Concacaf showdown set for Soldier Field in Chicago where Team USA defeated El Tri in the 2011 Gold Cup Final.
The two Concacaf giants meet again in the Gold Cup final after both the US national team and Mexico marched through the Gold Cup tournament.
The United States going for its 7th Gold Cup trophy (6-4 in Finals), hoping to tie Mexico’s trophy haul and El Tri will be trying for its 8th Gold Cup crown (7-1 in Finals).
Both Concacaf behemoths feature new coaches and face each other for the first time. USA coach Gregg Berhalter took charge on Dec. 2, 2018, and he has a 9-1-2 record (28 goals scored, 6 goals against), while Gerardo “Tata” Martino took the Mexico job on Jan. 7, 2019, and his record with El Tri stands at 8-1-0 (28 goals scored, 10 goals against).
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Sunday will be the sixth time these two rivals have met in the Gold Cup Final, with El Tri holding a 4-1 advantage. Mexico’s only loss was in 2007 in Soldier Field which will be the site of the 2019 Final.
1993 – 4-0 Mexico, Estadio Azteca
1998 – 1-0 Mexico, LA Coliseum
2007 – USA 2-1, Soldier Field
2009 – Mexico 5-0, Giants Stadium
2011 – Mexico 4-2, Rose Bowl
Andrés Guardado, Héctor Moreno and Michael Bradley played in that classic Final, remembered primarily for the wonder goal scored by Gio dos Santos. Guardado and Bradley each got on the scoresheet.
Bradley (minute 8) scored to give Team USA an early lead which Landon Donovan promptly stretched to 2-0. Pablo Barrera scored the first of his two goals before the half hour, then Guardado (minute 36) equalized. Barrera score five minutes after the restart then Gio scored arguably the best goal in Gold Cup history in minute 76.
Current Mexico goalies Guillermo Ochoa and Jonathan Orozco were on the roster eight years ago, but Alfredo Talavera was the starter.
Defender Tim Ream and striker Jozy Altidore were on the US roster then and now.
Frequent flyer miles for Mexico
El Tri will have racked up more than 14,000 kilometers (8,875 miles) of travel as part of their Gold Cup adventure by the time Sunday’s match kicks off. And that doesn’t even take into account the return flight to Mexico City.
Mexico traveled to Atlanta and Dallas to play pre-Cup friendly matches against Venezuela and Ecuador, respectively. Their first Gold Cup match (against Cuba) was in Pasadena, California, after which they took two more cross-country trips.
They played Canada in Denver then finished group stage play in Charlotte, North Carolina, against Martinique. The quarterfinal against Costa Rica was staged in Houston and the semifinal against Haiti took place in Phoenix, Arizona. On Thursday, El Tri flew to Chicago.
Upon arrival in the Windy City, Team Mexico had spent a total of 23 hours and 10 minutes in the air since leaving Mexico on June 1.
Speaking of Gio …
Throughout the week, the rumor mill has been churning out details of the ongoing talks between América management and the elder dos Santos’ agents. On Thursday night, a video emerged allegedly showing Gio arriving at América’s training grounds to sign a contract. As of Friday morning, neither officials at América nor spokesmen for Gio confirmed or denied the veracity of the video.
Gio was cut by the L.A. Galaxy at the beginning of the season when he declined to take a pay cut. His younger brother, Jonathan, still plays for the Galaxy. Both Gio and Jona have publicly declared themselves to be huge fans of the Aguilas. Their father, Brazilian midfielder Zizinho, played for América in the mid 80s.
Gio’s last official game was a 14-minutes appearance for the Galaxy against the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 28, 2018. Some commentators – including América legend Carlos Reinoso –argue that Gio is not a good acquisition because of his lack of playing time the past 18 months.
Ironically, if América does sign Gio, they will release Frenchmen Jeremy Ménez because dos Santos would count as a foreign player (because he came through the Barcelona youth academy).