Gold Cup: USMNT defeats Mexico in final with Miles Robinson’s extra-time goal – The Athletic

The U.S. men’s national team scored in the 117th minute to beat Mexico 1-0 and win the CONCACAF Gold Cup in dramatic fashion in Las Vegas on Sunday, marking the second time this summer that the Americans beat their rivals in a continental final.

Center back Miles Robinson scored the winner, getting on the end of a Kellyn Acosta free kick at the top of the six-yard box and heading a shot past goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera to quiet an extremely pro-Mexico crowd and give the Americans the emotional victory.

It was the second time the U.S. and Mexico went to extra time in a final this summer. The U.S. took the first occasion, as well, outlasting El Tri 3-2 to win the inaugural edition of the CONCACAF Nations League in June.

U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter brought his best group to the Nations League, but took a young, largely inexperienced squad to the Gold Cup. Only three of the USMNT’s starters on Sunday saw the field in the Nations League final. Mexico, in contrast, brought a similar group to the Gold Cup, with eight of their starters in Sunday’s final featuring in the decisive Nations League match earlier this summer.

The relative strength of the rosters meant the Americans entered Sunday’s game as significant underdogs. For long stretches, the game played out accordingly. Mexico controlled the run of play for the first 70 minutes, dominating possession and spending huge chunks of time in the U.S. defensive third. That didn’t lead to an edge in chances, however, with the U.S. creating plenty of good opportunities throughout.

Winger Paul Arriola should’ve put the U.S. ahead in the 26th minute. Midfielder Sebastian Lletget created the chance, squaring the ball to a wide open Arriola in the right side of the box, setting him up for a one-on-one with Talavera, but the D.C. United attacker sent his 15-yard shot off the outside of the right post.

Striker Rogelio Funes Mori had an opportunity for Mexico in the 31st. He got on the end of a Jesus Gallardo header just inside the area then popped the ball up and over U.S. center back James Sands, freeing himself for a close-range effort from a tight angle that bounced off of U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner and out of danger.

Mexico ratcheted up the pressure to start the second half. Winger Orbelin Pineda should’ve put El Tri ahead in both the 50th and 52nd minute, first dragging a 10-yard shot wide of the left post. He had an even better look two minutes later, getting on the end of a Chaka Rodriguez cross at the right post just five yards from goal before badly missing his flying right-footed volley.

The U.S. responded well, hitting back with a trio of good looks beginning in the 69th minute. Arriola created the initial opportunity, stripping Carlos Salcedo near the top of the box and quickly finding Hoppe, who fired a shot that looked ticketed for the back of the net before a Mexico defender deflected it out just five yards from goal. Hoppe had a look in the 71st, getting on the end of a cross in the left side of the area, turning past a defender and firing a close-range shot that deflected off Alvarez and out for a corner.

Talavera made an incredible play to deny Arriola in the 74th. Acosta curled in an excellent free kick from the left side that bounced off striker Gyasi Zardes at the top of the six-yard box and redirected into the path of an onrushing Arriola in the left side of the box. He smashed a shot on goal from the doorstep but was denied by Talavera, who launched himself in front of Arriola’s effort and blocked the attempt with his back.

There weren’t any clear looks for either team until Acosta and Robinson combined for the winner. It was fitting that it was that duo that created the goal — they were two of the U.S.’s best players all tournament.

The USMNT’s next matches will be in September, when it will start World Cup qualifying with contests at El Salvador, at home against Canada and at Honduras.

(Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)

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