Q2 Stadium in Austin, TX will host the USMNT for the first time as the USA takes on Qatar in the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal. It should be a raucous home crowd for the USA but Qatar has been the surprise of the tournament.
The Gold Cup guests have scored the most goals in the tournament so far, with 12, and have hung with some of CONCACAF’s best. Qatar booked its place in the final four with a 3-2 win vs El Salvador. The US dominated possession but was level with a tough Jamaica side until an 83rd minute winner from Matthew Hoppe.
As expected, the soccer betting odds favor the US, with the USMNT at -115 to win. Qatar’s odds of +340 correspond to just a 23.5% implied chance of victory. A draw is listed at +250.
Game: USA vs Jamaica
Location: Q2 Stadium, Austin, TX
Time: July 29, 7:30 p.m. ET
Hoppe the Hero for US
Matthew Hoppe consistently found himself in good positions during USA’s match vs Jamaica. Hoppe frustratingly had two shots on target saved by Andre Blake but the third one was the charm.
Substitute Cristian Roldan sent in a floated cross which Hoppe emphatically headed home in the 83rd minute for his first international goal. The goal proved decisive and sent the USA to an 11th straight Gold Cup semi finals appearance, even with an experimental roster.
The Gold Cup is already a success for the US as the rotation has given coach Gregg Berhalter an extended look at some fringe players. Plus, The US has won all four of its games so far, including three close 1-0 wins. Kellyn Acosta has been a standout and deserves consideration for the starting XI in WC qualifiers.
Now, there’s also a sense that the USA can go on and win the tournament. Keeper Matt Turner has been a revelation and has a ridiculous 100 percent save percentage on 15 shots faced on target in the run of play. The only goal Turner has allowed in the tournament was on a penalty kick. Qatar will be a huge threat to that stat, though.
Qatar’s Attack is Formidable
Qatar is unbeaten in its last 11 matches and has scored a goal in each one of those matches. As guests in the Gold Cup, Qatar is yet to score fewer than two goals in a match. Akram Afif is one of the best players to ever come out of Qatar and he’s also been one of the tournament’s best players.
He’s fifth among all players in goals plus assists per 90 minutes, with 1.35. He also has the most combined goals + assists in the tournament, with five. Afif has totaled two goals and three assists in four matches. Almoez Ali is the tournament’s leading scorer with four goals and he put two in in the quarterfinal.
Players like Hassan Al-Haydos and Abdulaziz Hatem, who has scored three goals, have also been threatening. However, where Qatar can have problems is at the back.
Qatar very nearly gave up a three goal lead to El Salvador in the quarterfinal and scraped by to a 3-2 win. In the Gold Cup opener Qatar also blew three separate one-goal leads to Panama in a 3-3 draw. Qatar does have two shutouts, but cannot afford to make any mistakes vs a US team that can easily punish them.
The US has been solid defensively but Matt Turner has had to make the most saves in the entire tournament. The US has scraped by in this tournament with three 1-0 wins vs Canada, Haiti and Jamaica but I expect this to be a different test.
I think Qatar will get on the scoresheet in this match as Ali, Afif and Hatem will be a handful to deal with for a young defense. Jamaica had a bunch of chances in the quarterfinal and the US was a bit lucky to escape with a clean sheet.
I also believe that Qatar will have problems defensively vs the US and expect the USMNT to also put a goal or two on the board. So, my BetUS sportsbook pick of the match is Both Teams to Score at -115.
Pick: Both Teams to Score -115