Why the United States Can Win the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021
Since the landmark Nations League victory over Mexico, there is an undeniable hype around the USMNT right now. Naturally, with the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup just around the corner, the question on everyone’s lips is – can the United States win the Gold Cup?
Well, I have created this post to outline five reasons why the USMNT can with the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
We all know that Gregg Berhalter’s men will almost certainly have to overcome Mexico again if they want to lift the trophy. But with an exciting roster and home-field advantage on their side, they could go all the way this summer.
Join me as I detail why the USA can win the 2021 Gold Cup.
The USMNT Roster Is Stacked with Quality
Can you remember the last time a USMNT roster was this good? I mean, has the United States ever had so many top-class players in one generation?
Down the years, every USA side has featured a handful of household names. Guys like Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, and Claudio Reyna can all lay claim being the nation’s hero at one point or another.
But right now, it feels like Gregg Berhalter has an overabundance of first-rate players at his disposal.
Even without a host of European-based stars, the USMNT’s Gold Cup roster is stacked with quality. Notable names such as Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Juventus’ Weston McKennie, Barcelona’s Sergino Dest, and Borussia Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna have been rested following grueling domestic seasons.
Still, the current crop of players is more than capable of leading the country to Gold Cup glory.
In Matt Turner (New England Revolution), Berhalter has a super-reliable first-choice goalkeeper. Ahead of Turner, Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), and Miles Robinson (Atlanta United) form a steely backline.
Midfielders like Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes), and Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids) solidify the team, while Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crews) and Daryl Dike (Orlando City) are among the plethora of forward options.
United States Just Beat Mexico in the Nations League
It is no secret that the United States has often struggled to compete with Mexico over the years. Although the USMNT has clinched six Gold Cup triumphs, the Mexicans have been crowned kings of the CONCACAF region a record 11 times.
On top of that, the two rivals have met in six of the last 14 Gold Cup finals. Mexico has beaten the United States five times (1993, 1998, 2009, 2011, 2019), with the Stars and Stripes winning on just one occasion (2007).
However, the USA’s recent CONCACAF Nations League success proves that Berhalter’s men have got what it takes to rise to the occasion and dispatch Mexico in a major final.
Better still, the manner with which Berhalter’s side overcame the Mexicans to win the inaugural Nations League was hugely impressive – and I’m sure the players will take confidence from that.
Mexico took the lead in the very first minute of the game, instantly putting the US on the back foot. In fact, the team was forced to come from behind on two occasions before Pulisic netted an extra-time winner.
Not only did Berhalter’s men win the CONCACAF’s first-ever Nations League, but they also conquered the Mexicans in the process. Psychologically, that triumph would have given them massive boost.
Of course, Mexico isn’t the only team standing between the USMNT and Gold Cup glory. Sides like Canada, Jamaica, and Costa Rica will fancy their chances of upsetting the odds, too. But following the Nations League win, the US won’t be afraid of anyone.
Home-Field Advantage Gives the US an Edge
It is difficult to overstate the importance of home-field advantage for the United States this summer.
Yes, Berhalter’s roster is strong enough to compete with any nation in the CONCACAF region, regardless of where they are playing. But there is no denying that playing on home soil enhances the USA’s chances of winning the 2021 Gold Cup.
The USMNT will be stationed at Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park for the group stage, facing Martinique, Canada, and one of the three prelim winners. Tim Melia and Gianluca Busio – the two SKC players on the provisional roster – will feel right at home.
Both Glendale’s State Farm Stadium and Arlington’s AT&T Stadium will host two quarter-final games, while the semi-finals will go down at the brand-new Q2 Stadium – the home of Austin FC.
With the final being played at Nevada’s colossal 61,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium, Berhalter’s team will receive unrivalled crowd backing throughout the tournament.
|2021 CONCACAF GOLD CUP STADIUMS|
|Cotton Bowl||Dallas, Texas||92,100|
|AT&T Stadium||Arlington, Texas||80,000|
|NRG Stadium||Houston, Texas||71,795|
|State Farm Stadium||Glendale, Arizona||63,400|
|Allegiant Stadium||Las Vegas, Nevada||61,000|
|Exploria Stadium||Orlando, Florida||25,500|
|BBVA Stadium||Houston, Texas||22,039|
|Q2 Stadium||Austin, Texas||20,500|
|Toyota Stadium||Frisco, Texas||20,500|
|Children’s Mercy Park||Kansas City, Kansas||18,467|
History tells us that the Stars and Stripes usually perform well at home tournaments. The United States has hosted the Gold Cup seven times since 2002 (excluding co-hosted tournaments). In that time, the USMNT has lifted the trophy on five occasions (2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017).
Ultimately, it is no coincidence that the US has won so many Gold Cups on home soil. Host nations invariably up their game when they have thousands of fans cheering them on – and the 2021 Gold Cup shouldn’t be any different.
We already know that Allegiant Stadium will be packed to the rafters, too. The final became the fastest sellout in tournament history, with tickets selling out in 90 minutes after going on sale. With over 60,000 spectators headed to Nevada for the showpiece, Berhalter’s men will be desperate to reach the final.
Home-field advantage is just one of the reasons why the USMNT can win the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Other CONCACAF Teams Aren’t That Good
The United States and Mexico aside, only five other countries have tasted Gold Cup glory over the years.
With three tournament wins (1963, 1969, 1989), Costa Rica is the third-most successful team. Canada has lifted the trophy twice (1985, 2000), while Honduras (1981), Haiti (1973), and Guatemala (1967) each have one triumph to their name.
Nations like Jamaica and Panama have come close to joining the club in recent times. The Reggae Boyz finished as runners-up in 2015 and 2017, while Panama reached the final as recently as 2013. But other than that, the USA rarely faces any major threats.
Costa Rica, for example, has endured a dismal lead-up to the tournament. The three-time winners have reached the semi-finals at two of the last six Gold Cups but will struggle to emulate that feat this year.
An 11-game winless streak saw Los Ticos part ways with head coach Ronal Gonzalez just weeks before the 2021 Gold Cup. Oh, and did I mention they have only managed to win one of their last 17 matches in all competitions?
Even the Mexicans aren’t at their best right now. Prior to the Nations League loss, Tata Martino’s men were beaten by Wales before being held to a goalless draw by Honduras in mid-June. With 86-cap talisman Raul Jimenez still sidelined, Mexico isn’t as much of a threat – especially in attack.
While the USMNT continues to get stronger, other CONCACAF sides appear to be on the decline.
The Momentum Is with Berhalter’s Team
When it comes to tournament soccer, momentum is key. When teams head into tournaments on a positive run, they normally hit the ground running when the competition gets underway.
On the flip side, teams in poor form invariably struggle to find their feet until it’s too late. Thankfully for the United States, they head into the 2021 Gold Cup on an impressive hot streak.
Having crushed Costa Rica 4-0 at the beginning of June, Berhalter’s men is currently enjoying a three-game winning run. They have also won eight of their last nine matches in all competitions and only suffered a narrow 2-1 loss to Switzerland during that period.
The comfort shown by a heavily-changed #USMNT in a friendly blowout of Costa Rica gives more confidence as Gold Cup, World Cup qualifying looms | Three things we learned from the USA’s 4-0 defeat of Los Ticos (video)June 9, 2021
In a run stretching back the 2019 Gold Cup, the Stars and Stripes have only suffered two defeats in their previous 16 outings in all competitions. With 12 wins and two draws coming in that time, it’s safe to say the USA is relishing an outstanding run at the moment.
If Berhalter’s men can pick up where they left off in June’s victories over Mexico and Costa Rica, there is no reason why they can’t make a flying start to the Gold Cup and carry their momentum through the tournament.
I think the USA stands an excellent chance of winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021.
It goes without saying that stars like Pulisic will be sorely missed, but Berhalter now knows that he can rely on plenty of other players to perform at the highest level.
Not only do the Stars and Stripes boast a hugely competitive roster, but they also have home-field advantage on their side. Playing on home soil will undoubtedly give the team a lift, enhancing their chances of going all the way.
With nations such as Mexico and Costa Rica not at their best, the United States could achieve something special this summer.
If you’re planning to wager on the upcoming tournament, I highly recommend checking out our CONCACAF Gold Cup betting guide. I have also made some bold predictions for the 2021 Gold Cup, so make sure you check those out, too.