WASHINGTON: Mexico’s Gold Cup triumph will not be complete without a victory over the United States in an October playoff for a 2017 Confederations Cup berth, Mexico manager Miguel Herrera says.
And US coach Jurgen Klinsmann, whose players settled for a fourth-place showing in their Gold Cup defense, knows that a major goal remains within reach despite a humbling loss to Jamaica and penalty shoot-out defeat by Panama in the Gold Cup.
The archrivals will meet October 9 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to see whether the 2013 or 2015 Gold Cup winner represents the North American region at the eight-team World Cup warm-up event in Russia.
“We’ve got to get ready for that game the best we can,” Herrera said. “It’s not mission accomplished because we still have one more game. We want to go to the Confederations Cup. We know the United States is going to very determined.
“There was a great satisfaction in getting our goal at this tournament. Now we must go on to the Confederations Cup.”
While the US squad has the home soil edge, typical crowds at the 90,000-seat venue for US-Mexico clashes have shown stronger support for Mexico. And El Tricolores own a 33-18 with 14 draws edge in the all-time rivalry.
“The US, we have the obligation to look carefully. It’s going to be a very difficult game,” Herrera said. “We have to go for the October match. We can’t just be nice and quiet. It’s a very important match. And in November, we start World Cup qualifying.”
The Americans already have friendlies set for September against Brazil and Peru.
“It’s clear we’re looking toward September and those two friendly games to build things in order to be prepared for the playoff in October,” Klinsmann said.
The Americans would have clinched the spot in Russia in 2017 has they repeated as Gold Cup champions.
“We didn’t use that opportunity to finish things off in this tournament so we have to finish it off in October. If there’s a rise in expectations, that’s totally cool,” said Klinsmann. “There’s constant expectation, constant pressure for everybody. That’s just normal. It’s part of our job.”
Mexico won the Confederations Cup on home soil in 1999. The US team lost 3-2 to Brazil in the 2009 final in South Africa. In 2013, Mexico lost to Italy and Brazil in the group stage then beat Japan in a matchup of already-eliminated squads.
Herrera likely will count upon captain Andres Guardado, who netted six goals in the Gold Cup and earned Golden Ball honors, and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who was injured in a friendly and missed the Gold Cup.
“Guardado has a great maturity as a football player. He was very comfortable and he was always looking for the goals,” Herrera said. “Javier is still very much a part of this team.”
For Klinsmann, the match offers a chance to see how well newcomers mesh with veterans in the lineup.
“This team will grow, this team will get better,” Klinsmann said. “Youngsters will learn out of mistakes that they make on the field. They will become more responsible, more accountable. Our goal is to move things forward, to become a little more proactive and not too reactive.”