The United States have imposed undisputed dominance in the derby against Mexico over the past few years. Team USA hasn’t known what it’s like to lose to El Tri since 2019. Since then, it’s been four wins and two draws – with two triumphs in the final, to add weight to the successes. And the parish had another chapter this Thursday, through the semi-finals of the League of Nations. The United States failed to notice the Mexicans and won 3-0 in Las Vegas. Christian Pulisic made the difference for his team with two goals. It was still a hot match, with two expulsions on each side and many confusions. In the Concacaf nations decider, Team USA will face Canada, who eliminated Panama in the tournament’s other semi-final.
Coached by interim BJ Callaghan, the big news for the United States was the presence of debutant Folarin Balogun in charge of the attack, after a great season with Stade de Reims and the choice of the American team after having defended England at the base. Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and Timothy Weah formed a midfielder, while Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah were the two midfielders. Mexico, meanwhile, are early in Diego Cocca’s cycle, pushing his team up in a 3-5-2. Guillermo Ochoa and César Montes were the references in defense. The midfield brought together the central trio of Uriel Antuna, Luis Chávez and Édson Álvarez. Up front, Orbelín Pineda and Henry Martin combined.
The first half in Las Vegas was a very tight game, with few scoring chances. The main movements of the United States had the participation of Christian Pulisic. The striker even had a great run in the 23rd minute, during which he left Guillermo Ochoa behind but fired over the open goal. Pulisic redeemed himself with the opening goal in the 37th minute. Faced with a succession of errors from the Mexican defense, the rest remained in the box with the winger, who touched Ochoa’s counter-foot. In contrast, El Tri only had two submissions in the entire first stage and didn’t threaten much.
In the first minute of the second half, the United States managed to develop. It was a great speed move, with Timothy Weah escaping to the right, from Weston McKennie’s throw. The winger took off at the edge of the area and crossed low, only for Pulisic to complete in the middle of the tackle area. Mexico struggled to respond, even in possession of the ball. And the atmosphere of the match warmed up, in particular because of a few sparks between the teams. The pitiful scenes broke once and for all at age 24. César Montes kicked Folarin Balogun and received a direct red. A confusion has formed between the two teams and McKennie has also been sent off for a push – it will be a heavy embezzlement for the final.
After a long stop and with rowdy teams, the quasi-Mexican took the opportunity to make a discount. Goalkeeper Matt Turner made two good saves, while Uriel Antuna also squandered a great chance with the open goal. However, it didn’t take long for the United States to recover and kill the game. The third goal came in the 33rd minute, Sergiño Dest made a big move down the right, lining up his opponents. He gave the precise pass to Ricardo Pepi, who had just come off the bench. The striker was left alone with Ochoa and dribbled past the goalkeeper, before saving.
With the parade resolved, there was time for more fights in Las Vegas. Gerardo Arteaga and Sergiño Dest were also sent off for a 40th-minute exchange of blows, with another heavy embezzlement for the United States en route to the final. Amid so much rioting, the Mexican crowd repeated the usual homophobic cries during a goal kick and the game would be momentarily crippled. Considering everything that was going on, that would be 12 minutes of overtime. Mexico are still struggling to cash in, which hasn’t helped much. The classic ended in the extra eight minute, due to further homophobic shouting. But not that El Tri expected a reaction. The deserved ranking was for the United States, against a lost opponent.
In the other semi-final, Canada celebrated a great moment and can look for a title to cap off recent success. The Canucks were favorites against Panama and had no problem winning 2-0 in Las Vegas. John Herdman achieves another historic feat in front of the Canadians: it will be the selection’s first final in 23 years, since they reached the Gold Cup decision in 2000. The Alvirubros beat Colombia on occasion, in their second title in the tournament, the first since 1985.
This Thursday, Canada needed 25 minutes to open the scoring in the semi-finals. Kamal Miller delivered an excellent through ball and Jonathan David escaped freely inside the box, to beat under goalkeeper Orlando Mosquera. Panama improved in sequence and began to threaten Milan Borjan’s goal more. The goalkeeper made some good saves, especially on shots from outside the box. The Canucks needed more production in the first leg, with only one ending – the goal.
Coming back from halftime, Canada increased their attacking presence and killed the game. The Canucks gave a warning with a Cyle Larin header in the 14th minute, which required incredible defense from Mosquera. They concluded the result at 24, with Alphonso Davies, who had left the bench shortly before. Jonathan David opened with the number 19 shirt on the left side and he invaded the box at high speed, sending a kick high up the goal. At the end of the match, the Panamanians still found themselves at ten, after the expulsion of Eric Davis. The Canadians had the addition of Atiba Hutchinson, captain of the team, who is playing the last tournament of his career.
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