Four changes for the USMNT from their semi-final win over Qatar, George Bello coming in for Sam Vines at left-back raising a few eyebrows. Gregg Berhalter has persisted with Daryl Dike up front but after Gyasi Zardes scored the winner against Qatar, the Columbus striker has got the nod. Also, Reggie Cannon has taken the place of Shaq Moore on the right side of defence and Portland’s Eryk Williamson comes in for Gianluca Busio.

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 1: George Bello #21 of the United States during a game between Mexico and USMNT at Allegiant Stadium on August 1, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 1: George Bello #21 of the United States during a game between Mexico and USMNT at Allegiant Stadium on August 1, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Moving on to Mexico team chosen by former Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino who lines up against two former players of his in Bello and Miles Robinson. Jonathan dos Santos of the Galaxy starts despite the sad news that his dad recently passed away and he is of course joined in midfield by the experienced Atleti man Hector Herrera. It was Herrera who scored the late winner to break Canadian hearts. Whilst Berhalter made a few changes for the USMNT though, Mexico went out with the same XI.

GLENDALE, AZ – JULY 24: Mexico midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos (6) reacts to a play in action during the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals match between Mexico and Honduras on July 24, 2021 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It took just a minute for the first moment of contention, USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner at the heart of it. He may have been his side’s best performer to date at this Gold Cup but he took a heavy touch on the ball and came close to giving away a penalty on Rogelio Funes Mori.

USA's goalkeeper Matt Turner sits with the Gold Cup award for Best Goalkeeper after the Concacaf Gold Cup football match final between Mexico and USA at the Allegiant stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 1, 2021. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
USA’s goalkeeper Matt Turner sits with the Gold Cup award for Best Goalkeeper after the Concacaf Gold Cup football match final between Mexico and USA at the Allegiant stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 1, 2021. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Mexico wanting an early penalty as Corona’s cross hits Bello’s arm, never going to get a decision for that though. Good to see that the El Tri boys were going to protest everything like their lives depended on it. Funes Mori vs Turner again and the latter makes a superb save as he leaps to his left to keep out the Mexico header.

Paul Arriola has a golden opportunity to give the USMNT the lead after some great work from Lletget. Talavera uses his body well to close down the space but the DC man has to score. Many USMNT fans were asking for him to be dropped and him hitting the post there certainly didn’t do himself any favours. On the other side, Funes Mori not being clinical enough and he is not a fans’ favourite in Mexico either.

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 01: Paul Arriola #7 of United States reacts after missing a chance to score during the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 final match between United States and Mexico at Allegiant Stadium on August 1, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 01: Paul Arriola #7 of United States reacts after missing a chance to score during the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 final match between United States and Mexico at Allegiant Stadium on August 1, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

0-0 at the break with Mexico bringing on Carlos Salcedo for the injured Hector Moreno right at the end of the half. Funes Mori had a few chances but squandered them all and the youthful USMNT side looked frantic at times. All still to play for at this point!

Pineda, who scored from the penalty spot in the semi-final settled himself well on the ball and had to at least put it on target. He followed on from the antics of Funes Mori though as he shot wide, another let off for a frantic USMNT backline.

Berhalter making a few changes just after the hour mark: Sebastian Lletget, Cannon and Bello being taken off with Christian Roldan (Seattle), Shaq Moore (Tenerife) and Sam Vines (Colorado) coming on in their respective places. Moore and Vines have both scored in this Gold Cup campaign despite being fullbacks and Roldan made the difference against Jamaica, coming off of the bench to assist Matthew Hoppe’s decisive strike.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – APRIL 24: Cristian Roldan #7 of Seattle Sounders looks on in the first half against the San Jose Earthquakes during their game at CenturyLink Field on April 24, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Hector Herrera has it boot so high that he manages to stud Williamson in the back of the head. The ref is quick to brandish a yellow card to the midfielder but on another day, the card could have been a different colour.

Oh my god! The resulting free-kick has to go in! Zardes can’t connect with it cleanly but it falls to Arriola just yards off of the line. He has to score but no! Talavera launches his whole body across and somehow, somehow manages to limit the damage to a corner and some pain for his troubles too.

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 01: Paul Arriola #7 of United States and goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera #1 of Mexico battle for the ball during the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 final match between the USMNT and Mexico at Allegiant Stadium on August 1, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 01: Paul Arriola #7 of United States and goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera #1 of Mexico battle for the ball during the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021 final match between the USMNT and Mexico at Allegiant Stadium on August 1, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

The game ebbed and flowed in the late stages but neither could find the opener. Thirty more minutes of the Gold Cup final between the USMNT and Mexico were in store as a result. More and more subs being made by both teams by this point of course.

Alan Pulido of Sporting Kansas City replaced the struggling Funes Mori at half time in extra time, Tata’s final roll of the dice for Mexico.  

It looked for all the while that the game was destined for a penalty shootout but just like when the pair met in the Nations League final a few months back, Berhalter’s USMNT had other ideas. That time around, it was a Pulisic penalty in extra-time before Ethan Horvath denied Andres Guardado from the spot in the dying embers. This time though, an Atlanta United man struck.

SANDY, UT – JUNE 10: Ethan Horvath #12 of the United States warming up before a game between Costa Rica and USMNT at Rio Tinto Stadium on June 10, 2021 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Miles Robinson who maybe didn’t get a look-in under Tata for the Five Stripes rose highest to head Kellyn Acosta’s in-swinging free-kick beyond the grasps of Talavera. The Mexico GK was arguably their best performer on the night and so it took something dominant and imposing like this to finally beat him.

USMNT defender Miles Robinson (C) and USA's Midfielder Kellyn Acosta (R) celebrate after winning the Concacaf Gold Cup football match final between Mexico and USA at the Allegiant stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 1, 2021. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
USMNT defender Miles Robinson (C) and USA’s Midfielder Kellyn Acosta (R) celebrate after winning the Concacaf Gold Cup football match final between Mexico and USA at the Allegiant stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 1, 2021. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The emotion was evident for all of these young guys who, for the most part anyway, haven’t had much experience for the USMNT and certainly not in games of this magnitude. The Nations League defeat put Tata’s job under pressure and so this will compound the misery tenfold given the gulf in talent on paper between the two. Atlanta have of course just parted ways with Gabriel Heinze so there could potentially be a return to the Benz for the Argentine.

GLENDALE, AZ – JULY 24: Mexico head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino looks on in action during the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals match between Mexico and Honduras on July 24, 2021 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Matt Turner made some excellent saves as he has throughout the tournament and in MLS for the Revs too. It was a great game all-in-all with both sides coming close on a number of occasions and with the game destined to be determined by spot-kicks, Miles Robinson had other ideas clearly. This has truly been a historic summer for the USMNT and Berhalter deserves so much credit, World Cup qualifying is still to come this year too!

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