USMNT beats Mexico 2-0 to win third straight Nations League title

The U.S. men’s national team is the king of Concacaf once again.

The USMNT beat its chief rival Mexico 2-0 — or dos a cero — in Sunday’s Nations League final to win the trophy for the third straight time. Tyler Adams, who was making his first start for his country since the 2022 World Cup, scored a screamer just before halftime, and Gio Reyna doubled the hosts’ advantage with just under a half-hour of regular time remaining.

It was a dominant and comprehensive victory, a statement – one the Americans needed after being seconds away from losing to Jamaica in last week’s semifinal. It also extended the USMNT’s unbeaten run against El Tri to seven consecutive matches, a program record. 

“After our game against Jamaica, I think there was a bit of pressure on us to put in a good performance,” U.S. defender Chris Richards said. “We always love playing Mexico even though it’s a tough game, and we came into the game knowing that we had to really go hard. And I think that’s exactly what we did.”

Here are a few quick thoughts on the match.

Play of the game

As a tightly contested first half drew to a close, the two sides seemed destined to head into the intermission scoreless. Then Adams suddenly found himself in space in the center of the field and fired a 30-yard rocket that beat a flatfooted El Tri goalkeeper Memo Ochoa and settled into the top right corner behind him.

It was just the second career international goal for Adams, who missed more than a year of action with the USMNT following multiple hamstring surgeries. The first also came against Mexico back in 2018.

“When the ball came to me and I felt like I had time on the ball, it was a no-brainer [to shoot], Adams said. “I’ll probably start shooting a little bit more now.”

Turning point

Even with the overwhelming majority of the 59,471 fans in attendance at AT&T Stadium rooting for Mexico, the U.S. was in control after taking the lead. But the tension was still thick: as much as they were out-playing Mexico, the Americans were still just a single El Tri goal away from being back on level terms.

Reyna changed that by giving the U.S. some badly needed breathing room. Captain Christian Pulisic started the play when he danced past an El Tri defender on the end line. The ball bounced around the penalty area before being cleared, but only as far as Reyna just inside the top of the area. The 21-year-old hit a first time shot that beat Ochoa inside his near post, producing the famous scoreline that stood up as the final result.

“I told Christian to play it quick, and he did,” Reyna said. “He obviously did very well to beat his guy and get the cross in. And then I just saw the space at the top of the box, [thought] maybe it would drop there, and I just anticipated it and volleyed it.” 

Key stat

To the naked eye, it appeared that Mexico may have been the better team in the first half before Adams gave the U.S. a lead they’d never relinquish. The U.S. limited Mexico to just 39 percent possession and one shot, which was straight at home backstop Matt Turner and easily saved.

The U.S. dominated every statistical category by game’s end. Shots (11-6), shots on target (6-2), passes (382-326), pass accuracy (72 percent to 62) fouls and corner kicks (7-3).

“They were predictable,” U.S. defender Tim Ream said. “We expected exactly what they did…we knew exactly what was coming. We knew exactly how to make the game ours and how to hurt them.”

What’s next for the USMNT?

The U.S. won’t reconvene until late May, when they’ll begin to prepare for a pair of pre-Copa America friendly matches — the first against Colombia in Landover, Maryland on June 8 and another versus five-time World Cup champion Brazil four days later in Orlando, Florida. After that, it’s the main event of 2024 for the USMNT, which the Americans open in this same stadium June 23 against Bolivia.

Obviously, we have a Copa América now coming up,” Ream said. “It’s an opportunity to win another trophy.”

What’s next for Mexico?

El Tri will play three exhibitions before kicking off their Copa slate on June 22 in Houston. First up are the Bolivians in Chicago on May 31, before matches with Uruguay and Brazil in early June.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer reporter for FOX Sports. He was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports before joining FOX Sports in 2021, and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at FIFA World Cups on five continents. Follow him @ByDougMcIntyre.

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