A gallant effort wasn't quite enough for the US national team in their Concacaf Gold Cup championship game duel against Mexico, who took home their eighth regional crown thanks to a fine late decider by LA Galaxy star Jonathan dos Santos.
There's no avoiding the cliché after this one, which was clearly defined by two markedly different halves. The US were on the top of their game in the first half, earning a near-even split of possession and the better scoring chances. They were unable to capitalize on one, however, and Mexico's halftime adjustments had them in charge until Dos Santos capped a nice move with a nicer shot in off the bar.
Zack Steffen (6) — The US netminder wasn't severely tested until the late goal, but made all his light work look easy. It could be argued that Steffen was a step out of position on that winner, making him unable to fashion a lunge at a tricky shot. Still, not many 'keepers would stop that.
Reggie Cannon (7) — The FC Dallas youngster was a beast in the first half, shutting down El Tri business in his corner and scampering effectively into attack. Though Cannon didn't commit any errors after the break, his influence largely faded.
Matt Miazga (7) — The center back defended crosses well, as you'd expect, and came up with a couple of massive emergency defense plays. Miazga did lose a second half free kick mark, but held up pretty well throughout the game.
Aaron Long (6.5) — Like his partner, Long was commanding in the air. On the other hand, his lack of recognition in the lanes allowed a couple of low feeds to get through. Unsurprisingly, the New York Red Bulls defender managed transition situations well, and he hastily recovered to squash danger after misjudging a high bouncer.
Tim Ream (6) — Apart from one second half Mexico rush that exposed the Fulham man's lack of quickness, he played safe and sound. That description extends to Ream's vertical passing game, as it mostly went missing on this night.
Michael Bradley (6) — The veteran midfielder barely put a foot wrong in the opening frame. Bradley was passing elegantly to the wings and making big defensive plays in the US area. He became far too easy to cut out after intermission and three major giveaways only helped the visitors continue tilting the field. The Toronto FC ace nearly made up for all of that with a clever late run-and-cross out wide.
Weston McKennie (3.5) — The night's captain drove play early, mostly by hopping on his horse to break pressure. For the last hour or so, McKennie's oft-noted weaknesses popped up and stayed up. He was unable to get on the ball to have build impact and needed to do more when Mexico started leaning on the US. A tough outing sank to its low when he neglected to track Dos Santos on the winner.
Christian Pulisic (7) — The new Chelsea star was a constant menace in the first half, repeatedly finding separation and then the fast lane to the opposing box. However, Pulisic missed a great early chance and was never quite able to carve out one as good the rest of the way.
Jordan Morris (5.5) — The Seattle Sounders attacker keyed a couple of early maneuvers, and then generally disappeared until having a header cleared off the line just before Mexico's goal. Morris could have tracked back a little more, but his biggest defensive snafu came on a US area turnover that caused headaches.
Paul Arriola (7) — The D.C. United winger was terrific for the first 50 odd minutes, by both darting into attack with intent and hustling back to offer help defense. Arriola perhaps ran out of gas after that.
Jozy Altidore (7) — The big guy was running some different level link-up game in the first half, with nearly all the threatening US advances going through him with style. But, boy oh boy, we'll always wonder how the game would have turned out had he not wasted a slick turn to create a 1-v-1 chance before missing wide.
Coach Gregg Berhalter (5) — Like several of his charges, the manager's mark is a tale of two halves. Berhalter engineered a cool first period, but simply could not turn the tide once Mexico hogged the ball. The boss' late game management earns a big demerit, as the Zardes change seemed premature and there's simply no excuse for tabbing a left back over fresh attacking legs when trailing a title game by one goal in the waning moments. In particular, that Lovitz substitution was not only tardy, it was entirely ill-conceived.
Cristian Roldan (7) — Working out of position, the Seattle midfielder battled like a demon for 30 minutes. Roldan's pluck kept some late attacking moves alive and Mexico had to nervously block away his driven attempt at the equalizer.
Gyasi Zardes (6.5) — The strike sub was unable to take down long balls or find free space like his predecessor, but did continue the good hold-up play though given rare opportunities.
Daniel Lovitz (-) — No muss, no fuss in a late cameo.