December 8, 2021

USA clinch first CONCACAF Nations League title

2 min read

The United States men’s national team beat Mexico 3-2 in extra time to clinch the very first CONCACAF Nations League title following a wild game that can also be regarded as one of the most exciting games in the rivalry’s history. The USMNT came from behind to equalize twice during regulation before taking the lead for good in extra time. Follow us for more sports predictions and odds. 

Jesus Corona, who blasted a shot by Zack Steffen, Mexico the 1-0 lead before Gio Reyna, who pounced on a loose ball following a Weston McKennie header to equalize the game in the second half. The Mexicans did not let the Americans dominate the second-half as substitute Diego Lainez hit the second as Manchester City goalkeeper Steffen suffered an injury.

However, the lead did not last as McKennie scored just three minutes later on yet another header, pushing the game into extra time. The extra was so intense that even the Mexico coach Tata Martino received a red card for putting a hand on an official during the review, while Hirving Lozano was given a yellow card for arguing after the decision. 

A Christian Pulisic penalty-kick goal in the 114th-minute before the backup goalkeeper Ethan Horvath saved a spot kick at the other end in the 120th minute to earn the U.S. their first trophy since the 2017 Gold Cup. Pulisic, fresh off of winning the Champions League with Chelsea, stepped up to win his second trophy in eight days while Horvath established himself as a USMNT hero.

Horvath came off the bench in the 60th minute for injured Zack Steffen and made a series of massive saves including an extra-time penalty stop on Andres Guardado. The USMNT ended a streak of four consecutive defeats to Mexico in the knockout stage of an official tournament. The last victory came in the 2007 Gold Cup final.

“This game falls in line with the heritage of the U.S.-Mexico rivalry,” U.S. Coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We’re a part of it now, just like all the teams before us were part of it. Each and every game unfolds in a different way, and today is going to go down as one of the classic U.S.-Mexico games.” The archrivals might meet again in the Gold Cup this summer and are set to play twice in World Cup qualifying.

“We’re a young side and we need to learn how to win,” Berhalter added. “These games are very difficult, and for us, it was about having a game plan, executing the game plan but then it’s also about the fight and spirit. … They really showed the heart of champions.” Earlier in the day, Honduras defeated Costa Rica on penalties in the Nations League third-place game, 5-4, after regulation ended in a draw.

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