Can the U.S. limit chances for Jimenez, Mexico's talented side in Gold Cup final?

The Gold Cup final is here, with old foes Mexico and the United States squaring off Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. While it will be their first Gold Cup meeting since 2011, there is plenty of familiarity between these two great rivals who are once again battling for regional supremacy.

Here's everything you need to know, from the superheroes and the sidekicks who can decide the ties to the keys for victory.

The backstory

How much time do you have? This is one of the most storied rivalries in world football, and for the sixth time, the two neighbors will meet in a Gold Cup final to determine who is the king of CONCACAF.

Mexico is a seven-time champion of the tournament, its most recent title coming in 2015. In the five previous Gold Cup final meetings between the two nations, El Tricolor has been the dominant side, with four wins.

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Since its perfect group stage, it has been a tough road for Mexico in the knockout stage of the tournament, as it needed a penalty shootout win to eliminate Costa Rica in the quarterfinals, then edged a gutsy Haiti side in extra time in the semifinals to reach this point.

The U.S. is the reigning champion of the Gold Cup, capturing the 2017 title with a 2-1 win over Jamaica. With a victory Sunday in Chicago, it would equal Mexico for most Gold Cup crowns.

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Like Mexico, the U.S. picked up three wins out of three in the group stage but was less than impressive in the quarterfinals, barely scraping past Curacao 1-0. However, it was a much improved side in the 3-1 semifinal victory over Jamaica and appears to have settled on its best starting XI for Sunday.

How they match up

Historically, when these two teams meet, Mexico is the team that owns the majority of the ball, while the U.S. will defend and look to break on the counter. Sunday won't be any different, with the likes of Andres Guardado and Jonathan dos Santos patrolling the midfield for El Tri. This won't bother the U.S. a bit. Coach Gregg Berhalter's team has allowed just one goal during the tournament and has improved its defensive shape as the tournament has progressed.

Mexico star to watch: Raul Jimenez

The Wolves forward is peaking at the right time. He has a goal in Mexico's past three games and is also very crafty with his playmaking, possessing a delicate touch that is a dream for Mexico's overlapping wingers.

U.S. star to watch: Christian Pulisic

No surprise here. The new Chelsea man has a knack for coming through in big matches, with 10 goals and nine assists in 21 competitive games for his country. With his pace, movement, touch, passing and power, Pulisic will have to be at his best for the U.S. to win.

Mexico's X factor: Uriel Antuna

There was a clear difference in the intensity of Mexico's attack in the semifinal against Haiti when Antuna came on for Roberto Alvarado. The LA Galaxy man has breathtaking pace and a good left foot to boot. His speed coming down the right flank will create plenty of chances for Jimenez. Antuna going against U.S. left-sided center-back Tim Ream could evoke memories of Pablo Barrera destroying Jonathan Bornstein in the 2011 final.

U.S. X factor: Jozy Altidore

It took only about 10 minutes for all to see how much better the U.S. is with Altidore as its center-forward. His positioning, touch and movement is better than what Gyasi Zardes can offer. He absolutely has to start for the U.S., especially considering his very good history in working with Pulisic in attack.

Mexico needs to ...

Take advantage of the U.S.'s sloppiness. While conceding just one goal in the tournament, the U.S. can periodically be careless in its own half, allow too much space or fail to clear lines. A team like Mexico will be more than happy to make it pay.

U.S. needs to ...

Hit Mexico on the flanks. El Tri has been susceptible on the wings in this tournament, which coach Gerardo Martino has acknowledged. That is where the U.S. can do its damage.


Mexico 3-1 United States: The combination of Mexico capitalizing on U.S. mistakes, plus the playmaking of Antuna and Rodolfo Pizarro on the wings, will provide a goal-scoring feast for Jimenez.