Elias Hernandez and Erik Torres of Mexico celebrate after qualifying to the Gold Cup Semifinal after the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2017 quarterfinal match. Ahkeela Darcel Mollon gets ready to take a shot. 2006 Women's Gold Cup first round qualifying for 2006 Women's World Cup.Mexico wins 3-0 to pass. 'Mexico is ready to be Gold Cup champion,' said a confident Gallardo. 'We have the team and we are calm.' There will surely be uncomfortable moments during the tournament, but even with the wave of absentees Martino has suffered, Mexico provided a reminder on Wednesday of why it is still the favorite to win it all.

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The Gold Cup final is here, with old foes Mexico and the United States squaring off Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. While it will be their first Gold Cup meeting since 2011, there is plenty of familiarity between these two great rivals who are once again battling for regional supremacy.


Here's everything you need to know, from the superheroes and the sidekicks who can decide the ties to the keys for victory.

The backstory

How much time do you have? This is one of the most storied rivalries in world football, and for the sixth time, the two neighbors will meet in a Gold Cup final to determine who is the king of CONCACAF.

Mexico is a seven-time champion of the tournament, its most recent title coming in 2015. In the five previous Gold Cup final meetings between the two nations, El Tricolor has been the dominant side, with four wins.

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Since its perfect group stage, it has been a tough road for Mexico in the knockout stage of the tournament, as it needed a penalty shootout win to eliminate Costa Rica in the quarterfinals, then edged a gutsy Haiti side in extra time in the semifinals to reach this point.

The U.S. is the reigning champion of the Gold Cup, capturing the 2017 title with a 2-1 win over Jamaica. With a victory Sunday in Chicago, it would equal Mexico for most Gold Cup crowns.

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Like Mexico, the U.S. picked up three wins out of three in the group stage but was less than impressive in the quarterfinals, barely scraping past Curacao 1-0. However, it was a much improved side in the 3-1 semifinal victory over Jamaica and appears to have settled on its best starting XI for Sunday.

How they match up

Historically, when these two teams meet, Mexico is the team that owns the majority of the ball, while the U.S. will defend and look to break on the counter. Sunday won't be any different, with the likes of Andres Guardado and Jonathan dos Santos patrolling the midfield for El Tri. This won't bother the U.S. a bit. Coach Gregg Berhalter's team has allowed just one goal during the tournament and has improved its defensive shape as the tournament has progressed.


Mexico star to watch: Raul Jimenez

The Wolves forward is peaking at the right time. He has a goal in Mexico's past three games and is also very crafty with his playmaking, possessing a delicate touch that is a dream for Mexico's overlapping wingers.

U.S. star to watch: Christian Pulisic

No surprise here. The new Chelsea man has a knack for coming through in big matches, with 10 goals and nine assists in 21 competitive games for his country. With his pace, movement, touch, passing and power, Pulisic will have to be at his best for the U.S. to win.

Mexico's X factor: Uriel Antuna

There was a clear difference in the intensity of Mexico's attack in the semifinal against Haiti when Antuna came on for Roberto Alvarado. The LA Galaxy man has breathtaking pace and a good left foot to boot. His speed coming down the right flank will create plenty of chances for Jimenez. Antuna going against U.S. left-sided center-back Tim Ream could evoke memories of Pablo Barrera destroying Jonathan Bornstein in the 2011 final.

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U.S. X factor: Jozy Altidore

It took only about 10 minutes for all to see how much better the U.S. is with Altidore as its center-forward. His positioning, touch and movement is better than what Gyasi Zardes can offer. He absolutely has to start for the U.S., especially considering his very good history in working with Pulisic in attack.

Mexico needs to ...

Take advantage of the U.S.'s sloppiness. While conceding just one goal in the tournament, the U.S. can periodically be careless in its own half, allow too much space or fail to clear lines. A team like Mexico will be more than happy to make it pay.

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U.S. needs to ...

Hit Mexico on the flanks. El Tri has been susceptible on the wings in this tournament, which coach Gerardo Martino has acknowledged. That is where the U.S. can do its damage.


Mexico 3-1 United States: The combination of Mexico capitalizing on U.S. mistakes, plus the playmaking of Antuna and Rodolfo Pizarro on the wings, will provide a goal-scoring feast for Jimenez.

We have ourselves an international tournament this summer! The 2019 Gold Cup is almost here! It begins Saturday with Canada and Martinique kicking us off. The tournament is played every two years and includes 12 teams that qualify through regional tournaments in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

It is routinely dominated and won by the United States and Mexico, with Canada being the only other team that has won it since 1991. Mexico has seven Gold Cup wins and the U.S. has six Gold Cup wins. Over the last few years Mexico has had to decide whether to send its top team to the Copa America (another tournament that often happens over the summer that includes South American teams) or the Gold Cup, leaving El Tri to play weakened sides for one of the tournaments. Last time around in 2017, it was the Confederations Cup and El Tri decided to prioritize that tournament and instead sent an alternative side to the Gold Cup.

The 2017 Copa de Oro (Gold Cup) was a tournament to forget for El Tri. Even though they went through the group stage undefeated, they still lacked the dominance that the national team fans expect and ended up being knocked out at the semifinal stage by a resurgent Jamaica team. Jamaica's performance spoke highly of the increasingly competitive nature of the Gold Cup, given the rise of quality in various national teams, but also spoke of a lack of creativity from the players and El Tri coaches. It was also a tumultuous tournament for Mexico. The build up to the Gold Cup was marred in controversy with Juan Carlos Osorio serving a six-match ban for his abuse of a ref during the Confederations Cup match between Mexico and Portugal. Mexico would go on to lose that match 2-1 but there was more to the aftermath of that loss than just being knocked out of the Confederations Cup: It spelled an unsteady road to the 2017 Gold Cup.

El Tri went into the tournament with an alternative side and also the lack of Juan Carlos Osorio on the bench. The embattled El Tri coach was still able to lead training sessions before matches but wasn’t able to communicate to his players during matches, with his assistants taking the lead in doing that. They would kick off the group stage with a 3-1 win over El Salvador, courtesy of goals from Hergardo Marin, Oberlin Pineda and Elias Hernandez. The result of the second match against Jamaica was foreshadowing. They ended the match tied 0-0, unable to breakthrough the Reggae Boyz. They wrapped up the group stage with an unconvincing win against Curaçao, 2-0. Goals from Angel Sepulveda and Edson Alvarez showed that they were a side with multiple match winners but at the same time showed they lacked a consistent goal threat. They would still their group, but their lack of cutting edge showed in the knockout stages. Mexico barely managed a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals against Honduras before ultimately being knocked out by finalist Jamaica. Jamaica would go on to lose to the United States in the final 2-1. It was a sad showing for Mexico and one that was compounded by the fact that its archrival won the tournament.

It's been two years and arguably Mexico has a better squad but questions still exist regarding squad depth, Mexico going into the tournament with a new coach and whether they have the ability to put defensive teams to the sword.

#Notituit @Aeromexico @Delta

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Después del triunfo ante Venezuela, el Profesor Gerardo Martino presentó la lista de convocados para la Oro.#PasiónyOrgullo #FMFporNuestroFútbolpic.twitter.com/2ll8tA9cMy

— Selección Nacional (@miseleccionmx) June 6, 2019

Mexico is undefeated in four matches with new coach Tata Martino but its last two matches have resulted in injuries to key players, and with an already weakened side, we shall see whether or not El Tri can reclaim the cup. Hector Moreno was the most recent casualty and was subbed off during Mexico’s last warm-up match against Ecuador. They would go on to win 3-2, but Moreno will most likely miss the tournament. Raul Jimenez is probably the most consistent player Mexico has on its side and the Wolves star will be hungry to finally get to shine as the undisputed striker for his team. Javier Hernandez, Chucky Lozano, Miguel Layun, Carlos Vela and Hector Herrera are just a few of the players who are either injured or decided to forego going to the tournament for personal reasons.

'Personally, I've never won (the Gold Cup),' said Jimenez in an interview with ESPN in Wolverhampton before the end of the Premier League season. 'I've only been once and we finished in the semifinal, so I'm coming in with passion, pride and the drive to win it... it is something that I'm missing.'

Edson Alvarez will also be a key player to keep an eye on throughout the tournament. Veterans like Jonathan Dos Santos and Andres Guardado will have to push the players around them to step up.

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The tournament starts on Saturday, June 15, with Mexico being in group A with Canada, Martinique and Cuba. El Tri's first match will be against Cuba. Let’s see what comes about. Don’t miss the tournament!

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