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SBNation.com – All Posts: Weston McKennie’s iconic kiss, Christian Pulisic’s brace gives USMNT inspiring win over rival Mexico


Pulisic’s pair of goals and McKennie’s signature moment highlight the 3-0 US win over Mexico

In the 23rd minute of Thursday night’s CONCACAF Nations League match between the United States Men’s National Team and Mexico, US captain Christian Pulisic collapsed to his knees before falling face-down on the playing surface at Allegiant Stadium.

After breaking free on a brilliant run along the left-hand side, Pulisic cut towards the middle of the pitch, deked past Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa, and had the ball on his right foot with a brilliant chance to give the United States an early 1-0 lead.

His shot went over the crossbar:

Christian Pulisic does it all until the finish pic.twitter.com/AA43dQmX3i

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) June 16, 2023

It was a brilliant moment of attacking play, right up until the finish. Pulisic’s reaction told the story.

But it was just one chapter, and not the final one at that.

Because the US team captain scored twice on Thursday night, propelling the United States to a 3-0 victory over Mexico, and into the Concacaf Nations League final where they will take on Canada, who defeated Panama 2-0 on Thursday night.

Pulisic and the United States first got on the board in the 38th minute, when the captain jumped on a free ball in the box before sliding a left-footed shot past Ochoa for the first goal of the game:

CHRISTIAN PULISIC LOVES SCORING AGAINST MEXICO. pic.twitter.com/nwZZnRvkFx

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) June 16, 2023

The United States took that 1-0 lead into the locker room for the halftime break, but it seemed they were more than ready to take the field for the second half. As sideline reporter Kate Abdo noted, the team came out early to start the second half, well before the Mexican side was anywhere to be seen:

Kate Abdo after noticing the #USMNT was out on the field and champing at the bit to start the second half while Mexico was still in the locker room: “That’s a boss move.”

US scores 2 minutes into the second half to make it 2-0. Maybe Kate was onto something

— Jim Meyerriecks (@iofshinsplint) June 16, 2023

That energy and enthusiasm paid off almost immediately, because in just the 46th minute, Pulisic had his brace.

Weston McKennie played a beautiful ball up the right side, which was collected by Timothy Weah. Weah streaked forward before slicing a pass across to Pulisic, who buried it for his second goal of the night:

CHRISTIAN PULISIC MAKES IT DOS A CERO. pic.twitter.com/JBvmCz4wxn

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) June 16, 2023

Dos a cero, as the kids like to say.

Things got a little chippy moments later, and remained chippy throughout the rest of the match. A hard foul from César Montes on Folarin Balogun immediately drew a red card, but it also drew a swift response from the USMNT, touching off quite the melee. When order was restored, McKennie was shown a red as well for his involvement in the ensuing fracas as he came to his teammate’s defense:

César Montes kicks out at Folarin Balogun and gets a red card. Things escalate and Weston McKennie is sent off too.

10 vs. 10 for the remainder of the match. pic.twitter.com/zkZe8nKDUe

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) June 16, 2023

Yet, the melee delivered what might be an iconic moment in USMNT history, as McKennie kissed the crest on his torn jersey as the Mexican faithful in Las Vegas jeered him:

A signature moment for Weston McKennie #USA pic.twitter.com/frO7BOl9yA

— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) June 16, 2023

The United States tacked on their third of the night, thanks to Ricardo Pepi. The goal was originally waved off for offside, but VAR confirmed that Pepi was onside, and goal stood:

¡Gooooool de USA! ¡Goooooool de Pepi!

Estados Unidos 3-0 México

EN VIVO: https://t.co/K3sG95qd0z
TUDN y Univision

#FinalFourEnTUDN #VeranoDeCampeones #USA #Mexico pic.twitter.com/6FofL9hStw

— TUDN USA (@TUDNUSA) June 16, 2023

Tempers flared again in the 86th minute, and Sergino Dest was sent off with a red, along with Mexico’s Gerardo Arteaga, after this incident:

Weston McKennie

Sergino Dest

They will both be unavailable for the Concacaf Nations League Final. pic.twitter.com/lLtnLh0qYA

— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) June 16, 2023

As noted, this means that both Dest and McKennie will be unavailable for the final against Canada.

The night was further marred by anti-gay slurs chanted by Mexico’s fans, which led to the match eventually being called in stoppage time.

Of course, the performance on the pitch was not the only USMNT news of the night, and the bigger story might have happened away from the pitch. News broke Thursday night that Gregg Berhalter was tapped to return as the team’s coach. Berhalter’s contract as the coach expired at the end of 2022, and the United States Soccer Federation reportedly interviewed ten candidates to replace him.

Berhalter was in the headlines following the team’s run in the World Cup, when news broke of a feud between the coach and Claudio Reyna, father of GIo Reyna and former teammate of Berhalter’s with the USMNT.

While that announcement has yet to be made official, the USMNT now must turn their attention to Canada for Sunday’s final in Las Vegas. They will be without Dest and McKinnie, but will be rolling into Sunday night’s game with a lot of momentum behind them.

And perhaps official word that Berhalter is back.

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