Gold Cup: USA and Mexico are put on notice

Watching USA-Canada in Kansas City and then Mexico-El Salvador in Dallas on Sunday gave us a taste of what fun we are in store for over the next nine months.

Or, depending on your point of view, the nervous moments that await.

Concacaf's World Cup 2022 qualifying tournament -- the Octagonal -- kicks off in September, and it's going to be a blast. Twelve games over seven days in September, October, January and March; eight games over five days in November.

Anyone who believes it will be a cakewalk for the USA or Mexico didn't watch them on Sunday.

The USA and Mexico beat Canada and El Salvador, 1-0, to win their Gold Cup groups, but the scorelines don't tell the whole story.

Canada and El Salvador dominated Concacaf's giants. Both teams lacked one thing: finishing.

After conceding a goal to the USA in the first 20 seconds, Canada slowly found its footing and dominated the game after the first-half water break.

“I think we had enough shots, we got into enough good areas,” said Canada coach John Herdman. “I don't think we were threatening enough when we got in and around that penalty area. There were moments we just had to serve the ball into the box."

The good news for the USA, which looked lost for much of the game, is that it was missing all its big stars preparing for the 2021-22 European club season. They should be back on Sept. 5 when the USA opens its Octagonal home schedule against Canada in Nashville.

Canada doesn't have the depth of talent the USA has, but it was missing its two young stars who could have both made a big difference on Sunday.

Jonathan David, who is right now before than any center forward the USA has, was held out of the Gold Cup to prepare for French club Lille's Ligue 1 title defense. Alphonso Davies was in the Canadian camp for the Gold Cup but returned to Germany, where he plays for Bayern Munich, after suffering an ankle injury. (There is real concern whether Davies will be ready for the September qualifiers.)

The USA will host Canada three days after opening the Octagonal in an away game against El Salvador. Normally, the game would be played at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador, but the recent decision by El Salvador's Ministry of Health to ban fans at all sporting events for the next 90 days due to the country's Covid-19 situation has the Salvadoran federation exploring its options about playing El Salvador-USA and El Salvador-Honduras three days later elsewhere.

El Salvador-USA will still be an away game for the USA if FIFA allows the match to be played with fans in the Washington, D.C., area, Houston or Los Angeles. Salvadoran fans will be motivated to support La Selecta after its remarkable showing against Mexico on Sunday night.

Mexico took the lead on a goal by Luis Rodriguez in the 25th minute but came under siege in the second half. Canada's problems, frankly, were creating enough good chances. That wasn't a problem for El Salvador, which had bad luck. The closest it came to scoring was in the 71st minute when Alexander Larin hit the post with a free kick.

The architect of the Salvadoran revival is Hugo Perez, who was born in El Salvador and played for the USA in the 1983 World Youth Championship, 1984 Olympics and 1994 World Cup. He coached El Salvador's U-23s in Olympic qualifying in March and took over the senior national team in April after Mexican Carlos de los Cobos stepped down midway through the opening round of World Cup qualifying.

Perez has loaded El Salvador with players who grew up in all levels of the U.S. soccer system (high school, youth national team program, college and pros). At one point in the second half, El Salvador had five American-born players, including Perez's nephew, Joshua Perez, and Joaquin Rivas (photo), who was born in San Salvador and raised in Las Vegas, on the field.

Perez said didn't like how El Salvador played against Mexico in the first half. But the second half was a different matter.

“We played really well," he said. "We touched the ball more and I truly liked what the players were doing. We are not going to celebrate this. We obviously wanted to win, but we have more to come.”

Next up for El Salvador is Honduras or Qatar in the Gold Cup quarterfinals, but Perez could have just as well been talking about the opening of the Octagonal against the USA.

19 comments about "Gold Cup: USA and Mexico are put on notice".
  1. Bob Ashpole, July 19, 2021 at 8:55 a.m.

    El Salvador has USSF's lack of vision to thank for the good fortune in having Hugo as their coach. As the article suggests, their run is not over yet.

  2. Santiago 1314, July 19, 2021 at 10 a.m.

    Yup Bob, I just hope USA doesn't get "Stung" by Hugo,, a la Trinidad... How different the USMNT would have Looked,  if when they Fired Klinsmann,  They had brought in Vermes, and Hugo to Qualify the Team

  3. Santiago 1314, July 19, 2021 at 10:06 a.m.

    NO, NO, NO USSF.... DO NOT LET EL SALVADOR PLAY IN USA.!!!... At Least until we are assured of Qualification or we Need them to Beat someone for Us.!!!... We already Supplying all of CONCACACRAPF with Club Teams for their Player Development... Let's NOT "Shoot Ourselves in The FootBalls".!!!!

  4. Ben Myers, July 19, 2021 at 10:56 a.m.

    This was not even the US B team that bested Canada 1-0.  It was the C team, nearly all MLS, whereas the A team can and should consist of almost entirely European-based players, exceptions possibly being Dike for holdup play and Lletget for experince.  

    No matter what, the USMNT will have its hands full with the Octagonal, but with more firepower, sense of the game, and technical ability that the C team showed.  World Cup qualification for the USMNT is not a done deal, but the prognosis with its A team looks good.

  5. Wooden Ships replied, July 19, 2021 at 2:40 p.m.

    I don't know Ben. The passing and touches with the Mexico-El Salvador team is far superior to any US team, ever. Dike and Lletget will not be difference makers to me if we qualify for Qatar, which is far from a given. And, Santi, I remember Hugo fondly and wished that the USSF wouldn't have had such a jealousy of his talent, but they did. If Hugo would have become our coach many of the familiar names we've come to know would not have made it. Lack of skill and touch. Don't get me wrong, I wished he would have because we would be playing better. 

  6. Santiago 1314 replied, July 19, 2021 at 5:02 p.m.

    They had a Jealousy of his Shoe Contract with Puma, That they could Never get Over... Then,  I think he went on Trail Overseas instead of to the 88 Olympics... Never a "Yes" Man... He, QUIETLY, always Played to the Beat of a Different Drummer...And one of the Nicest People you will ever meet.!!!

  7. Wooden Ships replied, July 19, 2021 at 5:10 p.m.

    Santi, a shoe contract? Sounds like the leadership at the time. My club and school teammate (Steve Moyers) was similar, in that he went to his own beat and it excluded him from some opportunities. St. Louis in the 60's-70's was rather political, where even with strong interpersonal skills didn't guarantee you an acceptance. 

  8. Santiago 1314 replied, July 19, 2021 at 7:06 p.m.

    I wonder if Editors of SA can find their Picture of Magizine Cover, 1987(I think) with Hugo and his Puma shoes Slung over his Shouldet after a US Game... Adidas was NOT Happy.!!!!... I hope SA is trying for Interview with Hugo about some of the Behind the Scenes Crap that went on with him... Back in 80s and when he was USSF Coach... "Inquiring Minds want to Know" ... Yeah. TABLOID Trash, but US Soccer could us some Spice in it.

  9. William Shine, July 19, 2021 at 11:20 a.m.

    Hugo was a fantastic player for the US.  Hope he can do the same as a coach.  Maybe US coach someday?

  10. Ginger Peeler, July 19, 2021 at 11:34 a.m.

    When Klinsmann was brought into the USSF family, he brought in a ton of European coaches and, gradually, phased the Latinos out of our programs. It was accomplished over a period of a year or more, and we were still in the "honeymoon" stage with our European coaches, so we hardly noticed the transition  

    Hugo had worked with Pulisic and a lot of our up and coming youngsters. He knew those kids, their strengths and weaknesses. But,  with Jurgen out, I don't think we even bothered to interview Hugo! And, by then, I think, Hugo was scouting American players for Mexico. 
    Instead of a coach with world class coaching prospects, we picked Berhalter!  Oh, he can talk a fair game, but I'm not seeing it in our team's follow through performances. I realize this is our B team playing in the Gold Cup, but our players seem to be more comfortable playing "one-touch, pass it all over the field and just don't make any mistakes" than actually going for a goal and scoring. 

    I've followed Hugo as best I can over the years. I'm delighted he's being recognized for his capabilities and accomplishments. I'm just sorry that we're not the ones who can claim him as their coach. 

    And just look what his guys did with Mexico!! I can only dream about where the USA might be if we'd gone with Hugo. It's our loss. 

  11. Santiago 1314 replied, July 19, 2021 at 12:48 p.m.

    Hola Ginger...Hugo's So Laid Back, that I Never saw him as a Head USMNT Coach... More of a Technical Coach and Mentor... Maybe he will Prove me Wrong ... He seems to have a lot of Discussions with his Players and Staff,  that don't Look like his is Commanding the Situation... We shall see,  as the "Expectations" on him are Increasing. 

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, July 20, 2021 at 2:38 a.m.

    Good to hear from you Ginger. I remember things the same as you.

    Santi, I agree that Hugo would make an excellent trainer, i.e., coach in the European sense. I also think Hugo would be a good manager too, but my impression is his greatest talent is working with the players. IMO great national team trainers are more important to national team success than managers. Especially someone that can identify talent as well as Hugo.

  13. Santiago 1314, July 19, 2021 at 12:08 p.m.

    Yes William, Hugo was a Fantastic player for US... "Figuratively" BURNED DOWN The Cuzcatlan Stadium in Oct of '87 playing for US Olympic Team... Bonfires in The Terraces, Flaming Straw Seat Cushions "Frisbeed" onto the Field, Refs Hit with Gallon Water Jugs,  Game Suspended(Then Restarted), "Liquids" Thrown down into the Locker Room, ... Yup Hugo did that with his 2 Goals that day.!!!

  14. Kent James, July 19, 2021 at 2:03 p.m.

    It is always easier to beat teams on paper than it is in real life.  No game in CONCACAF should ever be taken lightly.  Given our failure to make the finals last time, that had better be burned into every US player and coach's brain.

  15. humble 1, July 19, 2021 at 2:07 p.m.

    El Salvador looked decent against MX.  From what I saw, not watching the entire game, they had good ball movement in the transition to offense and could move the ball out of the back, but lost ball a bit too much in MF and kept getting caught in the transition, and gave up too many chances and were maybe a bit lucky at 1-0.  For sure Perez will tweek it, as much as he can, given he has the boys only for a short time, but he will. As for US missing out on Perez.  I bet he's having the time of his life and would not trade what he's doing for seat in the USSF.  El Salvador was lost the forest for long time and he's bringing them back.  Well done.  Stonger competition is needed in CONCACAF, and he is making it happen.  Carry on!   

  16. Charles Davenport, July 19, 2021 at 2:09 p.m.

    Call me when the first team takes the field; Sadly, I will not be watching them in Qatar playing in stadiums built by slave labor (my personal boycott)

  17. Santiago 1314, July 19, 2021 at 4:25 p.m.

    Here is Notice to CONCAcaCrApF.!!!
    The "A" team IMHO; (hahaha)
    Let's Start Filling Out the Rest of the 23.!?!?!? (Thoughts)






    ----------------* Horvath *

    12. Zardes
    13. Dike
    14. Aaronson
    15. Weah
    16. Acosta
    17. Lletget
    18. Sands
    19. M. Robinson
    20. Vines
    21. Moore
    22. Steffen
    23. Turner
    A. Robinson

  18. Sam Bellin replied, July 19, 2021 at 7:47 p.m.

    I would start Aronson instead of Busio (probably on the wing with Pulisic at CAM), and Robinson instead of Bello at LB. Also, I think Musah should be the first midfielder off the bench ahead of Acosta and Lletget, and I think Cannon should be ahead of Moore as the backup RB.  Lastly, if healthy I think Aaron Long is a potential starter at CB, and Jordan Morris, when fit, can be an impact sub as a forward.  In general I agree with both your formation and personnel choices.

  19. Santiago 1314 replied, July 19, 2021 at 8:48 p.m.

    Sam, I can't see CP at CAM.. Limits his "Turbo" chances on the Wing... But Reyna, as CAM and Aaronson on Wing was Very Effective in the "GegenPress"... No Problem with that idea...
    Left Back is WIDE OPEN... I Liked Bello Athletisism .... But Vines has best Technical ability ... and we already have "Light Weight" in Dest on the other side... A. Robinson is the "Safe" Bet...
    Who do you Drop to carry Musah.??? Busio, Lletget,  Acosta...
    Cannon over Moore.???..I think the Coaches agree with you
    I forgot about Long and Morris.... I'll add them to the "C" list for now.
    Morris is my Karl-Heinz Rumminnege.... So Clever in the Box.
    But you would have to Drop Dike or Zardes.

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