KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 14: Goalkeeper Tim Howard #1 of the USA in action during the GoldCup game against Guadeloupe on June 14, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
With not long to go before the Gold Cup Final between the United States and Mexico, it is about time FMF State of Mind writers gave their two cents on who will win and why. So, here they are. Who do you think will win and why? We’d also love to hear your predictions underneath in the comments section.
Mexico and the United States have played four competitive fixtures between the 2007 Gold Cup and now, with each team winning two of them.
The two sides have been incredibly even over this time period, but Mexico might finally have the tiebreaker. They've been searching for a consistent center forward since Jared Borgetti got old, and the same goes for the No. 10 spot and Cuauhtemoc Blanco. In Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos, Mexico finally has those two players. Andres Guardado is a game time decision and his potential injury concerns could level the playing field for the United States, but if the entire first choice front four is in the game and healthy for Mexico, they are the favorites. I like them to win the game 2-1 in a match that the United States makes very difficult for Mexico, despite their superior possession numbers.
Mexico has too much for the United States, who come into the game off the back of some shoddy performances. I really like what Chepo is doing and I think he has the players firmly on his side. I think Mexico will come out attacking and look to swamp the US early on. One worry is that although Mexico has scored 17 goals in the Gold Cup, the team has also missed quite a few chances. The semi final against Honduras went to extra-time purely because Mexico missed a handful of really good chance. The US are a step up from Honduras and will surely punish Mexico for sloppiness in front of goal at some stage of the game. Tim Howard will need to be on top form. Prediction: Mexico 3-1 US.
Both Mexico and the United States have struggled to score somewhat in recent matches. The U.S. narrowly beat Panama 1-0 in the semifinals, while Mexico needed added time to score against Honduras. On the flip side, both defenses have been solid. The U.S. are riding a three-game shutout streak, and Mexico have conceded just two goals in the entire tournament. This probably doesn't bode well for those hoping to see a high scoring affair on Saturday.
The game will be won and lost for both teams in the midfield. I would give the Americans a slight advantage in the central midfield -- Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley are much more athletic than Gerardo Torrado and Israel Castro. On the flanks is where Mexico is far superior. One complicating factor, though, is the health of the entire left side - winger Andres Guardado and leftback Carlos Salcido. It’s likely that one or both of them will miss the match. The loss of Guardado would be a huge blow to Mexico. He has been consistently one of El Tri's brightest players this tournament, and is one of the best at getting the ball to Chicharito in position to score. Without Guardado on the field, the U.S. gets a leg up, but a win for the Americans still wont be easy. They will do their best to clog the midfield and limit Mexico's short passing game, a strategy Honduras successfully employed in the semis. Chicharito has scored in four of Mexico's five games this tournament. At some point he'll have a good look at the goal, and he's a player that can usually be counted on to convert. I think it will be a close, hard-fought game but in the end Mexico will emerge as victors by a narrow 1-0 margin.
Mexico has gotten through to the finals, but it has not been easy, for the last two games. What these two games have shown is that Mexico does have its weaknesses, but it is also an extremely resilient team. Given that similar quality of resilience and fight in the United States, it will likely be a tough, low-scoring game. The U.S. won’t be able to keep a fantastically talented Mexican attacking corps off the scoresheet, but it should be able to nick a goal and force extra time. I think if the U.S. can keep pressing Mexico late on they should grab a winner and emerge as champions. U.S. to win 2-1 in extra time after a 1-1 draw in regulation.
And there you have it. Three of our writers think Mexico will win, while Nick believes the US can snatch it.