Whatever positive momentum there was for the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) following a nine-match unbeaten run that dated back to November 2019 is now gone following a friendly loss to Switzerland on Sunday and then an ugly, listless 1-0 win in the Nations League semi-final against Honduras on Thursday in which the US wasted the chances it had and gave up far too many to the Hondurans. But at the end of the day, they were able to win the game and advance to Nations League Final to take on arch-rival Mexico.
Thursday’s game against Honduras felt quite similar to the Gold Cup quarter-final game against Curacao back in 2019. In that game, the US was out-possessed, out-shot, out-hustled, out-worked and out-coached but still managed to eke out a 1-0 win. After the game, coach Gregg Berhalter was defiant and prickly and attempted to shift the narrative by making Curacao out to be world beaters rather than a tiny Dutch protectorate. This last US win was not quite as close statistically as the Curacao game but while the US had the possession advantage, they did virtually nothing with it and needed an 88th minute goal from substitute Jordan Siebatcheu to avoid going to penalties. Again, Berhalter was prickly post-game insisting that this game is exactly what the US needed and then had the gall to ask the media and the fans to judge him on his results rather than the performances, which is quite hilarious considering both he and the media have spent the better part of two years telling the American fan base that the results don’t actually matter as long as the US scrapes by and gets to the World Cup. Luckily for Berhalter, his job security is unmatched in international soccer, so bizarre and ridiculous comments like that on top of poor performances matter about as much as his results.
Unlike the US, Mexico hired a superb manager in Tata Martino and has been an absolute juggernaut since he took over in 2019. Martino’s record with Mexico is an awesome 23-2-1 for an astounding 90%. Under his guidance, Mexico has won a trophy (the 2019 Gold Cup), has beaten the US twice head to head, and even managed losing any Nations League games, unlike the US. As was the case with the entire world, the COVID-19 pandemic played havoc with Mexico’s schedule but they still managed to scrape together some friendlies with a diverse array of opponents from a variety of confederations. As was the case in the 2019 Gold Cup, Mexico reached the Nations League Final by beating Costa Rica on penalties 5-4. Their roster contains most of the usual suspects, minus Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. Guillermo Ochoa came up big in the penalty shootout on Thursday, despite being 35 years old. Carlos Salcedo, Jesus Gallardo and Hector Moreno anchor the backline. In the midfield, El Tri is captained by Andrés Guardado and also has Hector Herrera. Up front, the leading scorer is Chucky Lozano with 14 goals in 45 appearances.
1. The 21 months since the last US-Mexico meeting is the longest gap in the series since a nearly two year gap between August 2009 and June 2011.
2. Tata Martino is 6-0-1 (W-L-D) all-time against Berhalter, and has outscored him 14-2.
3. The US has not beaten Mexico since 2018, hasn’t beaten Mexico in a competitive game since 2013, and hasn’t beaten them in a cup final since 2007.
When and where to watch the game on US TV and streaming
Sunday, June 6, 2021
Empower Field at Mile High
Live on CBS Sports Network, Univision, TUDN and Paramount+
USA trails 19-36-15
Friday, September 6, 2019
East Rutherford, New Jersey
USA 0-3 Mexico
Current FIFA Ranking
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
USA vs. Costa Rica
Rio Tinto Stadium
Live on ESPN2, UniMas and fuboTV
Author: Lawrence Dockery