Four of eight quarterfinal places are set at the 2021 Gold Cup after group play was completed in Groups A and B on Sunday, with Mexico and the USMNT finishing in the top spots, respectively, thus CONCACAF’s major powers head to opposite sides of the knockout round bracket.
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USMNT 1-0 Canada
The Yanks and Canucks had already secured their places in the quarterfinals, but the winner of Group B was still to be determine with Canada holding the tie-breaking advantage in the event of a draw.
The two sides were level on goals, and therefore drawing, for all of 20 seconds. Shaq Moore turned Sebastian Lletget’s cross into the back of the net immediately after kickoff. The 20-second tally is now the earliest goal ever scored by a USMNT player, eclipsing Clint Dempsey’s mark of 30 seconds against Ghana at the 2014 World Cup.
There weren’t a lot of chances created by either side, as the USMNT had already deployed in a 3-5-2 formation at 0-0, let alone with a one-goal lead to defend for 89 minutes. Matt Turner made a massive save just after the halftime restart, and that was all the USMNT needed to win Group A and avoid having to face favorites Mexico until the final, should they both get there.
Up next for the USMNT is a quarterfinal clash with either Costa Rica or Jamaica (whichever side finishes 2nd in Group C), while Canada will face the other side, the winner, of Group C.
[ FULL RECAP: USMNT scores after 20 seconds, beats Canada 1-0 to win group ]
Mexico 1-0 El Salvador
Right back Luis Rodriguez scored the game’s only, off a fortuitous deflection, as Mexico beat El Salvador to leapfrog their way into the top spot in Group A. Like Canada, El Salvador would have won the group with a draw, but Rodriguez struck midway through the first half to, similarly, distance El Tri from the USMNT until the final.
Rodríguez puts Mexico on top! 🇲🇽
For the first time in this Gold Cup tournament El Salvador is trailing in a game pic.twitter.com/fVUllxRGCF
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 19, 2021
Up next for the Mexico is a quarterfinal clash with one of Honduras, Qatar or Panama (whichever side finishes 2nd in Group D), while Canada will face the other side to advance, the winner, of Group D.