The second semifinal of the CONCACAF Gold Cup is an incredibly intriguing contest. Mexico, the defending Gold Cup champion, takes on a revitalized Canadian side. A trip to the final vs the winner of USA vs Qatar is on the line.
After a shocking 0-0 draw vs Trinidad and Tobago in its opening game, Mexico rebounded with two wins to finish first in Group A. El Tri then flashed its potential with a commanding 3-0 victory over Honduras in the quarterfinals.
Canada’s national team is not usually great. However, this current Canadian side, although significantly shorthanded, has looked excellent. Canada finished second in Group B behind Team USA after narrowly falling 1-0 to the Americans in the Group Stage finale.
After Shaq Moore’s first minute goal for the USMNT, Canada had the better chances and easily could have gotten a result. Canada then beat Costa Rica for the first time since 2007 in the quarters.
The future is bright for this group and Canada has a chance to pull off a signature win here. Mexico, however, is the soccer betting favorite to win at -175. Canada is listed at long odds of +520, while a draw is +300.
Game: Mexico vs Canada
Location: NRG Stadium, Houston
Time: Thursday, 10 p.m. ET
Mexico’s Second Gear
Mexico did not look great in the Group Stage. It finished at the top of its group, but only managed to score four goals in three games. That total was fewer than any other group winner and as many or fewer than all of the second-place teams.
Despite that, Mexico is the even money favorite to win the Gold Cup. El Tri looked like a team that could lift the trophy in a 3-0 victory vs Honduras. All of Mexico’s goals came in the first half and striker Rogelio Funes Mori’s header started off the scoring in the 26th minute.
Longtime national team player Jonathan dos Santos scored a thumping volley five minutes later to put El Tri up 2-0. Orbelin Pineda then headed home a Jesus Corona cross in the 38th minute to seal the victory. Mexico’s scoring onslaught nearly doubled its total tournament goals.
One thing that has been consistent throughout the tournament is the Mexican defense. Mexico has rattled off four clean sheets to open the tournament and is on a seven-game clean sheet streak in all competitions.
When clicking, this is a Mexico team that can hang with almost anyone in the world, let alone CONCACAF. Mori has been a revelation and Corona has put in nearly double the number of crosses as any other player in the tournament.
Mexico was most dangerous vs Honduras when it played the ball in, as all three of its goals came off of crosses. It’ll be interesting to see if Mexico can do the same vs a taller Canadian side.
Canada in Semis for First Time Since ‘07
Yes, Canada hasn’t always been good, but it is one of only four teams to win the Gold Cup more than once. Canada’s last triumph came all the way back in 2000.
Since then, this is Canada’s third semifinal appearance in 11 tries and first since 2007. This Canadian side has a bunch of players who can make things happen, but is also dealing with a lot of absences. Canada has been without studs Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David for the entirety of the tournament.
Against Team USA, Ayo Akinola tore his ACL and Cyle Larin suffered a leg injury, which also ruled them both out of the tournament. Larin was joint top scorer in the tournament through the Group Stage with three goals. He’s since been passed by Qatar’s Almoez Ali.
Now, forward Lucas Cavallini and center back Steven Vitoria will both miss the match vs Mexico due to yellow cards.
Midfielder Stephen Eustaquio has been a standout with three goals, including a crucial insurance goal which put Canada 2-0 up vs Costa Rica. Junior Hoilett scored an impressive chip for the opening goal and is a veteran of English soccer.
Winger Tajon Buchanan has been drawing interest from European clubs and Jonathan Osorio is one of Toronto FC’s best players ever. Yes, it’s a shorthanded Canadian side but not a weak one.
I think Mexico will be too strong for Canada, especially with all of Canada’s absences. Vitoria was the key cog in Canada’s defense and losing both Cavallini and Larin will significantly weaken Canada’s attack.
Mexico has a good chance to continue its shutout streak here, although Canada did create a bunch of chances vs Costa Rica. So, bet on Mexico’s over of 1½ goals after a dominant display vs Honduras.