Americans beat full-strength Mexico squad to claim CONCACAF supremacy

By Official Florida FC

The United States won the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the seventh time in program history on Sunday night in Las Vegas. The USMNT defeated bitter rivals Mexico 1-0 via an extra time goal from Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson in the 117th minute.

“I’m happy we got the W. That’s all I can say,” Robinson said afterward.

Robinson’s header was a one-finger salute to former Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino who hardly gave him a run in the team before departing to accept the Mexican national team position in 2018.

“Kellyn (Acosta) put a perfect ball in, so I had to finish it,” Robinson said of his second international goal.

Acosta was one person on the USMNT Gold Cup roster who raised his stock. He was not alone.

Orlando City forward Daryl Dike, and Plantation native Jonathan Lewis didn’t get onto the pitch in Sunday’s final; but, both earned the first silverware of their professional careers.

Miles Robinson match-winner

Who will stand next to John Anthony Brooks in the heart of the USMNT central defense when the United States faces El Salvador on Sept. 2? Miles Robinson made a claim for the position.

Yes, he scored the Gold Cup-winning goal, but the 24-year-old showcased the pace and aerial ability to compete with rugged and streetwise CONCACAF attackers such as Canada’s Cyle Larin, Panama’s Rolando Blackburn, Honduras’ Romell Quioto and, of course, Mexico’s Rogelio Funes Mori.

Considering Aaron Long is recovering from a torn Achilles, Mark McKenzie was less than impressive during the CONCACAF Nations League, Walker Zimmerman had to leave the Gold Cup injured and Matt Miazga is not earning consistent minutes at the club level, Robinson appears well-positioned to play his way into the position during World Cup Qualifying.

Matt Turner should be the No. 1

The New England Revolution goalie was named the Best Goalie during this year’s Gold Cup after posting five clean sheets in six matches. The 27-year-old didn’t allow a goal during the run of play and provided a shot-stopping array that could win any match.

He entered the Gold Cup unproven at the international level but has quickly showcased his caliber.

Considering others in the running for the No. 1 position — Manchester City’s Zack Steffen and Nottingham Forrest’s Ethan Horvath — do not have stable club situations, it would behoove the USMNT to trust the position to someone who starts every week and has shown he is up to the task.

Until Turner proves otherwise, the No. 1 position should be his to lose.

Now what?

Four years ago the USMNT hoisted the Gold Cup in Santa Clara, California and it was heralded as the moment that the United States got its act together from a listless World Cup Qualifying campaign. 

Eight of the players who started in that Gold Cup final win over Jamaica were in the starting XI three months later in Couva, Trinidad when the unthinkable happened.

Obviously, the USMNT is in a better position to qualify for the World Cup following this Gold Cup win, then in 2017 when the World Cup Qualifying campaign was more than halfway home. That said, the USMNT cannot keep waiting until the second half of matches to find its footing.

In five elimination matches this summer in the CONCACAF Nations League and CONCACAF Gold Cup, the USMNT has scored only one first half goal. When the chances arise, as was the case for Paul Arriola in the 26th minute Sunday night against Mexico, the Americans must take them because not every match will be played on American soil.

Gregg Berhalter was able to cultivate depth at fullback, in goal and likely in wide attack positionss this summer. However, the question remains who is his best XI when everyone is healthy and available to him. Through 35 matches, that question remains to be answered.

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