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PREVIEW: USMNT facing guest nation Qatar in Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals

CHICAGO — After a dramatic win against Jamaica on Sunday night, the U.S. Men’s National Team will face guest nation Qatar, the reigning Asian Football Confederation champion, in the 2021 Gold Cup Semifinals.

The USA is looking to punch its ticket to its 12th Gold Cup Final and brings the tournament’s stingiest defense to its showdown with Qatar, the competition’s highest-scoring team. It’s the first meeting between the two countries, marking the 98th different international opponent in USMNT history.

Thursday night’s match will be the USMNT’s first in Austin, Texas and first at the new Q2 Stadium, home of Austin FC. Coverage of Qatar-USA begins at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, Univision and TUDN with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET.

2021 GOLD CUP – USMNT ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)

GOALKEEPERS (3): 22-Brad Guzan (Atlanta United; 64/0), 18-Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), 1-Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 5/0)

DEFENDERS (8): 21-George Bello (Atlanta United; 2/0), 2-Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 20/1), 24-Henry Kessler (New England Revolution; 0/0), 20-Shaq Moore (Tenerife/ESP; 9/1), 4-Donovan Pines (D.C. United; 2/0), 12-Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 7/2), 16-James Sands (New York City FC; 4/0), 3-Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; 6/1)

MIDFIELDERS (6): 23-Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 35/2), 6-Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City; 4/0), 17-Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 26/7), 10-Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 22/0), 19-Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; 2/0), 14-Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 15/0)

FORWARDS: (6): 7-Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 36/8), 11-Daryl Dike (Orlando City; 7/3), 8-Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen/FRA; 5/3), 13-Matthew Hoppe (Schalke/GER; 1/0), 15-Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; 8/2), 9-Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 60/13)

USA SCHEDULE – 2021 GOLD CUP

Date Opponent Venue Time (ET)/Result TV Info
Sunday, July 11 Haiti Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kan. W 1-0 FS1, Univision, TUDN
Thursday, July 15 Martinique Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kan. W 6-1 FS1, UniMás, TUDN
Sunday, July 18 Canada Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, Kan. W 1-0 FOX, Univision, TUDN
Sunday, July 25 Jamaica AT&T Stadium; Arlington, Texas W 1-0 FS1, Univision, TUDN

TOP OFFENSE VS. TOP DEFENSE

Thursday’s semifinal brings a matchup of the Gold Cup’s highest-scoring squad in Qatar vs. the tournament’s most stout defense in the U.S. The USMNT has logged three shutouts in four games at the Gold Cup, allowing just one goal — a penalty in the second group stage match vs. Martinique. Qatar’s 12 goals lead the tournament and have boosted the Maroon to three straight wins after drawing its opener vs. Panama. Forward Alomez Ali currently leads the tournament’s Golden Boot race with four goals, including a brace in the quarterfinals, while Abdulaziz Hatem has also netted three times for the Qataris.

HOPPE PLAYS HERO

After finishing at the top of Group B with all nine possible points, the USMNT drew frequent Gold Cup foe Jamaica and faced a tough test in the tournament quarterfinals. Goalkeeper Matt Turner made a number of impressive saves to keep things deadlocked through 83 minutes, when 20-year-old forward Matthew Hoppe broke through for the U.S. After sparking two of the USA’s most dangerous chances down the stretch, Hoppe netted his first international goal on a header off a cross from Cristian Roldan for the game-winner. The Schalke forward earned his USMNT debut in the group stage vs. Martinique and became the seventh different player to score for the U.S. at the Gold Cup.

The shutout victory sent the USMNT to the tournament semifinals for the 15th time in 16 editions of the competition. It also marked the USMNT’s 10th win in 11 games in 2021, tying the mark set in 2007 for the fastest to double-digit wins in a calendar year.

WELCOME TO ATX

The USA has played 26 matches in Texas, tied for the third-most of any state, but Thursday night marks the USMNT’s first trip to Austin and the new Q2 Stadium. Earlier this month, U.S. Soccer selected Austin as host for October’s USA-Jamaica World Cup qualifying match . In June, the U.S. Women’s National Team played the first match in the new venue, a 2-0 victory against Nigeria.

KNOCKOUT ROUND RULES

  • Single yellow cards have been eliminated following the end of the quarterfinals.
  • If a match is tied at the end of regulation, two periods of 15 minutes will be played for extra time. An extra substitution is allowed during extra time.
    • If the score is still tied at the end of extra time, penalty kicks will be taken to determine the winner.

WHAT IS THE CONCACAF GOLD CUP?

Held every two years, the Gold Cup is the regional championship for Concacaf, the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football. Just like in the European Championships and Copa America, lifting the trophy brings prestige and regional supremacy. Over the course of 15 previous Gold Cup tournaments, the United States has lifted the trophy six times (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017), just behind all-time leaders Mexico with eight (1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2019). Canada is the only other tournament champion, coming away with the title in 2000.

USA TOURNAMENT NOTES

  • The USMNT’s +8 goal differential is the tournament’s best.
  • The USA’s starting XI vs. Martinique in the group stage marked the youngest lineup ever fielded by the USMNT in official competition at 23 years, 84 days.
  • At 23 years, 280 days, the USMNT starting XI in the quarterfinal against Jamaica was the second youngest lineup fielded in a knockout round match, behind on the XI that began last month’s Concacaf Nations League semifinal win against Honduras (23 years, 259 days).
    • Against Jamaica, Gianluca Busio became the second youngest player to start for the USMNT in a Gold Cup Knockout Round match at 19 years, 58 days. Juan Agudelo was the youngest at 18 years, 221 days during the 2011 Gold Cup Semifinal vs. Panama on June 22, 2011.
  • A total of 12 players have made their first appearance in official competition at the Gold Cup, including five players who earned their first international caps: defenders Donovan Pines and James Sands, midfielders Gianluca Busio and Eryk Williamson as well as forward Matthew Hoppe.
  • Hoppe plus defenders Shaq Moore and Sam Vines have netted their first international goals at the Gold Cup. Scoring just 20 seconds into the USA’s group stage finale vs. Canada, Moore’s goal marked the fastest in Gold Cup history.
  • Four players logged their first career assists: Busio, Hoppe, Williamson and midfielder Cristian Roldan.
  • After captaining the U.S. vs. Jamaica for the first time, Paul Arriola became the 14th player to wear the armband under head coach Gregg Berhalter. All three players who have served as captain during the Gold Cup – Arriola, midfielder Sebastian Lletget and defender Walker Zimmerman – have done so for the first time.
  • Goalkeeper Matt Turner, as well as Moore and defender Miles Robinson have started all four matches for the USA thus far at the Gold Cup.
  • Midfielder Kellyn Acosta is the only U.S. player to appear in all 11 matches for the USMNT in 2021.

USA ROSTER NOTES

  • Nineteen of the 23 players represent a total of 12 different clubs in Major League Soccer. Atlanta United and Colorado Rapids lead the way with three players each, followed by D.C. United, New England Revolution, New York City FC (2 each); Columbus Crew, LA GalaxyOrlando City SC, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City (1 each).
  • Defenders Reggie Cannon (Boavista; Portugal) and Shaq Moore (Tenerife; Spain) and forwards Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen; France) and Matthew Hoppe (Schalke; Germany) make up the European-based contingent.
  • Gyasi Zardes’ team-leading 20 Gold Cup caps currently place him tied with Cobi Jones for eighth on the USMNT’s all-time Gold Cup appearances list. Should he appear against Qatar, he will move into a tie for fifth DaMarcus Beasley, Frankie Hejduk and Eric Wynalda.
  • Since 2018, Zardes leads all U.S.-eligible players in MLS with 47 goals. The veteran striker also sits tied for fifth all-time on the USMNT’s Gold Cup scoring list with five goals, equal to Jozy Altidore and DaMarcus Beasley.

USMNT AT THE GOLD CUP

  • Beginning with the inaugural title in 1991, the U.S. has lifted the Gold Cup on six occasions. The USA returned the trophy home in 2002 and won again in 2005, 2007, 2013 and 2017.
  • The USA has more wins in the Gold Cup than any other nation, going 65-9-9 all-time.
  • The U.S. has gone an impressive 38-1-4 during the group stage.
  • The USMNT has advanced to the final on 11 occasions: 1991, 1993, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2019.
  • The USA has made it to the semifinals in 15 out of 16 tournaments, missing out only in 2000.

QATAR-USA NOTES

  • Thursday marks the first meeting between the USA and Qatar. The Maroon are the 98th different international opponent in USMNT history.
  • It’s the first time that the USMNT will face a guest team in the Gold Cup since Brazil in the 2003 semifinals (a 2-1 loss in extra time). The USA is 3-2-1 all-time vs. guest teams at the Gold Cup.
  • Qatar-USA will be the first USMNT match vs. an Asian Football Confederation team since Feb. 1, 2014 vs. Korea Republic. Qatar is the USA’s 10th AFC opponent all-time.
  • The nations have met twice in the group stage of the FIFA U-20 World Cup- a 1-1 draw at the 1981 tournament in Australia and most recently at the 2019 competition in Poland, a 1-0 win on a goal from current USMNT forward Tim Weah.

QATAR ROSTER (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Saad Al Sheeb (Al-Sadd; 75/0), 22-Meshaal Barsham (Al-Sadd; 4/0), 21-Yousof Hassan (Al-Gharafa; 6/0)

DEFENDERS (9): 14-Homam Ahmed (Al-Gharafa; 6/0), 15-Bassam Al-Rawi (Al-Duhail; 33/2), 16-Khoukhi Boualem (Al-Sadd; 79/19), 3-Abedelkarim Hassan (Al-Sadd; 103/14), 13-Musaab Khidir (Al-Sadd; 20/0), 2-Pedro Miguel (Al-Sadd; 63/1), 5-Tarek Salman (Al-Sadd; 39/0), 8-Ahmed Suhail (Al-Sadd; 1/0), 4-Mohammed Waad (Al-Sadd; 6/0)

MIDFIELDERS (4): 20-Abdullah Al-Ahrak (Al-Duhail; 16/1), 12-Karim Boudiaf (Al-Duhail; 90/5), 6-Abdelaziz Hatim (Al-Rayyan; 79/6), 23-Assim Madabo (Al-Duhail; 28/0)

FORWARDS (7): 18-Yusuf Abdurisag (Al-Sadd; 11/1), 11-Akram Afif (Al-Sadd; 64/19), 7-Ahmed Alaa (Al-Gharafa; 35/0), 19-Almoez Ali (Al-Duhail; 62/30), 10-Hasan Al-Haydos (Al-Sadd; 141/31), 17-Ismail Mohamad (Al-Duhail; 58/4), 9-Mohammed Muntari (Al-Duhail; 33/10)

HOW THEY GOT HERE

An impressive offensive output has boosted Qatar to the tournament semifinals. After kicking off the Gold Cup with a wild back-and-forth 3-3 draw vs. Panama, the Maroon has rattled off three straight victories. In its second two group stage games, Qatar blanked Grenada 4-0 and defeated Honduras 2-0 to top Group D.

Qatar met Group A runner-up El Salvador in the quarterfinals. After taking an early 2-0 lead on a brace from Almoez Ali and going up 3-0 early in the second half, El Salvador rallied back for two goals, but Qatar held on for a 3-2 win. Five players have scored for Qatar at the Gold Cup, including four goals from Ali, the most in the tournament. Abdulaziz Hatem has scored in three straight matches and his three tallies are tied with five other players for second at the tournament.

IN FOCUS: QATAR

  • All 23 of Qatar’s players are based domestically at just four Qatari clubs. Twelve players come from Al-Sadd, historically the country’s most successful club.
  • Qatar is the reigning champion of the AFC after winning the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates. The trophy marked the country’s first major title as the Maroon allowed just one goal during its seven-game undefeated run.
  • In the run-up to hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar has played as a guest team in a number of international competitions. The Arab nation was also invited to the 2019 Copa America in Brazil and to participate in UEFA World Cup qualifying Group A.
  • Al-Duhail captain Almoez Ali, currently leading the Gold Cup’s Golden Boot race, is also the roster’s leading scorer with 34 goals. He scored a tournament record nine goals during Qatar’s 2019 AFC Asian Cup run.
  • Forward Hasan Al-Haydos is the roster’s most experienced player with 144 caps and has served as Qatar’s captain throughout the tournament.
  • Head coach Félix Sánchez has led Qatar since 2017. After starting his coaching career in the FC Barcelona youth ranks, Sanchez joined Qatar’s Aspire Academy, an elite athletic academy in Doha.
  • The Spaniard guided Qatar’s U-19 team to the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship and also worked with the U-23s before taking over the senior squad.

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