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Semifinal match: U.S. men's national soccer team battles Qatar this week at Austin's Q2 Stadium

Austin will see a national soccer team for the second time as Team USA takes on Qatar in the Gold Cup semifinals on Thursday. (USMNT/Twitter)

The highest-stakes match in Q2 Stadium history is coming on Thursday as the U.S. men's national team takes on Qatar for the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Austin FC's home base will soon have been host to both the men's and women's national teams less than two months after opening its doors; on June 16, the stadium's pitch was christened with the USWNT's 2-0 win over Nigeria.

Now, excitement is even more heightened as the men's team fights to steal North America's biggest soccer title from defending champs Mexico. But first, they'll need to host guest team Qatar, a surprise standout that has scored the most goals in the tournament so far.

For those who aren't updated on the Gold Cup, here's what to expect before Austin's biggest match to date takes Q2 Stadium.

What's happened at the Gold Cup so far

While the 16-team Gold Cup consists of 16 of the best national teams in North and Central America, CONCACAF has historically been a battle between the USA and Mexico.

The bitter rivals have flip-flopped between that championship slot for every tournament appearance since 2011, and they're both fighting for a spot in the finals in Las Vegas this weekend.

Mexico holds an advantage with 11 championship titles, while the U.S. has won six and holds the most runners-up titles with six second-place finishes.

Team USA is the only team in the tournament with an unbroken win streak after beating Haiti (1-0), Martinique (6-1) and fellow semifinal contender Canada in the group stage. The team then took down Jamaica 1-0 in the quarterfinals to earn a semifinal spot at Q2.

Meanwhile, Qatar remains undefeated but tied 3-3 to Panama in the group stages alongside victories against Grenada (4-0), Honduras (2-0), and El Salvador (3-2.) Mexico is also undefeated but kicked off the tournament with a scoreless draw against Trinidad, while Canada's sole loss was to Team USA.

While the U.S. vs. Qatar match takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Mexico and Canada will duke it out just over two hours later at Houston's NRG Stadium. The winner of each match will be granted a ticket to the finals in Las Vegas at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

What to expect

Qatar's 12 Gold Cup goals give the air of expertise, but the Qatar national team was hardly on the global radar just five years ago. The team has never reached World Cup qualifications in over 40 years of independence even as they were named the hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

With the World Cup—which grants automatic tournament berth to its hosts—just over a year away, the Gold Cup's lone outsiders are working for more than wins: they also want to gain global acclaim.

The club that had never made it up the ranks of their continent's Asia Cup was suddenly the unexpected winners of the tournament in 2019 after a 3-1 upset over Japan. The national team was then invited to the 2019 Copa America but fell out of the group stages with a 0-1-2 record.

The Gold Cup's lone invitees are blowing away the competition with back-to-back goalscoring and an attacking mindset, but they have yet to play a team of USA's caliber in the tournament.

Team USA is ranked 20th globally and has won 10 of this year's 11 matches, tied for a year-best record. The club survived a grueling physical 1-0 win vs. Jamaica to qualify for the semifinals and are sporting some of MLS's best in the lineup, including LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget, Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson and young Sporting KC midfielder Gianluca Busio.

The U.S. team hasn't put as many points on the board (9) but has played some of the best in the tournament, including Canada and Haiti.

Lletget said in a press conference Tuesday that the team has been watching Qatar's success and thinks that the next match will be a change of pace for the team.

I think this game coming up is going to be very different from all the rest," Lletget said. "That's one thing you get in CONCACAF, just different styles."

What comes next

If the U.S. wins, as they are favored to, they'll likely face off against Mexico for yet another rivalry match.

Mexico last won the tournament in 2019 and is looking for another championship win. In the two teams' last faceoff in June, the team's formidable rivalry was made evident as punches were thrown, Austin FC Sporting Director Claudio Reyna's son Gio was hit in the face with a flying object by an angry Mexico fan and players on each side exchanged rough elbows and tackles as the U.S. took the match 3-2 to win the match.

Even if they don't face off, the USMNT will look for a winning streak against their border rivals in a World Cup qualifier vs Mexico in Cincinnati on Nov. 12.

And if you weren't able to score tickets for this week's international Q2 match, no need to fear: the stadium recently announced that it would be hosts on the international stage once again as Team USA takes on Jamaica for a World Cup qualifier on Oct. 7.

Starting in September, the national team will begin a 14-match stretch of World Cup qualifying matches against CONCACAF clubs, starting with a match at El Salvador on Sept. 2.

How to watch

For those who nabbed a Q2 Stadium ticket this Thursday, here's a full matchday guide.

If not, there's plenty of places to grab a friend and a beer and watch Team USA play.

Here's a few watch parties we've found:

  • Haymaker Austin, the official HQ of US national soccer fan club American Outlaws, is sure to have plenty of fans in red, white and blue come matchday. The bar is also hosting a night before welcome party at 6 p.m. on Wednesday to celebrate the team's arrival in Austin. Find out more here.
  • Circle Brewing, which hosts Austin FC fan club Austin Anthem every matchday, is hosting both a pregame and watch party for the match. Gates open at 2 p.m. and continue through the match. Find out more here.
  • Hopsquad Brewing, located just next to Circle Brewing, is a soccer hub and favorite of Austin FC fan club Los Verdes. No watch party has been announced, but the bar is sure to air the game and foster a party atmosphere come matchday.


4th of July: What to do in Austin this holiday weekend

The Hill Country Galleria will host its annual Independece Day festival this year. (Hill Country Galleria)

🗓 Friday

👙 Float Film Fridays

Put on your swimsuit, grab a fruity rum drink and enjoy campy throwback movies every Friday at the Austin Motel through August. This week is “Wet Hot American Summer,” which starts at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person.

Doors open 5 p.m. Friday | 📍Austin Motel, 1220 S Congress Ave.

🕹 RTX Austin 2022

Austin’s gaming, animation and podcasting convention RTX is back and showcasing what’s new in the industry. Enjoy panels, meet your favorite Rooster Teeth star and play demos of the newest games for three days. Day passes start at $52.

Times vary Thursday-Friday | 📍Austin Convention Center, 500 E Cesar Chavez St.

🎙Live Music at Lone Star Court*

Enjoy the deep roots of Texas music with weekly live performances at Lone Star Court. Located at The Domain, there’s always a tune for you to tap your foot to at the retro-inspired property. Every Thursday through Saturday, locals and travelers alike can enjoy live performances and specialty cocktails at the Water Trough. This week you can catch Ella Reid, Reagan Quinn, Michael Ingalls, and David Orr Trio.

7-9 p.m. Thursday, 8-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday | 📍Lone Star Court, 10901 Domain Dr.

🗓 Saturday

🇺🇸 Independence Day Celebration at Dreamland

Dreamland Dripping Springs is bringing all things Independence Day into one place this year: Mini-golf, pickleball, snacks, live music from Bob Schneider and Pat Byrne and fireworks on the lawn to close out the evening. Tickets start at $25 and children under 5 are free.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Saturday | 📍Dreamland Dripping Springs, 2770 US-290.

🗓 Sunday

🍖 Lutie’s Independence Day Garden BBQ

Lutie’s is partnering with LeRoy & Lewis for a patriotic garden party, serving up some “New School BBQ,” specialty cocktails and a vinyl DJ set from Clemente Castillo to dance the night away. Tickets start at $45.

6-11 p.m. Sunday | 📍Commodore Perry Estate, 4100 Red River St.

🎸 KUTX Presents: Fleet Foxes Shore Tour

Head into July 4 with a relaxing night under the stars, listening to indie folk band Fleet Foxes. Tickets start at $32.50 each.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Sunday | 📍Moody Amphitheater, 1401 Trinity St.

🗓 Monday

🧺 Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic

After a virtual year, Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic is back and bringing the talent to Q2 Stadium. Featuring, Jason Isbell, The 400 Unit, Tyler Childers, Charley Crockett and Asleep at the Wheel, the festival has been a can’t-miss phenomenon since 1972. Resale tickets are still available starting at $35.

Doors open 11 a.m. Monday | 📍Q2 Stadium, 10414 Mc Kalla Pl.

🎇 Hill Country Galleria Independence Day Festival

Spend your July 4 on the Central Plaza lawn, listening to performances from Two Tons of Steel, Southern Angels, Rock Bottom Strong Band, Robin Mordecai and The Saddle Sores. While you enjoy the tunes, enjoy food vendors, kid’s activities and more than 60 art vendors at this free event.

4 p.m. Monday | 📍Hill Country Galleria, 12700 Hill Country Blvd.

🎆 H-E-B Austin Symphony Annual July 4th Concert and Fireworks

Don your red, white and blue for a concert of classic American songs from the Austin Symphony Orchestra followed by a “mile-high” fireworks display. The event is free, open to the public and pet-friendly.

8 p.m. Monday | 📍Auditorium Shores and the Long Center, 900 W Riverside Dr.

Content marked with an *asterisk has been paid for to help Austonia keep producing free content.

Texas summer travel: Enjoy pools, live music and more with Valencia Hotel Group

(Valencia Hotel Group)

Live music and beer? Say no more. With a location in Austin, and others throughout Texas, the court hotels by the Valencia Hotel Group have a new offering for weekend stays: Live Music & Longnecks.

Enjoy live music all weekend long and check out the hotels’ state-of-the-art amenities between sets. Make a splash in the pool, enjoy outdoor fire pits, or challenge your friends in a yard game while enjoying a weekend full of live music! Did we mention the package includes deluxe accommodations and a bucket of beer? Oh, and if you needed more convincing, this pet-friendly hotel means the whole family can join in on the fun.

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