NASHVILLE — The U.S. Men’s National Team defeated Jamaica 2-1 in the Gold Cup semifinal played in Nissan Stadium Wednesday night.
The win allowed the U.S. to face Mexico for a chance to be called champions in such tournament. The final will be played in Soldier Field Sunday at 9 p.m. But before the final takes place, here are my three thoughts on the U.S. vs. Jamaica match:
The kids are alright
The U.S. lineup involved seven players under the age of 25 with Michael Bradley (31), Aaron Long (26), Jozy Altidore (29) and Tim Ream (31) being the only ones over that age mark. After the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup, many people, including myself, pulled for the future manager to give more playing time to younger players, whether they were international friendlies or official competition matches. And after Wednesday, when the national team gave its best performance of the tournament so far against Jamaica, I’m excited about what this team can accomplish in the upcoming years. Reaching the Gold Cup final is a step in the right direction given the youth in the national team roster.
“As a coach, you’re always searching for something better, you’re always searching for greatness, and the team is always striving for greatness,” U.S. National Team manager Greg Berhalter said regarding its team’s performance. “…It’s hard to say that was our best. I think it was a step in the right direction against a more physical team than what we’ve been experiencing. I think it was good to get a win for confidence.”
Big shoutout to the fans
The first 16 minutes of the match involved the U.S. that had scored once and looked well on their way to a second goal, but sadly the action came to a stop due to a weather delay that ended up lasting about an hour and 28 minutes. When the matched resume, most of the 28,743 fans in attendance, a number is given by CONCACAF, had made their way back to their seats and supported their respective team for the rest of the match. It was an awesome sight to see how fans found a way to stick out the weather delay and enjoy watching the U.S. advance to the Gold Cup final. But most importantly, seeing the high amount of fans that made their way to Nissan Stadium is a great showing for the city of Nashville, especially with the fact that Nashville SC will start competing in MLS next season.
“A lot of credit to the fans, they really helped us get through it,” Berhalter said. “I’ve been in situations before wherein weather delays you come out, and the stadium is empty. Then it’s difficult to bring that same energy. But the fans were amazing.”
On to the final and possibly make history
With the victory over Jamaica, the U.S. earned the opportunity to play against Mexico in the Gold Cup final Sunday night. But earlier in the day, the U.S. Women’s National Team will also play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup final against the Netherlands. This will be the first time that both teams will have the opportunity to win a title while playing on the same day.
“It’s rare; It doesn’t happen that often that you get two teams from the same country playing in a continental final and a World Cup final,” Berhalter said. “I think it’s a special day, and it’s a day for U.S. Soccer. We’ll get to see the women earlier in the day, and we’ll be cheering them on. I know they’ll be cheering us on.”
Having both teams enjoy on-field success is a great motivation for the younger generation of players in the country, and it’s also a big factor in helping grow the sport. I hope that both U.S. National Teams will be able to come out on top in their respective matches, but one thing is for sure, all soccer fans will enjoy a great day of soccer.