WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Clint Dempsey #8 of the United States celebrates scoring the second goal during the second half against Jamaica during the 2011 Gold Cup Quarterfinals on June 19, 2011 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The United States won 2-0. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
In 2007, the United States defeated Mexico 2-1 in the Gold Cup Final at Soldier Field.
In 2009, Mexico defeated the United States 5-0 in the Gold Cup Final at Giant's Stadium.
In 2011... well, you get the picture.
Today, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the two rivals will face off yet again in front of a sold-out crowd of over 95,000. Most will be wearing green and supporting El Tri, some (like myself) will be clad in red, white or blue, trying to make a bit of noise in support of a hometown team who may feel very, very far from home.
And, despite the clear animosity between the two sides, the players took a moment to show that their bonds at Fulham still hold strong beyond their regional rivalry.
Both the United States and Mexico played their Gold Cup semifinal matches at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Wednesday. After securing victory to move on to the final, as fate would have it, the squads shared a chartered flight to California along with some selected media.
As relayed by a few reporters, the sides remained separate for the entire flight. Not openly hostile, but the typical camaraderie found between professionals was absent.
Except for between Dempsey and Salcido.
Story from USA-Mexico shared plane: both sides kept apart, but Fulham teammates Dempsey/Salcido met at DMZ for a hug.
Perhaps I've used a bit of hyperbole here, and if you accused me of doing so I wouldn't have much of an argument against it.
But, for as tense and traditionally foul as the relationship between the two teams is, that Salcido and Dempsey took time to embrace one another under unfriendly terms is a very cool moment. Perhaps just a mutual sign of respect, but one that could have been made before or after the flight.
Instead, it was made in front of their teams, while, apparently, no similar embraces or cordialities occurred between others.
Salcido's status for the match is up in the air, having suffered a heel injury against Honduras. Still, it's hard to imagine he won't start. The only lingering question for Dempsey is where he will play.
Dempsey leads the U.S. with three goals in the tournament, but has spent much of his time on the left wing. He shifted over to play as a lone striker in the second half against Panama and was rewarded with a goal.
Kickoff is set for 6:00 Pacific Standard Time. The winner gets a big, shiny trophy and qualifies for the 2013 Confederations Cup.