CHICAGO, Illinois -- The United States Men’s National Team has been preparing for this Sunday since the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup kicked off. This was always the expectation for the reigning champions, to be one game away from retaining the confederation crown.
“We’ve watched every game they (Mexico) have played since Tata [Head Coach Gerardo Martino] took over,” said U.S. Manager Gregg Berhalter at his pre-match press conference inside Soldier Field in Chicago. “The coaches have done a great job getting the team to play the way they want them to play.”
When asked about the footballing rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico, Berhalter offered a measured response, focusing on the task at hand but also not completely dismissing what the rivalry could do for his team.
“There’s two sides to it,” said Berhalter. “The first side is that you’ve got to remember we’re playing in a final. We’re playing for a trophy. You don’t need much more motivation than that.”
“Regardless of who it’s against,” Berhalter continued, “you’re going to be up for a game like this. When you’re playing in a stadium like this in front of a crowd like we’re going to have tomorrow… that’s motivation enough.”
“Having said that, we know that there’s a rivalry. We have a lot of respect for that rivalry. We have a lot of respect for Mexico. We see them as a leader in our region, and it’s a great opportunity for us to see where we can stack up. We know these games are intense. We know these games are heated. It’s a good experience for our group.”
This is Berhalter’s first match against Mexico as U.S. Manager. He was on the field as a player when the U.S. knocked Mexico out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup Final starts at 9 ET on Sunday night.