Sports

Why everyone’s talking about the epic USA vs. Mexico Nations League final


Maybe you were watching Logan Paul vs. Floyd Mayweather. That’s cool.

But if you spent your Sunday night glued to the USA vs. Mexico final for the Nations League trophy, you’ll never ever forget it. The U.S. men’s national team prevailed 3-2 in extra time thanks to a penalty kick goal by Christian Pulisic and a penalty kick save by backup keeper Ethan Horvath in the final moments at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver.

If you didn’t catch it, you’re about to feel really bad that you missed out. The match had fans saying stuff like this:

USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter called it “a complete mess.” But it was a beautiful mess. It was wild. It was emotional. It was unpredictable. It brought the best and worst out of people. You couldn’t take your eyes off it. These are the moments we’ll remember from a truly epic match.

MORE: A live blog of USA’s stunning win over Mexico

A goal after 62 seconds

We should’ve all probably figured out it was going to be nuts in Denver when we saw Mexico score off a turnover nearly a minute into the match.

Two extra time penalty kicks

No kidding. If someone would’ve told you in that 2nd minute that the game would have two penalty kicks for each team deep into extra time, you just wouldn’t have believed them. Watch the highlights for both PKs cued up here:

And let’s be honest, an extra-time penalty deserves the over-exuberant referee signal:

Back-up goalkeeper is the hero off the bench

Just like a Hollywood script. Except also have him save a penalty kick to avoid going to a shootout. And also make it so that the goalkeeper is from the same state in which the game was being played so that we can have this moment postgame:

And did we mention he saved a penalty kick in stoppage time of extra time?

Emotion in the stands

Father’s Day came two weeks early in Denver. The Horvath moment with his dad was preceded by another proud dad getting all emotional. U.S. legend Claudio Reyna watching his son Gio Reyna scoring his first U.S. goal in a game that mattered:

Fans threw stuff on the field

The younger Reyna was also involved in the scariest moment of the night. He had to receive treatment on the field after he was hit by a projectile on the extra time goal celebration.

And then on the other side of the field fans were throwing more debris on the field. And this time Mexico’s Henry Martin was hit.

Field invasion

Fans were not particularly well-behaved at the stadium on this day. The game was momentarily stopped when a couple of fans ran onto the field:

Match suspension due to homophobic chant

Organizers are cracking down on the use of a homophobic chant by a segment of Mexican national team fans. Just as the match was entering extra time, the game was briefly suspended.

Choke hold incident

Mexico’s veteran midfielder Hector Herrera should’ve been sent off … twice. The lead ref looked the other way on a studs-up foul that should’ve resulted in his second yellow. And then the Video Assistant Referee up in the booth missed this:

Someone was sent off

It was Mexico’s manager, Tata Martino, of all people. The usually mild-mannered coach decided it was a good idea to put his arm around the referee … when the ref was reviewing the U.S. penalty incident at the monitor! You can’t make this stuff up.

Coach and player collide

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter got a verbal warning of his own from the referee for leaving his box and running into a Mexico player.

Berhalter, who was called out on the broadcast for donning Travis Scott 6s, had an overall busy night on the sideline:

Pulisic with the winner

The star came through when it mattered most. But before that he was the worst player on the field for the USA. He wore the captain’s armband on the night but he was invisible for most of it.

When his team most needed him, he had the legs to make one of his weaving runs in tight spaces and drew the contact in the box. Then he stepped up to bury the penalty. Best PK execution you’ll ever see.

This is a week that Christian Pulisic won’t soon be forgetting:

McKennie The Man

The best player on the field for the USA was Weston McKennie. He did the running for two players and he was a force on attacking set pieces. His goal (and Harry Potter celebration) capped a stellar performance, winning him Nations League MVP.

He was the confident, emotional leader that the U.S. team always needs him to be:

Photo of the night

So the question is where will Pulisic be hanging this in his house? Reading den, perhaps? This is the image (captured by Cristian De Marchena) by which fans will be remembering the night.

Set invader

Regrettably, there was also an invader of the CBS studio set:

To run onto a set featuring Clint Dempsey in his hunting gear can’t ever be a good decision:

Then again, Dempsey may have been too busy roasting his fellow studio hosts to deal with a set invader:

The ribbing got a bit too carried away on the CBS set, and Onyewu apologized for it on the air:

So, it was pretty eventful. Anyone watching the game felt what J.J. Watt was tweeting.




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