Panamanian fans are still seething (with good reason) after thinking they got robbed by officials in a Gold Cup semifinal loss to Mexico. And U.S. fans are still fretting after watching their team lose 2-1 to Jamaica in the semis, just their second loss to the Reggae Boyz in 23 meetings and first loss to a Caribbean team on U.S. soil since 1969.
But the Gold Cup final goes on Sunday despite their complaints, as Mexico takes on Jamaica at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia at 7:30 p.m. A sellout crowd of 66,000 is expected, and the match will be televised on Fox Sports 1.
The winner plays the United States on Oct. 9 at a site to be determined for a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, a tune-up tournament for the 2018 World Cup.
Upstart Jamaica is playing for its first Gold Cup title Sunday, and Mexico will try to redeem itself after getting help from questionable referee decisions in the quarterfinal win over Costa Rica and semifinal win over Panama.
Mexican coach Miguel Herrera, whose charisma and sideline celebrations earned him a cult following during the 2014 World Cup, is under fire. His team has underperformed of late and is lucky to be in the final. The fact that Mexico needed penalty kicks in the 89th and 105th minutes to get past a Panama team playing with 10 men is evidence enough that Herrera’s team is not playing to potential.
Herrera hopes to get Giovanni dos Santos back into the lineup. He was injured in the final match of the group stage, and his absence has been felt.
The Mexicans are facing a Jamaican team brimming with pride and confidence after the upset of the Americans. Yes, the Reggae Boyz were outshot 10-3 and scored their two goals on a throw-in and a free kick, but Jamaica is a much-improved team under German coach Winfried Schafer.
Jamaica went 0-3 in the Copa America earlier this summer, but all three losses — to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay — were by scores of 1-0. In the Gold Cup, the Jamaicans tied Costa Rica 2-2 and then beat Canada, El Salvador, Haiti and the United States. Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes have shown they can create trouble for shaky defenders.
The Reggae Boyz are for real, and Mexico could be in for a tough night.
As for Team USA, coach Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t seem to be panicking. Nor should he. His team survived a very tough group at the Brazil World Cup last summer and has beaten Italy, Mexico, Germany and Netherlands during his tenure. He has three years left on his contract, and one loss to Jamaica should not put his job in danger.
“We lost [the Jamaica] game with two set pieces that we conceded, it’s as simple as that,” Klinsmann said. “Then we had enough chances to put three, four, five in there. They didn’t do that, and that’s why at the end of the day we lost it. Unfortunate, but it’s reality. We have to swallow that pill.”
▪ MLS All-Star week: Major League Soccer takes a break for the All-Star Game on Wednesday in Denver between the MLS All-Star team and the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur (9 p.m., Fox Sports 1). League newcomers Steven Gerrard (Los Angeles Galaxy) and Frank Lampard (NYCFC) are on the All-Star squad, along with Kaká (Orlando), David Villa (NYCFC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle) and Michael Bradley (Toronto).
The MLS Board of Governors will be in Denver and is expected to meet with David Beckham’s investment group about negotiations for a Miami MLS stadium next to Marlins Park. Talks of a Miami franchise heated up last week when Beckham’s group settled on the stadium site.