate possession and dictate the pace of the game.
Mexico Projected Lineup:
Guillermo Ochoa is likely the best goalkeeper in this tournament. Ochoa is an elite shot-stopper and organizes his defense well. However, he occasionally struggles with crosses.
Carlos Salcedo will start at centerback along with either Hector Moreno or Nestor Araujo. I’m predicting that Moreno will earn the nod. Salcedo is very composed on the ball, quite strong, and looks to play long balls out of the back, but he commits too many fouls.
Moreno has a high soccer IQ and is an excellent passer, but his tackling is surprisingly poor.
Look for Luis Rodriguez to feature at left back. Rodriguez’s positioning is almost always perfect. He has impressive pace and is a good crosser who will look to get involved in the attack. However, he struggles with his 1 v. 1 defending.
Edson Alvarez will likely earn the nod at left back. Alvarez is a strong tackler and good man-marker. However, his passing is abysmal.
Expect Andres Guardado, Jonathan Dos Santos, and Jesus Gallardo to be the three starting central midfielders. Gallardo is a natural left winger and will drift left. Dos Santos will drop deeper than Guardado and Gallardo, but not quite play as a defensive midfielder. Guardado is a skilled dribbler, makes excellent short passes, and has impressive stamina. His primary flaw is his poor defending.
Dos Santos is an exceptional defender, for a midfielder, is two-footed, and has an impressive passing range. However, he is very inconsistent and should create more scoring chances than he does. Gallardo is a surprisingly good 1 v. 1 defender, a constant goal-scoring threat when inside the eighteen, and a solid average crosser who likes to deliver floated balls. Gallardo’s play in the attacking third needs to become better, as he does not score or assist as often as he should.
Expect Tata Martino to deploy a forward trio of Uriel Antuna, Raul Jimenez, and Rodolfo Pizarro Antuna has been one of the surprises of the tournament. He made his Mexico debut in a pre-Gold Cup friendly and was named to El Tri’s Gold Cup roster as an injury replacement. He has since scored 4 goals and added 2 assists in 5 games. Antuna’s finishing has been excellent this tournament, and he also creates many scoring opportunities from his crosses. However, he drifts offside too frequently and his passing when under pressure needs to be better.
Jimenez is a classic target man. He also works extremely hard and is an elite dribbler. He has been excellent this Gold Cup, with 5 goals and 1 assist in 5 games. Pizarro seemingly never stops running and is nearly two-footed, but he has struggled this tournament (0 goals and 1 assist in 3 games). His finishing is generally poor, and he receives far more cards than an attacking player should.
While this Mexico team is missing numerous star players, it still possesses a lot of talent and will be favored to win.
What’s your prediction for the match?