USMNT thrash Mexico: Nations League final awaits after controversy-filled match


The United States are one step closer to earning back-to-back Concacaf Nations League titles, steamrolling arch-rival Mexico with a 3-0 victory Thursday evening that booked a spot in Sunday’s final vs. Canada.

Star winger Christian Pulisic scored a brace at Allegiant Stadium before former FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi iced the match shortly after entering as a second-half substitute for debutant Folarin Balogun.

The result came at a cost, though, as both teams were reduced to nine men during a heated second half that included four red cards. After separate big dust-ups, head referee Iván Barton dismissed USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie and right back Sergiño Dest – two huge losses Canada will look to exploit when a trophy is on the line.

If the on-field events weren't wild enough, reports emerged during the first half that Gregg Berhalter, the USMNT's head coach for the 2022 World Cup cycle, will soon return to his post after a six-month absence. All the while, the USMNT were led against El Tri by B.J. Callaghan, their second interim coach of the new year since a Round-of-16 finish in Qatar.

Then with 12 minutes of second-half stoppage time unfolding, Barton abandoned the match well before the final stages could transpire – all due to the continued use of a homophobic chant by Mexican fans.


  • 37' - USA - Christian Pulisic | WATCH
  • 46' - USA - Christian Pulisic | WATCH
  • 78' - USA - Ricardo Pepi | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: The USMNT remain dominant against Mexico in recent years, going 4W-0L-2D since 2021. This rivalry has become one-sided, even as both programs are in flux with Berhalter possibly rejoining the Yanks and El Tri struggling under new manager Diego Cocca. The advent of a tres a cero scoreline? That will live in rivalry lore for years to come, especially with the USMNT now one match away from winning both the 2021 and 2023 Concacaf Nations League trophies.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The first set of red cards, which started with Mexican defender César Montes lashing out at Balogun, ended with an iconic photo of McKennie. That gained serious social media traction, but also leaves the USMNT shorthanded when facing Canada.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Pulisic, even after an up-and-down season at Chelsea, scored twice on either side of halftime. Time and time again, the 24-year-old steps up against El Tri.

Next Up

  • USA: Sunday, June 18 vs. Canada (8:30 pm ET | Paramount+, Univision) | Nations League Final
  • MEX: Sunday, June 18 vs. Panama (6 pm ET | Paramount+, Univision) | Nations League Third Place