Two Pulisic goals, four red cards as USMNT smashes Mexico 3-0
Christian Pulisic scored twice before four red cards were handed out, and the USMNT beat bitter rivals Mexico 3-0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Nations League in Las Vegas on Thursday.
It’ll be another rivalry showdown in Sunday’s final, when the USMNT takes on northern neighbors Canada right back at Allegiant Stadium in Sin City.
Pulisic looked set to open the scoring in the 23rd minute, when he rounded Guillermo Ochoa and caught sight of a partially open goal before blazing the finish over the crossbar. Fortunately for the USMNT, it was only the start of things to come from the 24-year-old winger likely to leave Chelsea this summer.
Eight minutes before halftime, Pulisic got the finish just right from a much tighter angle. The ball pinballed around the top of the penalty area before Pulisic escaped with it and slipped a cool finish under Ochoa’s outstretched leg for 1-0.
57 seconds into the second half, the ball was in the back of the net again, and again it was Pulisic who put it there. Weston McKennie launched the counter-attack with a stellar through ball to Tim Weah on the right flank. Weah raced into the penalty area and found Pulisic with a cross, and there was no mistake on the finish as the USMNT grabbed that famous dos a cero advantage once again.
Things went from bad to worse for Mexico in the 69th minute, when Cesar Montes kicked off a 40-man tussle after taking a dangerous swipe at the back of USMNT debutant Folarin Balohun’s legs. McKennie was also shown a red card for his alleged role in the ensuing scrum. Both sides down to 10.
Ricardo Pepi made it 3-0 in the 78th minute, four minutes after coming off the bench. Sergino Dest weaved his waved between and beyond three El Tri defenders and slipped the perfect through ball as Pepi made the perfect run at the perfect time, rounded Ochoa and finished into an empty net.
Dest’s day was done seven minutes later, though, for putting his hands in the face of Gerardo Arteaga, who moments earlier shoved Dest in the back after Edson Alvarez took a wild swipe of his own. Red for Dest, red for Arteaga. Both sides down to nine.
Before the game launched into 12 minutes of stoppage time (not all of which were fulfilled), there were a number of projectiles thrown onto the field by fans and a stoppage of play for a discriminatory chant which also rained down from the stands. The latter of which not withstanding, the USMNT vs Mexico rivalry appears to be alive and very healthy among the current generation.
Stars of the show
USMNT vs Canada in the 2022-23 CONCACAF Nations League final on Sunday (8:30 pm ET).
USMNT vs Mexico, final score: 3-0
37th minute - Captain Christian Pulisic puts USMNT ahead before halftime
46th minute - Christian Pulisic finishes Tim Weah’s cross right after halftime
79th minute - Ricardo Pepi makes it 3-0 after Segino Dest beats three defenders and plays the perfect pass
That said, the USMNT can still boast a brilliant 24-man squad that can put out a lineup with Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, Weston McKennie, and new forward Folarin Balogun.
If the Yanks win, they’ll face the winner of Peru and Canada -- which kicks off three hours prior -- to defend its CONCACAF Nations League crown.
The USMNT beat Grenada twice and El Salvador once in group play, also drawing La Selecta in San Salvador. Mexico beat Suriname twice and drew two matches with Jamaica in a tough Group A.
Former Tigres boss Diego Cocca will lead El Tri, who will not have Hirving Lozano, Jesus Manuel Corona, Raul Jimenez, Hector Herrera, and Nestor Araujo, but Mexico will have Edson Alvarez, Julian Araujo, and living legend goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa.
Title defense on? The Yanks will have every chance to come out on top, but matches with Mexico are always intense and the crowd will surely be split between CONCACAF’s two most accomplished nations.
How to watch USMNT vs Mexico, CONCACAF Nations League stream link
Kickoff time: 10pm ET Thursday
Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
TV channels, streaming in English: Paramount Plus
TV channels en Español: Univision