East Rutherford, New Jersey — The rain cleared over MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford in time for the United States Men’s National Team to welcome CONCACAF rivals Mexico. This is the 70th interaction of the storied matchup. While listed as an international friendly, there was no love lost between these sides.
Yanks Overcome in Opening 45
From the opening whistle, Mexico maintained their footing. While defenders Sergiño Dest and Aaron Long were able to disrupt the advances, play remained in the Yanks’s defensive third. Christian Pulisic found himself swarmed while on the ball. Mexico’s press more down the US. In the 21st minute, a cross from Jesus Manuel Corona found Javier Hernandez. Chicharito’s header put Mexico up by one. Although Pulisic had a couple of breakaways, the chances were few and far between. The Yanks went into the locker room seemingly down but not out at the half.
Subs Make the Difference
Gerardo “Tata” Martino handled second half substitutions to capitalize on the advantage. Erick Gutierrez and Uriel Antuna, who both began the match on the bench, scored late in the second half. The United States was awarded a penalty when Jordan Morris was taken down in the box. Bundesliga teenager Josh Sargent stepped up to the spot but was unable to convert.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) September 7, 2019
What does it Mean?
Being a friendly, there are few real takeaways from this match. The USMNT is not at full strength, still missing Tyler Adams and Tim Weah. Manager Gregg Berhalter opted to start Gyasi Zardes over the likes of Sargent, indicating he might not be looking to usher in the next generation entirely. And there is no two ways about it: advantage went to El Tri. Mexico enjoyed a near home- field experience. They responded with pressing and physicality.
It’s easy to throw up hands and dismiss the U.S. Men’s National Team. However, Berhalter is emphasizing development. “We believe we are making progress,” he said in the post-match presser. If he is in for the long game, maybe fans should try it as well.