It took some time, but Christian Pulisic came off the bench to score and Weston McKennie added an insurance goal to see the U.S. men’s national team past Mexico at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Friday night by a very familiar scoreline to put themselves atop the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings.
The Mapfre Stadium in Columbus used to be the fortress for the United States as they looked to gain an advantage over their rivals to the south. However, 26,000 raucous fans at the home of FC Cincinnati would provide more than enough support to push the home side to victory on a cold, rainy night.
U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter once again elected to go with a 4-3-3 formation with several changes. Zack Steffen would get the nod in goal over Matthew Turner, who had been the preferred number one for most of the qualifiers. DeAndre Yedlin started at right-back for the injured Sergino Dest.
McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Yunus Musah were in the midfield once again. Up top, Timothy Weah, Ricardo Pepi, and Brenden Aaronson, who started ahead of Chrisitan Pulisic, led the attack.
The Americans were on the attack from the start and had a good opportunity in the fourth minute when Weah whipped a cross into the area from the right side. Pepi was the nearest to the ball to get a shot at goal, but Mexico’s center-back Johan Vasquez stop him from getting a chance.
The hosts had another chance five minutes later when Aaronson sent his free-kick into the area, but the headed attempt from Walker Zimmerman was nowhere near the target.
Steffen would be called into action a few minutes later to make a save on a shot from Edson Alvarez. The ball was headed towards the bottom corner of the goal, but the Manchester City goalkeeper would spring to his right to parry it away from danger.
Hirving Lozano would be the next player to test Steffen as he ran onto a through-ball from Jesus Corona. However, his shot would be stopped by the netminder.
The U.S. had one final chance to break the scoreless deadlock in the 37th minute when Antonee Robinson crossed the ball into the area to Pepi. The forward showed his unselfishness by laying the ball off to Musah, whose shot unfortunately was off the mark.
It was an intense first half despite it ending scoreless.
The second half would see the U.S. come out in attack mode once again as McKennie fired the ball at goal following a pass from Weah, but his shot was put over the bar by Memo Ochoa.
The game was begging for a goal and it finally came after Christian Pulisic entered the game for Aaronson. Weah sent in another dangerous cross from the right side and the Chelsea man would get in front of his marker to head the ball past Ochoa in the 74th minute to the thunderous cheers of the supporters.
The U.S. continued to press for another goal and they got in the 85th minute when McKennie’s attempt pass at the edge of the area to Jesus Ferreira was blocked, but the ball came back to him and he was able to get between to defenders slot the ball home.
The hosts had to play the final minutes of the game with 10 men when Miles Robinson was sent off for a second yellow card, but the damage was already done.
It was a strong win for the Americans and now fans will hope they can keep the momentum going for the next game as they head to the Caribbean to face Jamaica on Tuesday.
The win vaults the U.S. up to first place in the Octagonal.
Weston McKennie will miss the United States’ game against Jamaica due to an accumulation of yellow cards.