In a chaotic, contentious game, the home side had to battle individual mistakes, the familiar El Tri swarm, unfamiliar tactics, injuries and some debated officiating that featured three VAR decisions. In the end, Weston McKennie led the way to victory with a comprehensive display that included an 89th minute rescue goal to send the game to extra time.
United States Men's National Team Player Ratings
The US netminder might like another shot at stopping Jesus Corona's fast opener, but the danger was upon him so suddenly it would be harsh to fault him on it. Before leaving with an injury, Steffen was solid, with a monster 43rd minute save his top highlight.
I did not ding the Genk defender for his late penalty foul, as the ball skimmed off his hand from mere inches away. There were much bigger problems caused by McKenzie's shaky work on the ball. His errant pass gifted Mexico the first goal only a minute in, and he was later bailed out on similar giveaways. The youngster did make some strong clearances and blocks, and he possesses the talent to mean this performance could very well prove a valuable learning experience.
Perhaps thrown off by the formation change, Brooks made a string of tentative errors that put the team in trouble. The Wolfsburg center back did not have his usual passing lanes, so his incisive distribution game was mostly offline. He did do well to play the last 110 minutes carrying a yellow card, and made a few important interventions along the way, but the overall showing wasn't up to his expected standard.
The veteran center back pitched in by offering plenty of possession support, but was simply pulled out and beaten by pace far too often for comfort.
With so much of the play away from his flank, Yedlin didn't take part in many instances of note during regulation. The Galatasaray right-sider did fit in a couple of timely defensive stops during extras before departing with a knock, though.
The first half hour of the game was pretty rough on the Colorado Rapids midfielder, but he grew into it and started helping McKennie run things. Acosta found ways to play the team out of the back and added some heady defensive work when shifted over to left back in the late going, but picked up one more sizable demerit for being among the guilty that didn't properly close down Diego Lainez on his goal.
For all those wondering if McKennie could develop into a guy who'd put on a do-it-all star show in the big game, you now have the answer. The Juventus midfielder was everywhere, doing a little bit of everything and he had a hand in nearly every positive development for the US on this night. One restart header put the team's first equalizer on a tee and another one bagged its second in the nick of time. Long story short, McKennie was the best player on the field by a mile.
The Barcelona talent got loose for an impressive early scamper, and you thought that might be an omen. However, Dest just could not shake Luis Rodriguez after that, and he also came up short defensively on various occasions.
The Borussia Dortmund kid definitely disappeared from the match for stretches, but was present in the big moments. Reyna was on the spot to tap home the first US goal, and picked out McKennie with a fine corner kick delivery for the second equalizer. He also tracked back well to contribute some needed defensive interventions.
Though not served by the team's lethargy for much of the first half, Sargent managed some link play and one decent attempt on goal. That was about it for the Werder Bremen forward.
The newest Captain America's oddly loose touch hampered several rushes in a poor first half, but he atoned for it with a few terrific corner serves, one of which pulled the US level the first time. After the break, Pulisic pulled it together to initiate some dangerous rushes with great turns in between the lines. And with everything on the line, he made the winning penalty conversion look easy.
I'm still not convinced the shape change to a 3-4-3 was wise, and the same can be said about some of the personnel decisions for this game. That said, the boys never dropped their heads when mistakes happened and never packed it in when they were trailing. There's a certain team atmosphere that allows them to pull off a double rally against an archrival that has typically foiled them in recent years, and Berhalter gets due props for that.
The Ligue 1 champ put the team on the front foot a few times with bursts up field, but could not turn those rushes into chances.
Well, gosh, I'm not sure one could ask any more of a injury replacement goalie in a title match. Horvath had little chance at stopping the Lainez strike that temporarily put Mexico ahead, and shook it off to save the USMNT's bacon after they'd tied the game near the end of regulation. Of course, he capped off the win with a dutiful chips-down penalty save on Andres Guardado.
The substitute striker did a bit of road plowing, but was never able to threaten the Mexico defense.
The first thing Adams did upon entering the fray was make a big tackle. He kept his intensity high at the back until the job was done.
The LA Galaxy man was largely invisible for the majority of his 38 minutes, but picked up his two-way play over the decisive waning moments of overtime.
The Boavista right back won a pair of important battles with the US protecting its lead late.