Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie were the highlights of a dominant USMNT performance that won another international friendly, this time against Mexico. The two young U.S. players will be integral to the team’s future success as they continue to learn from veterans like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.,
The “pulisic news” is that Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie wrote a new chapter in the United States Men’s National Team’s win over Mexico. The two players scored two goals each to lead the USMNT to victory.
CINCINNATI, OHIO — The serenade showered down from TQL Stadium’s Bailey stand. They were as comforting as they were inspiring.
“It’s two to nil! It’s two to nil!”
Yes, it was a new venue for the US men’s national team, and the mantra was directed at a new generation of players, but the scoreline provided the same sense of satisfaction for the Americans, who defeated Mexico 2-0 thanks to goals from Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, giving them three crucial points on the road to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
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It was the sixth time the US had defeated El Tri by that margin in a competitive match since the turn of the century. The majority of them took place at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, but TQL Stadium proved to be a good match, with a vociferous crowd assisting the Americans in maximizing their home-field advantage. The victory gave the United States its first three-game winning run over Mexico since the mid-2000s, and it was also the first such stretch in a calendar year.
“They know what we’re about, and we know what they’re about,” Pulisic added. “That’s what creates a wonderful rivalry, and I’m really thrilled that we may be able to repeat our victory tonight. We knew it was going to be a good game against Mexico, and getting three points simply pushes us closer to World Cup qualification.”
The outcome on Friday was the latest in an all-too-familiar pattern between the United States and Mexico. Getty Images/Kirk Irwin
But this victory was more about the here and now than about the past. The result put the United States on track for World Cup qualifying on a night when the Octagonal rankings tightened. The United States is presently in first place, with a goal differential of 14 points, ahead of Mexico. This maintained the US one point ahead of Canada, who beat Costa Rica 1-0, and three points ahead of Panama, who fought back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Honduras 3-2 on the road. With Tuesday’s match in Jamaica, the United States will be able to earn some breathing space.
|1 – USA||7||14||+7|
|Mexico is number two.||7||14||+5|
|Canada is number three.||7||13||+7|
|Panama is number four.||7||11||+1|
|Costa Rica is number five on the list.||7||6||-2|
|Jamaica is number six.||7||6||-4|
|El Salvador is ranked number seven.||7||6||-5|
|Honduras is number eight on the list.||7||3||-9|
|1-3 teams qualify for the playoffs; 4 teams advance to the second round.|
The fact that this young set of players made another step forward was the most encouraging element of the night. It wasn’t like the Nations League final in June or the Gold Cup final in August, when the US relied largely on its defence and goalkeeping and scored goals on set pieces. The United States was aggressive with its press in this encounter and held its own in terms of possession. Almost every player on the field had a good game. Mexico’s offense was thwarted by the backline, which was commanded by Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson. The midfield eventually took command, with 18-year-old Yunus Musah proving to be a key player in assisting his offensive colleagues. And Timothy Weah had a great night by troubling Mexico’s left side of defense.
In a week when the term “respect” was bandied about and Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa claimed that the United States desires to be like Mexico when it looks in the mirror, there was one match in which the United States deserved to win.
However, the Americans’ strategy needed patience, as well as surviving several scares in the first half, when some midfield mistakes provided chances for El Tri. Fortunately, goalkeeper Zack Steffen was alert, notably in the 18th minute when he denied Hirving Lozano.
Coach Gregg Berhalter’s strategy was to wear Mexico down, and the pressure started to show in the second half, with opportunities starting to develop. Weah, in particular, inserted a series of deadly crosses that the Americans were unable to convert. With Ochoa’s stop off a McKennie drive in the 49th minute, the United States seemed to be having one of those nights in front of goal.
“We began to pull away in the second half, especially the opening 20 minutes,” Berhalter remarked. “And that is the impact we have on our opponents. It gets really difficult when we can press them and be so aggressive with the ball, spinning them around and forcing them to face their own goal.”
Weah was at the heart of the play, eluding the attentions of Jesus Gallardo to throw in a cross that was headed home by Pulisic, who had just joined the field five minutes before.
Pre-match anticipation centered on how much Pulisic would be involved in the game. Since hurting his ankle against Honduras in September, he has played a total of 21 minutes for Chelsea. But his presence gave the United States a lift almost immediately, and after Pulisic converted, he made sure to send a message to Mexico by wearing a jersey that said “Man In The Mirror.”
The ‘Man in the Mirror’ shirt prank by Christian Pulisic will go down in history as another colorful chapter in the rivalry. ISI Photos/Getty Images/John Dorton
But it was Weah’s goal, and the Lille attacker’s progress throughout World Cup qualifying has been crucial in keeping the US’s qualification chances alive. Weah’s concentration was rejuvenated after a meeting with Berhalter after the Panama loss, and it showed when he caused the game-winning goal against Costa Rica last month. His dedication to assisting out on defense has solidified his grasp on one of the winger positions.
“I’m playing with my club team, so when I come here and play, it’s wonderful,” he added of his confidence. “It’s just extremely pleasure to be with the lads, and we executed tonight, which was the most important thing.”
Weah also disclosed that he and DeAndre Yedlin came up with the idea for the “Man In The Mirror” T-shirt.
“Mexico was talking a lot of garbage before the game, and defeating them simply shuts them up,” Weah remarked. “We must continue to win games and defeat them; that is the only way we can gain their respect, as well as the respect of the rest of the world. But I believe we’re on the right track right now, and the future seems promising.”
The only negatives of the evening were center back Robinson’s ejection in the 89th minute for two yellow cards, as well as McKennie’s yellow card, which will result in both of them being banned for the Jamaica encounter. As brilliant as Robinson has been, the loss of McKennie is likely to be much more devastating. Despite a two-game ban for breaking the club’s COVID-19 guidelines in September, McKennie remains the emotional hub of this US squad, and he, along with Pulisic, has emerged as Mexico’s nemesis.
But, after losing a late equalizer to El Salvador on Friday, these glitches may be just what the club needs to prevent a disappointment against Jamaica.
“It’s definitely incredible to have won three games in a row [against Mexico]. But it doesn’t mean we should be arrogant and believe we’re the best “According to Pulisic. “The attention is now on Jamaica. So it’s really just a matter of keeping going, and we want to continue to demonstrate what this team is all about, and we want to start showing the world what this national team is capable of.”
This American squad is gaining confidence, which is commensurate with its skill. Even the celebrations after the game took on a different tone. Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” played over the stadium PA system as the “Dos a cero” shouts faded. A new generation is establishing itself.
- christian pulisic