The final of the League of Nations of Concacaf did not have the most favorable accumulation.
Postponed for several months due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and awkwardly wedged between the end of many club seasons and the start of more notable summer tournaments – the culmination of the newly formed race initially seemed like a forced assignment. Along with Mexico and the United States, limping in Sunday̵
Instead, this unforgettable (and at times controversial) race continued in Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High.
After insane 130-minute football minutes, which included two contested penalties, two intense halves of extra time, a red card for Mexico manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino, fans throwing shells on the field, a fan running on the field, battles between players and reserve goalkeeper Ethan Horvat, who comes down from the bench to secure the American trophy, it is difficult to choose the most important (and really low level) of the chaotic 3: 2 victory for USMNT.
First and foremost, however, we must discuss the full spectacle of all this.
The current rivalry between the United States and Mexico has often been criticized for lacking the same bite and passion for memorable matches from the 1990s and early 2000s, but Sunday’s game was reversed, with heated debate, silly challenges and dramatic goals. Perhaps more importantly, the final was a fantastic advertisement for both teams, as they are preparing to host the 2026 World Cup together with Canada.
And when you consider that collaborations are being built between Liga MX and MLS – as a star game to be announced this Wednesday according to the LA Times – there is no doubt that matches like the League of Nations final will help more eyes and investment in North American football. .
That said, in order for growth to continue, those in charge will have to work on stopping some of the infamous scenes that have overshadowed the otherwise exciting match.
After what turned out to be the winning game by Christian Pulisic in the second half of overtime, the Chelsea player celebrated in front of Mexican fans, some of whom flooded the player with glasses and drinks. During this celebration, his teammate Giovanni Reina was hit in the head by a projectile. This was not a lonely incident either: Mexico striker Henry Martin was also hit on the head during the match.
Unfortunately, this is nothing new in the games on both sides of the US-Mexico border, as well as the return of the disgusting homophobic chant “puta.” While it is remarkable to admit that the campaigns have helped to significantly quell the chanting that once sounded in unison with Mexican supporters during every knock on the door for opposing teams, they were still strong enough to be able to the referee to continue with an anti-discrimination protocol, which stopped for a moment after the 90th minute.
Sunday’s chants also sparked a response from the Mexican Football Federation (FMF). On Monday afternoon, FMF issued a statement urging supporters to avoid “discriminatory chanting” and “acts of violence from the stands, such as throwing objects on the ground.” Five people were also arrested during the game, including a man accused of hitting Reina with a shell.
However, the match will undoubtedly remain one of the biggest in the rivalry between Mexico and the United States.
For USMNT, although Pulisic was given numerous applause for his winning goal, it was Horvat who was the real hero. Initially on the bench, the 25-year-old was unexpectedly pushed into action in the 69th minute when starting goalkeeper Zack Stephen was injured.
Horvat not only spectacularly saved a number of shots that could win the game for Mexico during the regulation, he also stopped a late penalty that would have sent the game to a shot.
The match almost turned in Mexico’s favor as well, with Jesus “Tekatito” Corona, Herving “Chuckie” Lausanne and Diego Laines, who came close to sealing the title for El Tri.
Still, the United States with a youth list has found a way to solidify the victory. Reinforced by a golden generation of exciting conquerors, this was the first competitive victory for the United States over Mexico since 2013.
A new chapter has started in the rivalry and more important tournaments are on the horizon, such as the qualifications for the gold cup and the world cup. Sunday’s fireworks can be just an appetizer in an intriguing year for both teams.