Preview: USA-Mexico Rivalry Resumes With Inaugural Concacaf Nations League Trophy Up for GrabsUnivision, TUDN, Paramount+ and CBS Sports Network to Air Live from Empower Field at Mile High in Denver
CHICAGO (June 5, 2021) — The best rivalry in the region resumes June 6 in Denver for the 71st edition of USA-Mexico, with the teams contesting a final for the eighth time. It’s the inaugural Concacaf Nations League trophy that’s on the line Sunday night at Empower Field at Mile High. Coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET live on Univision, TUDN, Paramount+, CBS Sports Network, with kickoff set for 9:36 p.m.
USA Detailed Roster by Position (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; 22/0)
DEFENDERS (8): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 42/3), Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 16/0), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 9/1), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 4/0), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht/BEL; 22/1), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 43/1), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 11/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 63/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 29/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 12/1), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 22/7), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 23/6), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 5/0), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; 11/0)
FORWARDS: (6): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 6/2), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 36/16), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 6/2), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 16/5), Jordan Siebatcheu (Young Boys/SUI; 4/1), Tim Weah (Lille/FRA; 11/1)
ROAD TO THE FINAL
The U.S. Men’s National Team finished atop Group A of Concacaf Nations League A and advanced to the final four after posting a 3-1-0 record in matches against Cuba and Canada.
Weston McKennie, Jordan Morris and Josh Sargent paced six different U.S. scorers with three goals apiece. McKennie and Morris put their names in history books against Cuba on Oct. 11 in Washington, D.C, with McKennie recording the USMNT’s fastest hat trick from the start of a match just 13 minutes in, while Morris scored a goal and provided a record-tying three assists.
In the semifinal against Honduras, an 89th minute diving header from second-half substitute Jordan Siebatcheu made the difference in the 1-0 shutout victory.
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.
FIRST CAPS IN OFFICIAL COMPETITION
With the USMNT playing its first non-friendly since November 2019, five players earned their first appearances in official competition for the USMNT: starters Mark McKenzie, Gio Reyna and Antonee Robinson and second half substitutes Brenden Aaronson and Jordan Siebatcheu.
Another five still have have a shot at their first: Tyler Adams, Ethan Horvath, Yunus Musah, David Ochoa, and Tim Weah.
By virtue of playing against Honduras, dual nationals Mark McKenzie, Gio Reyna, Antonee Robinson and Jordan Siebatcheu are now officially cap-tied to represent the United States in international competition.
Yunus Musah, David Ochoa and Tim Weah would reach the same status if they step on the field against Mexico.
EXTRA TIME IF NEEDED, PKS IF YOU MUST
The championship final is the only match in the tournament in which extra time would be utilized if teams are tied at the end of regulation, with two 15-minute halves played to completion. If the match remained level, penalties would be used to determine the winner.
The USMNT has been involved in six penalty shootouts in official competition – and an additional two in friendlies. In the ones that counted, it’s been a 50-50 split (three wins, three losses).
With Concacaf choosing the “Mile High City” of Denver to host the Nations League Final Four, the USMNT shifted its camp base to Crans Montana in the Swiss Alps. Training for five days at an elevation of approximately 5,000 feet ahead of the friendly against No. 13-ranked Switzerland on May 30, the group went through efforts on and off the field to adjust to the conditions at altitude.
Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen missed the camp due to the UEFA Champions League final and joined the group on May 31 in Denver.
COMPETITION COMING UP
The USA will meet one of its most-frequent Concacaf foes on June 9 for a friendly against Costa Rica in Salt Lake City. Heading into this summer, the USMNT holds a narrow 17-16-5 edge in the series through a rich history of 38 matches played since 1975.
The following month, the U.S. will compete in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup in search of its seventh confederation championship. The USMNT has been drawn into Group A with Canada, Martinique and a third team to be determined through pre-tournament qualifying. The United States last lifted the trophy in 2017, when Jordan Morris netted the game-winner against Jamaica in the 2-1 victory.
Those games serve as a prelude to the start of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, which will feature an eight-team final round and commence in Sept. 2021.
With the USMNT competing for a pair of trophies this summer - the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup – several players have already earned silverware with their clubs. A total of 10 players on the roster enter the Nations League Final Four with a championship under their belt,
Including five league winners and perhaps the biggest club trophy of all.
Brenden Aaronson did the double, winning the Austrian Bundesliga and Austrian Cup. Zack Steffen also won two trophies with Manchester City, backstopping the club to the English League Cup and becoming the first USMNT player to win the Premier League. Sergiño Dest (Barcelona) lifted the Copa del Rey in Spain, while Weston McKennie (Juventus) in Italy along with Gio Reyna (Dortmund) in Germany and Mark McKenzie (Genk) in Belgium also won their respective domestic cup competitions. Tim Weah is a French league champion with Lille, his club winning the title for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign, Ethan Horvath and Club Brugge are league winners for the second season running and Jordan Siebatcheu helped Young Boys to the top of the Swiss league table for the fourth consecutive year.
And of course, the first U.S. international to play in and win a UEFA Champions League Final as Christian Pulisic added another massive milestone to an already impressive list of records when Chelsea defeated Manchester City on May 29 in Porto.
TOP FOUR IN BIG FIVE
Members of the USMNT finished in the top four in each of the five biggest leagues in Europe, starting with the league title winners in England (Steffen, Manchester City) and France (Weah, Lille). In Germany, U.S. internationals populate three of the top four with Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, second), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund, third), and John Brooks (Wolfsburg, fourth). Sergiño Dest completed his first season at Barcelona with a third-place La Liga finish. Christian Pulisic and Chelsea secured the fourth spot in the Premier League on the final matchday, a feat and position matched by Weston McKennie and Juventus.
All eight players will be a part of next year’s Champions League.
In another sign of U.S. internationals staking their claim at prominent clubs abroad, nine players on the roster just completed seasons where they made 30 or more appearances in a top-flight European league: Weston McKennie (34 GP; Juventus), Yunus Musah (32 GP; Valencia), Jordan Siebatcheu (32 GP; Young Boys), Gio Reyna (31 GP; Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (31 GP; Werder Bremen), John Brooks (31 GP; Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (31 GP; Boavista), Sergiño Dest (30 GP; FC Barcelona) and Matt Miazga (30 GP; Anderlecht).
LLETGET IS LEGIT
Sebastian Lletget has proven to be Mr. Consistency for the USMNT in the last two years. He’s the only player that has appeared in each of the last eight games and has rewarded the faith with five goals and an assist during that stretch. Overall, he amassed 21 caps and seven goals since his debut on Jan. 29, 2017, against Serbia.
USA ROSTER NOTES
The 23-player roster averages 17 caps.
As of the final on June 6, the roster will hold an average age of 23 years, 339 days, with 13 players age 23 or younger.
Players ply their trade in 11 different countries: England, Germany and USA (4 each), Belgium (3), Spain (2), Austria, France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey (1 each).
With 63 caps, DeAndre Yedlin is the senior-most player on the roster, followed by Tim Ream (43), John Brooks (41), Christian Pulisic (36) and Kellyn Acosta (28).
Thirteen players have earned competitive caps for the USMNT: Yedlin (27), Pulisic (24), Ream (19), Brooks (15), Acosta (11), Weston McKennie (9), Reggie Cannon, Matt Miazga and Zack Steffen (6 each), Sebastian Lletget, Josh Sargent and Jackson Yueill (3 each), and Sergiño Dest (1).
Nine players won 12 different trophies with European clubs this past season: Brenden Aaronson (Austrian League and Cup), Sergiño Dest (Spanish Copa del Rey), Ethan Horvath (Belgian First Division A), Weston McKennie (Super Coppa Italiana, Coppa Italia), Mark McKenzie (Belgian Cup), Christian Pulisic (UEFA Champions League), Gio Reyna (German DFB-Pokal), Zack Steffen (English Premier League, English League Cup) and Tim Weah (French Ligue 1).
Nine players just completed seasons where they made 30 or more appearances in a European top-flight league: Weston McKennie (34 GP; Juventus), Yunus Musah (32 GP; Valencia), Jordan Siebatcheu (32 GP; Young Boys), Gio Reyna (31 GP; Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (31 GP; Werder Bremen), John Brooks (31 GP; Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (31 GP; Boavista), Sergiño Dest (30 GP; FC Barcelona), Matt Miazga (30 GP; Anderlecht)
With three goals from the Nations League group stage played in 2019, McKennie and Sargent are tied in second for the League A scoring lead. Teammate Jordan Morris is currently the top scorer with four goals.
McKennie memorably scored the fastest hat trick in USMNT history during the Nations League opener on Oct. 11 vs. Cuba, the midfielder recording his three goals within the first 13 minutes of the 7-0 victory in Washington, D.C.
Pulisic and Sebastian Lletget are the two players on the roster who have previously scored against semifinal opponent Honduras, both tallying in the 6-0 World Cup qualifying win on March 24, 2017.
Lletget, who scored against Switzerland on Sunday, is the only American to play in all eight matches since the national team resumed play in November. Lletget has a team-high five goals in that time, while no other player has more than three.
IN FOCUS: MEXICO
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)
REACHING THE CNL FINAL
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.
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.
THE EXPERIENCE GAP
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.