There were so many memorable moments to emerge from the 120-minute-plus marathon, we take a look back at five of the best from the latest chapter in the US-Mexico rivalry.
When Gio Reyna slammed in a rebound to level the match at 1 in the first half, it wasn’t just a special moment for the Borussia Dortmund teenager, but for his parents as well. Austin FC sporting director Claudio Reyna and Danielle Egan Reyna — who both represented the US in international competition — were in the stands at Empower Field at Mile High thrilled for their son’s accomplishment.
What’s a US-Mexico match without a heated confrontation or two? When substitute goalkeeper Ethan Horvath (more on his heroics later) was fouled by Hector Herrera, it all kicked off in second-half stoppage time. Herrera grabbed Weston McKennie by the throat, DeAndre Yedlin and Hirving Lozano exchanged shoves and John Brooks, with the ball tucked under his arm, wisely just walked around surveying the situation, having already been booked early in the match.
It would get uglier later when Reyna was struck by a projectile during a team celebration of Christian Pulisic’s winning penalty (more on that below) and more debris was hurled deep into extra time when Pulisic was fouled by the touchline. In fact, Mexico’s Luis Romo was hit by a cup in that fracas.
When referee John Pitti walked to the Video Review monitor for the second of three times in the game to decide whether Pulisic was fouled in the box, he was met there by Mexican coach Tata Martino. While Pitti was reviewing the play on the monitor — which were unusually located between the benches — the former Atlanta United manager put his hand on Pitti’s shoulder. The Panamanian official, in turn, sent Martino off for unwarranted contact with a match official.
After the aforementioned VAR decision, and the remonstrating that followed, Pulisic stepped to the spot against the ageless Memo Ochoa trying to give the USMNT its first lead of the game. The Chelsea midfielder buried that chance, ripped off his jersey and shushed the El Tri fans showering him, and teammates, with beer and other debris.
The match’s seminal moment would come even later after another VAR decision ruled Mark McKenzie handled the ball in the box and Andres Guardado looked to match Pulisic’s penalty to level late for El Tri and perhaps force a shootout.
But in the 124th minute, Horvath became the unlikely hero. The Highlands Ranch, Col. Native dived to his right to get an arm on Guardado’s low attempt, securing the win and a first title for this young USMNT.