AUSTIN, TEXAS – The United States Men’s National Team are through to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals. Tomorrow, at Q2 Stadium in Austin, they will play Qatar. The winner win go to the Gold Cup final on Sunday against either Mexico or Canada. The invitees have been chaos befitting of Concacaf. For the United States to advance, they need to embrace and survive that chaos, just as they did against Jamaica. Let’s take a look at what this USMNT Qatar game will look like.
Embrace the Chaos: USMNT Qatar Gold Cup Semifinal Preview
Qatar have been playing in a 5-3-2 formation, focusing on transition play. Abdulla and Afif have caused backlines problem when they’ve found space and attacked with a numerical advantage. A five man backline is going to make life more difficult for a Matthew Hoppe or overlapping fullback in wide positions.
This could however mean there’s more space and time on the ball for the midfielders. Kellyn Acosta and Gianluca Busio should be able dictate the tempo of the game and where on the field it is played. The pitch at Q2 will be much better than that hybrid grass/turf shag carpet at Jerry World on Sunday. This should make it easier for Gregg Berhalter’s side to play their game. Passing and movement will be sharper, easier, and more predictable.
With no pure destroyer No. 6, they’ll be susceptible if they’re not sharp on the ball. Miles Robinson was great against Jamaica, but the center backs have had concerning moments the last two games. The reality the U.S. will probably have more of the ball, more passes in the final third, and will still need to use Daryl Dike or Gyasi Zardes as a battering ram up the middle in order to score. Just like against El Salvardor, Qater could have fewer attacking sequences, but more and better chances. If they finish them (early), the young and inexperienced USMNT could be in trouble.
Look to see if the U.S. comes out ruthless and dictates the game from the start better than on Sunday. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the more veteran players start with the young guns coming off the bench in the second half. The USMNT will need to be precise and composed. If somebody can pull off a signature moment like Hoppe, adequacy from everyone else should win the day.
It’s going to be another tight and cagy game against an opponent that’s resolute and willing to make the game ugly. It’s going to be another good test for these players to see how they handle a scenario similar to the rigors of World Cup Qualification in this region. The Cs in Concacaf stand for chaos. This team needs to embrace that or risk going home, both in this tournament and for many of these players without coming back for WCQ later this year.