LAS VEGAS, Nev. (June 15, 2023) – The U.S. Men’s National Team dominated Mexico en route to a 3-0 shutout win in the Concacaf Nations League Semifinals in front of a sellout crowd of 65,000 fans at Allegiant Stadium. Forward and captain Christian Pulisic scored twice within 10 minutes on both sides of the halftime break and Ricardo Pepi added another to help the USMNT advance to its fifth straight regional Final.
Winners of the inaugural Nations League in 2021, the USMNT will aim to lift another trophy on Sunday, June 18 when they face Canada in the Championship Game (8:30 p.m. ET; Paramount+, TUDN). Canada defeated Panama 2-0 in the earlier semifinal matchup.
With the win, the USMNT’s extends its unbeaten streak against El Tri to six straight games (4-0-2), matching the longest such streak against its rivals since a similar run from 2011-2015. In a tense affair, the teams combine for 13 cards, including 12 in the second half after the USA took a 2-0 lead. In all, nine yellow cards were shown and two players from each side were ejected.
In his first match after being appointed USMNT head coach, B.J. Callaghan’s starting XI featured eight players from the 2022 FIFA World Cup as well as forward Folarin Balogun, who made his USMNT debut.
The U.S. showed no signs of changing its style of play, pressing high early and keeping possession for most of the first half. Pulisic had a great chance after 20 minutes when he sped by a defender on the left side and rounded Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. However, his shot sailed high as two defenders were in position on the goalmouth.
Pulisic struck 15 minutes later when he capitalized on a bad touch by a defender following a back-pass as the U.S. pressured high and beat Ochoa from a tight angle. The USA captain then doubled the lead seconds into the second half with a clinical finish from a Tim Weah cross from the right wing.
With the U.S. in complete control, the match became more heated when Mexico’s Cesar Montes kicked at Balogun from behind and was shown a direct red card. Weston McKennie was also shown a red after walking away from a scuffle with his jersey nearly ripped off.
Moments after coming off the bench, Ricardo Pepi added the USA’s third following a brilliant individual effort from Sergiño Dest that put him in a prime position to take a touch away from Ochoa to slot the ball into the open net, effectively sealing the match. However, the drama did not end as Mexico’s Gerardo Arteaga was ejected with five minutes left for raising his hands to the face of USA Dest, who reacted similarly and was also shown red.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
USA - Christian Pulisic, 37th minute: The play started with the USA attacking down the right side before moving towards the top of the box. Gio Reyna’s shot was deflected back, and Mexico’s Edson Álvarez appeared to attempt a pass back to Jorge Sánchez inside the area, but he couldn’t handle it. Pulisic pounced, pushing the ball wide left and tucking a shot under Sanchez and past Ochoa from a tight angle to open the scoring. USA 1, MEX 0
USA - Christian Pulisic (Tim Weah), 46th minute: Moments after the second half whistle was blown, Weston McKennie sprung Weah down the right side with a low 40-yard ball towards the sideline. Weah sped by defender Victor Guzman and towards the area where he whipped a sharp cross into the box to a racing Pulisic, who beat his mark and one-timed the shot from close range. USA 2, MEX 0
USA - Ricardo Pepi (Sergiño Dest), 78th minute: Sergiño Dest continued his strong game with a fantastic slalom through Mexico’s midfield on the right side before springing a patient Pepi, who timed his run well to remain onside. Pepi took the ball on the right and tucked it by Ochoa to secure the victory. USA 3, MEX 0
- The USMNT Starting XI had an average age of 23 years, 327 days and averages 26 caps overall and 17 appearances in official competition.
- Christian Pulisic’s brace took his career tally to 25 international goals, pushing him past Joe-Max Moore and into sole possession of sixth place on the USMNT’s all-time goal scorers list. He trails Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan (both 57), Jozy Altidore (42), Eric Wynalda (34) and Brian McBride (30).
- Pulisic also became just the fifth USMNT player to record 20+ goals in official competition. He sits behind Clint Dempsey (41), Landon Donovan (38), Jozy Altidore (24) and Brian McBride (23), Christian Pulisic (21).
- The 24-year-old striker now has four goals all-time against Mexico, scoring them in each of his last four matches against El Trí. He’s now tied with Aldo “Buff” Donelli for third all-time among U.S. goal scorers against Mexico and trails only Landon Donovan (6) and Michael Bradley (5).
- Pulisic is also just the fifth player to record a multi-goal game against Mexico, following Aldo Donelli (4-2 W on May 24, 1934), Ed Murphy (2-7 L on April 28, 1957), Steve Moyers (2-1 W on Nov. 23, 1980), and Michael Bradley (2-0 W on Feb. 11, 2009).
- Substitute Ricardo Pepi tallied his seventh career goal to make it 3-0 in the 78th minute. The 20-year-old striker now has four goals in his last three international matches.
- Tim Weah registered his third career assist on Pulisic’s 46th minute goal. It is the second time Weah has provided a helper to Pulisic, with the previous instance occurring in the 2-0 win on Nov. 12, 2021 in World Cup qualifying.
- Sergiño Dest provided his fourth career assist on Pepi’s goal.
- Matt Turner made one save to record his 18th clean sheet in 27 caps for the USA.
- Nearly a month to the day of having his change of association request granted by FIFA, striker Folarin Balogun made his senior international debut for the USMNT.
- Balogun is the second USMNT player during the modern era to make his debut in official competition against Mexico, joining defender Henry Kessler who was a late-game sub during the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup final, also at Allegiant Stadium. He is also the first USMNT player to start his international debut in official competition against Mexico since Juli Veee debuted in a World Cup qualifying match against El Trí on October 15, 1976.
- Chris Richards made his first USMNT appearance since January 30, 2022, at Canada.
- Balogun and Richards made their first appearances in a knockout round match for the USMNT.
- Weston McKennie extended his streak of appearing in all 11 of the USA’s Concacaf Nations League matches dating back to the beginning of the competition in 2019. Due to McKennie’s red card tonight, his streak will end as he will serve one-match suspension during Sunday’s final.
- Dest will also serve a one-match suspension on Sunday night.
- Five of tonight’s starters appeared in the 2021 Concacaf Nations League Final against Mexico. Sergiño Dest, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna started the match, with Tim Weah coming off the bench in the 69th minute.
- Christian Pulisic captained the USA for the 15th time tonight. The 24-year-old is the 13th player to wear the armband at least 15 times for the USMNT.
- The USMNT now hasn’t given up a goal in Miles Robinson’s last four starts against Mexico. Eddie Pope is the only USMNT center back with more consecutive starting shutouts against El Trí with five between Feb. 28, 2001 and April 28, 2004.
- The USA improves its all-time record against Mexico to 23-36-17 and its advantage since 2000 to holds a 18-9-8.
- This was only the second semifinal meeting between the United States and Mexico in Concacaf competitions, after a 2-0 USMNT win in the semifinal of the 1991 Gold Cup. The previous nine matches between the USMNT and Mexico in Concacaf tournaments have all been finals.
-U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT-
Match: United States Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: June 15, 2023
Competition: Concacaf Nations League; Semifinal
Venue: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas
Attendance: 65,000 (sellout)
Kickoff: 10:15 p.m. ET (7:15 p.m. local)
Weather: 90 degrees; partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
MEX 0 0 0
USA – Christian Pulisic 37th minute
USA – Christian Pulisic (Tim Weah) 46
USA – Ricardo Pepi (Sergiño Dest) 78
USA: 1-Matt Turner; 2-Sergiño Dest, 12-Miles Robinson, 4-Chris Richards, 5-Antonee Robinson; 7-Gio Reyna (14-Luca de la Torre, 75), 6-Yunus Musah, 8-Weston McKennie; 21-Tim Weah (11-Brenden Aaronson, 82), 20-Folarin Balogun (9-Ricardo Pepi, 75), 10-Christian Pulisic (capt.) (19-Joe Scally, 89)
Substitutes not used: 13-Drake Callender, 18-Sean Johnson, 3-Walker Zimmerman, 23-Auston Trusty, 15-Johnny Cardoso, 16-Alan Soñora, 17-Alex Zendejas, 22-Taylor Booth
Head coach: B.J. Callaghan
MEX: 13-Guillermo Ochoa (Capt.); 15-Israel Reyes, 3-César Montes, 22-Victor Guzmán; 19-Jorge Sánchez, 21-Uriel Antuna, 18-Luis Chávez, 4-Edson Álvarez, 23-Jesús Gallardo (9-Ozziel Herrera, 54); 17-Orbelín Pineda, 20-Henry Martin (11-Santiago Giménez, 54)
Substitutes not used: 1-Antonio Rodriguez, 12-Luis Malagón, 2-Julian Araujo, 5-Johan Vásquez, 6-Gerardo Arteaga, 7-Luis Romo, 8-Carlos Rodríguez, 10-Alexis Vega, 14-Érick Sánchez, Sebastián Córdova
Head coach: Diego Cocca
Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 11 / 5
Shots on Goal: 5 / 1
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 5 / 3
Fouls: 17 / 17
Offside: 0 / 4
MEX – Uriel Antuna (Caution) 36th minute
MEX – Israel Reyes (Caution) 59
MEX – Santiago Giménez (Caution) 60
USA – Antonee Robinson (Caution) 60
USA – Miles Robinson (Caution) 63
MEX – César Montes (Ejection) 69
USA – Weston McKennie (Ejection) 71
MEX – Edson Álvarez (Caution) 85
MEX – Gerardo Arteaga (Ejection) 85
USA – Sergiño Dest (Ejection) 85
USA – Chris Richards (Caution) 86
MEX – Guillermo Ochoa (Caution) 86
USA – Christian Pulisic (Caution) 89
Referee: Ivan Barton (SLV)
Assistant 1: David Moran (SLV)
Assistant 2: Juan Francisco Zumba (SLV)
Fourth Official: Walter Lopez (GUA)
VAR: Tatiana Guzman (NCA)
Assistant VAR: Ismael Cornejo (SLV)
Bud Light Man of the Match: Christian Pulisic