It’s the matchup everyone wanted. Tomorrow, the USMNT will take on Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League Final, and the winner will be crowned as the winner of this inaugural competition. The USMNT will look to rebound from a win, if that’s even a thing, and play much better against a Mexico team that also didn’t play well in advancing to the final. But, the USMNT will want to play much better and figure out how to put it all together against their archrivals. The last time the two teams played each other, it was all Mexico in a 3-0 “friendly” win just a couple months after Mexico beat the USMNT in the 2019 Gold Cup final. It’s another final tomorrow. It’s for another trophy. And the two best in Concacaf will go at it once again in what should be an exciting match.
W (1-0) - Honduras - Concacaf Nations League Semifinals
L (1-2) - Switzerland - Friendly
W (2-1) - Northern Ireland - Friendly
W (7-0) - Trinidad and Tobago - Friendly
W (6-0) - El Salvador - Friendly
D (0-0) - Costa Rica - Concacaf Nations League Semifinals*
W (2-1) - Iceland - Friendly
W (1-0) - Costa Rica - Friendly
L (0-1) - Wales - Friendly
W (2-0) - Japan - Friendly
*Won 5-4 on penalties
What To Watch For
The back line must keep it together. The back line looked a little nervous against Honduras, and there a few moments where they didn’t appear to be on the same page. The USMNT needs to be sound defensively and not allow Mexico chances in open space with the ball. Keeping tabs on Mexico’s attackers and making sure that they’re always covered will be the key to stifling their chances before they can do something with them.
Passing must be accurate and crisp. The passing against Honduras wasn’t crisp, and at times it ended some attacking opportunities for the USMNT. Mexico won’t allow many chances, but to create them and exploit any holes in the Mexican defense will require passing to be on point.
Attacking creativity must be combined with finishing. Gio Reyna made the Honduran defense look like Swiss cheese repeatedly during the match, but once scoring chances entered the box, they fizzled out. They have to take shots on Memo Ochoa to test him out, but they also must finish those chances that they do get. Seems simple, but it’s been a focus where the forwards need to deliver when it’s needed the most.
There likely won’t be many changes from the lineup that took the field against Honduras, but Gregg Berhalter could make a couple changes in order to keep players fresh for the rest of the window. But, this is Mexico, and it’s for a title. So, Berhalter will likely pick the lineup he thinks is the strongest:
Zack Steffen is still in goal, having earned the clean sheet against Honduras. The back line will likely remain the same with Antonee Robinson, John Brooks, Mark McKenzie, and Sergiño Dest. However, Matt Miazga could also be an option at centerback.
In the middle, it’s time for Tyler Adams. You don’t bring him to this tournament if you don’t think he’ll be ready to play against Mexico, and I think Berhalter finally gives him a go. If he can’t go, Kellyn Acosta is probably the next person up to give Jackson Yueill some rest. Yunus Musah also gets his chance to play alongside Weston McKennie and provide two strong midfield options against the Mexican defense.
Up front, it’s the same 3 of Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna on the wings and Josh Sargent up top as the 9. We want to get them the ball and have it at their feet as much as possible, particularly Pulisic and Reyna, so they can create scoring opportunities.
This is going to be a really tough match, one that I see going into extra time. Here’s a bold prediction: 1-1 after 90 minutes, and 2 goals in extra time for the USMNT give them the victory and the Concacaf Nations League title.