2015 Gold Cup

Amid reports of journalist brawl, Mexico boss Miguel Herrera looks ahead to USMNT showdown

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Hours after Mexico clinched their seventh Gold Cup title to set up a Confederations Cup playoff with the U.S. national team in October, reports claim manager Miguel Herrera has punched a journalist.

[ MORE: Romero signs, De Gea to leave? ]

The incident in question has yet to be confirmed, but Herrera is alleged to have punched TV Azteca’s Christian Martinolli at Philadelphia Airport on Monday morning as the media and Mexican national team got ready to head home following the 3-1 win over Jamaica in the final on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

If the reports are true, Herrera could be in a lot of trouble, as this controversy add to the question marks already surrounding as the conduct of Mexico’s fans and players throughout the 2015 Gold Cup. In various matches across the U.S., fans of Mexico were accused of showering opposition players with trash from the stands and multiple on the field issues regarding simulation and controversial penalty kicks engulfed El Tri’s success.

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For now, back to the action on the pitch, and following their record Gold Cup success, Mexico will now head to the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Oct. 9 for a huge one-off playoff game against the U.S. for the right to play in Russia in 2017 and represent CONCACAF at the Confederations Cup.

Here is a snippet from the folks over at CSN Philly, as Herrera spoke about the upcoming playoff against the 2013 Gold Cup winners, the U.S.

“It’s just a step, it’s just a step,” Mexico manager Miguel Herrera said through a translator. “We have to go for the October game, we have our objectives.”

The tournament victory, Mexico’s first since 2011 and seventh overall, guarantees El Tri a playoff match against the 2013 Gold Cup winner, USMNT, on Oct. 9, for an invitation to the 2017 Confederations Cup at the Rose Bowl.

“It’s going to be a very difficult game,” Herrera said. “It’s the United States, which we know is a strong team, it’s a team that does things very well. We’re going to give it our all, we’ll be ready for the October game.

“There’s a step forward, we want to go for the Confederations.”

Whether or not these reports of Herrera striking a journalist turn out to be true, there will be plenty of hype between now and October as the U.S. and Mexico gear up for an epic clash which will not only decide who represents CONCACAF at the next Confederations Cup, but the match could also have a huge bearing on Herrera and Jurgen Klinsmann’s futures as managers of their respective national teams.

Mexico 3-1 Jamaica: El Tri overpowers Cinderella story to win Gold Cup

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Mexico picked the right time to put in its first comprehensive performance of the 2015 Gold Cup against a quality opponent.

After becoming the beneficiary of some friendly decisions to reach the finals, El Tri looked solid defensively and dangerous up front despite a thin squad thanks to injuries and suspensions, and swarmed past Jamaica 3-0 behind goals from Andres Guardado, Jesus Corona, and Oribe Peralta. The win sets up an October showdown with the United States for a spot in the Confederations Cup.

The first 10 minutes had a very CONCACAF feel to it, with Mexico holding much of the possession but unable to unlock Jamaica’s final third. The Carribbean nation had an early set-piece that Randolph Austin sent just wide.

As Jamaica built themselves onto the ball, the game opened up slightly, but Mexico grabbed back the advantage by the half-hour mark with Oribe Peralta sending a shot just wide of the top corner. The referee, looking to keep hold of the game, showed three yellow cards inside the first 30 minutes – two of which to Jamaica midfielders.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

Then, just past 30 minutes after Austin earned his yellow, Mexico broke through. The free-kick went out wide to Jesus Duenas who swung in a cross to a wide-open Guardado at the back post. The Mexican captain needed just one touch – a poke with the left foot – to blast the ball into the top corner leaving Ryan Thompson with no chance.

The goal for Mexico ended a run of 270 minutes without a goal from open play. As the second-half progressed, things remained chippy, and Austin was lucky to remain on the field after 40 minutes having scythed down Francisco Rodriguez.

Mexico took their 1-0 lead into halftime, and they got off to a dream start in the second half. Jesus Corona won the ball in the Jamaica half and burst towards goal, beating Wes Morgan and firing a low shot into the opposite corner to double Mexico’s lead less than two minutes into the second half.

Jamaica brought on Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks on the hour mark looking for some attacking help, but they would be stunned moments later. A failed clearance by Michael Hector went back to El Tri, and Paul Aguilar sent in a cross from the right that went through the legs of Hector and fell to Oribe Peralta who struck home Mexico’s third.

Mattocks would make a difference, scoring with 10 minutes remaining to ruin the clean sheet, but it wasn’t enough for Jamaica to get back into the game.

The title is Mexico’s seventh Gold Cup championship, the most in the tournament’s history and two more than the United States. El Tri has won three of the last four tournaments, and remain a stellar 6-1 in Gold Cup finals. Jamaica put in a valiant effort, but the Carribbean nation failed to break the U.S.-Mexico chokehold on the tournament, as the last nation other than the two CONCACAF giants to win the Gold Cup remains Canada back in 2000.

LINEUPS:

Mexico: Ochoa; Rodriguez, Reyes, Layun, Alanis, Aguilar; J. dos Santos, Guardado (Torres 62′), Duenas (Orozco 86′), Corona (Esquivel 82′); Peralta.

Goals – Guardado 31′, Corona 47′, Peralta 61′

Jamaica: Thompson; Hector, Morgan, Mariappa, Lawrence; McAnuff, Watson (Seaton 90′), Austin, McCleary (Mattocks 60′); Barnes, Dawkins (Humphrey 74′).

Goals – Mattocks 80′

FOLLOW LIVE: Mexico and Jamaica battle in Gold Cup final

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An international trophy and spot in the Confederation Cup playoff are on the line as Mexico takes on Jamaica in the Gold Cup final.

The stories write themselves with this match, as Mexico has been gifted a pair decisions to get them to this point, while Jamaica put in a mostly classy but somewhat lucky showing against the United States to make the final for the first time in their country’s history.

Mexico comes into this match incredibly thin, with Carlos Vela, Yasser Corona, Chicharito, and Hector Moreno all missing, and Giovanni dos Santos remains a question mark not having made Miguel Herrera’s starting lineup. Jamaica, meanwhile, has been stellar this entire tournament, with German coach Winfried Schäfer having instilled a defensive mindset that has the squad impressively rigid and organized. Schäfer, interestingly, has gone with Simon Dawkins as Giles Barnes’ strike partner up top instead of Darron Mattocks, who scored against the United States in the semifinals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

Match 26: Mexico vs Jamaica
When: Sunday, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
Live updates: NBCSports.com

LINEUPS:

Mexico: Ochoa; Rodriguez, Reyes, Layun, Alanis, Aguilar; J. dos Santos, Guardado, Duenas, Corona; Peralta.

Jamaica: Thompson; Hector, Morgan, Mariappa, Lawrence; McAnuff, Watson, Austin, McCleary; Barnes, Dawkins.

Gold Cup Today: Mexico and Jamaica square off in the final

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Tonight marks the end of the 2015 Gold Cup, as Mexico and Jamaica battle for the title in Philadelphia.

Mexico has won a record six Gold Cup’s and will look to make it seven, while Jamaica is making their first appearance in the final.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

The winner of this match not only gets bragging rights as the top team in CONCACAF, but they will also qualify for a one-game playoff against the United States for a chance to play in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.

Game 26: Mexico vs. Jamaica — FULL PREVIEW
When: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
Live updates: NBCSports.com

Mexico comes into the final on the heels of two controversial wins, beating Costa Rica in the quarterfinals and Panama in the semis. El Tri scored three goals in those two matches, with all three coming from the penalty spot. Dubious officiating has overshadowed much of Mexico’s Gold Cup run, as CONCACAF released a statement yesterday admitting that mistakes were made that affected the outcome of the semifinal match.

Jamaica has enjoyed a surprise run in the tournament and will be first Caribbean team to play in the final. The Reggae Boyz won Group B over the favorites Costa Rica, and shocked the United States with a 2-1 win in the semifinals. Jamaica has made it this far through sound defense, conceding just three goals all tournament, with two of those coming in their opening match. They’ll need another strong defensive effort as El Tri will look to control the attack in front of what will surely be a Mexico-heavy crowd.

Three things the 2015 Gold Cup taught us about Jurgen Klinsmann and his USMNT

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Friends, it’s over. It’s safe to come out from your hiding pla…wait, I lied, the American soccer universe is currently a raging inferno. No one is safe.

On Saturday, Jurgen Klinsmann’s US national team fell to Panama, 1-1 after extra time and 3-2 on penalties, in the third-place game of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. It was a fitting end to the Americans’ tournament, in which they looked less “revolutionized” than they looked like the team we sent to the 1998 World Cup in France.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

The 2015 Gold Cup team was constructed and performed much more poorly than the 2011 Gold Cup team for which Bob Bradley was fired, and Klinsmann was subsequently hired. Here’s three things we learned about Klinsmann and the USMNT during their failed run during this month’s Gold Cup.

1. The standard of CONCACAF is steadily improving, but the USMNT might not be

Way back on July 6, I wrote these words about how the rest of CONCACAF has steadily improved over the last two, four and even 10 years. I pointed to Costa Rica’s run to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer and Panama’s double-defeat of Mexico at the 2013 Gold Cup as just two examples of the rising tide in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

This Gold Cup further enforced my belief that teams not named the US and Mexico — Jamaica, this year’s finalists, as well as Trinidad and Tobago and Panama — are quickly catching up to the “big two” of the region.

This was the USMNT’s chance to show that while everyone else was improving, they were, too. Instead, they laid egg after egg after egg and finished fourth — their second-worst showing ever (2000).

Ahead of the start of World Cup qualifying, the USMNT not only finished, but routinely looked, the fourth- or fifth-best team in CONCACAF. Klinsmann took over a CONCACAF power, and they are currently anything but that.

[ FULL RECAP: USMNT falls to Panama in penalty kicks, finishes 4th at Gold Cup ]

2. Klinsmann preaches “learning” and “improving,” but refuses to do any of it himself

It’s Klinsmann’s way or the highway — silly things like logic, precedent or results be damned. We’ve known that since, well, basically the beginning of time. What we didn’t expect, however — or, at least I didn’t — was for Klinsmann’s insistence on doing things his way to routinely cost the USMNT not just games, but tournaments (the entirety of the 2014 World Cup comes to mind).

Example: Young defense struggles mightily throughout the group stage and shows lots of signs of bad things to come, but Klinsmann refuses to call up a Matt Besler — who’s playing extremely well for Sporting Kansas City, by the way — when given the chance to make six roster changes before the knockout rounds. Instead, it’s ride-or-die with John Brooks and Ventura Alvarado (both 22 years old). Spoiler alert: they died, and now Klinsmann should be answering the kind of questions he so often sidesteps with ease.

For instance, “Why would you, after failing so miserably during the Gold Cup, say you’re going to roll with a largely unchanged roster for the one-game playoff in October to determine CONCACAF’s representative at the 2017 Confederations Cup?” You probably think I made that up, because it’s so stubborn, right? Wrong.

We know that Klinsmann is virtually untouchable in terms of his employment, but is too much to ask for Klinsmann to hold his hands up and say, “I need to be better, too, not just the players?” Klinsmann acknowledging that he, just like his players, had a poor tournament isn’t asking for the world.

[ PREVIEW: Mexico, Jamaica to do battle in Gold Cup final | Officiating errors impacted Panama in SF ]

3. Clint Dempsey is still “the guy,” but he needs help

Ol’ Deuce, despite his paper-tearing ways, remains as reliable as ever as the USMNT’s talisman. In fact, Klinsmann’s decision to remove the captaincy from over Dempsey’s head was 100 percent the right decision. Not only did Dempsey say so himself, but he looked like the Dempsey that USMNT fans have come to expect — and the team to rely upon — throughout the entire tournament. In truth, Dempsey is perhaps the only player for which that can be said.

source: Getty Images
Clint Dempsey, USMNT — 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Seven goals in six games is unquestionably an impressive haul for Dempsey, but one can’t help by wonder if it could have been more had he forged a successful forwards’ partnership with someone — anyone. It wasn’t working with Jozy Altidore during the group stage, and though the 6-0 victory over Cuba might indicate otherwise, it didn’t happen with Aron Johannsson during the knockout rounds, either.

The USMNT was out-shot by a total of 93 to 62 during the Gold Cup. By five CONCACAF teams. Not Germany, or Brazil, or Argentina, or Spain. Honduras, Haiti (21 to 6!!!), Panama (twice), Cuba and Jamaica.

Gyasi Zardes looked promising during stretches, but he’s still a 23-year-old with less than three years of professional experience. Johannsson showed better than he has at any other point of his international career, but he’s wildly inconsistent at best, and maybe too similar to Dempsey for the two to ever really work well together.