USMNT triumphs in Nations League Final

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has seen a few trophy presentations for the US Women’s National Team, but Arlington hosted the first for men as Christian Pulisic lifted the Concacaf Nations League trophy.

A 2-0 win maintained the American domination of the competition in its third season.

Third place for the Reggae Boyz

Jamaican defender Dexter Lembikisa celebrates his goal against Panama with Shamar Nicholson

Jamaica stuck with largely the same side that came seconds away from knocking off the USMNT on Thursday night, while Panama coach Thomas Christiansen made six changes to the team that lost 3-0 to Mexico. Ismael Diaz – the hat-trick hero of Panama’s 3-0 win over Qatar at the same venue in July – had to settle for a place on the bench.

Jamaica had the first good look of the tie in the 19th minute. Michael Hector played a neat through ball for Shamar Nicholson to race clear of the Panamanian defense. Attempting to round Orlando Mosquera, Nicholson forced the Panama GK into a low save. Jiovany Ramos cleared a follow-up attempt off the line.

The Reggae Boyz took the lead in the 41st with a stunner by Dexter Lembikisa. Hector chipped a ball through to the Hearts midfielder on the right side. Lembikisa cut inside and curled home off his left foot from close to 25 yards.

Damion Lowe came close to extending the lead on the hour. The Philadelphia Union man pinged the crossbar with a 35-yard attempt after stealing the ball off the feet of Coco Carrasquilla.

Panama only forced Andre Blake into two saves – both from outside the area – despite dominating possession in a lackluster game.

Dos a cero in DFW

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Two FC Dallas academy products earned the start for Gregg Berhalter’s side. Weston McKennie and Chris Richards kept their places among five changes. Sergino Dest, Tyler Adams, Tim Ream, Gio Reyna, and two-goal hero Haji Wright came in for the final.

Mexico made two changes from the semi-final, Jorge Sanchez and Chucky Lozano – PSV teammate of Ricardo Pepi – got the start for El Tri.

Memo Ochoa came up with a big save in the fifth minute from Christian Pulisic. Some pinball in the box ended with Gio Reyna lifting the ball in the USMNT captain’s direction. Pulisic juggled the ball before getting a shot off inside the six-yard box.

The 22nd minute brought up Mexico’s first big opportunity through Luis Chavez. Weston McKennie attempted to head away a long throw into the Yanks’ area, but could only direct it to Chavez hovering around the penalty spot. Matt Turner made the save low to his right, but in truth is was a weak shot.

The Stars & Stripes took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Tyler Adams with an absolute worldie. In the aftermath of a US corner Weston McKennie played in Adams centrally, leaving the Bournemouth midfielder to smash the ball beyond Ochoa from over 30-yards out.

Mexico looked the most likely to score next as both teams endured labored periods interspersed with quick counterattacks but Gio Reyna doubled the lead in the 63rd minute. Christian Pulisic floated a cross in from the American left. Johan Vasquez had a couple of attempts to clear the ball but it only resulted in Reyna running on to volley the loose ball low and beyond Ochoa’s reach.

Referee Drew Fischer briefly gave Mexican fans something to cheer about, pointing to the spot in the 72nd minute after Santiago Gimenez tumbled over in the box from a challenge with Antonee Robinson. A quick VAR review showed that Gimenez went down away from Jedi’s attempted clearance, and the Feyenoord striker was promptly awarded a yellow card for his efforts.

Mexico, in their new peacock patterned jerseys, poured forward in attempt to avoid another ‘dos a cero’ but their fans were not helping that cause. Five announcements were made as part of the anti-discriminatory chanting policy, as well as Fischer twice halting play.

With the two delays in the final minutes, the game came to a somewhat muted end before Pulisic got his hands on the trophy once again.

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