Here are 32 Flags, we’re getting jazzed up for yet another international tournament. Fresh on the heels of an amazing FIFA Women’s World Cup and CONMEBOL Copa America, the CONCACAF Gold Cup Quarterfinals begin on July 18. Games are being played through the US and Canada, so fans of soccer: get out and cheer on international soccer!
US Soccer is on a roll. The women just won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in dominating fashion, the men just defeated Germany and the Netherlands, and US Attorney General Loretta Lynch continues to spearhead the movement to take down FIFA corruption. In fact, the senior men and women’s teams have not lost since the FIFA corruption scandal broke, an incredible run that the US men hope to continue.
The Gold Cup is CONCACAF’s top continental honor for international soccer. Going into this tournament, there are three heavy favorites (at least there were before the tournament): Costa Rica, Mexico, and the US. Most odds makers have set the US and Mexico as joint overall favorites with both at about 3:2 (or better) odds; Costa Rica comes in a bit worse at about 6:1 odds; and Panama comes in a distant fourth at 20:1
That said, let’s explore reasons why the USMNT will win the CONCACAF Gold Cup outside of some random numbers established by European odds makers.
1. The USMNT is on a Hot Streak
And why would the hot streak come to an end anytime soon? Before the Gold Cup, yes, the USMNT looked sloppy against a weak Guatemala squad. There were many, many errant passes, primarily from team regulars Mix Diskerud and Timmy Chandler, and Jozy Altidore had some Sunderland-esque blunders…but Guatemala never really mounted a significant threat. Eventually, USMNT fitness and skill wore them down. Gyasi Zardes and Fabian Johnson in particular looked ready to go.
And let’s not forget the USMNT’s convincing performances in recent friendlies against European squads… although Jurgen Klinsmann won’t have Bobby Wood to rely on this time around.
2. There’s a Lot of Young (and Older) Talent Ready to Break Out Internationally
Gyasi Zardes has just 8 caps, and he will look to impress in his new-found winger role to secure a more permanent spot. DeAndre Yedlin will look to build on his 2014 World Cup success, possibly hoping to impress a side to ask Spurs for a loan. Other young players like Mix Diskerud, Greg Garza, John Brooks, and Alfredo Morales will look to further impress for future call-ups.
But this could also be the last major international tournament for a few guys on the wrong side of 30, most notably Brad Evans, Chris Wondolowski, and (God forbid) Clint Dempsey. Look for them to play their hearts out to further prove to Jurgen their abilities.
3. Not to Sound Arrogant, But There Isn’t Much Competition
Let’s face it — CONCACAF doesn’t sport the quality international clubs seen in UEFA or CONMEBOL and, if not for the US and Mexico, it wouldn’t even be as quality as the CAF or AFC. Outside of the those two (plus Costa Rica), no other international club would likely win a single game at the World Cup given their current status.
US, Mexico, and Costa Rica fans will consider anything less than nine points in the group stage a total failure. Considering that did happen and Costa Rica failed to win any games and Mexico just won one, they had to be looking at this as if it’s a total disaster. Even though the US drew to Panama, it’s better than their competition.
4. The USMNT beat Mexico 2-0 this past April
Yes, the Mexico squad in this game was not at full strength with no Chicharito, Gio Dos Santos, or Carlos Vela. And yes, the USMNT was nearly full strength. But this version of the USMNT also played around with its attack, relying on Stanford’s Jordan Morris and Minnesota’s (of NASL) Miguel Ibarra (who had not quite yet transferred to Liga MX side Leon.
Many of the US men who played that day did not make the Gold Cup roster, including Morris, Ibarra, Joe Corona, Brek Shea, Perry Kitchen, and Juan Agudelo. Mexico played with a B-team, but the USMNT was doing some experimenting of their own as well. In that context, this April dos a cero victory means a lot more than Mexico supporters will have you believe.
One last note on Mexico: their record since the April loss stands at 1 win, 2 losses, and 6 draws. They are no exactly lighting up the pitch as of late.
5. The USWNT Owns So Much It Wears Off on the UWMNT
The US Women were so dominant, then surely some of their momentum will wear off on the men’s team right? Or at the very least, Megan Rapinoe could come on for Graham Zusi at halftime if the game isn’t going according to planned.
Come on USMNT. The US Women just won the Gold, now it’s your turn to bring home the Gold Cup.