US ‘junior varsity’ lineup upsets Mexico 1-0 to win Gold Cup

Sports

United States celebrate their extra-time victory over Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final soccer match Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Miles Robinson scored on a header in the 117th minute, and a United States junior varsity lineup upset a mostly front-line Mexico team 1-0 on Sunday night to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Kellyn Acosta, one of two players in the U.S. starting lineup who gets playing time when the first-choice roster is together, took a free kick, and Robinson outjumped Edson Álvarez and headed the ball in on one hop to the right of goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera.

Robinson, a 24-year-old defender in his fourth Major League Soccer season with Atlanta, got his third international goal in nine international appearances, his second goal of the tournament.

Matt Turner got his fifth shutout in six matches of the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. The Americans won all three knockout matches by 1-0 scores.

Sporting Kansas City players Gianluca Busio and Alan Pulido made appearances for the United States and Mexico respectively.

Pulido was subbed on in extra time in the 105th minute for Rogelio Funes Mori. Busio replaced Eryk Williamson in the 87th minute.

The U.S. won its seventh Gold Cup title, its first since 2017, matching Mexico for the most in the 15 tournaments. Canada won in 2000. It was just the second victory for the Americans in seven finals against El Tri.

The U.S. has won nine consecutive games overall and 14 home games in a row.

Top players, who are with their clubs for European preseasons, will return when the U.S. opens World Cup qualifying at El Salvador on Sept. 2. Mexico starts at home that day against Jamaica.

Before an overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd, El Tri started seven of the 11 players who began the Nations League final that the U.S. won in extra time in June on Christian Pulisic’s 114th-minute penalty kick: defenders Luis Rodríguez, Néstor Araujo, Héctor Moreno and Jesús Gallardo plus midfielders Álvarez, Jesús Corona and Héctor Herrera. The newcomers were Talavera, midfielders Jonathan dos Santos and Orbelín Pineda, and forward Rogelio Funes Mori, starting in place of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa plus Carlos Rodríguez, Uriel Antuna and Hirving Lozano.

The U.S. lineup included nine players from Major League Soccer.

The field CONCACAF chose was 69 yards wide, narrower than the recommended 75 yards.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter made four changes from the lineup in the semifinal win over Qatar, inserting Reggie Cannon for Shaq Moore, George Bello for Sam Vine, Eryk Williamson for Busio and Gyasi Zardes for Daryl Dike. Acosta was joined by Sebastian Lletget as the only starters from the primary player pool.

Defender Henry Kessler made his debut for the U.S. in extra time stoppage time.

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