USMNT Nations League won
The USMNT won the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League trophy in a thrilling 3-2 victory over rivals Mexico, and the game was an instant classic.(VIA Getty Images)

The USMNT Won the CONCACAF Nations League: A Reaction

The golden generation of U.S. soccer has officially arrived. Years of anticipation and build-up came together as the USMNT won the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League. The United States beat their archrivals El Tri – Mexico, for all of you who don’t follow soccer – in a game that was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was pure chaos, and it was a better fight than whatever most of the country watched between Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul.

The U.S. conceded early with a negligent pass from out-of-position center-back Mark McKenzie. Jesús Corona pounced on the young CB’s mistake and had Mexico up a goal just 63 seconds into the game. But the United States, like they did all night, battled back. An out-swinging cross from Christian Pulisic found the head of Weston McKennie, who muscled it down towards the left corner. It took a hard bounce off the post. Fortunately, Giovanni Reyna – son of one of America’s greatest soccer players Claudio Reyna – slotted in the deflection to bring the U.S. level.

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The struggle and chaos between the two sides continued for the next 50 minutes or so, with equally good chances on offense and terrible defensive positioning for both sides. Mexico super-sub Diego Lainez was able to break the tie in the 79th minute with a cut inside on his left foot and a well-taken strike that U.S. substitute goalkeeper Ethan Horvath couldn’t save. But the U.S. once again battled back and evened the score in less than three minutes, with the ever-present McKennie finally getting his name on the scoresheet with a powerful header on an in-swinging cross from Reyna.

The game found its way into extra time after a couple of missed chances and brilliant saves by both keepers. In those additional 30 minutes, Horvath showed little nerve, stopping and handling multiple El Tri attacks on the wings and several curling shots from Lainez and Hirving Lozano. The breakthrough came around the 108th minute when American superstar Pulisic drove into the Mexico defense and was clipped inside the penalty box. After a VAR review, the penalty was granted. And I must insert here that you can feel however you want about the legitimacy of the call, but both questionable penalties were given.

Pulisic took the penalty with confidence, burying it in the upper 90 and giving the ultimate f*** you to the El Tri fans by shushing them with the entire squad at his back. At this moment, we were granted the coldest picture in U.S. soccer history, and I will not waver from this point.

This what it means to be an American soccer player at the moment. Unapologetically brash and confident, because that’s what it takes to be successful at the international level.

Oh, and I’m forgetting the most important moment of the night. I already mentioned that both sides were given questionable penalties in the second extra time period, and Mexico’s came in the 120th minute. A handball off the forearm of McKenzie was the reason that substitute midfielder Andrés Guardado stepped to the spot. He had a long run up, a quick shuffle of his feet, and on his left foot, tried to slot the PK past Horvath. Horvath guessed right, and with his right hand, palmed the ball away from the net. It was spectacular.

The United States would hold on for the remaining four or so minutes and then the celebrations began. We all saw what it meant for this young and resilient squad. They battled all night through multiple missed chances, offensive stagnation, defensive mistakes, and several injuries. But through it all, the spirit of the squad remained.

I leave you with this. If you are a United States citizen and have not yet backed the men’s national team – you should already have been backing the women – then hop on this bandwagon now. The golden generation of U.S. soccer has announced itself on the global stage, and hopefully, as Reyna put it, this CONCACAF Nations League trophy is the first of many hardware for the USMNT.

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