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Pulisic penalty gives USMNT Nations League crown in instant classic vs. Mexico

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The U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico have had their share of classics.

Well, the first-ever Concacaf Nations League final between the two nations looks to have just become the latest.

The USMNT twice fought back from deficits and Christian Pulisic converted a penalty in extra time to defeat arch-nemesis Mexico, 3-2, in an enthralling championship game that had several dramatic twists and turns.

Pulisic scored the winner in the 114th minute of the match at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado, but the Americans still only prevailed after backup goalkeeper Ethan Horvath denied Andres Guardado on a potentially game-tying spot kick near the death.

The win gave the USMNT the inaugural Concacaf Nations League crown and the team’s first win over Mexico in a competitive game since 2013. It was also Gregg Berhalter’s first victory vs. the bitter rival in four attempts.

The Americans twice clawed their way back into the match. Giovanni Reyna scored on a rebound in the 27th minute to cancel out Jesus Corona’s opener in the first minute, and Weston McKennie’s 82nd-minute header tied things up again after substitute Diego Lainez struck three minutes earlier.

Two plays in the second half of extra time went to VAR, and the first proved decisive. Carlos Salcedo was judged to have fouled Pulisic in the penalty area, and the American attacker made no mistake on his ensuing take by firing with authority to the top right corner.

The second play that went to review determined Mark McKenzie handled the ball in the 18-yard box, but Guardado’s low effort to the left in the 120th minute was denied by Horvath’s diving stop.

Horvath entered the game in the 69th minute after starting netminder Zack Steffen was forced out with a knee injury sustained while coming out to collect a ball.

Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s side not only gave up leads on each side of halftime during regulation, but Mexico’s head coach was also given a red card in extra time for putting his arm around head referee John Pitti during the reviewed play that led to Pulisic’s penalty.

Sunday night may have ended on a poor note for the Mexicans, but it started in dream fashion. Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona scored in the opening seconds after intercepting a poor pass from Mark McKenzie and racing forward to smash a shot past Steffen.

Mexico appeared to make it 2-0 in the 25th minute off a header from Hector Moreno following a well-worked corner, but the play went to VAR and was called back for offside.

That opened the door for the Americans’ first equalizer of the game a minute later, with Reyna blasting home a rebound from in close after a McKennie header clanged off the far post on a corner kick from the right.

El Tri nearly reclaimed the lead two minutes before halftime, with Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano beating the USMNT back line with a well-timed run in behind. Steffen, however, came up big to parry away the ensuing shot on the 1-on-1 look.

Mexico substitute Lainez put Mexico back in front shortly after entering the match in the second half. Lainez received the ball down the right flank in the 79th minute, cut inside, and took a few dribbling touches before hitting a hard low shot to the near post that beat Horvath.

It took just three minutes for the Americans to respond, with McKennie besting Ochoa at last by nodding home at the back post on a corner kick. McKennie had another headed attempt off a set piece saved well by Ochoa earlier in the second half.

Horvath was forced into a massive, right-handed save in the 90th minute that helped force extra time after Lozano unleashed a stinging shot from distance.

The tension and wildness from regulation carried over into extra time, though it was not until the second stanza of the added half-hour that the dramatic twists reached another level. A collision in Mexico’s penalty area went to VAR, leading to Martino’s ejection for touching the match official and the USMNT’s game-winning spot kick.

Pulisic converted emphatically six minutes from the death before running to the corner to celebrate euphorically with his teammates. The celebrations and Pulisic’s silencing gesture prompted upset Mexican fans to pelt objects onto the field, hitting Reyna in the head with a cup in the process.

Guardado then had his chance to pull Mexico even and force a penalty shootout after a VAR decision ruled in his team’s favor, but Horvath came up with the match-saving stop to ensure the Americans went down in history as the first Concacaf Nations League champions.

Comments

  1. When are rivalry games in any sport ever pretty? Would everyone have liked to have seen a master class sure but that wasn’t going to happen. Even the dos a cero matches weren’t pretty. Be happy with the moment, we won move on. After Sunday all we heard is if we play like that Mexico will beat us 5-0 or some other lopsided score. Well we didn’t play our best and we won so I don’t care that Germany or England or Brazil would have beaten us because we didn’t play them.

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  2. There were pro’s and con’s a plenty in last nights game. A couple things that stood out to me were:
    1) 3-4-3 formation has some promise…just needs the right personnel. I could see this being a very productive formation with a couple minor adjustments. Replace REAM with Richards and Acosta with Adams and the defensive stability goes up a notch. McKenzie & Richards flanking Brooks gives us the athleticism to cover the space. As they mature the team will be much more sound.
    2) I’m all for playing out of the back, but there are times it’s necessary to get it out of danger. The players need to recognize this and play smart regardless of what Gregg says.
    3) Steffen & Horvath should be pushing each other for the starting Keeper roll. Whoever ultimately wins the starting spot we have a competent back-up.
    4) Ream is done. Lletget, Acosta, & Yueill are limited. Aaronson, Musah, & Weah should be the attacking subs.
    5) Growing Pains. The pool to full of talented young players. Play them. There may be some games that they give us fits (heart attacks), but it’s still better than watching the old folks (Ream) get shredded.
    6) I’m still not sold on Gregg as the coach. He continues to make odd decisions and often gets his tactics wrong. I hope this is his One and Only cycle, and that USSF will hire an experienced coach for 2026.

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    • If the 3-4-3 is supposed to help Dest he looked pretty bad in it. Never tracked back to support Ream couldn’t find any space in midfield. He had the one good dribble attack where he made Alvarez fall down but that was about it. I thought overall the formation did not look as dangerous as it did against NIreland.

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  3. It was 78 minutes of the worst USMNT football I’ve ever seen. Pulisic was garbage, Sargent was non existant, Reyna was barely visibile…. Ream/Mackenzie? Those two need their citizenship revoked. Who are you trying to kid ?

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    • If you are angry after a huge USA result against their biggest rival, you should really stop watching the sport. You have to enjoy good things. Take a moment to savor the win.

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      • I like wins. But I like good soccer. If the Team has to rely on a win from questionable calls (penalty and Mexico’s offside) and missed Mexico penalty kicks and then from Goals from corners that will never repeat themselves unless Tata is extremely stupid (which he is not) and we know he will fix this what are we left with? A 3-0 loss that ended up 3-3. Savor all you want but you’re kidding yourself if you’re happy with this win.

      • Art37. Questionable calls?
        The US pk, was a penalty. Period.
        Mexicos offsides VAR decision – thankfully, VAR can help prevent us a little from being CONCACAF’d. That was offsides. Mexicos pk in ET, now that is questionable. If thats a pk, then the players need to tie their arms back. But its the rule, seen that play called a pk most of the time in the epl now

        Proud of our boys. They showed talent and fight. Mexico is a more experienced team at the moment who have accomplished more. We went toe to toe with them. Seeing the fighting spirit of our guys made me feel really good about this team for the first time in a long time. I agree with another post, its time to get our formation and lineup right. Lessons learned vs Mex during these NL games. Looking fwd to the qualifiers!

    • I agree. I’m watching for the US level of play to improve. I want to see the team hold the ball and not just kick it up the field. These guys put on the US jersey and they regress. I can’t get all stoked up for a scrappy school-yard victory. It’s great that we won a made-up tournament (You can tell it’s made up when the commentators need to remind you that it’s a final about 100 times).

      Bring this level of play against Germany and it’s 7-0.

      I will concede that gritty wins will be important in WC qualifying on the road, but with a few exceptions (Brooks, McKennie, Horvath, Reyna) this was a garbage performance both tactically and individually.

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      • KC: the team played its heart out for the most part. Got a win. That works a few times. Go ahead and convince yourself there weren’t questionable calls (penalty, offside etc) and that concacaf refs can interpret var correctly. Mexico made some good goals, they built up the play and did this often. In a month long tournament this gets you farther than relying on var. Creating an alternate reality that the team played well and the win didn’t come from a ref var interpretation that could have gone either way will eventually hit hard.

    • You must be new to the NT or blind if you thought that was worse than both Costa Rica qualifiers last cycle, the England friendly in 2018, the Venezuela and Jamaica friendlies before the 2019 GC, the 2019 GC final, or the night in Couvo, Trinidad.

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  4. Devil’s advocate: 3 goals, 2 on corner kick one penalty that could have gone either way. Never again will Mexico screw up the corner kicks. Zero goals from the play upfront. Mexico one disallowed goal that could have gone either way and one missed penalty. I don’t think there is too much too celebrate.

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    • -I didn’t realize set piece goals don’t count the same as run of play goals. Set pieces are a part of the game and Mexico was poor defending them all night. If they don’t like that they should stop letting the US get in dangerous positions so they have to kick it out.
      – Guardado didn’t miss the PK Horvath guessed correctly and parried away. The shot was on target it was not missed.
      -Moreno was obviously offside not could have gone either way.

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      • It was a great game but don’t drink the Kool aid. Sometimes things work out like last night but a win like that was not so impressive.

    • Historically USA has always hurt Mexico on set plays like the cornerkicks. So to say it won’t ever happen again, isn’t true if you go by history.

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    • There are two things to celebrate. 1. Beating our biggest rival. 2. Winning a championship.
      Too much negativity around here. Dude, we won. You play to win the game. Results matter.

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    • Mex relied on a terrible miscue giveaway for their first that was a fluke. Dont want to mention that?
      Do we not want to mention Herreras crazy 2 footed tackle on Weah that shld of been a 2nd yellow?
      Ref was ready to,card but realized he was already on a card.

      Mex has been giving away US set piece goals for two decades. Sure it will happen again. Welcome to the rivarly, ART37.

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  5. I’m sure this will be an unpopular take… But I’m glad our YOUNG team got pelted with beer & cups & garbage.. At least once..
    95% of these guys have never been through qualifying in concacaf, they haven’t been concacrapped, or had sirens blaring at 4a.m. outside their hotel.. Be like Landon-put on the sunglasses..

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  6. SECURITY NOTE:

    Security at CONCACAF games is provided CONCACAF not US soccer and they are notoriously bad. We continue to get showers of trash thrown on the field with no one removed from the stadium or arrested.

    Thank goodness they were no longer throwing bags of s..t like they were a few years ago.

    US Soccer has to push them to improve or insist that US Soccer provide securitiy

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    • Has to happen. Can’t let players get hit with objects like this. Those are representatives of the US getting assaulted on American soil. The US police should step in, find and fully prosecute individuals who threw items at US players. If they don’t, US fans are going to take this into their own hands and there will be deaths in the stadium. Seriously, deaths. The time to act to prevent this, is now.

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    • I lived in Colorado for over ten years the security people appeared to be from regular company that does event security for Broncos, Nuggets, Avs. Empower Field released a statement that several people were ejected and 5 people were arrested. The security team worked with local law enforcement and identified the person that hit Gio he/she was arrested and is facing charges. The individual also received a lifetime ban from all events at Mile High.

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    • I think part of the issue is US event security isn’t really used to that kind of behavior. In Mexico they line the field with fully equipped riot police. We put a couple people with bright colored windbreakers. Mexican Fed put out a pretty strong release condemning the behavior chanting and violence reminding them that the team could be suspended by FIFA if such behavior continues. Obviously after years of turning a blind eye it’s hard to take them too seriously, but credit for finally trying a little.

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  7. Nobody has mentioned that the USMNT played at a considerable disadvantage, as with little acclimation, they still defeated the MNT who still has a majority of its teams (and starters) play in the Liga MX where a msojority of its team play at altitude. If the US looked sluggish against Honduras its needs remindingthat Honduras quakified for two staight Olympics as it has a good altitude program and it had the ’16 OQ matches in the US at SLC and Colo.and the ’20 OQ in Mexico city, and while the US claimed it had a camp at altitude prior to the tournaments, it was not long enough or in the current case, not high enough to really count for anything.

    The US played at probably 80% of its physical capacity and yet defeated an experienced (i.e., older) MxNT with the youngest US national team ever to play in a final, but one that does not know how to lose.
    Never in the history of the USMNT were there this many players from Leagues and Cup winning Teams from Europe, with many of teams, part of the Big 5 Leagues. Never had so many American players play as teammates to so many Ballon d’Or winners. Though the US lacked enough oxygen in the bloodstream to play at 100% and prevent fatigue and bad decisions, these limits did not keep them from winning, a product and a sign that the upcoming WCQ and WC in ’22 and ’26 will be the best ever produced by the US and the defeat of Mexico is a portend of thing to come.

    Now if the USSF and USMNT, without the albatross of SUM picking its venues for WCQ games for the USMNT in order to make SUM and he MLS owners more money, the US may look to pick venues that will be hard to have a majority of fans at a US game rooting against them and, at the same time, introduce the game of soccer to North and South Dakota, Montana or Idaho on a cold night against tropical countries.

    These were all tried and true methods, invoked by the US in the decades before SUM took over. Canada made its only appearance at a WC when it had one of its most important WCQ matches against Costa Ric, in Newfoundland, and that same WCQ tournement, the US had theirs in LA. While the US did not have to play in the Sno Bowl against Costa Rica, its one where most of the USMNT had played in cold weather in Europe and the US and where CR did not.

    The USMNT will play to its strengths, with young, physical and smart players, who play on the best teams in Europe and the US, and will, hopefully, play to mostly their own fans and a climate and place of their choosing, which may be cold or warm, but certainly a winning one.

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    • In thinking about this game, I concluded that by many metrics we had no business winning this game, yet we did. In my analysis, we won despite Berhalter, not because of him. We won despite the fact that Mexico plays together as a team much better than we do because of our lack of opportunity to even practice together except in the last week. We won despite some players not doing very well (McKenzie as one example). How could we have won then? By outstanding individual performances from key players, like at GK , Brooks in the middle of defense, McKennie, Reyna and Yedlin. In short,when this team starts to really play well together and plays to its potential, we could be consistently a top 10 team for another 6 to 8 years minimum. The future looks exciting for US fans.

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    • Wyoming, Vermont, Nebraska were also on my list of states I think the national team can play matches. I’ve been discussing this for a few years now. There’s a few states with smaller populations the sport can be marketed to. The US having less fans then opposing teams, shows me how connected the US is with Central America.

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  8. If Mexico doesn’t win the GC is Tata fired? I don’t think he should be but this Mexico. Only 2-2-1 in 2021 and the two wins were struggles against Costa Rica and Iceland.

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    • Because it’s Mexico he is now squarely on the hot seat. I think it’s likely they are the favorites to win the Gold Cup which should be enough to keep him safe for now. It’s funny that the two best teams in the region both behave ridiculously regarding coaches just on opposite ends. Mexico is to quick to panic and is overly reactive to the fans, and the US is to slow and let’s coaches get stale.

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    • you know what, the talks have begun on Tata. They have elections coming up too. Its crazy to think but Tata might lose his job if Mexico doesn’t win the Gold Cup or at least be on the hot seat

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  9. Random day-after thought…did conceding so early actually help the U.S. get “into the game?” I wonder how that ends if it stays scoreless for much longer.

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    • Solid observation. Very common reaction in a big match. The goal off the set piece which was overturned by VAR would have been lights out if it counted. The US counter and finish on the heels of VAR wasn’t unexpected either. Again, not unusual sequence of events. Most enjoyable match I have watched in a long time. Kudos to both teams

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    • I doubt there are many coaches who would want to see their team concede in the first 2 minutes with the hope that would make their team focus more and play with more intensity. If a player can’t do that in a final against Mexico from the beginning, they shouldn’t be on the field. McKenzie’s seeming lackadaisical attitude should give any coach serious pause about starting him again in the near future.

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  10. So it’s always great to beat Mexico. Our team is really young and deserves credit for grinding out a result against a team that is as close to talent level (and they would say more talented) CONCACAF can offer that has way more experience. This is especially true given the exact way the game developed. here is what I hope the US can take away from the game into qualifying:

    1) Ream cannot be on the roster. He demonstrates repeatedly he is not at this level. I don’t care if he is a good lockeroom guy or if he is experienced. We can get leadership and experience from other people (brooks and Yedlin have actually played in a World Cup what does it say that a midfielder playing on a yellow is a better LB than he is? He cannot defend at this level, period.
    2) Dest needs to understand that his first job is defending and that even though he plays for Barca he needs to respect his opponents. I am going to chalk up his underwhelming to poor performances to being naïve, arrogant and Young. His club situation is also going to be tested this next year and it’s time for him to grow up. He has the talent to be a major asset but his heads got to catch up.
    3) Lleget, isn’t up for this level. He is one of the many players we have seen before that tops out against middle to lower Concacaf teams. At best he is a fringe player.
    4) Pulisic and/or Rayna need all set piece responsibilities.
    5) We need to be open to letting CP move centrally and playing direct on the counter against certain opponents. 2nd half showed this can create dangerous moments that will only be more dangerous and the squad keeps playing together.
    6) Yedlin is clearly the best defending back we have. His possession skills are below his rivals but in certain games we need to prioritize defensive posture.
    7) We need at least 1 if not 2 of the young center backs in the pool to step up and take a place on this roster. I think Richards will definitely be able to but we need more depth here.
    8) Sergent clearly has a place on this team because of his work rate but He is too used to playing on a terrible team and dropping deep. He also needs to be more clinical on his chances. Now that he has clear competition for his spot, hopefully he can get into a club situation which will let him show and hone his skills as a striker.
    9) Overall there is a lot of immaturity on this team. You see it in being to emotional about mistakes or when someone doesnt get the pass they want. The foundation is incredible for the future once they grow.

    I expect some nervy moments but this team should qualify without to much drama. Performance at an actual WC will like always depend on injuries form and match ups. I really want the US to act like a real soccer power and adopt a 1 cycle tenure for its coaches regardless of results. This is needed to stop the team from getting stale as coaches develop biases based on past results. I want them to hire a top top level coach for the 2026 coach (like Conte level) because I think we could really do something amazing with this group. We are beyond needing someone to “understand the unique nature of the US pool”. The US pool is now and likely to remain high level European based players with a few domestic league players on the fringe. This isn’t eurosnobery it’s just a reality that the best young talent in the US now have clear paths to Europe early in their career that just never existed before. The best players will end up in Europe earlier. The days of a player choosing to stay in MLS are done. I want to have confidence that the Coach knows how to get high level performance from high level players.

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    • Agreed. I didn’t understand the question around who would take set pieces since Reyna did for Dortmund already and his service plus Pulisic’s was top notch, levels about Lletget vs Honduras.

      The only thing I’ve seen Sargent better at than Siebatcheu was his pressing. Jordan looks too slow to press as effectively, which gives GK and CBs for Mexico too much time to build out of the back. If there’s a speedy upgrade for Sargent, I’m all for it, but last night I saw what he adds versus the other options.

      I’d rather have Robinson than Ream playing Left Back, and so would the freakin’ club they both play for….

      I’d almost rather have Dest coming off the bench when needed to break down the D. Yedlin and Robinson work fine enough if it means cutting out 3-4 dangerous chances other teams get due to sloppy and lazy D from Dest and past his primeeffort from Ream

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    • Agreed on all takes. Dest is so hard to place. He has the attacking quality to play consistently for this squad but does not seem to have the defensive teeth. If he isn’t a defender, he can’t play for Pulisic or Reyna…

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      • On Dest I truly believe it is a mental thing. He did solid work for Ajax defensively when needed and earlier in the year for barca as well. Think he just became to enamored in going forward and Barca can be so possession dominate against lower teams. Also never under estimate how much Us travel and CONCACAF can mess with European US players (remember Chandler)

    • Ream made no sense once we saw how much they expected him to cover the wings. Acosta made perfect sense. Musah would not have offered the same defensive chops, endurance at altitude or flexibility to change formations.

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      • I would’ve like to have seen Musah to cap tie him at least but i wonder if part of the reason he didn’t play was two -fold 1: having to sub the keeper and 2: he has never faced real concacaf competition…even our young guys have played in qualifiers for youth world cups and are somewhat familiar with how the regions plays…

  11. McKennia and Yedellin seem like true Captains for USNT.
    Both players had grit and stand-up for their teammates, and never gave-up, I was wrong Yedellin was finish, sometimes leadership grit and winner attitude is important than technical skills (sorry Dest).

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    • Either Adams or Brooks will be captain. McKennie is a heart and soul of the team guy and Yedlin isn’t prominent enough.

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    • Some fans here seemed to give up on Yedlin when he was consigned to the bench at Newcastle. But, I always thought he had enough quality, especially since I don’t think much of his coach at Newcastle, Steve Bruce. Why Berhalter keeps going with Ream as much as he does is a real mystery to me. Robinson is clearly a much better defender and attacker and started regularly while Ream sat on the bench most of the season there. Our 3 best outside backs are Rbinson, Yedlin, and Dest. After this last game we need to re-evaluate MacKenzie as a starting CB.

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  12. subtle thing people missed in the second half and OT was we kind of quit doing the slow buildup as much (and horvath even started hoofing downfield). they played the ball more directly upfield and the attackers turned and ran at the mexicans. dramatically different than water torture slow passing. we have the attacking talent, it just needs to be unleashed from system. the defense needs a talent competition but i am afraid we have left that too late. even if we identify people at GC you will have the same excuse Arena had to revert to experience for qualifying.

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    • I’ve wondered this too. I get why we want to play from the back. But I don’t get why we seem to only want to play from the back.

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      • the worst part to me is it’s spectacularly ineffective theory which should give way to reality. how many goals shipped to mexico trying to make this work? quit. do what works. what in fact works is a mix of BOTH ground ball play that snobs want — but more direct — and a wing speed and aerial game. if like 1/3-1/2 of the goals are header goals then i don’t care if snobs like tiki taka. we are tall, fast, and athletic (and also slicker than before). in the past we’d use that unapologetically. they could not stop mckennie on headers. this would not even be a debate in a country like germany where they aren’t hung up on trying to “change things.”

      • they also need to quit trying to play balls straight upfield or do one touch flicks, the former completely, the latter until they either roster some players with flicking skill or look more like they’ve ever played together.

    • it wasn’t missed man. and the build out, when we’d break a line, was dangerous…of course it gives me indigestion watching us try and mess up BUT it was easier and more effective after the long balls loosened things up. That is the same at all levels of soccer. Arena took responsibility for screwing up and his failures, it’s other coaches who still haven’t

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    • Agree with all of this. It’s great to play out of the back but its a means and not an end in of it’s self. Against some opponents it is a bad idea.

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    • Not only did I notice it too, it drives me crazy when I see our players seem to have a casual attitude, sitting on the ball, then making a square pass and rarely showing any urgency, even when openings are there. The first Mexican goal was a direct result of this style of play. When you are being high pressed you have to move the ball quickly. What we do instead is keep passing backwards. As for Arena, I noticed in the past that what he would often do is play one way one half, and then the other way the other half. Thus the opponent might come out expecting long passes over the top and play for that, leaving open channels and spaces for quick, short passes. Vice versa, we would play with quick short passes then the second half come out and play long passes behind a defense stacked in the middle of the field.

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  13. steffen’s injury underlines my repeated point that the perceived starters cannot consume so much of the minutes. you’re one no contact knee tweak from a keeper in there you’ve played once in three years.

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  14. Main thoughts before reading any comments:

    Reyna’s best – most complete- game in a US shirt. I wonder why he was subbed.. I was telling Pulisic as the overtime began “It’s time for you to pull some Landon Donavan sh*t”. He was kinda invisible for most the match but came through in clutch time. Adams is sooo good. He made a huge difference in closing down Mexico. Space was suddenly limited as soon as he entered. Ream played like Bradley did in the GC final – he’s just too old and slow. Love ya, sorry but your time is defined past.

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      • Pulisic looked like an upgraded version of Donovan over the past five years, better ball-handling skills, quicker cuts, and now Reyna looks like an upgraded version of Pulisic, bigger and stronger, yet just as skilled.

    • The US shifted early and moved Dest into the midfield and created a 4 man back line with Ream as LB. it looked like a 4-3-3- at that point. I think they did this to make McKinzie more comfortable. Problem of course was it set Ream up to get skinned again and again because a) he’s not good enough and b) Dest really gave him no support. The US shifted again into what looked like a 4-4-2 later in the game.

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      • It worked ok when it was Antuna, because he’s pretty much one note, go to the endline. Once Lainez came on though who could go in all directions it was over.

  15. Thrilled at the win – thrilled for Horvath and the rest of them… But VAR has ruined soccer. Neither of those penalties were “clear and obvious” and the ref opted to just not make his own decisions. Meanwhile, the game loses all flow. Herrera probably should have gotten a second yellow – where was VAR on that.

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    • At Full speed CP was clearly fouled with no call and it was more obvious on replay. It’s the kind of foul that is common and never given in CONCACAF and I’m glad VAR was there because it didn’t let it off the hook. The reason it took so long was all of Mexico’s shenanigans trying to intimidate the ref. The Hand ball was a much closer call and personally I didn’t think a penalty but I’m biased. It did have the feel that the Ref was trying to balance the previous decision. Overall VAR saved the game from Concacaf refs blowing it. How different is the game if they don’t catch the missed offsides?

      More generally, Concacaf has to find a way to improve the refereeing. it’s atrocious and bad for the region.

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      • Phantom goal for Honduras they should not have made the playoff vs Australia in last World Cup cycle. Quioto goal never fully crossed line. No idea how that got swept under rug. US would have at least been 4th and played Aussies.

  16. Mexico is still the team to beat in Concacaf but we took a step in the right direction. Ref was equally bad for both teams. Honestly didn’t think either PK should have been called. How in the world did Hector Herrera not get a red card! McKenzie not ready for this level. Ream should be retired from national team. Didn’t like the Acosta pick . . I was wrong, he was fantastic. Yedlin was good. Mckennie was MOTM for me. Mexican fans are trash, thought the Mexican players with heart and swagger. Glad we matched their intensity in the 2nd half.

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  17. Always great to win against Mexico and their fans. That said this game should highlight a few issues that plenty of people have been screaming about. The biggest one was Ream. Ream can’t be on the roster, he got skinned all night and we were fortunate it only cost the US one goal. If Berhalter can’t see that, than this team is still in danger.

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    • I kept thinking the same! Has hardly played all season at Fulham, and placed in there in a final against Mexico. Mexico exploited it the entire time he was on the field. Less played timid this time even if it wasn’t pretty. Definitely looked a little like mid-2000s scrappy set pieces win. Still plenty of work to do but great win for squad.

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    • people do realize this was played in our stadium with our security

      and there were fans throwing things at mexican players too, not as many or much, but it existed

      Reply
      • I didn’t see a single time a Mexican player had something thrown at them on the broadcast. You have a minute mark? Mexican fan’s are known to be terrible and this is just the latest example. the current procedures to try and stop the behavior are a joke an honestly potentially beneficial to Mexico in certain situations. The behavior won’t stop until CONCACAF get’s serious about it and makes Mexico play a home qualifier without fans. They do this all the time in Europe and it has mostly stamped out the hooliganism that used to be common place.

      • I did wonder if security numbers were smaller because of the 42% capacity? It was pretty crazy you had someone trying to get on the CBS set, the two big bottle throwing incidents, and the guy running onto the field.

    • @Clover362. Re a Mexican player getting hit, it did happen. Go rewatch the sequence of play after Pulisic gets fouled in the corner at around 123 minutes of play on the clock. Ref comes over and fans are throwing beer cups down and one of the Mexican players catching one flush on the side of the face. Pretty ironic and well deserved frankly (I’m firmly against throwing anything on the field but if players are going to get hit, it should be an equal opportunity experience).

      Reply
      • Yeah I don’t think they meant to hit their own player though. I think he’s just there trying to get the US to put the ball back in play and takes a shot.

      • Yeah, he got hit. They just missed. It was definitely intended for a US guy. That was friendly fire from a Mexican arm.

  18. Tata should have a little respect for CONCACAF, I can’t imagine him doing what he did last night in La Liga or in the World Cup. To his credit, Pitti would have none of it. Tata should get an additional penalty for not leaving the field right away.

    Reply
    • I do like how MLS puts the monitor on the far side or an end. Takes longer to jog over but prevents the benches from trying to influence.

      Reply
      • what he did was come over to the ref at VAR and drape his arm around him like his buddy. he invaded the review space and also did the no-no of touching the referee, which is generally not tolerated regardless how approached. but i am talking about a second or third game for refusing to leave the technical area after being ejected to his face. it was not like he had his back turned, and they had to bring the center over a second time to order him away again.

    • i will be curious if he draws a second or third game in added suspension, though it would be burned off in gold cup group play

      Reply
      • I’d really doubt it, not knowing what he said of course. He was calm and under control. Although didn’t Tata get a red card during the 2019 GC so maybe they tack something on for a second offense. As you say though it would be in GC I think they can beat Cuba or Monserrat without him.

  19. -The mentality and managing to keep it up for 120 minutes in those conditions and find a way to win is the most impressive thing. It was not the greatest overall performance but a gritty one…and this being CONCACAF, more than often that’s how you win (see USMNT from 1988-2014).

    -I’m hard on Ream and he was mostly at fault for the Lainez goal, but I actually thought he dealt with being put in a no-win position most of the night quite decently.

    -Everybody thought it would be Cannon and GB went with Yedlin in a near stroke of brilliance. Most of the fanbase has forgotten about him, but he still may be the best FB option on this team. Dest struggled minus his Bale-esque run down the side in the first half.

    -McKenzie wasn’t ready for this match and it showed, but I see his positive qualities, just had too many negative ones tonight. And I’m not convinced Miazga wouldn’t have been worse.

    -The Acosta/McKennie engine, er, midfield was surprisingly good…in large part due to Weston “Secretariat” McKennie covering so much ground. Absolute beast in the air on set pieces too. Confused as to why CP10 wasn’t taking them vs. Honduras. Acosta was a cool customer if nothing else. Especially after shifting to fullback.

    -Reyna was an absolute workhorse and I was bummed to see him go off. Came to play tonight. Sargent again with a ridiculous heat map for a #9. Maybe he’s not really a #9 after all? LOL.

    -Thought Pulisic had a fairly bad first half when he was on the ball, but grew into the game in the second half. Given this squad’s PK struggles, he had no qualms about being the guy (love that), and then did what he needed to do to ensure he beat Memo. Go upper 90 or top bins as it were. That was alpha…stuff.

    -Steffen’s a good enough keeper and played well-enough tonight from a save perspective, but we saw tonight why it is imperative EH find a new home and play regularly…because he just may end up being the guy come fall. Hopefully this showing will get somebody in Europe’s attention.

    -Siebatcheu (or is it officially Pefok now?) was kind of invisible, but I thought the additions of Adams and Weah (officially cap-tied after four years!) were positives.

    -Too much VAR for my liking. It giveth and taketh away too harshly, but you tolerate it when it is in your favor. And tonight it was.

    -Ultimately, I know that was only for the #2 trophy in CONCACAF and this is all still a big work in progress, but darn it if that didn’t feel great. It’s been rough over the last half-decade in these Clasicos.

    Reply
    • Is this the #2 trophy? League trophies usually outclass Cup trophies. See Premier League vs FA cup or DFK Pukal vs Bundesliga. The best roster for each was on today. Gold Cup will have the B team. This is now the top trophy in Concacaf.

      Reply
      • We’ll see how future editions of both this NL and GC shake out. Remember this NL was supposed to be completed last summer, which means this GC could have been an A-team tourney (and may still be for teams that aren’t the USMNT…we shall see), but I think the GC still carries more weight historically.

      • DB-
        the second GC of the cycle is typically “not” first choice, as it’s usually sandwiched at the end of grueling quali. the first “GC” is usually the first choice event because it used to be one of the few official contests its end of the cycle, in between friendlies. NL may complicate that — if it continues.

    • We’ll have to see how calendars play out but if star players can play ten days in NL finals instead of three or four weeks for GC I think we might see NL get more weight. Only teams like Jamaica who didn’t have either NL or Qualifiers this month will send 1st teams to GC. Some smaller countries might have too because of lack of depth I guess.

      Reply
      • i would weight the first GC because it is the only official event we have that end of the cycle where we can camp people for weeks. it enables you to gel the team like y’all always want, while giving promising first choice level noobs a lengthy runout to gain experience. half my problem with how GB handled it is he wasted half his GC roster on people now gone, and generally not the kids.

    • lol funny thing is I wanted McKenzie to get pull but when I realized Miagza was the backup, I was like screw it lets ride with McKenzie. Yedlin back in the mix and Acosta was really solid at DM and when he moved to LB. I’m just glad to see that Acosta getting props tonight cause he will get hate no matter what.

      Reply
      • Acosta’s biggest greatness imo was playing LB and giving Lainez something to think about after Tata put him in to attack Ream. Mexico scored immediately, then Ream got subbed off, Acosta slid over to LB, and he was fantastic there.

      • the question with mckenzie (and some others) is if you remove the System rubbish of egging them to fart around the back, entice the defenders forward, then thread passes, do they rehabilitate themselves? or do they have bigger problems? if a back’s only problem is giveaways, maybe telling him it’s ok to be more direct or hoof it solves your issue. if they can’t defend, the offensive system is not their only issue. eg ream brooks dest, and dest can be moved forward but not the others.

  20. USA beats El Tri!! We used 3-4-3 just like most of us have been discussing. They’ve been working on this away from inquiring minds. Ethan Horvath, off the bench, saves a penalty from El Tri’s talisman. Guardado is a ‘Star’s & Stripes’ killer. A lot of players we’ve criticize (Acosta, Ream, Yedlin) held up. Celebrate this win!! The USA team deserves it!! …then focus on winning the GC! NL trophy needs a sibling, B team or not, the players left off on the NL squad have quality too!

    Reply
    • Dest was so nonexistent tonight it was hard to tell if it was a 3-4-3 or Ream was playing lb the whole time. Reyna seemed to be more the WB than Dest. I do think it was supposed to be a 3-4-3 until the Weah sub.

      Reply
      • Judging from what you mentioned about the info leaks or it being “subterfuge”, I think, it was a 3-4-3. I agree, with you that in a 3-5-2, you carry two strikers, or an attacking mid behind your CF. It was an unbalanced 3-4-3. Dest was pushed high on the left side, and Yedlin was low on the right, especially when he had to protect McKenzie. I also can agree that Dest was pedestrian except for one dribble to beat El Tri’s RB. Ream was at LCB, don’t know how a some fans think Acosta played LB last night. CP dropped in to central mid a little more than Reyna because Dest was higher than normal. If you’re saying the shape was better, more defined when Weah came on, that makes sense! I dislike when Fullbacks stand on the touch line, and wait for the ball. IMO, Weah isn’t standing around on the left side, he has more awareness than Dest for that side of the pitch.

    • I do think we switched to a 4-3-3 when Adams came on. Acosta dropped Adams went to DM Weah moved to Gio’s place and Lleget moved into the 8 spot. I’d have to watch again. I think we ended up like this.
      Pulisic-Pefok-Weah
      —Lleget—Wes—
      ———Adams——
      Acosta-Brooks-McK-Cannon
      The announcers mentioned Acosta was playing LB and a couple after match shows I watched said the same but I plan on rewatching later so maybe Mo was wrong and everyone ran with it.

      Reply
      • I thought it was interesting how Tata went with a 4-3-3. GB went a 3-4-3, then we switched our shape to a 4-3-3 accordingly with personnel. That is definitely an upgrade in American tactics, being that we have a history of losing when switching formations during a match. I’ve rewatched the match, being that I missed most of the 2nd half & AET, lol. It was a classic rivalry match!!

    • i thought in the first half it looked more like a 523 which i thought was half the problem (other half being the retrograde selection)

      Reply
      • Sorry Dest was never anywhere near being a 5th back. Yedlin was definitely sitting very deep in the first half but Sergino never made it 5. Was that the plan or poor implementation?
        ——————————————
        3-2 win is no better or worse than a 1-0 win. It just isn’t the style you prefer.

      • no, sorry, bull, i can take 1-0 to the world cup and repeat it over and over. we shipped the same 2 goals to the swiss and lost. you ship 2 goals to good teams good luck getting results. you’re committing the dutch fallacy of assuming you can 4-3 games through the final. which is why they are, cyclically, either a bridesmaid or they suck.

      • Actually not bull if you score more than the opponent you win. I’m surprised a college alum like yourself didn’t know this. You love to throw around this “Dutch” insult as if they’re bad, 5 top 4 finishes at the WC. They have the 8th best record all-time at the WC, the US ranks 26th. Finishing in the top 8 of the WC most years with a chance to get to the final seems like a pretty good deal to me. They may have missed out on the last WC too but they won their NL group beating France and Germany and beat England in the semi-finals. By the way the team you were so embarrassed we lost to 2-1 last week Switzerland finished 4th in UEFA NL, they averaged 2.5 goals/game in that tournament including putting a 5-2 victory on Belgium.

      • oh, if we’re going to talk college, anyone who took math or stats 101 would grasp that if i hold someone scoreless all i need is “a” goal where if i routinely ship 2 goals i need “3” goals, and that one outcome is more routine than the others. re holland, i like winners. so i prefer germany and italy who do the job BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL. fwiw holland’s pattern is like every 3rd world cup they don’t even make it, suggesting their system doesn’t help and they are a product of talent that ebbs and flows. very good then pretty bad, but never trophy awesome. i want trophies. you want trophies you can’t ship 2 goals a game and hope to keep advancing.

    • anyone pretending like 3 FBs was working needs to place the crack pipe down. we won an “eredivisie game” where neither team played enough defense. the only thing that bailed us out of shipping 2 goals (and many more chances) was them shipping 3. case people forget we tied that up to get OT near the end.

      Reply
      • We won and we beat El Tri!! We beat our arch rival in a meaningful match. I care about the W. How we get there is up to the players & coach. It’s raining tigers & bears hear in the southeast, and it would suck that much more the US would’ve loss. It’s imperative that you lighten up!

      • we gave up the same amount of goals a week ago and lost. this is about whether you think this group is capable of bigger things. if you are content with regional stuff, fine. i thought we had bigger goals, in which case you need to realize what worked for mexico only did so in overtime, and didn’t work for the swiss. the offense needs to function better and the defense can’t ship 2 goals to everyone including panama.

    • Agreed…Yedlin picked up some bite playing in Turkey….he never had that bite when he was at Newcastle….enjoyed seeing his toughness tonight…

      Reply
  21. I think USA took great strides towards becoming a real Team tonight, not just a collection of talented players wearing the same shirt. They persevered together thru all the extra BS in the game (which did make it pretty damn entertaining) and I hope it pushed the guys closer. They had each other’s backs. I feel a lot better about the upcoming schedule ahead.

    This will be a blow to Mexico and will be interesting to see how they respond. They’re gonna get murdered in their national press and social media. Can’t wait to the Gold Cup and WCQs now, the ante has been raised.

    Reply
    • i did think the two tournament games demonstrated the missing grit from recent years

      i still think the tactics and selection were a mess and that we basically overcame the coach

      Reply
  22. Not to be a buzz kill…but is there any chance Musah takes a 2nd look at other possibilities? I believe he is the only field player to not get time.

    Reply
    • Would have been nice to cap-tie him at some point on Thursday or tonight (I’m sure the GK sub didn’t help), but he’s only 18 and is real tight with this crew. He’ll be a part of things in the fall. I doubt England or Italy will even sniff around anymore given their riches of depth, and Ghana, well, they are so disorganized as a federation, who knows if he’s even on their radar.

      Reply
      • be real, dude, it was idiotic. goes from starting to no minutes. we are playing out literally the only scenario in which we could lose him. and he’s been pigeonholed as a central player when we could use wings as well.

      • Hasn’t been named yet, but Berhalter has made it sound like most, if not all, of the regular call-ups will be allowed to miss the GC to rest.

      • i expect gold cup to be more experimental and lean heavily MLS. i think the whole idea on the 4 game sim is this is the extent of first choice participation this summer. having been “successful” — though it looked like a mess — i expect them to be shut back down and put in bubble wrap for september qualifying.

        fwiw he has also suggested he may leave off players working on career situations eg transfers

    • biggest surprise to me, especially later as others tired. Lainez was excellent in that role running at players and taking then on late for Mexico. Musah’s fit right? Lletget got that call tonight, Musah could be unveiled in the bigger games ahead? Berhalter pulled out some new looks and ideas tonight, I don’t think he’s as dumb as many think, whatever he is

      Reply
      • He’s probably injured. Something must be up. Musah seemed to be in a pretty good spirit when the team was celebrating at the end of the game

      • if he’s injured you leave him off, which lets him rest and rehab and also avoids the negative message. ditto adams on the theory you don’t risk a meal ticket on a second rate tournament. if they are carrying a knock where they can barely (or not) see the field in a two game tournament you roster someone who can play. for their health and for our utility.

  23. There is a lot of room for improvement by the US, but we won an exciting game, so I ‘ll forget all that for now. 2 things definitely need mentioning. McKennie is a stud. I thought he was the best overall player for the US and deserves MOTM although he probably won’t get it. Second, Mexican fans show absolutely no class. I am disgusted by their behavior and they should be ashamed of themselves.

    Reply
    • Mexico needs to be punished for fan behavior. Im glad they are starting to crack down on the chant, but when players are unsafe because fans are pelting them, Fifa has to step in. Empty stadiums for World Cup qualifiers should be the next step.

      Reply
    • In UEFA they’d have to play some home matches behind closed doors but Concacaf won’t do anything. The new plan for the chanting is dumb and punishes both teams if the game has to be played the next day.I can see fans now if Mexico looks gassed and the other team is getting chances they’ll do it to let their team regroup with the three minute timeout. I think they should give the warning and then the second offense the captain gets a yellow card, a third offense and he’s sent off.
      ————
      I thought the American Outlaws and the rest of the US fans were great. They were certainly holding their own with the more numerous El Tri fans.

      Reply
      • I dont think you can card a player, but the coach, you could do that. If your fans are breaking rules, yellow card the coach, if it continues Red card him. It a minor disadvantage but one the team and of course the coach would be very angry about. That might get change.

    • Gary,

      McKinnie is young and his coach (who believes in him) is none other than Pirlo. I have no doubt he will be the US’ best midfielder in no time if he keeps pushing his technical skills.

      This is one of very few times where the US team came out to play (as opposed to sit and counter) against MX. There was a 3-2L in la when they had the GC championship thing under Klinsmann, and there were a couple WC games with Klinsmann, and then, going way back there were a couple. Bad pass by whomever in the first minute, but then everyone kind of settled down. We pressed MX high and it was decent.

      What is it with a whole group of people who think coaches don’t know anything? First it was Klinsmann, now its Berhalter… jeez.

      Ream is fine unless there is a fast player on his side. He just doesn’t have the gas. That second goal was 100% because of the speedster MX put in against Ream with no Dest to protect him.

      Everyone has said this, but Ethan showed up and needs to play gold cup too to try and get a move out of Belgium to somewhere where they will start him.

      As for MX fans… I assume that they are going to jail for assault? How does Mile High stadium security tolerate this crap.

      The penalty for the puto chant is such bullshit. It is simple. Give the ref a mic. 1st occurrence, give the crowd a warning. 2nd occurence give the opponent a goal. There will be no more occurences. But more concerning is the joke stadium security, words don’t cause physical pain. they could have given Reyna a concussion. That needs some arrests.

      Reply
      • Where is ESPN coverage on this? We got catastrophe coverage of popcorn dumped on an NBA player. Thats nothing compared to what hit Reyna.

      • Turk: Empower Field at Mile High released a statement that said 5 arrests were made 4 for trespassing and 1 for throwing projectiles and hitting a US player. They also added the person that hit Gio will be banned from all future events at Empower Field. They said several other individuals were ejected for violating the fan code of conduct. I assume that means they threw stuff but didn’t hit anyone. I do wonder what the other trespassing was, the pitch invader and the guy that jumped off the CBS set but what did we miss with the other two?

  24. – It is time for Horvath to earn a transfer this summer to a team where he is the starter. Lots of Euro teams interested now.
    – Surpirise starters Yedlin and Ream did their job.
    – Acosta showed a lot of energy. Good to see him step up to the challenge.
    – Berhalter picked the right defensive formation to absorb the Mexico attack.
    – The team clearly need more time together to work on distribution. It will definitely come.
    – Mexico is vulnerable on corners. We won most of the aerial battles and put good shots on frame.
    – Now I remember why USSF no longer schedules friendlies with Mexico in the southwest. The last friendly in LA was nearly 30 years ago. Embarrassing.

    Reply
    • Ream gave up the 2nd goal. Agree with Yedlin. Berkhalter defensive formation change almost lost the game for the US. Horvath made 2 great saves during that change of formation. Berkhalter got bailed out by Horvath great play

      Reply
    • Btw I’m glad you gave Acosta props. US fans will never give the guy credit but I thought he was pretty solid at DM

      Reply
      • and credit Berhalter too for that tactical maneuver, many American fans and folks right here on this board have trouble seeing that too Cylo

      • Thank you both for giving Acosta props. He showed up tonight. Fought hard. Solid game for him.

    • Acosta was solid, Yedlin fought with heart. Ream had no place on the field. He might as well have not even been there. He can pass okay for a CB, can’t defend. I think this was the end of him with the national team

      Reply
  25. Gio worked his butt off both sides of the ball, gassed it all out at altitude, best I’ve seen him play.
    Weston did that for 120+…don’t know how he does that, of course he was gassed down the stretch. what a winner’s heart he has, LOVE him.

    How about McKenzie, wow, he turned it around after that start, impressive.

    Incredibly fun chess match between GB and Tata, they both landed blows and got smacked back as well.

    Much more, Horvath, just wow…flippin awesome
    Our pressure D screwed with Mexico.

    We still dominate them in the air in the box and great to see Weston’s race to Coach’s arms after he scored.

    On and on…so much more tactical fun to unwrap from this one. looking forward to it sbi world

    Reply
    • McKenzie was awful in the game. He had 4 turnovers out of the back. Also gave Mexico that PK at the end of the game. lol Sorry, but he was very poor in the game. Are you getting McKenzie mixed up with Brooks?

      Reply
      • no I am not. he was imperfect, but after his early problems, he settled in nicely. I see you didn’t see it tho, cool, noted, and lol

      • Did you guys miss he had 3 turnovers in the back after the goal he gave up? 2 of them were in the 2nd half. He didn’t settle in crap. He was awful in the back. Oh again you guys just ignore the hand in the ball that almost gave Mexico the tie in the game. Is this Busthalter kid? You’re in full gear defending his bad tactics tonight

    • Certainly wasn’t a great game for McKenzie but he did settle in in the second half and was ok. Penalty was pretty harsh unless you think all defenders should just play with their hands behind their backs in the box. If we don’t win the tight pk I don’t think the ref gives that one. Overall a good week for a guy no one expected to see until Long and Richards went down.

      Reply
      • Cylo, rewatch the game. He wa imperfect yet did a lot of great stuff out there. CDs turn it over sometimes. My guess is you never played at any higher level

      • Then again you thought Berkhalter manager skills won the game. Something Hercules Gomez critized his tactics from last night. I guess he doesn’t know much about the game either. Beachbum, you’re a white knight

    • Hey Beachbum, why did Greg Seltzer rated Mckenzie with a 3.5 last night? I guess he doesn’t know much about the game either. I mean he only has covered the sport over here and overseas for decades. “I did not ding the Genk defender for his late penalty foul, as the ball skimmed off his hand from mere inches away. There were much bigger problems caused by McKenzie’s shaky work on the ball. His errant pass gifted Mexico the first goal only a minute in, and he was later bailed out on similar giveaways. The youngster did make some strong clearances and blocks, and he possesses the talent to mean this performance could very well prove a valuable learning experience.” How have you missed those similar giveaways? He only had 3 more after the 1st goal that I caught

      Reply
  26. USA!!! USA!!! USA!!!

    Ugly as sin and I will ABSOLUTELY take it!!!

    There are NO BAD WINS over Mexico in final matches…especially after, what, four years in the desert? WAHOO!!!!!

    Reply
  27. Gregg showed some real passion tonight, and he made his godfather proud with his sideline performances on the ball. Props to the coach! This USA team can play so much better also, and they are going to need to.

    Reply
  28. Horvath is now true USNT’s keeper!!!
    Beerholder still sucks as a coach and as human.
    Reyna is still MVP for USNT!

    Reply
    • “Beerholder still sucks as a coach and as human.”

      He sucks as a “human.” Get a grip, man. It’s just sports.

      Reply
      • I love the usmnt just as much as the next fan, but when we stoop so low as to say our manager “sucks as a human” that’s when things have gone too far and we’re taking things a little too seriously….let’s be better than Mexican fans, its really not hard fellas

    • Ya, I don’t get the GB hate? We have played 11 matches that mattered and lost 2 of them. One was a group stage match to Canada, and the other the Gold Cup final loss to Mexico 1-0. I don’t care about friendlies win or lose they don’t matter. So a 9-2 record taking over a dumpster fire of a team then a worldwide pandemic. Maybe we could cut the guy a little slack.

      Reply

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