Once again this year for the 10th time or something the USA and Mexico would decide which nation would be the top nation in Concacaf. This time it is in the Gold Cup, we already know the United States is the top nation in Concacaf in the Nations League. The game promised to be a... it seemed like maybe it’d be fun? The USA came in with nothing to lose essentially, the point of the tournament has more or less been to find out about depth and get some players who might start in qualifiers to have a better understanding of Berhalter’s tactics. Beating El Tri in the final would be a nice bonus. But after 120 minutes, it would be much more than that.
The USA set up in a 4-3-3 with a few notable changes. Erik Williamson, Gyasi Zardes, Reggie Cannon, and George Bello all started having not been in the XI for previous knockout matches.
!— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) August 1, 2021
Here’s YOUR Starting XI to face in tonight’s #GoldCup21 Final. #USAvMEX Lineup Notes: https://t.co/XhojleYowX pic.twitter.com/0m9Npb5Q3N
Mexico has been playing a first choice lineup the entire tournament because they’ve been sad about losing in the Nations League.
The most important XI of the #GoldCup21.— Mexican National Team (@miseleccionmxEN) August 2, 2021
VAMOS. #PasiónyOrgullo | #FMFporNuestroFútbol pic.twitter.com/SoQGTldZv3
In the end,... Danny Ocean and the boys had house money, put their chips all on red, white and blue and when the wheel stopped turning hit the most unlikely jackpot in recent USMNT history, the lights went off and they had just enough time to switch the fake money with real money and steal their ex-wife back.
Como se dice gifs en español? También palabras sobre el partido!
The teams came out playing fast and with plenty of passion. Not necessarily by choice, the USA ended up sitting back and absorbing pressure from Mexico while waiting to counter. There was a lot of waiting to counter, Mexico was on the front foot from the start and the Americans really struggled to make effective use of the ball.
Somehow Sebastian Lletget mopped up a sloppy pass from Talavera and tapped it over to Paul Arriola who just needed to beat the keeper - AND HE DID - but when the river card was drawn it was the Jack of hitting the post... and not going in the net.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR THE USMNT— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 2, 2021
Paul Arriola just misses putting the on top pic.twitter.com/Y7Fc6dnv5X
To quickly break this down...
There’d be a few other chances for the Americans. Matthew Hoppe hit a nice cross that went wanting and he had a header in the box that went just wide of the net. Aside from that, Mexico pushed relentlessly forward toward goal forcing Matt Turner to make some fantastic saves. While they had decent chances, the American backline held strong with James Sands having a nice bounce back half after his tough game against Qatar and Miles Robinson quietly doing everything right and always being in the correct position to make a play.
Matt Turner was also characteristically awesome - here he is covering the 5 hole to deny Mexico.
.@headdturnerr makes it look so easy sometimes...— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) August 2, 2021
: @FOXSoccer pic.twitter.com/1mXNcc4jVA
Between the USA missing its best chance and Matt Turner keeping Mexico from scoring, the game went into the half at 0-0.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were scary. Mexico made some adjustments which basically amounted to doing what they did in the first half but more of it, and the Americans hung on for dear life.
Berhalter did go to the bench in about the 65th minute to bring in Sam Vines, Shaq Moore, and Christian Roldan for George Bello, Reggie Cannon, and Sebastian Lletget. This would end up being a solid move as the change to take out the outside backs ensured that his defenders would be fresh for the rest of the game and keep pushing the attacks when the USA had possession.
If you took the over on .5 players getting choked in the game you lost, but if you had Hector Herrera leg chopping someone in the head and not getting a red card, that was a big winner. Apparently you have to blood eagle someone to get sent off in a USA/Mexico match.
Herrera was given a yellow for this tackle on Williamson pic.twitter.com/AlMAgmYNR7— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 2, 2021
Shortly thereafter, Mexico screwed up another exchange in the back and the ball found Hoppe who fired a rocket that was headed for goal until it was nodded over the bar by a defender. That was followed by another huge chance for Hoppe that resulted in a corner.
The USA got another... almost unfathomly perfect chance when a set piece was deflected on accident by Zardes but Arriola’s finish, this time on the doorstep, was once again wanting. It really had everything between Zardes tripping and touching the ball to set up the goal and Arriola hitting his shot directly into the goalkeeper.
WHAT A SAVE BY TALAVERA pic.twitter.com/HJU4ZPTAzO— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 2, 2021
With five minutes left in regulation Berhalter would make two more changes as Arriola made way for Nico Gioacchini and Williamson came off for Gianluca Busio.
The minutes would tick by and the game would prove to be too weird to live, too rare to die in regulation so it went to extra time. The first extra time would have lots of running but the chances weren’t quite as promising, so after exclaiming, “we can’t stop here, this is bat country,” the game went onto the second 15 of extra time.
It seemed like the game was headed to penalties as the clock wound down and it began taking on a Chicago Fire vs Inter Miami feel with the ball being exchanged a lot at midfield but nobody putting much together in order to break the deadlock. That’s when the USMNT pulled out one of the oldest tricks in the USA tactics book: be tall on set pieces.
MILES WINS IT FOR THE @USMNT‼️@_milesrobinson_ x #GoldCup21— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) August 2, 2021
An argument could be made that Miles Robinson didn’t have the best game of every American on the pitch, but that’d be wrong. He did. The young man may have also added a lot of highlights to his recruiting tape if a move abroad is in the works anytime soon.
This will go down as another classic in the rich history of the USA vs. Mexico rivalry as Gregg Berhalter may not have had the team playing the best looking soccer, but they fought hard for every result, he made the right adjustments and changes when needed, and in the end, IT’S COMING HOME, SOCCER IS COMING HOME, THE
AMERICAN MLS ALL-STARS USA IS THE BEST TEAM IN CONCACAF STILL.
This result begs the question, what if Mexico's best athletes played soccer?— Stars and Stripes FC (@StarsStripesFC) August 2, 2021