The U.S. Men’s National Team goes has a chance at a trophy when it faces bitter rivals Mexico on Sunday in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League Final. Coverage of USA-Mexico begins at 9 p.m. ET on Univision, TUDN, CBS Sports Network and Paramount+, with kickoff set for 9:36 p.m. ET.
Here are Five Things to Know about El Trí:
Historically, Mexico has been one of the strongest teams in the region, qualifying for the past seven FIFA World Cups. I also participated in the FIFA Confederations Cup on seven occasions (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2013 and 2017) and won the 1999 edition of the tournament, which it also hosted. It has also won the Concacaf Gold Cup a record eight times (the U.S. has six confederation titles), with the last victory coming in 2019, following a 1-0 win against the USMNT in the final.
The Federación Mexicana de Fútbol unveiled Gerardo “Tata” Martino as its newest head coach on Jan. 7, 2019, replacing interim manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferreti. Since taking over Mexico, Martino has led El Trí to an 21-2-3 record, which includes guiding the team to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup title and Sunday’s Nations League Final.
Martino has been largely successful throughout his coaching career which includes stops at the helm of the Paraguay and Argentina national teams on the international stage as well as Newell’s Old Boys in his native Argentina and Barcelona at the club level. Martino has guided his teams to second-place finishes in many of the sport’s most prestigious competitions, including the Copa Libertadores and La Liga at club level and the Copa America and World Cup on the international stage.
Martino’s latest stint before joining Mexico ended in success as he guided Atlanta United FC to the 2018 MLS Cup title in the team’s second season of existence.
Nations League Path
Mexico cruised through its Nations League group in the fall of 2019, winning all four of its home-and-away matches against Bermuda and Panama to advance to the final four which was originally supposed to be held last June, but postponed due to the global health pandemic.
Costa Rica provided a stern test in Thursday’s semifinal, holding El Trí scoreless through 90 minutes before Mexico got the upper hand with a 5-4 win in penalties to setup Sunday’s CNL Final with the USMNT.
USMNT HISTORY VS. MEXICO
The U.S. Men’s National Team played its first game against Mexico in 1934, winning 4-2 in Rome, Italy, in a one-off qualifying match for the 1934 FIFA World Cup. The U.S. didn’t win another game against Mexico until 1980, when two goals from Steve Moyers resulted in a 2-1 victory on Nov. 23 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
While Mexico had historically dominated the series, competition between the teams has grown into a proper rivalry since 2000 during which time the U.S. has held the edge, amassing a record of 14-9-6 against its neighbors to the south. The most important meeting in the modern era came at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan in the Round of 16. Goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan knocked Mexico out of the World Cup following a 2-0 shutout at Jeonju Stadium in Jeonju, South Korea.
The teams have met three times during the current World Cup cycle. Tyler Adams scored his first international goal to lead the USMNT to a 1-0 victory in a friendly on Sept. 11, 2018 in Nashville, Tenn.
About a year later, Mexico bested the USMNT 1-0 in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup final, before defeating the USMNT 3-0 in a friendly two months later in East Rutherford, N.J.
There is a stark distinction in experience and age between Mexico and the USA’s rosters for the Concacaf Nations League Finals. El Trí’s roster averages 28 years/89 days and 40 caps, in contrast to the U.S. squad which has an average age of 23 years/336 days and 18 caps.
Part of the Mexico senior team for well over a decade, the 100-cap trio of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, defender Héctor Moreno and captain and midfielder Andrés Guardado continue to play important roles for El Trí, while youngsters Edson Alvarez (Ajax), Uriel Antuna (Guadalajara), Diego Lainez (Real Betis) show the promise of Mexico’s next generation of players.
Defender Gerardo Arteaga is teammates with USMNT center back Mark McKenzie at Belgian side Genk, while forward Alan Pulido is the lone U.S.-based player on the squad, currently playing for Sporting Kansas City.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Rodolfo Cota (León; 4/0), Guillermo Ochoa (Club América; 112/0), Alfredo Talavera (Pumas UNAM; 31/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Néstor Araujo (Celta Vigo/ESP; 43/3), Gerardo Arteaga (Genk/BEL; 9/0), Jesús Gallardo (Monterrey; 52/), Héctor Moreno (Unattached; 111/4), Luis Rodríguez (Tigres), Carlos Salcedo (Tigres; 40/1), Jorge Sánchez (Club América; 13/0)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Edson Álvarez (Ajax/NED; 37/2), Uriel Antuna (Guadalajara; 18/8), Sebastián Córdova (Club América; 6/2), Andrés Guardado (Real Betis/ESP; 167/28), Hector Herrera (Atlético Madrid/ESP; 80/6), Diego Lainez (Real Betis/ESP; 11/1), Oberlín Pineda (Cruz Azul; 28/2), Carlos Rodríguez (Monterrey; 17/0), Luis Romo (Cruz Azul; 7/0)
FORWARDS (4): Jesús Corona (Porto/POR; 47/8), Hirving Lozano (Napoli/ITA; 45/14), Henry Martín (Club América; 10/2), Alan Pulido (Sporting KC/USA; 15/5)