Miles Robinson Heads Home The Game-Winning Goal To Lead U.S. To Victory Over Its Rival
By Nick Robbins – LA Soccer Press /
The kids have done it.
A young United States Men’s National Team walked in to Allegiant Stadium against a strong Mexico side and upset its’ nations footballing rivals with a 1-0 victory in the Gold Cup Final on Sunday night in Las Vegas, NV.
With expectations raised with the victory over Mexico in June in the Nations League Final, the United States turned a messy game into a storybook ending as the USMNT captured its second trophy this summer.
Plenty of questions persisted about this United Stated “B” team leading into the final. Gregg Berhalter’s squad lacked experience – and specifically tournament experience – but winning a Gold Cup final against Mexico, in a game Mexico dominated in 2009, ’11 and ’19, makes a new kind of statement.
The game-changing moment went down in the 117th minute when Mexico defender Edson Alvarez put in a tactical foul that was still, probably, the right decision. The foul set up a free kick for Kellyn Acosta, who whipped in an absolutely inch-perfect ball to Miles Robinson leaping up to meet it. Robinson applied a textbook header, placing the ball down to the ground with pace. The ball bounced off the ground and hit the back of the net.
The moment was a sweet one for Robinson. Not only did he score the winning goal for his country but he also got a bit of sweet revenge as the man on the opposite technical area for Mexico is former Atlanta United coach Tata Martino. Martino had routinely left Robinson out of his squad while in Atlanta, stating many times that he didn’t rate the player.
For the man who whipped that ball in, Acosta had a strong night. In addition to getting the game-winning assist, the the Colorado Rapids midfielder made Mexico uncomfortable all night long putting in tackle after tackle all over the pitch.
Chances were few and far between for both teams but when called upon both goalkeepers stepped up to the plate. Matt Turner made some strong saves early on and in extra time to keep the clean sheet. Turner also picked up the Golden Glove award for the tournament, and has more then earned his right to be in the World Cup qualifying squad.
Mexico may have controlled possession throughout the game, but El Tri never looked comfortable depite 64-percent possession and 22 shots, many lacking creatively.
Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas had a very pro-Mexico crowd. As the night went on the crowd became quieter and quieter. The shots became less frequent, and Mexico gave up more set piece chances. If there is one glaring weakness with Mexico it would have to be defense on set pieces and it cost them once again.
Across the board this young U.S. squad has impressed during this Gold Cup. Schake winger Matthew Hoppe was all over the pitch looking sharp, and could be included in the World Cup squad. Hoppe should earn himself a move this summer, potentially to the Premier League.
New York City FC midfielder/defender James Sands also had a strong tournament, looking comfortable in defense and should also earn himself a big move.
The USMNT has had itself quite a summer winning two trophies in two finals against Mexico.
While the expectation for this “B” team was to make the final, winning it seemed like a stretch, and even still for this young squad to beat Mexico in a final is a signal of intent from the USMNT.
Berhalter’s squad will look to maintain this momentum and charge onto qualifying in September.
As we sit 475 days away from World Cup 2022, optimism is rising for these U.S. kids to continue to do it.
Robbins is a native of New York City and a student at University of Alabama. He writes about Major League Soccer for L.A. Soccer Press.