U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter’s Gold Cup Tournament team just continues to find ways to win games. Through a combination of youth-filled grit, fine goal keeping, last-minute heroics, and luck, the Yanks squeaked by a determined Qatar team 1-0 in Austin’s muggy Q2 Stadium.
In doing so, the USA punched its ticket to its 12th Gold Cup Final that will be placed in climate-controlled Allegiant Stadium, home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
The Yanks will face off against Mexico who defeated Canada 2-1 with a late goal in stoppage time.
The win marked the USA’s eighth-in-a-row and 25th under Berhalter, who has reached the mark faster than any other USMNT head coach.
The 1-0 victory did not come easy for the U.S. Qatar came to the match with an intent to push through to the championship. They were the tournament’s strongest defensive team, yielding only five goals, and the highest-scoring team, finding the back of the net 12 times in five games.
It was the first meeting between the two nations. The Maroon are the reigning Asian Football Confederation champions and were invited by Concacaf to play in the tournament.
In the 86th minute of play, U.S’s Nicholas Giaocchini played the ball to Eryk Williamson near the arc. Williamson passed back to Giaocchini, who faked and danced around three Qatar players. He swiftly kicked a pass with the outside of his foot into the center of the box, where an incoming Gyasi Zardes slid and punched the ball into the goal.
Prior to the goal, U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner made highlight-reel saves in the 18th and 21st minutes. With the shutout, he now has four in the tournament. Turner also caught a break when Qatar’s captain and forward, Hasan Al-Haydos lofted a penalty kick over the crossbar into the overjoyed American Outlaws Supporters’ section.
Contributing on the defensive half were Colorado Rapids Sam Vines and Kellyn Acosta. Both played the full game and were nearly flawless. Vines played his per usual up and down the sideline game and faced down his capable matches.
Acosta played with the intensity of a hockey enforcer defensemen, taking on Qatar attackers and getting under their skin as well with face-to-face challenges. The gutsy, two-way midfielder has now appeared in 13-consecutive matches for the USA and is the only player to appear in all of the team’s 2021 games
Prior to the start of this tournament, head coach Gregg Berhalter made it clear that the associated camp and forthcoming games will provide him and his staff the opportunity to evaluate a new pool of players, most with little competitive international experience. For many of his players, this tournament has afforded them high-level competition and the opportunity to mature, as both attackers, defenders, and as a cohesive unit.
On the current Gold Cup roster, only Acosta, Reggie Cannon, Sebastian Lletget, and Jackson Yueill played in the recent Concacaf Nations League Finals against a valiant Mexico team in Denver, Colorado.
The build-up the to rematch of rivals and ultimately the sold-out showdown in Sin City will be a spectacle for all football fan in this hemisphere to enjoy in the days to come.