Not getting too crazy about the U.S. men’s soccer team, not getting too crazy about the U.S. men’s soccer team, not getting too crazy about the U.S. men’s soccer team, not going too crazy about the U.S. men’s soccer team…
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA SUCK IT MEXICO
So, in the 68th minute of a scoreless game, Mexico’s Luis Alfonso Rodriguez hauled down Brenden Aaronson, clawed at Aaronson’s face, and only got a yellow card for it. In the 69th minute, Christian Pulisic came on in Aaronson’s place, making his first international appearance since September.
Only able to play as a substitute because he’s working his way back from an ankle injury, Pulisic needed just five minutes to make the difference, heading home a cross from Tim Weah for his first goal of this qualifying cycle.
Weston McKennie’s goal in the 85th minute provided the familiar Dos Á Cero final margin against Team USA’s biggest rivals, this time in Cincinnati rather than Columbus, and now the U.S. sits atop the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table, halfway through the eight-team round robin.
Not that getting three wins and two draws out of the first six qualifiers was lousy, because it’s kept the USMNT on track to qualify for Qatar next year, but it’s really only a win over Mexico that can stoke belief that America can compete at an elite level on the international stage.
And that’s now three wins over Mexico in this calendar year, the first time U.S. men have managed that since 1937, and, no shade to the Gold Cup or Nations League, but this was the one that mattered. A loss in the World Cup qualifier on home ground would undo so much of the progress of the USMNT this year, and they delivered.
Not only did they deliver, but they did it with a big moment from Pulisic, the linchpin of any hopes to make noise at the World Cup, and despite being on the wrong end of the traditional CONCACAF officiating shenanigans with the Rodriguez-Aaronson clash.
There’s still half of qualifying to go, still a full year (and a week) until the World Cup. But after a good amount of building up out of the ashes of the failed qualification for Russia 2018, it’s now officially time to be excited, if not all the way crazy, about the USMNT.