The United States Men’s National Team is to face Jamaica in the Gold Cup final Wednesday, after beating Costa Rica by a 2-0 score line on Saturday. Jamaica meanwhile, upset favorites Mexico the following day with a 1-0 win that sees the Reggae Boyz into their second consecutive Gold Cup final.
Against Costa Rica, the U.S. struggled to break through for the better part of 90 minutes at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. It took the 66th minute introduction of native Texan Clint Dempsey to inspire the Yanks past a rigid Ticos defense.
Within just six minutes of replacing Paul Arriola, Dempsey split the Costa Rican defense with a perfectly weighted through-ball for Jozy Altidore. The Toronto FC striker calmly side-footed the ball under a sprawling Patrick Pemberton to make it 1-0.
Ten minutes later Dempsey doubled the U.S. advantage with a bouncing free kick that wrapped its way around the defensive wall, past Pemberton and into the back of the net. The goal was Dempsey’s 57th in a U.S. jersey, which drew him even with Landon Donovan as joint all-time leading scorer for the USMNT.
It was a notable milestone for the Seattle Sounders forward. Dempsey spent most of last season sidelined with a heart condition and at one point, there were serious questions about whether he would play professionally again. In Wednesday’s final, the former Fulham and Tottenham player will have the chance to surpass Donovan’s tally and become the USMNT’s all-time leading scorer.
In Jamaica’s case, a single goal from Kemar Lawrence was enough to see the Reggae Boyzs past the heavily favored El Tri. The Jamaican breakthrough came in the 87th minute after a man-of-the-match performance from goalkeeper Andre Blake. The Philadelphia Union net-minder has been the standout keeper of the tournament and made a number of top-drawer saves to deny Mexico before Lawrence’s superbly taken free kick saw the 10-time Gold Cup winners dumped out of the tournament.
Wednesday’s final will be a rematch of the semifinal from two years ago. In that outing, Jamaica upset the Yanks by a score of 2-1 to reach the tournament final with goals from Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes proving enough to cancel out a single strike from Michael Bradley.
The Yanks were favored then, as they will be this time. But USMNT boss Bruce Arena is unlikely to underestimate this upstart Jamaican side that’s already dumped the tournament’s other favorite out of the competition and is hungry to lift the trophy for the first time.
The U.S. meanwhile, will be seeking its sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013, when the Yanks claimed the cup under then-manager Jurgen Klinsmann. Arena, who is in his second stint as U.S. manager, will be in the hunt for what would be his third Gold Cup title.
Catch the USA vs. Jamaica in the Gold Cup final at 9:30pm ET Wednesday, July 26 at on FS1.