USMNT ready for Mexico 'battle' at Gold Cup final
CHICAGO -- United States men's national team defender Omar Gonzalez said Sunday's Gold Cup final against Mexico will be "a battle" and that the "two teams will give everything all game."
The match at Soldier Field will mark the sixth time that the two regional powers have played each other in the tournament's final, with Mexico prevailing in five of those encounters. In this edition, the U.S. booked their ticket last Wednesday with a deserved 3-1 win over Jamaica, while El Tri dispatched Haiti 1-0 in extra time the night before.
"It will be a battle on Sunday, you can say a war if you like, but the two teams will give everything all game," said Gonzalez via a translator. "It will be a complicated game with a lot of talent and with two good coaches. We'll see who is best on the day."
For U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley, Sunday's match will mark the second time he'll play Mexico in a Gold Cup final, the other being the 4-2 defeat in 2011 after being suspended for the U.S. victory in 2007 final. But regardless of whether a player has experience playing Mexico in a final or not, the U.S. midfielder feels his teammates will know how special this game is.
"It feels like there's no better game to play in the world than a final against Mexico," he said. "From the second that we walked off the field in Nashville [after the win over Jamaica], every single guy understood what was coming. Whether you've played in this game or you haven't, a U.S-Mexico final, [in] Chicago speaks for itself."
While youngsters like Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie have gotten the bulk of the headlines during the U.S. team's march to the final, Bradley has provided a composed presence on the ball that has done plenty to initiate the U.S. attack. The defense has been sharp throughout, conceding only one goal in the entire tournament.
"I think we continue to get better in all ways," said Bradley. "The whole package of things, the whole package of what we do and what we're about has gotten better. We talked at the beginning of the tournament about understanding that it's a tournament where every game gets harder, you get challenged more and more with each game, and I think we've grown into it in a good way and obviously we all understand that Sunday night will be the biggest test yet and we're excited. "
Gonzalez, who has been part of two Gold Cup-winning sides, and spent time with Liga MX sides Pachuca and Club Atlas, said the enmity between the two sides hasn't abated.
"That hate on the field still exists because you don't want to lose against Mexico and they surely feel the same and that is nice because these rivalries should exist in which on the field it is a war," he said.
Bradley added that a combination of factors will determine who comes out on top.
"I think any big game there's a combination of tactics, of emotion, of on the day who has more guys that play well, who executes better," he said. "In the big important moments in the match, who's able to make plays that count in front of both goals. There's a lot that goes into big games. Depending on the day at the end of it, afterwards you can go back and talk about maybe this [aspect] playing into a little more, a little less. When you watch any big game around the world, it's the way all this stuff comes together.
ESPN FC's Tom Marshall contributed to this report.