Another CONCACAF Gold Cup will come to its end tonight. Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara is already getting prepared to the final match. The defending champions Mexico was eliminated at the semifinal, so the big question is who will be the new winnners – USA or Jamaica?
United States holds the record for Gold Cup final appearances. Unfortunately they won just 5 out of 9 finals, a worse record than Mexico that won 7 out of 8 finals they played. In their 10th final, they have a great chance to win the title that they have won only once since 2009.
One of the reasons for the United States team success this year is their coach, Bruce Arena. After Jürgen Klinsmann made disastrous results at the World Cup qualifiers, Arena got the call to make America great again. In his second term at the national team position, Arena revived the World Cup campaign with 8 points in 4 matches and qualified to the Gold Cup final, something that Klinsmann failed to do two years ago.
Clint Dempsey is always the guy to look for in the US team, but in this final he also wish to break a record. His only goal at the tournament was at the semifinal against Costa Rica. This goal equaled Landon Donovan's record at the national team's top scorers list. Scoring one more goal will make Dempsey the all-time American top scorer.
Two years ago, Jamaica made history, as they became the first Caribbean team to qualify to the Gold Cup final. Now they qualified for their second consecutive final, making another achievement – the first team to qualify for two consecutive finals, except Mexico and United States.
Jamaica succumbed a megs blow before the tournament with the defeat against Curaçao in the Caribbean Cup final. Yet, they revenged Curaçao by defeating them at their Gold Cup opening game. Since then, Jamaica managed to draw against Mexico at the group stage, eliminating Canada at the quarterfinal and defeating Mexico at the semifinal.
Jamaica became well known during the tournament for dramatic results. An equalizer penalty against El Salvador, a nervous match against Canada and of course - the winning goal of Kemar Lawrence against Mexico at the 88th minute. This goal gives to Jamaica another opportunity to become the best team in CONCACAF.
Remember the Past
The two teams already played each other at previous Gold Cup tournament four times. The record is in favor for United States, as they won three of them. The last meeting was at the semifinal two years ago. It was the only time that Jamaica defeated United States in Gold Cup match. Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes scored for Jamaica at the first half, Michael Bradley's goal couldn't prevent from the Jamaicans a spot in the final.
Jamaica, like any other Caribbean team, usually fail to be a competitive side in CONCACAF, especially when they face the biggest two nations. After defeating both United States and Mexico in recent years, Jamaica can feel that they deserve part of the region's highest levels. Although they won't play in the 2018 World Cup, their boosted confidence and new generation of players, can make them dream about winning the final and write another chapter in the tremendous Jamaican football history.
From the other side, the United States can't lose to Jamaica if they really want to be a leading football nation. Winning the Gold Cup can be a proof that Bruce Arena made a change in the team. If they will do so, they can think about their next goal – 2018 World Cup, and this time to make a greater performance than another round of 16 elimination.