Defending champion Mexico and host United States will be favoured in weekend Gold Cup quarterfinal matches after impressive group stage performances.
The biennial North America (CONCACAF) football championship tournament has been won eight times by Mexico and six by the US squad with Canada taking the only other crown in 2000.
Quarterfinal matches send Mexico against Honduras and guest invitee Qatar against El Salvador on Saturday at Phoenix with the US team against Jamaica and Canada against Costa Rica on Sunday at Dallas.
The United States and Costa Rica both went 3-0 in group matches while Qatar and Mexico were 2-0 with a draw.
Mexico surrendered no goals in three group matches for the first time in a Gold Cup, beating El Salvador 1-0, Guatemala 3-0 and playing Trinidad and Tobago to a goal-less draw.
El Tricolor only allowed a total of eight shots on goal by opponents in three matches.
“The positive thing is that we made seven points, they didn’t score goals against us,” Mexico coach Gerardo Martino said.
The Americans ripped Martinique 6-1 and edged Canada and Haiti each by 1-0 with coach Gregg Berhalter saying, “we didn’t do our best” and bemoaning a lack of urgency to score.
Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, will continue preparing for next year’s global showdown against El Salvador.
“The players have shown great responsibility and professionalism,” said Felix Sanchez Bas, Qatar’s technical director.
“The Gold Cup has been a good experience and we are satisfied with what we have done so far.”