Playing at home against a guest team ranked No. 58 in the world would normally be a slam dunk for the No. 20-ranked U.S. men’s national team. But its 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal against Qatar is anything but a cinch.
The Americans are the favorites to advance to their 12th Gold Cup final, but they’ll be facing a Qatari side that is the reigning Asian champion, undefeated in 2021 (8-0-2), and the highest-scoring team in the Gold Cup tournament. With 12 goals in just four matches, Qatar has created scoring chances with ease against typically stingy CONCACAF opponents, showing off an entertaining style of play.
“They’ve been scoring goals, but they’ve also been conceding goals,” said U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter, whose team has conceded only once in four matches. “They have an exciting game model. And it’s heavily based on offensive transition. … They’re deadly on the counterattack. They have creative players.”
”Their offensive transition is the key. And that’s the key for us: How can we stop their offensive transitions?” USMNT winger Paul Arriola said. “They have real quality up front and in the second lines to be able to do things in their offensive third. So for us, without a doubt that’s going to be the key to our game — stopping them and finishing our chances.”
While the USA earned a narrow 1-0 win over Jamaica in a tightly contested quarterfinal, thanks to an 83rd-minute goal by Matthew Hoppe, Qatar beat El Salvador in a wild 3-2 game in which Qatar had a 3-0 lead. Its top scorers, Almoez Ali (four goals in the Gold Cup) and Abdulaziz Hatem (three goals), were on the mark in that match, too.
Especially because it’s the first time that these two teams have played each other, this game feels like it could have goals in it. If it’s tied after 90 minutes of regulation, extra time and penalty kicks would follow.
How to watch USMNT-Qatar
- Date: Thursday, July 29
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV Channels: FS1
- Spanish-language TV: Univision, TUDN
- Streaming (USA): fuboTV, FOX Sports app, TUDN.tv, (with user authentication)
- Streaming (Canada): OneSoccer.ca
The USA vs. Qatar Gold Cup semifinal will be broadcast in the USA on FS1 (English) and on Univision and TUDN (Spanish) beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET from Austin’s Q2 Stadium. Both channels can be streamed on fuboTV with a free 7-day trial
The match is streaming in Canada on OneSoccer.ca.
USMNT vs. Qatar: Projected lineups
In defenders Miles Robinson and James Sands (below), the USA has a couple of players who have proven they can come up with clutch defensive plays in emergency situations when facing attackers one-on-one. Still, we could potentially see the USA return to a three-man center back set-up to ensure that there is sufficient cover in those instances. In Reggie Cannon they would have a player who has the speed to keep up with the darting Qataris.
Qatar has been coached since 2017 by former Barcelona youth coach Felix Sanchez, who has fielded a regular starting XI during the Gold Cup save for one or two changes. The front three are fun to watch with captain Hasan Al-Haydos and forwards Almoez Ali (three goals) and Akram Afif wreaking havoc on CONCACAF defenses. While the technical Al-Haydos is the playmaker, Afif is the one that drives defenders crazy.
USA projected starting lineup (3-5-2, left to right): 1-Matt Turner-GK — 12-Miles Robinson, 16-James Sands, 2-Reggie Cannon — 3-Sam Vines, 6-Gianluca Busio, 23-Kellyn Acosta, 17-Sebastian Lletget, 7-Paul Arriola — 13-Matthew Hoppe, 11-Daryl Dike
Qatar projected starting lineup (5-3-2, left to right): 22-Meshaal Barsham-GK — 14-Homam Ahmed, 3-Abedelkarim Hassan, 16-Khoukhi Boualem, 15-Bassam Al-Rawi, 2-Pedro Miguel — 6-Abdelaziz Hatem, 12-Karim Boudiaf, 10-Hassan Al-Haydos — 19-Almoez Ali, 11-Akram Afif
USA vs. Qatar: Odds & prediction
We know the way this game is going to play out and the teams have already pointed it out in the lead-up: Both teams will play for fast offensive transitions. So there should be moments in which this semifinal has end-to-end action. It will be a surprise if this is not the case.
Qatar has managed to put every team in this CONCACAF Gold Cup under duress and the Qataris will get their moments against the USA, while conceding a few, too. It’s what makes the both-teams-to-score (-115) and the total goals over 2.5 (+105) interesting options on the odds market.
All the pressure is on the Americans and Sanchez knows that, too. They should probably win this game, but Qatar is so unpredictable that the USA might have to sweat this out. For that reason the Qatar double chance (win or draw in regulation) is a potential play at -120.
Prediction: Qatar 2, USA 1
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
- Qatar to win (90 mins): +280
- Qatar to advance: +150
- Draw (90 mins): +250
- USA to win (90 mins): +105
- USA to advance: -200
- Over 2.5 total goals (90 mins): +105
- Both teams to score: -115
- Qatar win or draw: -120