Christian Pulisic and Ethan Horvath proved to be the heroes as the U.S. took down their local rivals
The U.S. men’s national team took down rivals Mexico in the first-ever CONCACAF Nations League finale as Christian Pulisic buried a 114th-minute penalty before Ethan Horvath saved one of his own in the 120th minute to earn the U.S. their first trophy since the 2017 Gold Cup.
Pulisic’s spot-kick in extra time served as the big moment of what was a typically chaotic clash between the two eternal rivals, with head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino sent off to go with several crowd issues throughout the match.
And, despite Mexico taking the lead in each half, the young USMNT fought back to force extra time, where Chelsea star Pulisic stepped up to win his second trophy in eight days while Horvath established himself as a USMNT hero with a last-gasp penalty save to conclude a rollercoaster of a match.
It didn’t take long for the game to completely change as Mexico took advantage of a USMNT blunder just two minutes in.
After receiving a backpass, USMNT centerback Mark McKenzie tried to play a sideways ball to DeAndre Yedlin, only to see his pass intercepted by Jesus Corona, who blasted a shot by Zack Steffen to give Mexico the 1-0 lead.
However, despite Mexico’s first-half dominance, the U.S. went into the second-half level thanks to a goal from Gio Reyna, who pounced on a loose ball following a Weston McKennie header to give the U.S. a bit of life heading into the locker room.
The second half proved to be a tight one but, once again, Mexico broke through on a goal from substitute Diego Lainez, who toasted Tim Ream to cut inside and fire past Ethan Horvath, who replaced Steffen after the Manchester City goalkeeper suffered an injury.
But that lead didn’t last long as McKennie scored just three minutes later on yet another header, pushing the game into extra time.
Like the 90 minutes that preceded it, extra time proved back and forth until the deciding moment midway through the second half.
Pulisic was dragged down in the box, prompting a look from VAR and, ultimately, a red card for Martino, who put his arm around the referee during the review.
After a lengthy delay, Pulisic stepped up, rocketing a shot into the top right corner to seal the win for the USMNT.
But that wasn’t the final twist or turn of the match as, moments later, Mexico earned a penalty of their own following a handball in the box.
Horvath, though, made himself the hero, stuffing Andres Guardado to seal the win for the USMNT.