Jorge Martinez/Agencia-MexSport/Imago

CNL Final As It Happened: USA 2-0 Canada

8 minutes, 47 seconds Read

The USMNT won the CONCACAF Nations League title and the trophy again after humiliating a struggling Mexico team in the semifinals and dominating an improving Canada team in the final. We take a closer look at how it all went down, the context of some of the key plays within the flow of the game, and what it means for the team going forward.

Gio Reyna was the key player in the first half, orchestrating Chris Richards’ and Folarin Balogun’s goals. The two goal scorers became the first players in American finals history to score their first goals for the national team.

Team USA (4-2-3-1): 1. Turner (GK) — 19. Scally (Trusty, 78′), 4. Richards, 3. Zimmerman, 5. A. Robinson — 11. Aaronson (Cardoso, 68′), 6. Musah, 7. Reyna (de la Torre, 46′) — 21. Weah, 20. Balogun (Pepi, 75′), 10. Pulisic.

Due to Weston McKennie and Sergiño Dest’s suspensions, Brenden Aaronson and Joe Scally came to fill their vacancy. Miles Robinson picked up an injury leading up to the final, so the veteran, Walker Zimmermann, is called into action despite online USMNT fans hoping to see Auston Trusty given the opportunity after his successful loan spell for Championship side Birmingham City.

The USA kicks off the first half in Vegas as Christian Pulisic again captains the boys in red, white, and blue. Canada wants to end their trophy drought, whereas the Americans would love to continue their chokehold on CONCACAF.

Reyna and Tim Weah combined down the right side of the 18-yard box against Mexico on Thursday and made the first influential American offensive move. Reyna attempts a tight-angle shot, but Milan Borjan, who might be making one of his final appearances for Canada, easily blocks it.

It’s the Nashville SC center-back who nearly puts the US in the lead on minute eight, and what a goal it could’ve been. Unexpectedly, Walker Zimmerman, while it’s not precisely the place you want a center-back shooting, rips it from outside the penalty area, almost making the risk worthwhile.

Ismael Kone of Canada counters quickly and effectively, doing what they do best. He feeds Jonathan David, who fires, but his shot is directly at Matt Turner and is marshaled from a reasonably tight angle to the outside—a picture of caution for the American defense. Kone is brilliant and nearly surprised the Arsenal keeper.

Chris Richards gives the US that lead in the 12th minute and scores his first goal for his country by rising to meet the BVB attacker’s corner! Gio Reyna delivers the ball to the top of the six-yard box, where Richards meets it and drives it into the ground while Folarin Balogun screens a defender. The ball goes behind Milan Borjan’s movement as he slides across the goal from left to right, and he cannot turn his body in time.

Since the 2022 Gold Cup, the United States hasn’t scored off a corner in a whopping 13 games. Richards’ first goal for the United States national team comes on his third shot attempt overall! Some may say getting Pulisic off from those set pieces will work wonders.

At the top of the 18-yard box, Folarin Balogun has an excellent chance to score just outside the half-hour mark. As he tried to chest the ball down, it popped up in the air instead of coming to his feet, and the striker, who was being heavily pressured by Scott Kennedy, could not get his header on goal. Balogun is down and needs medical attention after taking a heavy shot from Kennedy on the attempt. A concussion test seemed to be being conducted by the staff, and it was deemed the Arsenal loanee was fit to return to the field.

It all doesn’t matter because the 21-year-old has doubled US’ lead! Gio Reyna again assists Folarin Balogun on his first American goal. Balogun is on purpose and is streaking past Scott Kennedy when Reyna drives right past Stephen Eustaquio and slides a perfect vertical ball for him. Balogun scores the US’s second goal with a thunderous right-footed hit after slipping past Kennedy’s outside shoulder. The first goal will always be the hardest, and now we all hope he continues to add more goals to his account.

Stephen Eustaquio, who makes a last-third tackle and snatches the ball away, is stopped by Matt Turner with a good save. He trips over the saddle but gets back up and hits. Ultimately, it’s a relatively modest effort, and Turner is up to the challenge. Canada has changed a few gears and is now interrogating the 28-year-old.

The former New England Revolution goalkeeper then pulls off another impressive save! He needs to make another stop before Antonee Robinson blocks the return attempt because, this time, the effort is coming from a narrow angle to the left. Canada is now intensifying this game and posing a threat to the American backline.

Gio Reyna is a man on a mission, terrorizing the Canadian midfield and defense to the point where all they have to do is bring down the 20-year-old. The game would cool down in the final few minutes of the half, and the teams head down the tunnel at the interval.

Half-time thoughts:

Christian Pulisic feeds Gio Reyna at the far post to start another beautiful set-piece for the Americans. Gio Reyna’s header almost puts Folarin Balogun on the doorstep, but he cannot complete the scramble.

The first 45 minutes were entirely dominated by the United States, who now lead by 2-0. Chris Richards scored the game’s first goal, and Folarin Balogun added another. In a final, both players become the first two Americans in history to achieve their very first international goal.

As it stands, the United States will retain its Nations League title and hope to wrap up the game as early as possible.

The second half begins:

The second half is underway, and unfortunately, Gio Reyna is not amongst the US squad on the field. He’s been replaced by Luca de la Torre, which is an indication that Reyna may be hurt.

He was spectacular in the first half but got broken near the end of the play and limped into the locker room. That’s a shame because the US will need him moving forward. Reyna has had injury issues in his career, and US Soccer announced that he has a calf injury. Unfortunately, the BVB man was tipped as my early Man of the Match candidate.

Just like the later stages of the first half, it’s a bit tame early in the second. It is not until the 54th minute we see the first big chance from either side; following a pass from Antonee Robinson down the left, Folarin Balogun compels Milan Borjan to make a save. The United States is still cooking, and Canada has very few solutions. Tim Weah receives a long-range blow on the corner that packs a total amount of poison, but he cannot get through the woods.

Team USA gets even closer moments later as they’re desperate to end Canada’s dreams early before they surprise them. Chris Richards, attempting to score a surprise hat trick, compels Milan Borjan to make an incredible save by touching his attempt off the crossbar. The United States gets another chance in the corner after Scott Kennedy stops Balogun’s attempt. Balogun ought to have scored there, but there isn’t much he can do as Borjan was defeated by his attempt.

Canada’s Cyle Larin comes close to cutting the deficit just over the hour mark, but he blew! He receives a fantastic cutback from Sam Adekugbe in many open spaces, but he shoots low and poorly, which is stopped before he scores on the follow-up. The top scorer in Canadian history did a lousy job with it.

Brenden Aaronson is replaced by Johnny Cardoso; however, the Leeds United midfielder is leaving the field exceptionally slowly, and Tajon Buchanan pushes him very hard since Canada is not happy with this. Aaronson does not respond, but his American teammates are not amused. A brief altercation occurs, with Captain Christian Pulisic directly in Buchanan’s path. The American squad seemed to have taken lessons in the dark arts from the Mexico semifinal.

Ricardo Pepi takes the position of Folarin Balogun. Later, BJ Callaghan replaces Joe Scally with Auston Trusty in another substitution.

Canada has all the offensive possession in the last few seconds as they try to score. In the penalty area, they nearly score with a lateral cutback, but Antonee Robinson is again there to grab it and clear it.

Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, the two Canadian players who scored the goals in their 2-0 semifinal victory against Panama on Thursday, appeared dangerous throughout the game. Still, neither one had the decisive touch to put the game away.

The neighbors up north continued to threaten the American backline, but it just seemed like it wasn’t their night or year. Nothing is going in; if it hits the target, Turner will rescue his side.

The ref blows his whistle for the final time, and the United States of America retains its Nations League title!

Despite coming off at half-time, Gio Reyna is my Man of the Match. Folarin Balogun scored his first goal, but Gio Reyna was the semifinal and Final star. These are fascinating times for American soccer fans, who are treated to a brilliant and young nucleus of the international team. Special shout-out to Joe Scally for silencing Alphonso Davies, haven’t heard many people praising him enough. The Bayern Munich attacking Fullback is a threat down the US right flank but the Gladbach RB pocketed him with ease.

Awards are people presented before the trophy lift, and Christian Pulisic is awarded the “Best Player” of the competition. In contrast, Matty Turner wins the “Best Goalkeeper” award with clean sheets against both North American mainland borders.

The USMNT has won two Nations League championships after defeating Mexico in the tournament’s inaugural 2019–20 final. Mexico came in third after defeating Panama 1-0 in the tournament’s third-place match earlier on Sunday.

The CONCACAF Gold Cup is next for USMNT manager B.J. Callaghan’s team, starting on June 24 versus Jamaica. The United States will try to go 2-for-2 this summer as they are also the defending champions of that competition.

Follow Yanks Abroad on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn for news and views on Americans playing the beautiful game worldwide and the U.S. national team.


Abdul Abdullahi

University Student from Ohio. Massive soccer/football fan and love talking about the beautiful game. Covering anything Chelsea FC and Americans at home and abroad. At the start of his long journey taking one step at a time.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: