USA 1, Mexico 0 (FT)
⚽ Miles Robinson (117')
For the second time this summer, the United States men's national team has beaten Mexico in a cup final. Just under two months after beating El Tri in the Concacaf Nations League final, the U.S. did it again on Sunday in the Gold Cup final in Las Vegas, winning 1-0. It was an extra time header goal from Miles Robinson with just a few minutes to go that gave Gregg Berhalter and company the continental crown.
Here is the dramatic winner:
After losing to Mexico in the 2019 final, Berhalter has now won his last two against El Tri, giving the team even more momentum ahead of World Cup qualifying in the fall.
Mexico were by far the superior team for much of the match, but they had nothing to show for it. Despite recording eight more shots than the U.S. and nearly doubling their possession, it was the Americans that had the best chances on the night yet couldn't convert until late. After Matt Turner was forced to make a couple really strong saves in the first half, it was the U.S. pressure that gave them a golden chance. Pressure from both Gyasi Zardes and Sebastian Lletget saw the latter then play Paul Arriola through on goal, but the D.C. United man in a one-on-one situation kissed the ball off the bottom of the right post and out to the disbelief of everyone.
In the second half, it was the same where Mexico were more assertive and we able to get into space going forward, but the U.S. had the better looks with Arriola again missing a sitter at the far post from about a yard out before Robinson saved the day, capping off an incredible tournament for him.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
It just felt like the wasted chances would come back to haunt the U.S. as Mexico continued to control the ball and look for a quality opportunity. Not once did the U.S. ever feel in full control of the match until the final minutes. The American defense was on its heels for the majority, defending in numbers while having six or seven guys in the box at times when Mexico possessed in the attacking third.
It sort of felt like so many of the other games in this Gold Cup where the team didn't play all that sharp defensively or in attack and a result was just waiting to be taken from them. But, to their credit, they held on. Despite entering the game with an expected goals against of nearly six while having only conceded one, it felt like a sure thing that Mexico would find the net at some point. But a defense that had issues with its spacing stepped up to the plate when it mattered most to pull off what may just be the most important win in the Berhalter era.
In six games at the Gold Cup, the U.S. won every single one, recorded five cleansheets and conceded just one goal in 570 minutes.
Robinson was a monster in the middle of the box, heading out everything that came his way before doing it on the other end of the pitch. The former Syracuse star was drafted by Atlanta United while Tata Martino was the manager yet played the key part in handing the Mexico boss his most painful loss since taking over the job as they looked to repeat as Gold Cup champs.
Turner, an under-the-radar goalkeeper from the New England Revolution, should be getting looks from Europe before long after he was arguably the best player at the entire tournament. He saved the U.S. in nearly ever match, pulling off jaw-dropping saves. If I were Berhalter, based on what I'd saw, I'd pen him in as Zack Steffen's replacement or even give him a chance to be at No. 1.
Robinson and Turner are unlikely to be key contributors in the fall, but they should at least be on the squad. And Robinson is just another name to through into the centerback mix alongside sure starter John Brooks.
It's hard to tell if things would have been different if players such as Chucky Lozano and Diego Lainez were healthy, but there shouldn't be much concern in the Mexico camp. Yeah, losing to the U.S. stinks, and it is worse when it happens back-to-back in the summer. But this is still arguably the most talented roster in North America, though the U.S. is trending upwards big time.
They should still have very little to worry about in qualifying, but they will need to figure out what in the world to do at the No. 9 position. With Raul Jimenez coming off a fractured skull, could it be time to call back Javier Hernandez? Could JJ Macias get a good look if he does well on loan at Getafe? They are better suited in midfield and in defense than in attack when you look at the units as a whole. They are a consistent No. 9 away from being a force with their lack of sharpness in front of goal being their downfall.
⚽ Miles Robinson (117')
The goal stands!
Upon viewing the replay, it looked really, really close ...
A fine header from Miles Robinson off a ball from Acosta on a set piece ... but was he onside?!?
GOAL USA!!!! Miles Robinson!!!! 1-0!!!!!!!