The Gold Cup Final between the U.S. and Mexico men's teams is expected to be a physical face-off but both team's managers started trading jabs early.
U.S manager Gregg Berhalter called out players on Mexico for their physical play and asked that the Gold Cup Finals be called "fair" by referees, per ESPN. Berhalter referenced several instances when players on Mexico grabbed opponents by the neck when speaking to reporters ahead of the Gold Cup.
He mentioned when Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera grabbed U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie by the throat in the CONCACAF Nations League final on June 6. And in Thursday's semifinal when Mexico faced Canada, Mexico's Luis Rodriguez was seen grabbing the neck of Mark-Anthony Kaye.
"We want it to be a physical game. We want it to be a tough, contested game, the same way as Mexico," Berhalter said. "They want the same thing. But we also want it to be fair, and that's the referee's role in this game, to manage the game in a fair way. You know I've seen numerous times when the players from Mexico are grabbing players' necks and facial areas, and that has no place in the game. We can't have that in the game.
"We want our guys to battle. We want both teams to battle. We want it to be physical. But that has no place in the game. When I saw the semifinal [between Canada and Mexico] I didn't think the referee did a good job of managing that at all. And they need to get ahead of that. There can't be any hands to the neck or to the face."
Mexico's manager, Gerardo "Tata" Martino, didn't care for the comments and responded when asked his thoughts. He brought up how Berhalter made an inappropriate gesture to an official during the match against Qatar, but Berhalter apologized afterward.
"The official [on Sunday] will do the best he can during the match, Martino said. Against Qatar, I don't think it was right how [Berhalter] behaved with the fourth official."
The Gold Cup Final is scheduled for Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
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