After a very long layoff, the Concacaf Nations League semifinals are this week! This kicks off a very busy summer for the Concacaf nations, which includes this competition, the Gold Cup later this summer, and the World Cup qualifying later this fall. Before we get too carried away with all of those competitions, let’s focus on the one at hand. Without further ado here is our preview of the Concacaf Nations League Semifinals!
Concacaf Nations League semifinals
For those who may not know, the Nations League competitions were created to allow for regularly scheduled games to be played in international fixture windows. This allows for more competitive Concacaf matches in more international windows. This is the first installment of this tournament style of competition. Now we’re in the semifinal and the nations there aren’t really a surprise.
The four teams fighting to get to the final are Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States. Honduras takes on the USA, while Mexico plays Costa Rica. These are usually the top four teams in Concacaf so it makes sense that they made it to the semifinals. Let’s take a look at the matches to get ready for what will be a very competitive competition!
Honduras vs USA
This will be the first semifinal of the two on Thursday night. The USA is ready to show its newly grown talent, while Honduras is going to sit and counter. This should be an interesting match to watch in terms of style of play. Especially if Honduras looks to sit back like they normally do.
Honduras love to sit deep absorb pressure and hit on the counter-attack when the time is right. That is in a completely contrasting style to Greg Berhalter who wants his side to have the ball. This game will likely come down to who can execute their style better. Honduras’ danger man is Alberth Elis; he’ll look to get in behind the US in transition moments. For a nation like Honduras, they have not played as many games over the past year as other nations have.
Honduras has not lost a Nations League match so far. They beat and drew Martinique in the two times they played them and beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-0. Those were the last matches they played in 2019. Honduras then had a long break due to Covid and will play their first competitive match against the USA in this semifinal.
Speaking of the US, they have got to feel that they can win this match by playing their game. Keep the ball, and press when they don’t have it. This is a USA team that is full of global players, and superstars. Thye have the potential to be huge for the USMNT as this new wave of players rises. For more on that check out our in-depth look at this USMNT side.
This will be a fun match to get semifinals night started, and the second game should be just as good!
Mexico vs Costa Rica
Both Mexico and Costa Rica are top teams in Concacaf. At times they have been the top two sides from this federation. One of these two teams has grown into a new generation, while the other is clinging to the old.
Mexico has been the cream-of-the-crop in Concacaf for decades, they don’t look like slowing down anytime soon as they continue to develop driven players. They are a strong team who can impose their will in games. Mexico is very good at punishing teams in moments when the opposition switches off for a second. Blink and they are creating a dangerous opportunity. This younger wave of players has learned from the last and looks poised to lift the first-ever Concacaf Nations League trophy.
Costa Rica is a different story. They are coming to the end of a golden generation and will be without star goalkeeper Keylor Navas as well as some other veterans They’ll need their new wave to step up against Mexico, but that new wave is unproven. This is a big stage to ask those new players to come into and beat the front-runners. however, maybe Costa Rica relishes being that underdog and uses it to their advantage in this crucial match.
One this is for sure, both of these nations will be a bit rusty as they have played a total of five combined matches over the last year. With few international fixtures for either side, will they be able to do what their managers want to get a win in a semifinal?
Who makes it to the final?
I see the final being between the two teams everyone wants to see go toe-to-toe. I see a USMNT vs Mexico final in the first-ever Concacaf Nations League Final. . Both games will have their thrilling moments, and show why games that matter in Concacaf are so important as we return to a normal type of international schedule moving past Covid-19.
The USA will take care of business against Honduras winning 2-1 in a game that might be a bit tighter than it should be. Mexico is going to dominate Costa Rica winning 3-1. This sets up what will be a huge game. A game of consequence between the USMNT and Mexico never disappoints! Let’s see if that happens!
The USMNT-Honduras match will be live on CBS Sports Network, while the Mexico and Costa Rica match-up will be a streaming option only on Paramount+. Be sure to catch these matches on Thursday, June 3rd at 7:30 pm ET, for USA-Honduras, and 10:00 pm ET, for Mexico-Costa Rica. We at Philly Sports Network will keep you up to date with this competition, more of the USMNT matches to come this summer and other summer international competitions! Stay tuned!
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Mandatory Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire