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USMNT revels in being able to “shut up” Mexico with convincing qualifying win

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If Friday night marked the last meaningful World Cup qualifier on American soil between the U.S. men’s national team and Mexico, then the Americans sent that part of the rivalry out in style.

The USMNT’s latest 2-0 win over El Tri marked its third straight win in the rivalry, all in 2021, marking the first time the Americans have ever been able to beat their main Concacaf rival three times in a year.

Maybe it was to spark some inspiration with his teammates, but the timing of Mexican goalkeeper Memo Ochoa’s remarks about his side being “The mirror in which the United States wants to see itself” in the run-up to Friday’s showdown could not have been more ill-advised in hindsight.

The Americans let their play do the talking in the response.

Christian Pulisic entered the game in the 69th and slammed a goal past Ochoa minutes later. In his celebration, he revealed an undershirt that read “Man in the mirror”. 21-year-old winger Tim Weah sent in the assist and revealed that the celebration was pre-planned when he spoke after the game.

“I knew he had it on. Me and DeAndre (Yedlin) the night before, asked the kit guys to make it for him. It’s just to send a message,” said Weah. “I think it’s a new era now. Before the game, Mexico was talking a lot of smack and you know, beating them just shuts them up, and we have to continue to win games and continue to beat them and that’s the only way we’re gonna earn their respect and earn the world’s respect,”

Pulisic didn’t elaborate on the bit when asked, but clearly, Ochoa’s remarks were the inspiration.

“I think you guys know the message. I don’t need to speak on it too much. It’s not a big thing I’m trying, to cause controversy. It was just an idea that came into my head,” Pulisic said. “I actually wrote it in a mirror. No, I’m kidding, somebody did it for me.”

Prior to 2021, the USMNT only took one win from its previous six matches with El Tri and for a while, Berhalter still hadn’t exactly convinced American fans that he would produce a surefire World Cup qualifying bid while overseeing the last three matches of that span. Now, the USMNT is sitting atop the Concacaf octagonal at the midway point.

“We fiercely dislike Mexico’s soccer team … we’re fierce competitors and we want to win every time we’re on the field,” Berhalter said. “Afterward you shake hands and move on. We have a lot of respect for them, they’re a great team, and I’m sure they’ll qualify for the World Cup.

From here, Berhalter will look to stick the landing by seeing out the second half of the Octagonal with a strong finish. The USMNT still has some tough contests left to play, including trips to Canada and Mexico, but Friday’s win reinforced the message sent with the summer’s tournament wins over Mexico that the Americans are now the team to beat in Concacaf.

Comments

  1. Sorry, but the team to beat in CONCACAF right now is Canada. The only undefeated team in the group and the one team the boasts the best player in the region.

    Reply
      • Ontario. But let me take it a step further and say that Canada probably has the best and deepest attacking lineup in the region. Despite the score Canada was unlucky not to be up at least 3-0. They hit the woodwork a couple of times and one of them was an incredible bicycle kick by Buchanan. It was one of Canada’s poorer games this qualifying cycle and Costa Rica still seemed overwhelmed by them.

  2. Dos a Cero
    Dos a Cero
    Dos a Cero

    Seriously just enjoying how well our NT is finally playing. Pulisic on the bench, No Dest, no Gio, no Brooks. Weah balled out imo, what a game not just the assist. Adam’s omg beast. McKennies heart is the soul of this squad. Try to rip Aaronsons eye out McKennie was right there to regulate and protect/defend his player. This group has all the tools, touch, heart, strategy, finish, want to, swag. It’s all on the table and sky’s the limit. I’m just looking forward to the next 5-8 years as this group starts to grow into their experience. Trying not to get my hopes up too much but there’s nothing this squad can’t win on any given match. They will NOT be bowing and showing too much respect to the Brazils and Germanys at future WCs. This generation has the chance to totally reset US Soccer culture and established US Sovmccer swag and confidence we’re we flip the script and other nations start to fear us.

    I’ll eat crow. No Brooks, I got worried old issues were re-emerging. All credit to GB for his strategy. The high press is not easy to pull off much less against Mexico. The execution on the high press was excellent. They denied passing lanes and outlets forcing and dictating Mexico to pass where we told them to. GB totally out strategized and executed against his opposition manager. He’s got all these guys bought in and focused and on top of it execute a great strategy to stymie our oldest rival. Starting to see GB as a really good manger and trusting his judgement myself. He started the dos a Cero WC match in 2002 and I’m starting to think of him as a US version of Felipe Scolari not overly complicated but gets his players to bleed and die for him on the field giving everything.

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  3. That was not the smartest, most respectful thing for a player to say about their opponent before a match. But… from the perspective of a commentator- Ochoa IS 100% correct. Our program, our fanbase has always and still does have a bit of tunnel vision…. we’ve always looked at Mexico as the standard, how we measure up as a team- its success. I don’t think the rivalry will ever or should go away. Every hero needs his foil… that kind of struggle gives purpose, focus, motivation and strength- makes both teams better. There does however, come a time when this focus becomes a limitation. Broadening our scope of vision and elevating our ambitions above that obsession will be a huge sign of us arriving as a footballing nation… having moved beyond being a regional power to a world power. The time is near and I’m really looking forward to it.

    Reply
  4. As touched on by the article it is really sad that there is only 1 more meaningful qualifier with Mexico for the foreseeable future. With the expanded world cup field, qualification will be perfunctory and the drama and angst of qualification will be a thing of the past. Worse, without the fear of missing out, soccer federations will be freer to just play their political games rather than worry about putting out the best possible team. Just show up every four years, cash the check and pay your cronies. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Reply
  5. Dos a cero, baby. Let them talk all they want. 3 straight victories speak louder than anything they have to say. Win at home and draw on the road and we’re a cinch to qualify. But, it would be nice to give Canada some pay back and win there.

    Reply

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