What just happened on Sunday night, August 1st? What type of gambling did we see from that 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final as the United States defeated Mexico? We saw a bunch of kids who have never played together as a team and who would never get called up to play in a big National Senior team men’s tournament have a run and at the end of the run, they hoisted some goldware.
While the criticisms were legitimate that the only match this side scored multiple goals during the group stage was the six goals to one victory over Martinique, this side played strong on defense and never allowed a single goal in open play or on set pieces. The only goal they conceded was at the penalty spot.
But for Gregg Berhalter who’s hiring came at such a big question mark from the members of the board of governors of US Soccer, and several moments of failure before the calendar changed to the year 2021, this man who was heavily criticized, including me has just done the impossible, he defeated the top dog of the Confederation and in my mind the best manager of football in Tata Martino who has managed the best player in the world in Lionel Messi.
That pinpoint free-kick cross along the near side by Kellyn Acosta was on point as Miles Robinson found a channel and ran onto the ball, to leap in the air, head the ball down and the ten percent of American fans erupted with joy and glee put the USA on the front foot to capture the Men’s Nationalteam 7th CONCACAF Gold Cup title.
Gregg Berhalter deserves tons of credit for making the changes he needed to the starting 11, making the correct substitutions, and now he has done something that no other USA head coach has done at all. They have been to two CONCACAF Senior Men’s National Team Tournament finals and defeated El Tri twice within the same calendar year and within a two to three month period in the Nations League & now the Gold Cup.
The roster that Tata Martino brought over was an A-side that should’ve taken down the USAS to the young and inexperienced players that Gregg Berhalter brought over to see who he will be integrating into his World Cup Qualifying rosters within a month, but this group of young players came out of nowhere, had the belief they could make history and did so in Extra Time and some, in my opinion, may have stolen some roster spots for this sprint to qualify for Qatar next winter.
For Berhalter, his stock is now rising right in front of us, while I do believe that Tata Martino is still one of the best managers in all of world football as he has managed FC Barcelona, Argentina, Atlanta United and working with all players, no matter where he has managed, is at the pinnacle of his powers was just taken down by a man who is managing our Nation’s National Team from Tenafly, NJ.
After it’s all said and done, Gregg Berhalter can now say he has won two titles against one of the best tacticians of the game and against the USA’s major rival. While the opening and closing group stage matches were nothing to speak of, for Berhalter in the Gold Cup, the knockout stage was glowing and shining very pretty, and once aga, the defense came up big to start these matches and the offense snuck into the end the matches with big victories.
We witnessed in the Nations League was our top talent doing well in Europe, to beat Mexico, and then our up and coming talent who plies their trade-in Major League Soccer, to beat Mexico for Gold Cup Glory. This amazing feat from both the head coach and from the academies of our clubs in the top division league shows that everything is improving and getting better, but the next trip should be the Qualifiers and hopefully a trip to Qatar.
But until then everyone, go and celebrate like you just won the lottery.