Finally, after a fourteen year drought, the USMNT finally beat their rivals to the south, Mexico, in a Gold Cup Final. It was a hard fought battle, between the kings of the Caribbean, North, and Central America. The US arrived with the momentum of the 2021 Nations Cup Final victory over Mexico. Whereas the defending Gold Cup Champions were unconvincing finalists.
Suspicion of Mexico’s credibility to retain their title came in their opening match, against Trinidad & Tobago. There really was no excuse for the underwhelming performance. El Tri was flexing an above average squad, against a team whose first objective was to make a statement, not being a punching bag for the champions. And they did it.
Even with star player Irving Lozano carted off, via head injury, Mexico should have won. Instead, T&T fought valiantly for the 0-0 draw. Against Guatemala, Mexico did perform slightly better, winning 3-0. Yet, it was false hope, because Mexico barely scratched through El Salvador, with a 1-0 win. Despite finishing first in Group A, netting only four goals equated to a dismal performance.
Over in Group B, the USMNT walked out pretty mighty. Three wins, eight goals, and only one conceded. Yes yes. Martinique is a tiny island, with little business in a major tournament. Regardless, it said a lot about the US relentlessness against anyone. Scoring one goal each against Haiti and Canada was less than highlight worthy, and it somewhat begged the question on the US’ potential as finalists.
Mexico picked up steam, with five total goals against Honduras and Canada, in the knockout round. There was hope. It was the opposite with the US, with two goals total, against Jamaica and Qatar. Still, the wounds left behind from the Nations Cup were still fresh.
All around, the US played better. The US line-up didn’t look intimidating, and Mexico had many chances to score goals, but it was the same story. There was a lack of confidence in those chances to take the lead, by Mexico. Because regular and additional extra time wasn’t enough, Mexico looked to send the game to a PK shootout. At the worst possible time, they let their guard down.
A foul several yards outside the penalty box was awarded. Colorado Rapids defender elegantly delivered a free kick, towards New England Revolution defender Miles Robinson, for the game winning goal. Yes. A defender to defender free kick and goal, sealed the US’ 7th Gold Cup.
Overall, the Red White and Blue deserved the championship, much more than the El Tri Color. These past two tournaments featured Mexican squads that did not resemble 2009, 2011, and 2019 teams. It’s all said and done, congrats USA, enjoy your two-peat bragging rights over Mexico.