Qatar vs. United States Best Best & Predictions
Last Time Out:
Qatar handled El Salvador 3-2; United States beat Jamaica 1-0.
The sides have never before met in competition.
About the Matchup:
The semifinal features a rare matchup of teams who both have exactly what they want from this contest. Qatar, the Asian champion, came to the Gold Cup in hopes of facing tough competition before getting to host the World Cup in 2022. The Crimsons aren't playing any competitive matches in their own continent because they qualify automatically for the World Cup, so they joined the Gold Cup as a guest team and have become the highest-scoring team in the tournament.
Now they face a United States side that has been one of the stronger defensive sides in the field. Only Mexico has a better defensive record than the Americans, who have been doing just enough to pick up a result each time out. So far, the U.S. hasn't exactly looked impressive, but it has managed to get a win each time, as it thrashed Martinique and earned 1-0 wins over Haiti, Canada, and Jamaica. The big question for this match is how aggressive the U.S. chooses to be in this contest, as the way it opts to play will determine what kind of match we get out of this one. So far, the U.S. has dictated the tempo, and Qatar is comfortable playing either an attacking brand of soccer or a defensive, grind-it-out game, leaving it up to the Americans as to how this game unfolds.
The Crimsons entered this tournament as one of the least-known teams in the world, given that none of their players compete outside of their home country. One thing we've learned about them through four matches is that this is a talented side that knows how to perform. It's no accident that Qatar hasn't been beaten in 12 games, and in this tournament, the Crimsons have their aggressive attack to thank. So far, Qatar hasn't been held to fewer than two goals in this event, in large part because of the ir forwards.
Almoez Ali and Akram Afif have experience in European leagues, and they've made it pay off in spearheading the Qatar attack. Ali has seven goals for Qatar in 2021 and has found the net on four of the Crimsons' 11 markers in this tournament. But on the other side of the coin, Qatar's defense has left a lot to be desired at times. Although the y did manage to blank Honduras, they also nearly let El Salvador back in a match they led 3-0 in the quarterfinals, thanks to some sloppy play at the back.
Scouting United States:
Through four games at this tournament, the United States has clearly shown itself to be good enough but missing something. The Americans have either scored quickly and hung on for the rest of the match or left it late after several nervous moments. The big question is, who will get the goal here when needed?
Outside of the Martinique romp, two of the U.S.'s three other goals came from defenders, as the strikers have mostly looked lost in trying to break down defenses and find ideas. The shots are there; the U.S. just needs to be patient and attack when the moment is right. El Salvador did precisely that, and it nearly allowed them to get back in the game after going down three goals. The U.S. will have opportunities to break this defense down; it's just a matter of finding the right time to do so.
Dan's Score Prediction:
The U.S. hasn't had a statement game and really didn't need one. This doesn't feel like it's going to be much of a statement for anything, but it's still a game that will challenge both teams and should prove to be a tight struggle from start to finish. Qatar has scored a lot, but it hasn't seen a defense as good as the United States' defense is during this run.
I'll say the road ends here for the Crimsons. I'll take the U.S. by a 1-0 scoreline at +625.