Oribe Peralta (white jersey) is expected to be in the starting lineup for Mexico's CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal against Costa Rica on July 19, 2015, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo: Mexsport)
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey – The CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals conclude on Sunday evening as six-time champion Mexico squares off against 2014 FIFA World Cup quarterfinalist Costa Rica at MetLife Stadium.
Here are Three Points to consider ahead of the game:
1) Heavyweight showdown
Sunday’s clash between the Tricolor and the Ticos has all the makings of a Gold Cup final. It’s a sooner than expected meeting between two of the most celebrated teams in the region. While both sides finished second in their respective groups, Mexico was arguably the sharper of the two teams, racking up five points to Costa Rica’s three. Although neither has fully lived up to the pre-Gold Cup hype, a highly-entertaining encounter should be expected as both teams are flush with attacking talent. For Mexico, the playmaking triumvirate of Carlos Vela, Oribe Peralta and Andres Guardado have combined for an impressive seven goals so far, while the Costa Rican strike tandem of Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell will be hungry to find the back of the net as well.
2) Can Costa Rica find its form?
Fresh off a world class showing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and following it with a Central American title last September, expectations were high for Costa Rica ahead of this year’s Gold Cup. Yet, despite returning most of last summer’s starting eleven, the Ticos have yet to reclaim form that saw them fall just short of a place in the World Cup semifinals. Heading in to Sunday’s showdown, the Ticos have yet to win a competitive match in 2015, with their last victory coming versus South Korea in October of last year. Since February, the Ticos have fallen 29 places in the FIFA World rankings and currently sit in 41st position. If Costa Rica is going to turn things around, it will need to re-kindle the magic of Brazil.
3) Injury issues persist for El Tri
After losing both Hector Moreno and Javier Hernandez prior to the tournament, Mexico has been bitten by the injury bug once again as newly-minted LA Galaxy attacker Giovani Dos Santos looks set to sit out Sunday’s crucial quarterfinal match with Costa Rica. One of the best attacking players in the region is expected to be replaced by Club America striker Oribe Peralta – the 2013 CONCACAF Player of the Year and the second all-time leading scorer in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League with 19 goals.