After all of the nonsense of the group stage and the first knockout round of the tournament, we're finally down to the real nitty-gritty of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The United States and Costa Rica were always on a crash course for each other in the semifinals of this event in Arlington, and this is the way it has played out. Without a shadow of a doubt, aside from the championship match itself, this will be the most intriguing of all of the fixtures in the 2017 Gold Cup.
At 10 p.m. ET, tune into FOX Sports 1 for live television coverage of this Gold Cup match on Saturday, July 22, 2017, at AT&T Stadium.
Neither the Americans nor the Costa Ricans have really looked all that good en route to the semifinals of the Gold Cup. That said, both have outclassed their foes for the most part and have made it through to this stage due to sheer perseverance and a moment or two of beauty.
The Yanks and Ticos have been the second and third favorites to win the Gold Cup every step of the way, and the margin between the USA (typically around +150) and Costa Rica (typically around 4 to 1) has been relatively wide. This match won't be quite as wide as that thought would indicate, but the Americans are still going to be relatively overwhelming choices of the oddsmakers.
How They Got Here
The United States had a much different swagger to its game against El Salvador in the quarterfinals than it did in the group stage. The Yanks picked up a goal in the 41st minute from Omar Gonzalez on a tremendous lead up that felt like it was in the making for the entire half. From there, Bruce Arena's side didn't take its foot off the gas pedal and put the tie away, really giving El Salvador virtually no real chance to get back into the match from that point forward.
The Costa Ricans continued their offensive problems against Panama in the quarterfinals of this tournament. After netting just five goals in three matches in the group stage (three of which came in a duel against a poor French Guiana side), Los Ticos needed an own goal to advance past Panama in the quarterfinals.
The result was probably deserving; Costa Rica had the better of the two teams. That said, neither one was really all that interested in going forward throughout this match, and both teams saw chances that were few and far between. It was Costa Rica whose luck was in on a cross that happened to catch the head of Panama's Anibal Godoy that made it past Jose Calderon.
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The United States certainly seemed to have a little more purpose against El Salvador with Darlington Nagbe, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. Still, there's something a little off about this team, and that makes this fixture dangerous.
The biggest problem Costa Rica is going to have is its lack of offensive firepower. We're still waiting for Bryan Ruiz to have his first say in this tourney, and we aren't so sure it's ever going to actually come.
That said, we think this is a match that is destined to be decided in an extra half hour. The Americans will have the quality to finish the job from that point forward, but this will end up being a war throughout.
Gold Cup Odds: USA 1, Costa Rica 0 (AET)
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