Making The Case: USMNT Defeats Mexico 3-0 to Advance to Concacaf Nations League Final

By: Presented by Bud Light

Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium played host to another noteworthy chapter in the long-running USA-Mexico rivalry, this time in a sold-out Concacaf Nations League semifinal matchup on June 15. Looking to book a spot in their second-straight tournament final, the USMNT thoroughly dispatched their neighbors to the south by a scoreline of 3-0 in a match that featured several memorable moments and notable milestones.

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Here’s a recap of the key moments that made this game a candidate to be the best of 2023:

Pulisic’s Brace: USMNT forward Christian Pulisic continued to play “Man in the Mirror” against Mexico, haunting El Tri with another dominant performance in continental competition. The eventual Man of the Match scored on both sides of halftime, first with an opportunistic finish on a failed Mexico attempt to play the ball out of their defensive area. He picked up the loose ball, took a dribble to the left, and coolly tucked a low shot past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

He then doubled the U.S. lead just moments into the second half, when he capped a marauding run through the heart of the Mexico defense with a sliding finish to a Tim Weah cross.

The pair of goals took his career tally to 25 international goals at the time, which moved him past Joe-Max Moore and into sole possession of sixth place on the USMNT’s all-time goal scorers list.

Pepi’s Exclamation Point: In what’s become a trend for the young forward in 2023, Ricardo Pepi made a late impact off the bench by delivering the U.S.’ third goal of the night and what was his fourth in three matches. Sergiño Dest began the move with a slaloming run in the U.S.’ own half. Dest beat three defenders on the dribble and cut two more out of the play with an expertly touched through-ball to the waiting Pepi, who timed his run into the Mexico 18 perfectly. Pepi rounded Ochoa to the ‘keepers left, picked his head up, and kicked off the celebrations in earnest with the 78th minute finish.

Balogun’s Debut
: Nearly a month to the day of having his change of association request granted by FIFA, striker Folarin Balogun made his much-anticipated senior international debut for the USMNT on the night. He became 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. He was 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.

Intense Affair: In what was a typically impassioned matchup between the pair of Concacaf powerhouses, both 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.

Extending The Streak: The 3-0 win made it a streak of six-straight unbeaten for the USMNT against its archrivals, matching the team’s longest such run against Mexico since a similar run from 2011-2015.


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

Misconduct Summary:
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