Acosta's Game-Winning Assist Leads USMNT to Concacaf Gold Cup Victory
LAS VEGAS - The U.S. Men's National Team was crowned champion of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup on Sunday night after defeating Mexico 1-0 in extra time on Miles Robinson's 117th-minute header before a sold-out crowd of 61,514 fans at Allegiant Stadium.
With the victory, the USA clinched its seventh Gold Cup title and second-straight victory vs. Mexico in a tournament final after also defeating its regional rival in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League Final on June 6 with an almost entirely different squad.
In winning its ninth-straight game, the USA registered its fourth-straight shutout and fifth in six Gold Cup matches, only conceding a penalty kick goal in the second group stage game vs. Martinique. For his efforts anchoring the defense, goalkeeper Matt Turner won the Golden Glove as the tournament's best goalkeeper. The USA has now won the Concacaf Gold Cup in 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2017 and 2021.
The archrivals entered the match having conceded just one goal each with both posting four shutouts through their first five games, and neither side budged through 115 minutes in the championship match. Mexico dictated play for much of the first half, but could not break through a disciplined and disruptive collective defensive effort from the U.S.
Anchored by goalkeeper Matt Turner and Robinson at center back, the USA defense continued to play lights out, keeping a clean sheet vs. Mexico. Robinson and Turner are the only two U.S. players to play every minute of all six matches at the Gold Cup. Turner denied Mexico's Rogelio Funes Mori on three occasions in the first half alone, including a fantastic diving save early on.
The USA weathered the early pressure and had its own chance to take the lead 26 minutes in. Sebastian Lletget picked off a defensive clearance and found Paul Arriola inside the box, but Mexico goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera came out to cut off Arriola's angle, forcing his shot to hit off the right post.
The second half was more even, with both sides creating half-chances during swinging momentum shifts. However again and again, the final ball was just off in a hard-fought battle that saw 51 fouls called - including 31 on the USA - and the USMNT also blocking seven shots.
The USA had the last word in extra time, scoring the game-winner in the 117thÂ as Robinson headed in Kellyn Acosta's free kick to clinch the USA's second trophy of the summer. It was the USA's third-straight game-winner to come with less than seven minutes to play and marked the latest USMNT goal in USA-Mexico history.
The USA now shifts its focus to the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying next month. The USMNT begins its quest for Qatar on Sept. 2 at El Salvador, plays Canada on Sept. 5 in Nashville and closes the FIFA window on Sept. 8 at Honduras.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN:
USA - MILES ROBINSON (KELLYN ACOSTA), 117th minute:Â Mexico's Edson Alvarez was shown a yellow card following a challenge on Nicolas Giaocchini near the left touchline. Acosta took the ensuing free kick, sending a dangerous ball into the box for Miles Robinson. The defender beat Alvarez in the air to head in the game-winner from seven yards out for his third career international goal.Â USA 1, MEX 0
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYS AND SAVES:
USA - MATT TURNER, 11th minute:Â Mexico had the game's first clear chance, but Matt Turner was up to for the test. Jesus Corona sent in a corner from the right, finding Rogelio Funes Mori unmarked just beyond the penalty mark. Funes Mori put a solid header on frame towards the right post, but Turner dove quickly to his left and pushed the ball wide with a strong left-handed save.
MEX - ALFREDO TALAVERA, 74th minute:Â Kellyn Acosta whipped a dipping free kick from the left side into the six, where Gyasi Zardes could not connect but kept the ball alive. It fell to Paul Arriola, who got a shot off at the doorstep, but Talavera threw himself forward, blocking the shot from close range with his back as he fell to the ground.*
Gregg Berhalter made four changes to the squad from Thursday's semifinal against Qatar, inserting defenders George Bello and Reggie Cannon, midfielder Eryk Williamson and forward Gyasi Zardes.
Tonight's Starting XI had an average age of 24 years, 236 days. It's the second-youngest USMNT lineup in a tournament final, coming in behind the squad that began the Concacaf Nations League win against Mexico on June 6 (24 years, 206 days).
Appearing in his third straight Gold Cup Final, Paul Arriola captained the USMNT for the second time tonight. He first wore the armband in the 1-0 quarterfinal win against Jamaica on July 25.
Reggie Cannon started his second-straight Gold Cup final, while Gyasi Zardes appeared in his third-straight.
Midfielder Kellyn Acosta was the only starter who also started last month's Concacaf Nations League Final triumph against Mexico on June 6 in Denver. Both Reggie Cannon and Sebastian Lletget came off the bench in that match.
Acosta appeared in his 14th consecutive match for the USA tonight. He's the only player to appear in each of the USA's 13 games in 2021.
The USMNT is 26-6-3 in 35 matches under Gregg Berhalter, and 11-1-0 in the Gold Cup. Berhalter is now tied with Steve Sampson (26-22-14; 52 games) for fifth in wins among USMNT head coaches.
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