The United States will hope that Christian Pulisic provides the inspiration needed to get the better of a Mexican team that is under the tutelage of a former Atletico Madrid manager.
In a final match up predicted long before the 15th Edition of the Gold Cup commenced, the United States Men National Team, USMNT, will today (Sunday) battle it out with eternal rivals Mexico for a chance to defend the title they won two years ago.
The Stars and Stripes shoved three goals down the throat of Jamaica in the semi-final and will be delighted with more of the same against Tata Martino’s team.
Two of those goals were grabbed by Pulisic, a player signed by Chelsea in January for 64 million euros, making him the most expensive American player of all time.
He is the team’s star player. His team-leading three goals and three assists shows he’s enjoying a fantastic tournament.
A fact not lost on an opposing manager keen on keeping the versatile 20 year-old quiet for his side to have a chance at glory.
“I think Pulisic is one of the big emerging players in world football in this latest era without a doubt. He is one of the most unsettling players I have seen in recent times,” opined Tata Martino, the Mexican manager, at a press conference.
“I think if we don’t pay special attention to him, especially when we’re in attack, we’re going to have a bad time. He’s a player you have to pay special attention to precisely because he can single-handedly win a game,” Martino said.
El Tri are at the Gold Cup without renowned stars such as Carlos Vela and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Yet they are not without star quality with Wolves’ forward Raul Jimenez a prominent member of a side that can still call on the esteemed goalkeeping talents of Guillermo Ochoa.
With youngsters like Roberto Alvarado, Edson Alvarez and Carlos Rodriguez pulling their weights, Mexico are well equipped to win.
A Mexican side, coming off a pair of knockout round of matches that both went through the 120 minutes of regulation and overtime, is not lacking in confidence, fight and desire.
“Well, I think we all want to win. To have the Cup at the end of the game. We’re in good form. We’re recovered now from the two games and we know what we’re playing for. At the end, we want to win,” Jimenez stated confidently.
The United States, however, does not desire the Gold Cup any less. And on a day when the US Women Team will look to star player Alex Morgan to lead them to World Cup glory, the men’s team should expect nothing less from their star performer.
Gregg Berhalter, the US manager, puts it this way: “With Christian we know he’s a top talent and we want to get him into position to affect the game. We know he can affect the game on an individual level, and he’s shown that so far in the tournament.”