NEW YORK — As the Americans get set for a do-or-die Gold Cup rematch with Panama on Wednesday night (7 pm ET, Fox Soccer), former US national team captain Claudio Reyna has Mexico on his mind.
Speaking at a press event in lower Manhattan ahead of an appearance at NBA star Steve Nash’s Showdown in Chinatown, the onetime New York Red Bulls Designated Player thinks Bob Bradley’s team is on course for a date in the Gold Cup final in Pasadena with El Tri.
“I think they have every chance to win it again and it looks like they are headed to a US–Mexico final again,” Reyna said.
But before the Yanks can even begin to think about a rivalry match against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, they’ll have to deal with Panama in the Gold Cup semifinals in Houston. After suffering an embarrassing 2-1 defeat to los Canaleros in the group stage, a win isn’t a foregone conclusion.
“[The US] did a very good job to get to the semifinal, as the group stage is always tricky for the favorites,” he said. “I know that when you come together after a season and throw guys together it’s not that easy to get in sync.”
The prospect of a US–Mexico final brings a wave of nostalgia and good feeling to Reyna, as he calls their meeting at the 2002 World Cup the most memorable match of his career.
“Having played them so many times here in the US and in Mexico, to play them [in a World Cup] was special game,” Reyna said. “We got to the quarterfinals, which is the farthest we’ve ever gone. That game was incredible. And we love beating Mexico, so that was good.”
The US could have another chance at that — and at Gold Cup revenge — should they and Mexico both defeat their opponents on Wednesday night to reach the final.