PARADISE, Nev. — The United States men’s national team extended its unbeaten streak against Mexico to six games Thursday with a resounding 3-0 victory over the trio that sent the Americans to Sunday’s CONCACAF Nations League final against Canada. The Canadiens edged out Panama in the other semi before Thursday.
After missing a golden opportunity in the first half to put the hosts ahead, Christian Pulisic made the most of his next two chances, scoring on either side of halftime.
Pulisic converted his second after Tim Weah’s perfect cross just after the break. Second-half substitute Ricardo Pepi completed the rout four minutes after coming on for debutant Folarin Balogun.
The only downside for the USA was the red cards issued to Sergiño Dest and Weston McKennie for retaliating in two separate altercations after the result was in doubt.
Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s game.
USMNT deeply humiliates El Tri
The 3-0 score represents the largest margin of victory for the United States over Mexico in more than 23 years. After a slow start in front of the pro-Mexican crowd at Allegiant Stadium, the USA began to dominate around 15 minutes in. They never looked back.
“Obviously a lot of positive things to bring the game to them,” goalie Matt Turner said afterwards.
It seemed that the Americans had something to prove with this, and they did. Once Pulisic made it 2-nil, it was effectively over.
“I feel like we just executed very well,” Weah said. “Christian, as you saw, he was upset about missing out. But as a team, we got him back and he got the first [goal] and then the second. So everything flowed from there.”
Coming off his worst World Cup performance in decades, El Tri had no answers. Football responds, anyway. Instead of trying to recover a goal, the Mexican players resorted to trying to kick their opponents whenever possible.
“The last time we played Mexico it was the same situation,” Weah said. “With a game like this, things are going to happen.”
Still, the United States seemed much more prepared this time. More experienced too, after reaching the round of 16 in Qatar 2022 six months ago.
“I think everyone was pretty sad to lose at the World Cup because it’s one of the biggest venues, if not the biggest,” Weah said. “I think we learned from that. And now we’re doing everything we can to recover and refocus against big teams like this.”
America will miss Dest, McKennie on Sunday
The win came at a significant cost to the US. Both teams finished the match with nine men. Cesar Montes of Mexico was expelled for brutally bringing down Balogun; McKennie also saw red after running to the defense of his new teammate. Subsequently, Sergiño Dest responded in the same way after receiving a shove in the face from Gerardo Arteaga.
The red cards obviously hurt the Americans much more, as both Dest and McKennie will now miss the title match.
“I was disappointed at the end,” Pulisic said. “I really wish some of our guys would keep their heads together a little better.”
Turner took a more philosophical view.
“Obviously those are two guys who started every game in the World Cup, guys who have been stalwarts for our team the last two years,” he said. [But] the strength of our group is the collective. So we’ll trust the next man, like we always do.”
US win overshadowed by news of Berhalter’s return
On a normal night, there would be no bigger news for the USMNT than facing their biggest rival off the field to advance to the finals of a tournament. This was not a normal night.
Less than two hours before kick-off, the agent of Jesse Marsch, the only American to have coached in the English Premier League, German Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League, said his client would not become the next American coach, as many had predicted. Then, just as the game was about to kick off, The Athletic reported that World Cup 2022 coach Gregg Berhalter was close to reaching a deal to return for the remainder of the 2026 cycle, news confirmed by FOX Sports.
It was a surprising turn of events for a show that has been without a full-time lead all year. Berhalter is expected to be (re)introduced on Friday. Interim coach BJ Callaghan, Berhalter’s assistant from 2019-22, evaded a question about the former boss’s imminent return. So did several American players. Pulisic, who took home Man of the Match honors, was not among them.
“Today is a testimony of the work that [Berhalter] put on this team,” said Pulisic, who wore the captain’s armband with an injured Tyler Adams. “BJ picked up right where he left off and it’s a testament to him, a testament to this team and the way we continue a performance like that.” .
Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered the United States men’s and women’s national teams at various FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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