The United States defeated Mexico 1-0 on Tuesday night in Nashville in a game that only loosely resembled high-level international soccer for much of the 90 minutes, but the sides produced one shining moment to take away from Music City. And it wasn't Tyler Adams' game-winning goal.
For what will survive throughout internet-eternity, Matt Miazga and Diego Lainez took the lead on injecting accustomed hate into the new-look US-Mexico rivalry with so many new players being blood in for the first time.
Throughout a largely dull affair, Lainez was one of the brightest players on the pitch, typified by dusting Wil Trapp down the byline and nearly setting up a goal for Mexico. Meanwhile, Miazga anchored the USMNT defense and further boldened his inside track at holding his place in the XI for years to come.
The pair clashed in the second half and neither backed down, jolting life into an insipid friendly.
Here's the whole Miazga/Lainez/Alvarez confrontation pic.twitter.com/DEHFq0ykjh— Juan Velazquez (@JuanDirection58) September 12, 2018
Miazga and Lainez's moment is a transitional one. It showed in the first post-2018 World Cup encounter between Mexico and the United States that the rivalry isn't back — it never left.
This is far from the last time Lainez, 18, and Miazga, 23, will line up opposite each other as the pair figure to feature heavily for their countries going forward. And it wasn't just Lainez that Miazga was concerned with; he was also sure to bid au revoir to Angel Zaldivar as he exited the pitch following his red card minutes after Miazga's dust-up with Lainez.
Las burlas de Miazga no sólo fueron para Lainez, pues también 'despidió' a Zaldívar cuando lo expulsaron pic.twitter.com/EfWeHOgrDq— CANCHA (@reformacancha) September 12, 2018
Zaldivar, suffice to say, was none too pleased with the gamesmanship.
“You see what their values are," Zaldivar told Univision after the match. "They don’t know how to win. They poked fun, tried to play a dirty game that honestly we don’t think is how you should play. That’s their game."
The young cores for each side are only just embarking on their international voyage, setting up a fresh chapter to the old rivalry.
Adams, 19, and Weston McKennie, 20, have shown they seldom back down from a challenge. USA's boy wonder Christian Pulisic, 19, who wasn't in the squad due to injury, isn't perturbed by a little physicality.
Lainez, Zaldivar, 24, and Roberto Alvarado, 20, figure to take on growing roles in this drama while Mexico was missing their talisman Hirving Lozano, 23, on Tuesday as well.
To help fully boil the rivalry, the old guard will likely have roles to play. Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Giovani dos Santos, Javier Hernandez and other veterans could be back in competitive matches in the near future.
Tuesday night was just a friendly, extremely light on players with experience. Ostensibly both sides were without their best player, Pulisic and Lozano, and for 70 minutes the game was lackluster and tepid.
But, Miazga and Lainez helped shake up the match and elevate it to normal standards of USA-Mexico feistiness. It reminds us the new rivalry is a lot like the old rivalry — just with new faces.