Sunday, November 28

Christian Pulisic returns with goal and USA secures crucial win over Mexico | 2022 World Cup Qualifiers


For the third time this year, Concacaf’s fiercest rivals clashed. Friday night in Cincinnati, the stakes were at an all-time high, with crucial World Cup qualifying points at stake. And, as always when the two neighbors meet, so was the pride, dignity and future of both teams.

For an hour before kickoff on a frigid November night, it rained heavily. Fans in the sold-out stadium chanted “USA” and “Mex-i-co” back and forth. Fireworks marked the beginning. The teams took to the field in a familiar formation: 4-3-3 on each side.

Mexico had experience, an aging staff, and a formidable front. America had two 18-year-olds, potential, athleticism and speed.

Mexico dominated possession in the opening minutes of the first half and his complete pass eclipsed that of the United States. As the clock ticked toward halftime, the United States made its way to possession parity. They also made more shots and created many more opportunities.

But despite all the improvements, they couldn’t finish their chances. They didn’t capitalize on the set pieces they won, many of which were thanks to Timothy Weah and Yunus Musah moving the ball forward from the right. Meanwhile, Mexico’s menacing front line punched holes in the United States’ defense. Zack Steffen, starting in goal on Matt Turner, needed to be in his prime and came out huge with a couple of great saves.

In the second half, the United States had possession and momentum. The match got more complicated and the fouls and shoving that are often a defining characteristic of this rivalry began to erupt.

The intensity reached a fever pitch shortly after the 60th minute when Brenden Aaronson was crushed. A fight ensued and Steffen, Weston McKennie, and Luis Rodriguez were booked as a result. Aaronson was soon replaced and replaced by Christian Pulisic, who took to the field with the approval of a fan base who had not seen their star since his injury in the September playoffs.

Within five minutes of his presentation, Pulisic gave the answer to his team’s inability to finish off chances. A beautiful run and a timed cross from Weah found Pulisic in front of goal and he headed in. The decibels of the home crowd increased and the United States picked up its pace. Eleven minutes later, McKennie’s good ending put an end to hopes of a return from Mexico. The crowd sang the well-known Dos A Cero chant, a long-standing element of this rivalry, and World Cup qualifiers in Ohio.

It was a deserved victory for Gregg Berhalter’s team. They finished the game with 18 shots to Mexico’s eight. They also created more opportunities, won more challenges, and again strengthened the argument that the United States is the superior soccer nation of the two right now. The only blemish for the USMNT came when Miles Robinson was sent off after a second booking in the final minutes.

Mexico, for its part, has questions to answer and has lost all three of its games against the United States in 2021. The victory of the Americans put them top of the Concacaf leaderboard – Both the United States and Mexico have 14 points from seven games, but the USMNT leads due to their superior head-to-head record. Canada ranks third in the automatic qualifier after beating Costa Rica on Friday night.

The United States can now head to Kingston for Tuesday’s game against Jamaica with their heads held high, and their entrances to Qatar appear increasingly secure.


www.theguardian.com

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