The Gold Cup title is Mexico's yet again.
Jonathan Dos Santos's second-half stunner broke a deadlock and was all El Tri needed to edge the USA 1-0 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The title is Mexico's eighth–adding to its Concacaf record–and marked the fifth time that Mexico has beaten the USA in six final meetings. This was their first final meeting in eight years, with the 2011 one decided, in part, by Giovani Dos Santos's unforgettable goal. His younger brother earned the plaudits on Sunday, delivering Tata Martino his first trophy as Mexico manager.
The U.S. had chances to score early, with Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore both missing the opportunity to deliver the USA the lead. Jordan Morris also had a header cleared off the line by Andres Guardado, while Hector Moreno threw his body in front of a Cristian Roldan chance that would've tied the match in its dying minutes.
The U.S. opted for an unchanged lineup from the side that impressively beat Jamaica 3-1 in the semifinals. For Michael Bradley, that meant hitting the 150-cap milestone, something only done by Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan among U.S. men's players.
Mexico tested U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen off the opening possession. Some 33 seconds in, Dos Santos found a seam down the right channel. He fired an 18-yard chance at goal, one that didn't trouble Steffen at all but was a clear warning to the U.S. defense to tighten up.
The U.S. tested Guillermo Ochoa early, too. Altidore played Pulisic in behind down the left side. He beat his defender but hesitated a bit on his decision to shoot, allowing Ochoa to get in position to block the chance. Altidore followed up with an audacious overhead kick attempt, but he misfired.
Altidore then missed a gilt-edged chance moments later. Tim Ream supplied tremendous service out of the back, and Altidore ran onto it down the center, cutting the ball back on his mark and getting free into the box. He hooked his chance wide of the right post, though, letting Mexico off and keeping it 0-0 in an extremely active opening 10 minutes.
It was Mexico's turn to miss a golden opportunity six minutes later. Guardado ran onto a cross from Rodolfo Pizarro into the center of the box and fired his first-time chance well high, although in his defense he was under pressure by Paul Arriola after both arrived at the ball at the same time.
Ochoa got away with one on the half-hour mark. He was caught off his line as Arriola played the ball to himself off his head, rounding the goalkeeper, who kept up his chase. With a gaping net, Arriola hooked his chance just wide of the far post, sparing the Mexico goalkeeper some blushes and keeping the match scoreless.
Dos Santos, much like he did to start the game, took another rip from long distance, trying to beat Steffen from 20 yards out in the 42nd minute. Unlike the first opportunity, this one was hit with power, but it whizzed just wide of the right post as a diving Steffen watched it go by.
Emotions escalated at the start of the second half, with Guardado appearing to put his hands on Weston McKennie's neck right in front of the referee after a hard Moreno foul on Altidore.
Guardado was at the center of the action again moments later, when the U.S. earned a corner kick. Morris, who scored the final-winning goal in 2017, turned his header on frame, but Guardado was well positioned to clear it off the line with a header of his own, narrowly keeping Mexico level.
Mexico missed a chance of its own when Raul Jimenez, otherwise stiffled by the USA's defense, mishit a cutback cross on the doorstep, instead barely chipping it right into Steffen's waiting arms.
With the match still scoreless, U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter went to his bench for two subs just after the hour mark, with Roldan replacing Morris and Gyasi Zardes replacing Altidore. Even before then, the tide was turning toward Mexico, and it continued to over the next 10 minutes. That much was confirmed when Dos Santos finally opened the scoring. Jimenez laid it off for the LA Galaxy star with a beautiful back-heel pass, and Dos Santos did the rest, curling an 16-yard chance that beat Steffen and made it 1-0 in the 73rd minute.
The U.S. had a great chance to pull even in the 88th minute off a hectic sequence. It started with a Bradley cross into the six-yard box, which Ochoa punched out with a dive. It didn't clear far, though, and the rebound was fired toward goal by Roldan only for Moreno to block it before it could reach the target.
The U.S. couldn't threaten from there, ceding control of Concacaf's trophy and ending its first competition under Berhalter as a runner-up.
Here were the lineups for both sides:
Here are the rosters for both teams:
GOALKEEPERS: Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Tyler Miller (LAFC), Zack Steffen (Manchester City)
DEFENDERS: Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Omar Gonzalez (Toronto FC), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Tim Ream (Fulham), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)
MIDFIELDERS: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (Vitória Guimãres), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
GOALKEEPERS: Hugo Gonzalez (Necaxa), Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Jonathan Orozco (Santos Laguna)
DEFENDERS: Néstor Araujo (Celta Vigo), Jesús Gallardo (Monterrey), Héctor Moreno (Real Sociedad), César Montes (Monterrey), Fernando Navarro (Club León), Diego Reyes (Fenerbahçe), Luis Rodríguez (Tigres UANL), Carlos Salcedo (Tigres UANL)
MIDFIELDERS: Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul), Uriel Antuna (LA Galaxy), Edson Álvarez (Club América), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Andrés Guardado (Real Betis), Érick Gutiérrez (PSV Eindhoven), Luis Montes (Club León), Orbelín Pineda (Cruz Azul), Carlos Rodriguez (Monterrey)
FORWARDS: Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Rodolfo Pizarro (Monterrey), Alexis Vega (Guadalajara)