The United States Men’s National Team had already won their trophy in June at the Nation’s League final against Mexico. This Gold Cup tournament was to help identify players in the MLS ranks that could help this fall with the start of World Cup qualifying. They weren’t supposed to win this against a more senior and veteran Mexico side.
Well nobody told that to Matt Turner, Kellyn Acosta and company, who struck deep into of second half extra time thanks to a Miles Robinson head to claim their 7th regional title and second against Mexico. Matt Turner made five saves (23 total in the tournament) for his fifth shutout of the tournament, only allowing one goal off a penalty in six games.
Like most games in this tournament, it was either a fast start or a nervy one for the USMNT, and they went nervy in this one. Matt Turner was forced into four saves in the first half, none bigger than a full extension parry against Funes Mori off a set piece and then a stonewalling at the near post. Paul Arriola was the US’ attacking bright spot in the first half, with the USA’s best chance coming off a turnover in the final third but Arriola’s shot found the wrong side of the post.
The second half was basically pure end to end chaos, highlighted by a five minute stretch when both teams had loose ball chances inside the six. Mexico keeper Alfredo Talavera literally made a save sprawling over a prone Gyasi Zardes to stack the pads against Arriola at the near post. Moments later in the US box, Rodolfo Pizzaro latched onto a loose ball only to see Shaq Moore intervene with a timely block to send the chance out for a corner.
The late minutes and extra time were mostly Kellyn Acosta being everywhere and shutting down Mexico’s possession time and time again. While there were plenty of good chances in this game, mostly there were a lot of bad finishes and shots dragged well wide of target. A late free kick however would prevent a penalty shootout.
Kellyn Acosta put in a beautiful free kick at the center of goal and saw centerback Miles Robinson of Atlanta United, against his former coach Tata Martino now with Mexico, nod home the winner and send the USA sidelines into jubilation. A late cap-tying cameo for New England Revolution centerback Henry Kessler and a couple of wayward Mexico shots were the last actions of the match.
Matt Turner was named Man of the Match and Goalkeeper of the tournament. Revolution winger Tajon Buchanan was named Young Player of the Tournament. Hecter Herrera of Mexico won the Golden Ball as the best player of the Gold Cup. Qatar’s Almoez Ali secured the Golden Boot as the top scorer with four goals.
The United States begins World Cup qualifying next month with a three game set in early September at El Salvador, home to Canada, and at Honduras and several of the players here will likely feature in that qualifying campaign.
Matt Turner obviously has staked his claim on the keeper depth chart with Zack Steffan and Ethan Horvath. Miles Robinson was tremendous throughout at centerback and could be tasked with filling the Aaron Long sized hole in that depth chart with the Red Bulls man out for the year. Shaq Moore has added his name to the log jam at right back and likewise Kellyn Acosta at center mid.
Matthew Hoppe was the most inventive and aggressive attacker for the US in this tournament and if he doesn’t play a significant role in 2022’s cycle he will likely be a fixture in 2026. Likewise for a lot of the younger players like Busio, Gioacchini, Sands, and Williamson who impressed but might still be a few years away from significantly helping the national team.
Daryl Dike and Gyasi Zardes will be in the mix up top as well with both strikers offering different yet tremendous skill sets to any international squad. Dike might not have had the on-loan form he showed at Barnsley but he was carrying a knock and certainly has all the tools to translate to the international game.
Combined with their Nations League title, the United States are in prime form to regain the top spot in CONCACAF as well as return to the World Cup after missing out on Russia in 2018.