Gold Cup Preview: Pulido and Mexico to battle Canada in semifinals

Mexico vs. Canada
2021 Concacaf Gold Cup | Semifinals
Thursday, July 29, 2021 | 9 p.m. CT
NRG Stadium | Houston, Texas

Broadcast Schedule:
English | FS1
Spanish | Univision, TUDN
Streaming | FOX Sports app, TUDN app

Sporting Kansas City forward Alan Pulido and the Mexico Men's National Team will continue their chase for the Concacaf Gold Cup title on Thursday night when they meet Canada at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The semifinal showdown is slated for 9 p.m. CT with live coverage in English on FS1 and the FOX Sports app and in Spanish on Univision, TUDN and the TUDN app.

Pulido appeared in two of Mexico's three group stage matches as El Tri finished atop Group A, then entered as a late substitute in a comfortable 3-0 quarterfinal victory over Honduras on Saturday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Led by head coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino, El Tri put the game to bed with first-half goals from in-form striker Rogelio Funes Mori, LA Galaxy star Jonathan dos Santos and midfielder Orbelin Pineda.

Joining Mexico for his first career Gold Cup tournament, Pulido has thus far provided reinforcement for an attack spearheaded by Monterrey frontman Funes Mori. El Tri have yet to concede a single goal in the tournament and own seven straight clean sheets since falling 3-2 to the United States in the Concacaf Nations League Final last month in Denver.

Mexico will look to extend that gaudy defensive record against a capable Canada side that finished second in Group B at Children's Mercy Park, defeating Haiti and Martinique by 4-1 scorelines before falling 1-0 to the United States. Prolific striker Cyle Larin and creative midfielder Stephen Eustaquio have led the way with three goals apiece for the Reds, who tabbed a 2-0 quarterfinal win over Costa Rica on Sunday as Eustaquio and Junior Hoilett struck on either side of intermission.

Mexico's Gold Cup roster features three MLS standouts in Pulido, dos Santos and LA Galaxy youngster Efrain Alvarez. Canada, meanwhile, has a strong MLS contingent with 14 players from across the league. Among them are dangerous attacking players such as Vancouver's Lucas Cavallini, New England's Tajon Buchanan and former Sporting player Tyler Pasher, who plies his club trade for Houston.

Mexico has dominated the all-time series against Canada with 21 wins, nine draws and just three losses in 33 total meetings. Canada last defeated El Tri in the 2000 edition of the Gold Cup and have an 0-6-3 record in the last nine head-to-head matchups.

Held every two years, the Gold Cup is the regional championship for Concacaf and just like in the European Championships and Copa America, lifting the trophy brings prestige and regional supremacy. Over the course of 15 previous Gold Cup tournaments, Mexico has won a record eight titles (1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2019) and the U.S. has lifted the trophy six times (1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017). Canada is the only other tournament champion, having lifted the title in 2000.

Pulido has bagged five goals in 19 career caps for Mexico. The forward made his senior international debut on Jan. 29, 2014, scoring a hat trick in a 4-0 friendly win against South Korea in San Antonio, Texas. He added another goal in a 2-2 friendly draw with the United States over two months later and bagged his fifth Mexico goal in a friendly win over Iceland in February 2017.