Free Sports Picks: USA Meets Costa Rica in CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinals
The US are into the semifinals at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but we are still waiting for them to bring their A game. Perhaps facing a higher caliber opponent in Costa Rica will finally bring it out of them. Thus far it seems as though the USA -a regular in the World Cup for the last 24 years- has been playing down to the competition instead of forcing their opponents to keep up.
Costa Rica is the 27th ranked country in the world and was as high as 13th after their run to the quarterfinals in the last World Cup. They’ve made it to three of the last four World Cups and was one of the darlings of the last tournament. This will be their first semifinals appearance in the Gold Cup since 2009, making it to the quarterfinals the last three tournaments. Their best ever result in this tournament was a runner-up in 2002.
In this tournament, they won a very competitive group, inching out over Canada and Honduras. That set up a quarterfinals game against Panama which they took 1-0. They were lucky to escape with the win, with the only score coming as an own-goal for team Panama in the 77th minute.
The strength of the Costa Rica squad is a stout defense. It has led the way throughout the tournament as this was the third time they’ve blanked their opponents in four matches. The teams traded a few scoring chances in the match, but generally they were able to keep Panama at bay.
The US are the 35th ranked team in the world, having dropped 12 spots in the most recent FIFA rankings. This is a tournament that they’ve done very well at since 2002. They’ve won four of the eight competitions since then with two runners up results as well. But they finished fourth last time in 2015, breaking a four-competition string of finishing either first or second.
The team used a youth squad to get through the group stage and the lack of cohesion showed even though they made it through in first place. Reinforcements were called up for the quarterfinals against El Salvador and although they won 2-0, they looked sloppy doing it with issues in the midfield all night. But perhaps that was to be expected with the recent additions of Clint Dempsey, Joey Altidore, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and Darlington Nagbe getting integrated into the group.
Cash It In: The US are -105 favorites, Costa Rica +310 underdogs. I do believe the best is yet to come for the Americans and they have been using the games up till now as a tune-up to get the best players in synch and fresh. Now they just have to deliver. USA 2-1.
Free Sports Picks: USA -105