First place in Group C will be on the line Wednesday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, as Mexico take on Trinidad and Tobago in the final group game of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Mexico surprisingly dropped to second in the group Sunday after their 0-0 draw with Guatemala, which came a few hours after Trinidad and Tobago earned their second win of the competition by defeating Cuba.
Unless Guatemala make up a goal differential of eight on Mexico and El Tri fall Wednesday, both clubs will be at MetLife Stadium for the knockout round Sunday, but the team they play will be determined in Charlotte.
Below is all the vital information you need to know for the Group C showdown.
Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 2, Unimas (USA), BT Sport 2 (UK)
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go (USA), BT Sport Player (UK)
Finishing a Major Issue for Mexico
The primary reason for Mexico dropping points against Guatemala at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, was poor finishing. El Tri boss Miguel Herrera noted that during his post-match press conference, per ESPN's El Tri Twitter account:
Three days after scoring on six of their 44 chances against Cuba, Mexico were wasteful in front of goal in their second group contest as four of their 19 attempts found the target.
Starting forward Oribe Peralta, who earned a hat-trick in the Group C opener, totalled a single shot on target against the stingy Guatemala defence, while Carlos Vela could muster only one attempt on goal in the scoreless draw, per MLSSoccer.com.
The obvious solution to the scoring problem would be to place Giovani Dos Santos into the starting 11. Since the start of the tournament, Dos Santos has seen the pitch for 40 minutes. With one group match remaining to experiment with the lineup before the knockout round begins, it would be wise of Herrera to hand Dos Santos a start.
With few other valuable options at the forward position, Mexico may be out of ideas if Dos Santos fails to produce, but El Tri will worry about that problem if they have to later in the competition. For now, the focus should be on handing the Villarreal player plenty of minutes.
Can Trinidad and Tobago Continue Their Surprise Run?
You have to give credit to Trinidad and Tobago through two games, as they have handled weaker opposition with ease, which is something the top teams in the region haven't been able to do yet.
A three-goal surge in the first half against Guatemala allowed the Soca Warriors to close out their match with Guatemala easily. A pair of strikes in the first 45 minutes also allowed Trinidad and Tobago to play with less pressure against Cuba.
In each of the team's Group C matches, Sheldon Bateau opened the scoring. Bateau netted his first goal of the tournament in the 10th minute of the 3-0 win over Guatemala, while he added to his account in the 17th minute in the victory against Cuba.
If Bateau or one of his team-mates can put pressure on the Mexico back line and score an early goal, the entire complexion of the match could change. Although they may be better suited to sit back and counter, we shouldn't expect Trinidad and Tobago to replicate Guatemala's game plan, since they do carry a few legitimate threats in attack.
Winning Favours Both Sides Entering Knockout Round
Many see Mexico as the better side coming into Wednesday's match, but there will be plenty of motivation for Trinidad and Tobago to earn at least a draw against the vaunted El Tri attack.
The winner of Group C is scheduled to play Panama in the quarter-final round at MetLife Stadium, while the runner-up will be paired against Costa Rica after the Ticos finished second in Group B.
The gap in quality between Panama and Costa Rica is large if you judge both teams at their best. Although Costa Rica have not played their best football just yet, they are always capable of bringing a dangerous attack to pitch with Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell in the squad.
Winning the group favours both Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago since Panama looked far from the side that reached the 2013 Gold Cup Final. Three 1-1 draws allowed Panama to advance to the knockout round, but they did not produce a massive amount of quality in the final third. With that being said, a matchup with Panama, albeit a tough one, would be the better draw for either Group C team.
Prediction: Mexico 2-1
Trinidad and Tobago will hand Mexico a fight, but the need to produce a result should drive Mexico to a close victory as they prepare for the final eight.
Joe Tansey is covering the Gold Cup for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.