How the US upset Mexico to win Gold Cup in dramatic fashion

Riley Platt, Sports Reporter

Featured image: AP Photo/David Becker

When it comes to domination throughout the world, the United States of America is almost always at the top. This isn’t typically the case with soccer, though, specifically seen with the men’s national team, which has been rather unsuccessful over the past few years. However, an unlikely tournament win may be the spark the nation’s soccer program needed.

The CONCACAF Gold Cup is a biannual tournament of the top national soccer teams from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Going into this year’s event, the US had the second-highest odds to win, but they were behind a heavily favored Mexico squad.

Featured image: AP Photo/David Becker

The Americans got started on July 11, facing Haiti, a nation reeling from all kinds of chaos off the field, following the assassination of Jovenel Moïse just days prior. Sam Vines secured an early lead for the US in the 8th minute, but no scoring would follow as the US won 1-0. Sure, a win is a win, but some were concerned about the team’s offensive ability after only scoring once in a game where they were expected to trounce their opponent.

Next, the US would bounce back, bulldozing French subsidiary Martinique in a 6-1 win. The last match of the group stage was against neighboring Canada. The Americans got off to a wild start, with Shaq Moore scoring in the first twenty-five seconds of the game. Much like the Haiti victory, no scoring would follow as the US squeaked out another 1-0 win.

Despite lingering concerns, the Americans advanced from group play to face Jamaica in the quarterfinal. This was a taut match, remaining scoreless until Matthew Hoppe netted a header 83 minutes to give the US the lead. Jamaica largely controlled the tempo for much of the match and likely could have won if the cards would have fallen their way here and there. However, the Americans advanced 1-0 (starting to see a pattern here?).

Qatar, America’s toughest test yet, loomed in the semifinal. Now, if you’re wondering why a Middle Eastern nation is in a tournament of nations in the Americas, you’re not alone. Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup and wanted a chance to test themselves before hosting the global event. Because of this, they reached an agreement with CONCACAF to participate in the tournament.

Despite only shooting one-third the number of shots as Qatar, America held strong. It was another late goal, this time by Gyasi Zardes, that put the US up 1-0 in the 86th minute. Surprise, surprise: the US would advance yet again by a score of 1-0. Now came the final, where the Americans would take on heavy favorites Mexico. It wasn’t pretty, but Mexico entered this match coming off of a scrappy win over Canada, winning 2-1.

On paper, Mexico dominated this match. The Mexicans controlled possession for a whopping 64 percent of match time, getting off eight more shots than the Americans. So then, what went wrong for Mexico? Another team that had faced criticism throughout the tournament regarding a lack of scoring ability, the issue came back to bite them when it mattered the most.

Late into the depths of extra time, a free-kick from Kellyn Acosta found Miles Robinson, who in turn found the back of the net. This virtually sealed the deal with little time remaining, seeing the United States take home the Gold Cup for the first time since 2017. How about that? Another 1-0 victory.

While the US’s victory wasn’t expected, it’s hard to ignore the dominance these two nations have had in the tournament. During this century, there has only been one occasion where the Gold Cup wasn’t won by the US or Mexico: Canada’s win in 2000.

What makes this feat for America even more impressive is the roster they did it with. Due to many of the nation’s top players are preoccupied with other soccer commitments, so many of these athletes aren’t exactly the nation’s star players. That will no longer be the case, though, as they have won over the hearts of Americans over the past month.

If there’s anything this team proved, it’s that scoring isn’t everything. In just about every sport, flashy offense is often praised, while stout defense typically goes unappreciated. With this momentous win, American soccer certainly has a brighter horizon, with unlimited potential.


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