Football matches in North America don’t come any bigger than USA versus Mexico — especially when it’s a World Cup qualifier like last night’s heated encounter in Cincinnati, which produced yet another classic #DosACero in favor of the US. With the 2-0 win, the USMNT move into first place halfway through “the Octagonal”, with El Tri second on goal difference and Canada* and Panama not far behind either (by one and three points, respectively).
The match itself has been described as a “tornado”, though a mostly (and surprisingly) one-sided one, with the home side putting together a fine qualifying performance the likes of which have been rare under head coach Gregg Berhalter.
But things didn’t get truly dramatic until the final 20 minutes, which saw the introduction of Christian Pulisic off the bench, who wasted absolutely no time in scoring the game’s first goal, which would prove to be the winner. (Weston McKennie made it 2-0 late on.)
The goal was set up by Timmy Weah (son of former Chelsea striker and current President of Liberia, George Weah) with a nice ball in from the right, but full credit also to Pulisic for cutting across his defender to get his head to the ball and direct it into the back of the net.
⚽ ¡Gooooool de @USMNT!— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) November 13, 2021
⚽ ¡Gooooool de @USMNT!
⚽ ¡Gooooool de @USMNT!
Goooool del Capitán América, Goooool de Christian Pulisic
EN VIVO https://t.co/fareZZpWOa
TUDN#ChoqueDeGigantes | #CaminoACatar | #Concacaf pic.twitter.com/t7JfZoISvJ
Pulisic celebrated by pulling up his shirt to reveal a message written on his undershirt: “Man in the mirror”.
It was a reference to Mexico goalkeeper Memo Ochoa’s pre-match comments about how the USMNT want to see El Tri when they look in the mirror.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the banterest of them all?
Memo Ochoa: "Mexico is the mirror in which the United States wants to see itself"— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 13, 2021
Christian Pulisic: pic.twitter.com/bm5B10N5Zi
Pulisic then survived a horror challenge from Mexico’s Héctor Herrera with all limbs intact, as the game got increasingly CONCACAF-y. After a few handbags and assorted asides, the US even had a man sent off, but would hold on to the massive 2-0 win.
Earlier today, over in Europe, Reece James picked up an assist in England’s 5-0 win over Albania (Chilwell also played; Mount for England and Broja for Albania were both missing through injury) while Jorginho missed another penalty to consign Italy to a 1-1 draw with Switzerland (Emerson also played).
Meanwhile, Billy Gilmour featured in Scotland’s 2-0 win over Moldova, which has guaranteed them a spot in the playoffs, and Andreas Christensen played the full-90 in Denmark’s 3-1 win over Faroe Islands. The 89th-minute consolation for the visitors was the first goal Denmark have conceded all qualifying campaign.
* Incidentally, Canada’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica featured a late cameo debut from former Chelsea prospect Ike Ugbo, who recently switched allegiance from England to America’s Hat. Congrats, Ike!