With a golden opportunity to win the inaugural Concacaf Nations League championship at home, the senior U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) will take on archrival Mexico in tonight’s finale in Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. In the tournament’s consolation match, Costa Rica will go up against Honduras.
The U.S. advanced to the championship bracket by defeating a defiant Honduras side 1-0 in a nail-biter of a match on the evening of June 3. Costa Rica succumbed to a high-octane Mexico squad during a thrilling six-round penalty kick shootout that brought thousands of enthusiastic fans to their feet.
A vibrant and vocal crowd is expected again this evening, complete with a blend of American Outlaws chapters and Pancho Villa’s Army supporter groups. Thursday night’s games brought out nearly 35,000 fans under mandated limited attendance.
U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter’s elite 23-player roster includes Colorado Rapids’ versatile box-to-box midfielder, Kellyn Acosta, along with Colorado Real Soccer Club product and goalkeeper Ethan Horvath. Horvath did not see action in Thursday’s game, however, was the starting keeper for the Yanks when they played in Saint Gallen against a dogged Swiss team that ranks 13th in the FIFA men’s table. Acosta came into the match against Honduras in the 83rd minute for Jackson Yueill. Berhalter also employed Acosta as the holding midfielder against Switzerland.
During his pre-match meeting with the media at Mile High Stadium, Berhalter told The Burgundy Wave that Acosta checks off all the necessary boxes. “Kellyn has done a great job of working his way into the mix. He a great player. He showed his versatility in the last camp by playing in the six-position, and in the Switzerland game as well. We think he can also play attacking midfielder. He has a broad skill set. He a great guy and teammate. So, he checks all the boxes and he is a guy we are counting on.”
The Stars and Stripes vs El Tri
The USMNT last faced Mexico in a competitive fixture on July 7, 2019, during the Gold Cup Championship match in Chicago. The Yanks went down 1-0 late in the second half of a see-saw game from start until the final whistle. The U.S. was outshot 20 to 11, and Mexico went home with another Concacaf trophy.
On the other side of the field, U.S’s rising striker Christian Pulisic earned Young Player of the Gold Cup Tournament honors. The starting XI then for the United States had an average age of 25 years, 175 days, and 41 caps. Tonight, Beharter’s roster has an average of 17 caps. As of June 6th, the players came in at an average age of 23 years, with 13 of the 23 members of the team being 23 or younger.
Despite being youthful, this is one of the most talented teams that the U.S. has fielded. Eight players will be a part of next year’s Champions League. According to U.S. Soccer, in Germany, the Yanks populate three of the top four with Tyler Adams playing for RB Leipzig, forward Gio Reyna with Borussia Dortmund, and center back John Brooks for Wolfsburg FC. Members of this USMNT finished in the top four in each of the five biggest leagues in Europe, starting with the league title winners in England, Zack Steffen with Manchester City and Tim Weah for Lille. Sergiño Dest completed his first season at Barcelona, and Weston McKennie with Italy’s Juventus.
On May 29th, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic became the first American to play and win in a UEFA Champions League final. During the same press conference with Berhalter, a beaming Pulisic said, “It’s been an incredible couple of days, definitely. Obviously, getting to celebrate and having some family and friends there and be with my teammates was an incredible achievement, so we’re really proud. And, yeah, now it’s right back to work. But I’m happy, I’m excited to have a chance to go after this trophy with the national team, and, yeah, I’m ready to go.”
“Any time you get teams together to compete in a tournament format, it’s exciting. And with this being the first version of that, we want to win it and we want to compete to lift that first trophy,” Berhalter said before a recent training session at Dick’s Sporting Good Park. “It’s involving the top teams in our region, so that’s a good thing. When you watch the European Nations League, it was great. The semifinals and final was a great event, and I think we’re helping—it’s a help to the smaller soccer nations that get to compete in these events. And then when you get to the semifinals and the final is when you get to see the big nations squaring off against each other. For us, it’s a great competitive event... These guys are competitive and they want to win trophies.”
The head coach and U.S fans expect the team to come out with pace and nose-to-nose tenacity against Mexico, as this roster appears to the group that Berhalter will field next month through August when the team embarks on the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup tournament. Thereafter, they will commence their run at securing a spot in FIFA’s 2022 World Cup tournament in Qatar. To qualify, the Yanks will need to run the table with wins in the 2021-2022 Concacaf Octagonal, which kicks off this September and runs through March 2022.
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Sunday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. MT
Venue: Empower Field, Mile High Stadium
TV Information: Univision, TUDN, Paramount+, CBS Sports Network
USMNT NATIONS CUP FINALS ROSTER BY POSITION BY (CLUB/COUNTRY; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 5/0), David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 21/0)
DEFENDERS (8): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 41/3), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 15/0), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 8/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 3/0), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 21/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 43/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 10/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 63/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 28/2),Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 12/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 21/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 22/6), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 5/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 10/0)
FORWARDS: (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 5/2), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 35/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 5/2), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 14/5), Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys/SUI; 3/0), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 11/1)