The Gold Cup knockout rounds were off to a flying start with four quarterfinal matches. There were multi-goal blowouts, close matches, and one thriller that needed penalties to separate the two sides. Let’s take a look at how the final four made the semifinals!
The Semis are set!
USA vs Panama
The USA played 87 minutes of a quarterfinal against Canada which was very uneventful. Then things popped off. Brandon Vazquez scored what looked to be a winning goal in the 88th minute. However, Canada rallied back with a stoppage-time penalty. In extra time Canada struck first but couldn’t get out of their own way gifting the USA a goal to take things to a penalty shootout. USA keeper Matt Turner stood on his head making two saves to ensure the USMNT would play in the Gold Cup semifinals.
Panama played in a very different quarterfinal match than their semifinalist counterpart USA. Panama took on guest nation Qatar. Qatar had scored first in all three of their group-stage matches, but Panama held them in check and they were the ones to get the early goal. Panama took the lead in the 19th minute and never looked back. Ismael Diaz added to Panama’s lead in the second half with a nine-minute hattrick! Panama has been one of the strongest teams at this Gold Cup, but can they beat the reigning champions?
The USA and Panama face off with the chance to make a Gold Cup final. For this USA side, they will need these fringe players on their roster to step up to the occasion and fight for their futures in the national team. Panama has been one of the strongest teams at this Gold Cup scoring 10 goals and conceding just four. The USA has won 11, drawn four, and lost two in their last 17 matches against Panama. Panama has one of those wins in the last two matches, a 1-0 win, but the most recent match was a USA blowout 5-1 win.
Will the USA stay dominant in this matchup, or will Panama shock Concacaf and dethrone the Kings? Kickoff for this match is set for 7:30 pm on Wednesday, July 12th.
Jamaica vs Mexico
Jamaica has been making waves at this Gold Cup. The intensity of their attack has been the difference compared to past Jamaica sides. That was on full display in their quarterfinal match against Guatemala. Both of these nations took the competition by storm and used their superior all-out-attacking play. Jamaica got bit by that a few times but their goalkeeper Andre Blake kept out the opportunities and kept Jamaica in the match. Early in the second half, Jamaica found the only goal of the game in the 51st minute. Jamaica then disrupted all Guatemalan attacks to secure their semifinal run!
Mexico was struggling mightily coming into this Gold Cup. Failure at the World Cup and a Nations League semifinal loss saw the nation fire two coaches. In this competition, however, it’s looked a bit like the old Mexico the attack is free flowing and the goals are going in. This was the case against Costa Rica in the quarters. It took until the second half, but Mexico scored the opening goal in the 52nd minute and killed the game off in the 87th minute. Now they will have to take on a strong Jamaica side who are salivating at the chance to knock off the best teams in the region.
Jamaica vs Panama presents Concacaf’s version of David vs Goliath. Mexico has been struggling, but they are the OG giants of the region. They have scored nine goals and let in only two at this Gold Cup. They’ll need to be just as clinical against a strong Jamaica side ready to shock the region. Jamaica has looked like the strongest side in this tournament scoring 11 goals and letting in two. They’ll need to keep the pressure on Mexico if they want to stop El Tri’s domineering style of play. Their Premier League attackers and a showstopping goalkeeper could just be the differences in this one!
Will the Goliath of Mexico make it to yet another Gold Cup final, or will the David Jamaica slay the giant of Concacaf and continue their dark horse run? Kickoff for this match is set for 10 pm on Wednesday, July 12th.
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Mandatory Credit: Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire & AP Photo/Michael Conroy