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USMNT places three, Mexico seven, on Gold Cup Best XI

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Three United States men’s national team members were named to a Gold Cup’s Best XI littered with players from champions Mexico.

At least one of the honored Yanks will surprise you.

Christian Pulisic was probably penciled onto a number of ballots before the tournament, and he delivered in a big way for Gregg Berhalter.

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Aaron Long was also a regular for the coach, though he had his share of fits and starts, and Michael Bradley played some exceptional passes and showed his typical calm… even the giveaways came too easy for 150-times capped American.

Canadian forward Jonathan David was the only other player not to wear El Tri colors, and he won the Golden Boot with six goals.

As for Mexico, Raul Jimenez leads the line and goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo’ Ochoa is between the sticks.

The other five are defenders Luis Rodriguez, Carlos Salcedo, and Jesus Gallardo, as well as midfielders Jonathan dos Santos and Andres Guardado.

A number of big goal scorers including Uriel Antuna of Mexico and Lucas Cavallini of Mexico, did not make the cut, nor did Haiti’s energetic Duckens Nason.

USMNT wastes early chances, falls to Mexico in Gold Cup final (video)

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The U.S. men’s national team had its chances, but made nothing of them, before the defense finally gave way and succumbed to the relentless pressure of Mexico in the 2019 Gold Cup final on Sunday.

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This is the story of a game full of missed chances very early on — missed chances that everyone in the world knew would come back to bite the USMNT in the end.

The Americans had two golden scoring chances inside the game’s first eight minutes. Jozy Altidore‘s hold-up play send Christian Pulisic into the box with one defender and the goalkeeper to beat. He was able to slide past the former, but the latter, Guillermo Ochoa, stood tall and saved Pulisic’s shot. Altidore followed up with a hopeful bicycle attempt, to no avail.

Three minutes later, Altidore had the 10-out-of-10 chance that are so few and far between in finals. After twisting away from Hector Moreno at the top of Mexico’s penalty area, Altidore had Ochoa in headlights with either side of the goal fully exposed. His left-footed shot bounced helplessly wide.

The speed with which the game turned into a classic U.S.-Mexico battle, particularly for a cup final, was jarring. Weston McKennie and Andres Guardado engaged one another in some pushing and shoving early in the first half; Luis Rodriguez booted the ball off a prone Pulisic, which prompted Altidore to sprint 40 yards across the field to confront him before being forcibly removed from the situation; McKennie squared up to Moreno after he drove a knee into Altidore’s back already face-down on the ground.

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Guardado cleared off the line what looked set to become the game’s opening goal in the 50th minute. Jordan Morris rose above everyone and sent a powerful header back across the face and goal and had beaten Ochoa, but Guardado was lurking at the near post and headed the ball clear just as it began to cross the goal line.

The breakthrough was long overdue for a game as open as this one, but it was unquestionably worth the wait. Raul Jimenez set up Jonathan dos Santos with a clever backheel on the edge of the penalty area, and dos Santos’ left-footed finish was never going to be saved as he laced it toward the far post out of Zack Steffen’s reach.

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Sunday’s triumph gives Mexico 11 all-time CONCACAF titles (eight during the Gold Cup era), once again four ahead of the Americans.

FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT v. Mexico, Gold Cup final

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United States v. Mexico. Gold Cup final. It’s here, tonight (9 p.m. ET).

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Gregg Berhalter has made zero changes to the starting lineup that faced Jamaica in the semifinals on Wednesday, which means Jozy Altidore starts up top in place of Gyasi Zardes, Jordan Morris takes Tyler Boyd’s place, Reggie Cannon remains ahead of Nick Lima at right back, and Matt Miazga starts over Walker Zimmerman at center back.

Hit the link above to follow along for the next few hours and check back on PST for full coverage of the USMNT’s clash with Mexico.

Preview: USMNT v. Mexico, in Gold Cup final once again

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“It feels like there’s no better game to play in the world than a final against Mexico.”

Those are the words of longtime U.S. men’s national team midfielder Michael Bradley ahead of Sunday’s 2019 Gold Cup final (9 p.m. ET) between the USMNT and Mexico.

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“From the second that we walked off the field [after the semifinal] in Nashville, every single guy understood what was coming,” Bradley went on to say. “Whether you’ve played in this game or you haven’t, a U.S-Mexico final speaks for itself.”

That just about sums it up.

Sunday will mark the first meeting between Gregg Berhalter and Gerardo “Tata” Martino in the fishbowl that is U.S.-Mexico. Each head coach took charge at the start of 2019, making their first tournament at the helm a successful one thus far. That could all change by starting out with a defeat in their U.S.-Mexico debut, though Berhalter is already intimately familiar with the rivalry from his playing days, including the Americans’ famous 2002 World Cup round-of-16 triumph in Jeonju, South Korea.

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Prior to conceding to Jamaica in the 69th minute of the two sides’ semifinal on Wednesday, the Yanks hadn’t conceded a goal all tournament — 14-0 through their first 429 minutes. It’s been a tougher slog at the other end of the field of late, however. After scoring 10 goals amid relatively disappointing performances against Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago in their first two group games, Berhalter’s side was only able to grind out 1-0 victories over each of Panama and Curacao. The USMNT appears to have saved its best performances for last, though. Christian Pulisic scored twice against Jamaica and Weston McKennie added the other goal in what was easily his best outing in the red, white and blue.

Sunday will be the sixth time the USMNT and Mexico have met in the Gold Cup final, with Mexico holding a commanding advantage in trophy deciders: four wins (1993, 1998, 2009 and 2011) to just one defeat (2007).

McKennie, Pulisic lead USMNT over Jamaica to Gold Cup final (video)

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It hasn’t always been pretty, but for the second-straight time, the U.S. Men’s National Team will be playing for a continental title.

Christian Pulisic scored a brace and Weston McKennie had a goal and an assist as the USMNT defeated Jamaica, 3-1, Wednesday evening in Nashville to advance to the 2019 Gold Cup final. The U.S. will face Mexico in the Gold Cup final on Sunday evening in Chicago.

[READ: All the latest USMNT News and Notes]

The semifinal, which started at 8:30 p.m. locally, didn’t finish until around midnight, local time, after the game was delayed for 90 minutes after 17 minutes of action due to severe weather in the area. The game resumed at around 10:20 p.m. local time and continued, despite lightning strikes continuing in the central Tennessee region.

Whether due to the uneven performance against Curacao or the fact that his main starting XI was about to play its third game in a week, Berhalter opted to make a few changes, and two of the changes, Jozy Altidore and Reggie Cannon, played instrumental roles in the opening goal.

Both Jamaica and the U.S. looked lively to start the match, but it was the USMNT which would hit first in the ninth minute. Michael Bradley spotted Cannon making a run down right wing and drilled a 40-yard pass on the money to Cannon in stride. Cannon one-touch crossed it into the box, which seemed to take Jamaica by surprise. Altidore held off Michael Hector, which allowed McKennie to ghost into the box, take a touch to control and fire past star Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake.

The match really lacked a rhythm after the long delay and it took until the next halftime break for both teams to begin to look their normal selves.

It only took until the 52nd minute for the USMNT to double the lead. The American attackers, which floated across the front three and caused a lot of problems for the Jamaican defense, opened space that Jordan Morris took advantage of. Right in the midfield circle, McKennie saw Morris open and played a ball down the middle but to Morris’ right. Morris dribbled to his right and fired a shot across his body towards the far post. Blake parried it away, but it went right into the path of Pulisic, who couldn’t miss from five yards out.

Berhalter brought in Gyasi Zardes for Altidore in the 55th minute, and McKennie again played a perfect pass to Zardes a few minutes later to put the Columbus Crew striker through on goal. Instead, Zardes somehow missed. In the 69th minute, the oft-criticized USMNT striker played a role in Jamaica cutting the deficit to one. Zardes turned the ball over in his own half and after the ball made its way to Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, Bailey delivered a great cross that Shamar Nicholson headed home to make it 2-1.

Despite some nervy moments late and both teams fatigued in the heat on a long night, Pulisic put away a second rebound, this time off a strike from Arriola that was blocked before the boy wonder scored his 13th international goal.

The U.S. wasn’t always the best, but it was clearly a better performance for Berhalter’s side. McKennie and Bradley were outstanding together in midfield while Cannon impressed down the right side, essentially allowing Jordan Morris to move up alongside Zardes and Altidore (while he was in) as a second striker. Pulisic was much better in a floating role, where he could get the ball out wide and take on defenders to create goal-scoring opportunities.

Mexico started the Gold Cup strong and has kind of faded over the tournament, while the U.S. has grown into it game after game. We’ll see which USMNT squad makes it on the field against Mexico, but at this point, another title is in both team’s reach.