ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
U.S. midfielder Christian Pulisic, right, controls the ball against Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo during the first half of the CONCACAF Gold Cup final Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago. Mexico won 1-0.

CHICAGO — The United States men's soccer team showed how far, far behind the American women it is right now.

Hours after the United States won its second straight Women's World Cup and fourth overall, the men were outplayed by Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. Jonathan Dos Santos scored in the 73rd minute to give the El Tri a 1-0 victory Sunday night at Soldier Field.

U.S. star Christian Pulisic and captain Weston McKennie both left without speaking to reporters about the latest setback for a program still trying to rebound from its failure to qualify for last year's World Cup in Russia.

"Over the course of 90 minutes, Mexico was the better team," Gregg Berhalter said after the conclusion of his first tournament as U.S. coach. "What we lacked was, I think, some of the calmness, some of the composure."

Despite missing its top three forwards, El Tri had 58% possession, outshot the United States 20-10 and won its eighth Gold Cup title to six for the Americans, who dropped to 1-5 in Gold Cup finals against their biggest rival.

Days before he reports to the English Premier League's Chelsea FC, Pulisic was by far the best U.S. player, using bursts of speed and cutting ability to create chances, but he rarely touched the ball in the second half. The 20-year-old midfielder was given the tournament's best young player award after scoring three goals with three assists.

"His contribution to the team this tournament was fantastic," Berhalter said. "Both sides of the ball. Off the field."

McKennie, coming off an excellent season with Schalke in the German Bundesliga, was given the captain's arm band for the first time but was largely ineffective.

"I'm not going to comment on his individual performance," said Berhalter, who also praised McKennie for his play earlier in the tournament.

While the crowd in Lyon, France, was overwhelmingly pro-American as the U.S. women beat the Netherlands 2-0 earlier in the day, El Tri supporters in green, white and red in the crowd of 62,493 made the home of the NFL's Chicago Bears seem like Mexico City's Estadio Azteca.

Mexico scored on a move started by Dos Santos, who plays for Major League Soccer's L.A. Galaxy. He passed the ball to Rodolfo Pizarro, who switched from the left flank to the right in the second half. Pizarro crossed in the penalty area, where Raul Jimenez played a back-heel pass to Dos Santos, who had continued his run. His left-footed shot went by the outstretched arm of U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen for just his third goal in 46 international appearances.

"We couldn't quite find the first pass to get out in certain moments," midfielder Michael Bradley said. "Obviously then you get a little bit tired, and they start to gain some momentum, obviously. It culminates with them getting them the goal."

Bradley was among four holdovers in the starting lineup from the 11 who began the October 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago that cost the team a World Cup berth, joined by Pulisic, midfielder Paul Arriola and forward Jozy Altidore.

Altidore scuffed an open left-footed shot from 10 yards out in the seventh minute. Jordan Morris beat goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa with a 6-yard header from Pulisic's corner kick in the 51st minute, but Andres Guardado headed the ball away at the goal line. Second-half sub Cristian Roldan's point-blank shot hit Hector Moreno on the head and bounced away in the 87th.

"We just couldn't put our chances away tonight," Altidore said. "If you look at that 10-, 15-minute period, we kind of lost the game a bit. We were trying to play out of the back and stick to our guns, but maybe it was a time to kind of get up the field and try to get in their half and kind of change that momentum a bit.'

Mexico was playing in its first tournament under new coach Tata Martino, who coached Atlanta United FC to the MLS title last year in the team's first season. El Tri has not lost a competitive match to the United States since 2013, winning three, drawing one and re-establishing itself as the region's power.

Berhalter, the first American to coach the national team after playing in the World Cup for the United States, wants a possession-based team. Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup will not start until next summer, leaving the biennial championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean as the first measuring test.

"We're close," he said, "but we weren't there tonight."

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT