After trailing behind twice in the first 90 minutes of the game, the United States came from behind to beat archrivals, Mexico in extra time. This is the first time, since the 2007 Gold Cup final, that the USMNT beats Mexico in a final.
Before we discuss what this win means for the USMNT, let’s have a look at what went down in the game.
All Equal at 90′
The ‘Stars and Stripes’ team was under pressure early on when they went behind in the first 60 seconds of the game. A terrible attempt to clear the ball from Mark McKenzie gave Mexican winger ‘Tecatito’ Corona all the space to open the score sheets. Corona took advantage of this blunder to blast it past Zack Steffen to make it 0-1.
Mexico found themselves attempting to increase the goal margin for the first 20 minutes. Mexico made it 0-2 before defender Hector Moreno’s header was called offside. This left a sour taste in el Tri’s mouths as Gio Reyna leveled everything a couple of minutes later from a corner kick.
Fun fact: this was Gio Reyna’s first international goal which, similar to his dad Claudio Reyna, was also against Mexico.
As the game progressed, both teams had multiple opportunities to get the edge on the scoreboard. Mexico seemed to be closer to scoring, as the USMNT’s defensive struggles continued to appear on the pitch.
Ultimately, that goal Mexico was looking for finally came after Real Betis winger, Diego Lainez, scored a left-footed shot in the 79′ minute after just minutes of being on the pitch.
Once again, Mexico’s celebrations were put to a halt after Juventus sensation, Weston McKennie, scored from a corner kick in the 82′ minute. After this, it was inevitable to stop this thrilling match after 90 minutes.
No Era Penal?
Extra Time was goalless and tense until the 107′ minute when Christian Pulisic was brought down in the penalty box. At first, the referee didn’t call it, but VAR came to the rescue for the USMNT.
After 2-3 minutes of tension, the central referee called a penalty in favor of the U.S. This was seen as controversial, as many argue that the Mexican defender touched the ball before bringing down Pulisic. This call enraged the Mexican bench, which ultimately got ‘Tata’ Martino sent off.
Regardless of the controversy, Pulisic sent his penalty kick to the back of the net in the 114′ minute. Pulisic’s first goal against the hated rival ultimately gave them the title.
Ethan Horvath, Remember the Name
In what was a game full of emotions, the unexpected tends to happen. Backup keeper, Ethan Horvath was subbed on in the second half after Zack Steffen wasn’t able to continue.
Against all odds, the USMNT has to thank Horvath for keeping them in the game. The Club Brugge goalkeeper did notable saves in the second half, like denying ‘Chucky’ Lozano and Henry Martin the chance to win it for Mexico.
The most notable save was, without a doubt, the penalty save in the 124′ minute. The young keeper denied Andres Guardado, Mexico’s official penalty kicker, the chance to level things late.
This last minute save declared the United States as the first winners of the CONCACAF Nations League.
This big win over Mexico could rewrite American history, as it could pave the way for more silverware for this ‘Golden Generation’. Maybe Dest was right after all.
Mexico will now have to reflect on their performance, as they will now have many question marks after not winning the Nations League. Failure to win the Gold Cup could cost Tata Martino’s job at the Mexican helm.
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