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Robinson’s winner lifts USMNT to Gold Cup title over Mexico

The U.S. men’s national team went into the Concacaf Gold Cup final playing with house money, and made it clear throughout a hard-fought 120 minutes that they were determined to leave Las Vegas with a golden jackpot.

Miles Robinson’s 117th-minute header off a Kellyn Acosta assist delivered the winning goal in a 1-0 triumph over Mexico on Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium.

Robinson’s winner ended a tightly-contested battle that went back and fourth through the 90 minutes of regulation, and saw both teams waste chances, with Mexico struggling to cope with the U.S. team’s constant pressure.

Both teams saw chances go begging, with Paul Arriola missing on a pair of occasions and Orbelin Pineda squandering looks for Mexico.

The Americans were outshot and out-possessed, especially in the first half, but kept pressure on Mexico all match long, with Gregg Berhalter inserting a trio of substitutes in the 65th minute to inject fresh legs and smother a clearly-tiring El Tri squad.

The Americans very nearly suffered an early blunder that could have cost them dearly when Matt Turner was caught in possession in the second minute of the match. Turner reacted and got to the ball before anything dangerous occurred, though Mexican players shouted for a penalty call.

Turner responded to that shaky start with another strong performance in goal, including a game-saving diving stop to deny Rogelio Funes-Mori on what wound up being the best Mexican chance of the night for El Tri.

The chances dried up for Mexico in the second half as the Americans began taking control, showing more energy down the stretch, as Berhalter’s timing on his substitutions worked well to keep his team energized enough to play its high-pressing approach.

The Americans will be off for the rest of August before beginning Concacaf World Cup qualifying in September, starting with a trip to El Salvador on September 2.

Comments

  1. besides every player totally and completing laying out for Berhalter, his tactics have been spot-flippin on. Pressing Mexico all game, BUT also getting all those players, including the ones up top, to travel all the way back into our own defending third over and over again…incredible. We had 11 in our own third repeatedly defending, and how many balls did the US win in our own box? a million? it seemed like it. That was because at times we even had 11 in our own box defending, and that was AFTER pressing Mexico! It’s incredible, you just don’t see that effort very often that playing like that requires, no way. But Berhalter had Cannon/Shaq, Bello/Vines, Lletget/Roldan, and on and on with the tactical plan and substituting to make the amazing effort required for the plan to work actually work. The players love him, that’s where that effort we saw comes from imo

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  2. Coach Berhalter is the MAN. He deserves all the credit for making all of this happen and turning the dumpster fire he inherited into this. It’s incredible, and the guy so many wanted instead was Tata…remember? Come on, say it people…Berhalter is the MAN. His players LOVE him. That makes a difference. They play for HIM, it’s sooooooo obvious.

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  3. The talent is good enough to win. However the premise was he was teaching the talent to play in a “new way” within a system. The teams played in opposite ways. The NL team was all offense no defense. The GC team was all defense no offense. The best team would probably mix the A offense and offensive tactics with the B defense and defensive tactics. We have never seen that team. We saw 2 opposite concepts flawed other end of the field. And the defensive squad looked very familiar to historical US fans, fwiw, while the attacking squad played more Traditional Berhalter Ball with associated issues.

    So what is the team identity? Exactly. It’s good to win games but I couldn’t tell you who this is anymore.

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    • The turning point occurred after Toronto. Berhalter’s tactics in competitive matches turned more pragmatic against difficult opponents. Against opponents like Haiti or Honduras the US with both lineups attempted to hold possession and break down the opponent. We still see in friendlies like Switzerland that the US is going to use their possession style system but in competitive matches like the two finals with Mexico and the Canada group stage final the US does what it takes to win first and worries about style later. Especially given that Pines had to play 80 mins against Canada that probably changed our tactical ideas as well. Berhalter brought very little creative/technical players to the GC and that’s on him but he’s made the bet that leaving those players to train in Europe is better than stylishly winning the GC.

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      • the problem is the As never tried B tactics and the Bs never tried A tactics so they would not be drilled in each other’s approach. it’s not one team with two variations. it’s two teams that played two ways. i understand pragmatic but have players been drilled or evaluated in how the other half lived? who would i play if i wanted the A team to defend like the Bs?

    • The big difference was the space of the FBs, Vines and Bello were more cautious than Dest and Robinson have been. The other difference was Lleget and Busio were not as aggressive as McKennie and Musah/Luca. The difference was really in the skill and confidence of players not in tactics. Berhalter made some adjustments in how we pressed Mexico but those types of adjustments are being constantly made, we pressed Mexico differently in NL than we had other teams leading up to that. I don’t think the idea was so much let’s try to hit long balls as it was guys wanting it off their feet so they don’t mess up. Mexico has played there style for 40-50 years across many managers it is in their players DNA. We have some players who can play a possession style and many who are learning to with their clubs but it isn’t necessarily natural yet for our third tier guys or our teenagers.

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      • you’re kind of admitting it’s two different sets of players who play different, liking what the second set did, but then trying to revive the roles of the first set by acting like they can be instructed in second set tactics. you’re missing that their sold value is getting downfield. they are not marking backs. you could tell dest to be back and he might still get megged. be real.

  4. It will be fun to see who GB brings in for the WC qualifiers. After this tournament, the presumed starters will know that they need to compete hard to have a starting role. Even though I would take Pulisic, Reyna, Adams, Brooks, and McKennie over Hoppe, Acosta, Ariola, Sands etc. the presumed starters must now know that their starting spots are not guaranteed unless they continue to perform.

    GB will face many difficult decisions in the upcoming games. The good thing is that most of those decisions will be between good options rather than between the least bad options. That is a luxury none of Sampson, Arena, Bradley or Klinsmann had in the past.

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    • What’s great is there are two entire squads that have proven themselves versus CONCACAF competition. With three game windows we will be seeing a lot of these guys this fall.

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      • The flaw in the analysis is it was two different concept teams playing two dramatically different ways, which makes it unclear who plays and what we look like. I’d suggest the NL front 5 and the GC back 6 — give or take Adams and keeper. But even that says something. Do we show up claws out and defend? I’d approve but that offense wasn’t good enough. Do we go all out and forget defense? That’s what NL did and I am not sure that works on the road or in Qatar.

        It’s good to have choices but the nature of the choices is confusing about our identity.

  5. I’m going to start by saying I’m NOT a GB fan, questioning his selections and tactics….However, he has produced 2 pieces of hardware in 8 weeks of football. Not only that, but the fight and determination his lads showed was what used to distinguish MNT sides in the past, most notably 2002. It something that was sadly absent during most of the Klinsmann era and for Arena’s second stint.

    The team grew into the match. It was not pretty. They gave away the ball too often and just could not establish consistent possession at all. Still, they kept their composure. The substitutions generally were positive, Busio not withstanding.

    Acosta and Robinson were the two best field players. Turner kept the team in the match. It’s time to seriously consider him our No. 1.

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    • It is time for all the GB haters to admit that GB is a much better coach than JK ever was. (JK was by far the superior player, but coach no.)

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      • JK was a better player evaluator and had a better horse sense on matching tactics to players. JK’s problem was second cycle as his dual national patch got old and came loose, it revealed a bare cupboard in domestic development, and he got as stubborn as GB and Arena did to try to stick with his favorites. He lost his adaptability.

      • JK was TERRIBLE at matching tactics and players, what are you revising history for? constantly playing guys out of position to the detriment of all, insisting on playing his way no matter who the players were…he did that sh!t all the time!!! His handling of Bradley alone is enough to make that point, but there so many other examples. Remember against Mexico? What a loser of a coach, and no team will touch his butt with a million foot pole

      • @ Dennis, we’ll see. Some I have read here have done so already, much respect to them! the others who still can’t? not so much

    • “We practically only practiced fitness under Klinsmann. Tactical things were neglected. There was very little technical instruction and players had to get together independently before the game to discuss how we wanted to play. All the players knew after 8 weeks it wasn’t going to work with Klinsmann. The rest of that campaign was limiting the damage.” -Phillip Lahm 8 time Bundesliga champion, World Cup champion, Champions League winner.
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      Klinsmann was not concerned with tactics and often put players in roles that did not fit their skills. Let’s also not forget implementing a 3-5-2 system 24 hours before the first match of qualifying against Mexico. A system he only changed out of because Bradley and Jones went over to the sideline and yelled at him to change it. His player selection was equally suspect Brek Shea, Miguel Ibarra, Alan Gordon, Jerome Kiessewetter, Brandon Vincent. He largely abandoned his Jordan Morris experiment and it took him until Pulisic’s 11th match to start him. Klinsmann is very charismatic and is able to motivate players until they tire of his act but his player selection philosophy was through spaghetti at the wall and hope it sticks and he had absolutely no interest in tactics.
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      I think it’s too early to judge who is better between Berhalter and Klinsmann because Berhalter hasn’t been through qualifying yet.

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      • i should clarify. i meant picking players to a formation as opposed to coaching players how to play. the 2014 empty bucket team was very well chosen to the formation — and thus effective. that has nothing to do with him coaching the players how to execute once placed on the field. vs berhalter is constantly calling weird favorites and playing people out of position. i keep saying just play people where they play club.

      • and if you’re implying we judge coaches on quali as opposed to world cups that’s rubbish. half the question here is going to be can he do anything outside a weakened region. his fans are running very early victory laps forgetting how our games with wales switzerland england brazil colombia etc. went. and he also — and you do seem to acknowledge this — he hasn’t had to go on the road in the region in years.

      • We largely played 4-4-2 Diamond in 2014 or a 4-2-3-1 not an empty bucket with Bradley as the #10. I give JK credit that in the WC he didn’t have much else when Jozy and AJ couldn’t play but Bradley continued as a #10 for most of the next 2 years. Let’s also not forget the failed Jermaine Jones CB experiment.
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        Every manager has a guy or two that they see differently. Arena had Jeff Agoos in 2002 (thank goodness he got hurt and Berhalter started against Mexico and Germany), Bradley had Ricardo Clark, Klinsmann had Michael Orozco, Mix Diskerud, Zusi (way longer than he should have), Wondo falls in that category as well.
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        Berhalter has to qualify before we can worry about WCs that’s all I’m saying. It’s pointless to say Klinsmann is better because he got us out of the group, well Gregg hasn’t even managed in a WC cycle yet. I’m just saying we all need to wait on comparisons with Berhalter to anyone at this point.

      • Klinsmanns tenure is full of difficult to match decisions. He made some very very strange selection and tactical decisions in qualifying which we struggled with. He also made the incredibly controversial call to leave LD off the World Cup team which eventually bit him in the butt when Jozy and AJ were injured. However, he held strong on to Beckerman who had a fantastic WC despite much criticism before and slid JJ to the left of the midfield diamond. You could argue that either or both of them were our best players in 2014. Ultimately we judge based off of WC performance and Klondike did a solid job. They probably just should have moved on after that cycle rather than trying to keep him around.

  6. So excited about the win, I couldn’t sleep!! This was a complete US team effort! We played against every ref and won. Williamson & Bello barely playing then getting a start in a final vs El Tri, US number 1 rival!! Every match, this tournament a different player made a contribution to winning a match. 7 players scored a goal, w/ 3 players having scored multiple (Dike, Zardes, Robinson, tied most for the US). 8 players had an assist! We scored in every match. How many players did corners & free kicks? How many players played in a least 5 games? 12 players never even played in a GC tourney. 19 MLSers. Turner and the back line, including Zimmerman, allowed 1g in 6 matches. Acosta big mistake, literally he was out of position. Remember that moment? It’s great, he strung his defensive boots on tight for the knockout stages. Dike had a bad tournament? What are people talking about? Sure, Dike is very limited but he had 5 matches, he scored in 2, tied with a 30 year old (Zardes) and a 24 year old (Robinson) 3 year professional. Both played in 6 matches with 2g. Who’s strike rate is better? I know these guys are Champions now! What world does Donovan Pines, Johnathon Lewis, Yueill, Kessler and Arriola make anyone’s B team? I can easily name 8 CBs better than Pines and Kessler, 8 wingers better than Lewis & Arriola, 4 d-midfielders (6s) better than Yueill. If you can’t…. You might want search SBI for previous articles on player pool depth chart!!!

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    • Yeah, about the only thing I could quibble with from last night was Berhalter’s allegiance to Arriola. I thought Nico should have started, and he certainly should have come on earlier.

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  7. Going to be fun watching the transfer reports start flying this week. We could see 7 or 8 of these guys moving in the next few weeks.

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    • Yeah was thinking the same. I imagine a lot of sides sent scouts to see the big name like Dike but will be making calls about Miles, Turner, Hoppe, Acosta, Moore, Sands, and Williamson. Turner should get some serious money offers. If he’s still in NE at end of this window I’d be shocked. Clubs will look to steal Hoppe of Schalke with there problems. Chance of Miles staying in Atlanta thru next season seem slim. All these guy’s agents have probably already been on the phone a bunch this tournament but next three weeks should be interesting.

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    • I don’t want to throw cold water on this too much but I don’t think many clubs base transfer decisions off of a couple international games against mostly weak competition. They’re all privy to mountains of data and video analysis from services like wyscout. Gold cup may help confirm what they already think of a player but no one is going to nab Acosta or anyone else based solely on this tournament.

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      • True, I was thinking of the 7 or 8 guys who already had rumors before the tourney started. Busio and Vines are supposedly done just waiting for tourney to be done so they can fly to Europe and get medicals. Moore and Cannon were being shopped that’s why they were available, Dike has been on the market since May, Robinson and Sands have had rumors in the past (I would think those two might be more the transfer and MLS gets the loaned back until Jan. like Aaronson and McKenzie). Bello has rumors from Turkey. Then I think Turner will have solidified interest although at 27 he might not generate as much interest as fans feel he deserves. So that’s 9 players that wouldn’t be surprises. I don’t think all will move this window but I expect most to.

      • Turner is a really interesting one. He’s 27 and a late bloomer but that’s still not very old for a keeper. His best years are ahead of him and could be a steal for a European club looking to nab a high potential guy without crazy expense.

      • Twitter feeds from locker room already spilling the beans. Cannon to Nice and Bello to Galatasary both shouted out by a teammate on a live. Cannon face says it all. Busio to Venezia not really news as that’s well known but Cannon was shouting out that to Busio on his live and Busio returning the favor. Thread over at r/ussoccer . More than rumors when you’re teammate is shouting it out.

    • I hope fruitful opportunities result! I think we’ll see some. We do have recent history to maybe temper expectations…. the prevailing assumption that Horvath would be inundated with interested parties and the subsequent tepid response. Hard to say… transfer market is a strange one with current economic conditions. The very big clubs still flush with cash are likely not suitors for these players… many mid-level clubs are struggling financially. But- perhaps scouring bargain MLS talent is the answer to this?

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      • Horvath is an interesting one, there must be somethings that scouts are not excited about in his technique. He was replaced at Brugge several times not just when Mignolet came. He’s only 26 young side for a keeper but maybe at the top of where he’s going to get much better, keepers might just regress less.
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        As for Turner I do think any move would come to a mid level league, Belgium, Turkey, Austria, or Denmark. I mean Venezia can’t field a team of all Americans right? Then it becomes is it worth it to leave the comfortable environment of MLS. Buchanan likely to earn a hefty price tag does Bruce sell two of his best players in the middle of a title chase I don’t know.

      • Just adding to what Johnny saying on keepers. Far as Taylor goes I see it like this, of the club examples you give I think that ‘type’ club would fit, which ones have keeper questions to answer and have some money but not stupid money and want to bargain shop on an American keeper? I’d imagine 2-3 fit that criteria. Can’t imagine Taylor going for over 10mm and probably lower than that, at 7-8mm he’d be a huge bargain comparative to what a simile keeper would cost from elsewhere.

  8. Since the Nations League game against Mexico, Acostas has shown that his the backup DM to Adams. He had another great game, he was defending his ass out there. Miles Robinson had a great tournament, I think he might be our 2nd best current CB in the pool. Berkhalter my coach, I’ve dissed him in the past but he outcoached Tata. Hoppe, Sands, Moore and maybe Williamson are nice addition to the pool. Dike didn’t have a good tournament but I blame his bad shoulder. Zardes and Roldan are def guys we can depend on for Concacaf. Matt Turner the truth!!

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  9. The US ‘B’ team in front of a CONCAFAF-enabled Mexican home crowd on US soil beats the Mexico ‘A’ team.
    This is our biggest GC win, bar none.
    The entire GC was a total team effort, and excellent training for WCQ. One cannot overestimate the value so many ‘B’ team players got out of this GC.
    Berhalter did an outstanding job of coaching in this GC
    .
    The US beat Mexico twice this summer. Impressive.

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    • Pump the breaks on this a bit. USA C team defeats Mexico B team is not our greatest GC victory. It’s a really good win but 07 tops the list for me. That win was a springboard for the 2010 team where we started to see guys like Bradley, Clark, Feilhaber etc emerge.

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  10. We are going to shock at least one big name elite giant in Qatar. They’ll sleep on us because it’s just the US and same old narrative. That giant will come out flat thinking they can just walk thru the match and get blasted by our young hungry swaggy types.

    Mark it here. The greatest win of all our lifetimes against a true world elite in a knockout round happens in Qatar.

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      • Thats a good team and def the best USMNT team to date but that wasn’t a golden generation. That was mostly a veteran team. We only had 2 young guys on that team with Donovan and Beasley. The rest were 23 and up

      • Currently and up until Nov/Dec next year the 2002 Mexico R16 and Portugal group stage are at the top but we surpass those wins next year. Those were memories I’ll never forget obviously almost 20 years ago I was in college up all night watching games at crazy hours.

        We’re going giant hunting next fall. The bigger they are the bigger they fall. Overconfidence vs Hungrier.

    • We have too many players now playing on top European teams for anybody to overlook us now. All opponents have to do is look at the club resumes of our A team roster and they’ll see we will probably be able to compete with practically anyone. In the past we might have had 4 or 5 players playing in Europe, but not on teams like Barcelona, Juventus, Lille, Chelsea, Man City, Dortmund, and Leipzig. And then there are players on Wolfsburg, Roma, and Hoffenheim/Bayern Munich.

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      • Stereotypes die hard unfortunately, the managers will try their best to prep them but those players on a Brazil or France or Germany are not thinking about our players. They’ll be doing interviews and promos and social media to learn who Dest or Gio are. They’ll have heard of them but they’ll still be wildly overconfident.

      • @Gary – I’m super excited about the US players in Europe these days but we need to keep things in perspective. Check out this year’s Euro and Copa America rosters. There are many teams that have rosters of similar euro club players make up. Those teams make up teams 10ish to 20ish in the world. Then there are the powers that have similar teams but the difference is the make up of those teams include players that their european teams DEPEND on them – they are their teams stars. The US has zero players like that. The US has – for the first time ever – squad players on very good teams. Chelsea doesn’t live or die without Pulisic, either does Juventus without McKennie. Reyna wasn’t even a lock starter at Dortmund and Adams has struggled with injury and has played every position but keeper for Leipzig. I can be excited but just because we as US fans have never experienced this level of success at club level for US team members let’s not be like the Mexico fandom of a few years ago that thought they were level with Brazil and Argentina because Chicharito was at Man U.

      • @ Master of the Obvious

        Bro, what we’re you watching. Chelsea were pretty much GARBAGE when CP10 wasn’t in the squad. No width, no speed, no finishing. He won his way back into the lineup multiple times because he continued to be better than the players who they (Lampard/Tuchel) tried to replace him with. Most Chelsea‘s effective attacks on the left wing always went through Pulisic.

        The same is true about Weston at Juventus. To a lesser degree for sure but that MF had no teeth when he wasn’t on the field. They were also way less athletic, did not have late runners into the box and lost their set piece threat and I think they lost/tied almost every game that he didn’t play. Pirlo basically depended on Weston to be on the field to make the midfield have more bite and energy. I would say he’s pretty essential since they drop coin to make his loan move permanent with months left on the deal.

  11. Of the various lessons I’ve learned from this tournament, an important one is that I want Acosta to take our free kicks.

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    • lol I wish they figured that out earlier in the tournament. Btw wasn’t Acostas bad on free kicks for the USMNT in the past?

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      • I don’t recall that he took a lot. I remember when he first played with the national team and I think we were playing a South American team in a friendly and he took a free kick from a little outside the box that was a wonder goal. But that was a while ago and my memory of the details is hazy.

      • Cylo- Acosta has always been great at set pieces, going back to JK! His best highlights go back in his FCD days.

    • Acosta’s free kick goal was against Ghana in the run up to 2017 GC. He also had a free kick assist against Peru in 2018 and had a hockey assist on Miles goal against TnT last winter hitting Long on the back post who headed to back to Robinson.

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    • 1000xs this. It’s part of the reason I’m really over Lletget being a starter let alone on the team. For some reason Berhalter keeps giving him Opportunities to take the set pieces even though he consistently does nothing with them. In every instance where they take have taken Lletget off of set pieces the US is instantly way more dangerous.

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