USA (-187) vs Jamaica (+800), Draw (+300)
For a while, it seemed the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup was destined for a climactic showdown between the two confederation giants, Mexico and the US. But it wasn’t to be. The US will face a defiant Jamaica on Wednesday, July 26th, in the final of the 2016 Gold Cup after the Reggae Boyz stunned Mexico in the semifinals.
While the Jamaicans were the clear underdogs against Mexico in the semis, they were always going to be a tough opponent. During their group-stage clash, the two they played to a 0-0 draw and both sides had their chances.
The semifinal match headed in the same direction. Despites opportunities for both teams, the game remained scoreless until the 87th minute. Then, in the dying minutes of the game, the winning goal came from an unlikely source. New York Red Bulls fullback Kemar Lawrence blasted in a spot kick from range and sealed the win for Jamaica (1-0).
The US had a slightly easier time advancing to the final. After a shaky group stage (2-1-0) and a lackluster quarterfinal (2-0 over El Salvador), the USMNT finally found their footing during the semifinal against a very good Costa Rica team.
Seattle Sounders striker Jordan Morris almost opened the scoring within seconds of kickoff, marking the first of many chances for the US. The home crowd had to wait until the 70th minute before getting something to cheer for, when Jozy Altidore slipped past the back line and slotted in a well-deserved goal.
Clint Dempsey put the game beyond doubt ten minutes later with a well-placed spot kick, equalling Landon Donovan’s USMNT scoring record (57 goals). Costa Rica rallied in the final minutes of the game but couldn’t put one past Tim Howard.
The US added a handful of star players to the squad for the knockout rounds — including Howard, Altidore, Dempsey, and Michael Bradley — and it led to the first convincing performance we’ve seen from the team this tournament.
Jamaica are no strangers to the Gold Cup final. This will be their second consecutive final after defeating the US in the 2015 semis before falling to El Tri in the final. As always, they’ll be a tough side to beat, but the USMNT have finally found their groove and their biggest stars are playing like it. The Reggae Boyz will be settling for second once again.
Pick: USA (-187)
Featured photo credit: Erik Drost (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/],
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