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Miles Robinson’s late goal lifts USMNT to Gold Cup final win over Mexico

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USA's defender Miles Robinson (L) celebrates
U.S. defender Miles Robinson, left, celebrates with teammates after the Americans defeated Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final Sunday in Las Vegas.
(Patrick Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)

After the U.S. and Mexico struggled to put away shots, Kellyn Acosta set Miles Robinson up for the Gold Cup final game winner in extra time Sunday night at Allegiant Stadium.

Kellyn Acosta served the ball into the box during a set piece and Miles Robinson headed it home late in the second extra time period, breaking up a scoreless gridlock and sealing a 1-0 win over Mexico in the Gold Cup final Sunday night in Las Vegas.

USMNT’s Miles Robinson scores game winner in second extra period

Mexico was the heavy favorite entering the Gold Cup final Sunday night, with the United States holding its top players out of the lineup.

A pro-El Tri crowd packed Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and was ready to explode over and over again, but American Matt Turner and his USMNT turned away every chance. They also got lucky a few times as promising shots on goal sailed high or wide.

It seemed the match was destined to be settled in penalty kicks, but ugly fouls late in the second extra period changed the match.

Edson Álvarez was called for a foul in transition and was hit with a yellow card.

On the ensuing set piece, Kellyn Acosta’s cross to the box was headed home by Miles Robinson in the 118th minute.

Mexico had two minutes left in extra time, but El Tri couldn’t deliver an equalizer and the Americans celebrated an upset victory.

“I don’t know really what happened,” Robinson said on Fox Sports 1 after the match. " ... I’m happy we got the W. That’s all I can say.”

With the win, the U.S. has swept two title game meetings with Mexico in 2021. Dating back to 2010, the Americans now have a 6-5-4 series advantage.

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Matthew Hoppe’s extra time shot deflected by Alfredo Talavera

Kellyn Acosta has been active all match for the U.S. and set up Matthew Hoppe for a clear look at goal in extra time.

Mexico goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera was off his line and stretched out to deflect the shot from a difficult angle.

Hoppe had another shot at goal on the run in the 104th minute, skying the ball into the stands.

It extended the trend of dangerous passes and errant shots by both sides through the first 105 minutes of play.

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Watch: Mexico goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera denies top USMNT chance

Memo Ochoa has been a beast in goal for Mexico, but he’s in Tokyo for the Olympics.

Backup Mexican goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera made a key defensive effort, denying arguably the best American scoring chance of the second half.

Both goalkeepers have made big saves, signaling a it could be very interesting if this match goes to penalty kicks.

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U.S. and Mexico deliver dangerous runs, but neither can finish

It’s either an elite defensive performance by both sides or an ugly offensive effort, as the U.S. and Mexico were scoreless in the second half and the Gold Cup final stretched into extra time.

Mexico has generated more chances, but both sides have been unable to convert promising runs in the final third.

The heavily pro-Mexico crowd in Las Vegas seems ready to erupt every time El Tri gets into the box, but fans have been denied celebration through the first 90-plus minutes.

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Mexico’s Orbelín Pineda misses two early second-half shots

The U.S. and Mexico were on the pitch early and ready for second-half action to begin.

El Tri kept that energy going through the first 10 minutes, putting pressure on the American defense.

Orbelín Pineda missed two open shots in the box.

Sebastian Lletget also had a solid look at goal, but he rushed the shot in transition, didn’t get much energy behind it and it was far off target.

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USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner delivers four first-half saves

U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner has been tested in the first 40 minutes of the match, delivering four saves.

Mexico has accounted for 63% of possession.

The Americans had chance to score, with captain Paul Arriola hitting the right post on an open shot from the center of the box set up by Sebastian Lletget. Arriola had another chance in transition during the fifth minute of stoppage time, but he pushed the ball wide.

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Mexico urges fans to avoid using homophobic chant during Gold Cup final

Mexico is under pressure to stop fans from using a popular homophobic chant during the Gold Cup final against the U.S. in Las Vegas.

The Times’ Kevin Baxter has written extensively about the chant and the penalties FIFA has levied while trying to stop its use.

Mexico announced in June it will play its first two home matches in World Cup qualifying without spectators, a penalty for its fans’ use of an anti-gay chant during last spring’s pre-Olympic tournament in Guadalajara.

The actions were the strongest ever taken against Mexico for the chant and more sanctions could be coming if fans continue to use the chant.

The chant is generally used when the opposing goalkeeper makes a goal kick. There is vigorous debate over whether the chant is derogatory since the offending word can have many meanings in Spanish, one of which is a slur used to demean gay men.

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Galaxy’s Jonathan dos Santos in Mexico starting XI for Gold Cup final

Mexico’s starting XI is set for the Gold Cup final against the USMNT.

The Galaxy’s Jonathan dos Santos will start as expected for El Tri. He has continued to represent the Mexican national team while grieving the recent death of his father. His Galaxy teammates dedicated goals scored during a 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers on Friday night to dos Santos and his father.

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Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget in USMNT starting XI for Gold Cup

The U.S. starting lineup is set for the Gold Cup final against Mexico.

The Galaxy’s Sebastian Lletget is among the few who will play in both the June Nations League final and Sunday’s Gold Cup finale.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter made a few lineup changes for the final, including George Bello getting the start ahead of Sam Vines at left back and former Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes starting over Daryl Dike.

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U.S., Mexico rivalry series has tightened during the last 11 years

The United States' Christian Pulisic (10) scores off a penalty kick against Mexico
The United States’ Christian Pulisic (10) scores off a penalty kick against Mexico during extra time in the CONCACAF Nations League final June 6 in Denver.
(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

The USMNT and El Tri have faced off 71 times since 1934, with Mexico leading the all-time series 36-15-20.

During the last 11 years, the rivalry series has tightened. Mexico has five wins, the U.S. has five wins, and the teams have combined for four draws.

The U.S. won the most recent meeting, beating Mexico 3-2 during the CONCACAF Nations League final.

However, the U.S. is not leaning on its top stars for this tournament as it holds them back for upcoming World Cup qualifying. The USMNT is leaning on a much younger lineup against El Tri.

Mexico has some key absences as well, with a squad at the Olympics and its own World Cup qualifying plans. It still, however, has more star power in its lineup.

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Mexico versus U.S. Gold Cup final betting odds

Mexico midfielder Héctor Herrera (16) celebrates
Mexico midfielder Héctor Herrera celebrates after scoring a goal during a friendly against Nigeria on July 3 in Los Angeles.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Both pre-tournament favorites reached Sunday’s Gold Cup final in Las Vegas, as the United States and Mexico meet eight weeks after the U.S. beat Mexico 3-2 in the Nations League final.

The U.S. roster is far different now, with Kellyn Acosta the only remaining starter, plus Reggie Cannon and Sebastian Lletget, who were subs in the Nations League final. However, Mexico has a much larger portion of its A-team, returning nine players who appeared in June’s final. That’s part of the reason Mexico is favored (-160 to lift the trophy), and El Tri has been more impressive throughout this Gold Cup.

Is Mexico winning the best bet in this game?

The U.S. has won all five games in the tournament and scored one more goal than Mexico, which has four wins and a draw thus far (the draw was 0-0 in a game in which Mexico outshot Trinidad & Tobago 30-4). The U.S. hasn’t looked great outside of maybe the 6-1 rout of Martinique, winning the other four games by identical 1-0 scores.

Mexico has far more shots (92 to 58) than the U.S., and nearly 50% more expected goals (12.5 to 8.4), a metric that tallies up how many goals a team would typically score, given the specific shots taken. Each team has conceded one goal, though the U.S. has been the beneficiary of poor opponent finishing and good goalkeeping.

Mexico has allowed 34 shots to 65 for the U.S., and 1.6 expected goals compared to 5.8 for the U.S. Props to American keeper Matt Turner, who’s been the best shot-stopper in MLS for several years -- he’s made a tournament-high 18 saves and prevented 3.5 goals, based on the shots on target he’s faced. The U.S. will need him at his best to stay with Mexico on Sunday.

Defensively, Mexico surely won’t be as bad at guarding set pieces as in the Nations League final, when the first two U.S. goals came from corner kicks. Mexico has conceded only eight shots from set pieces through five games, though against admittedly weaker competition.

I’m not overthinking this one, let’s take the better team to win in regulation at plus money.

Pick: Mexico to win in regulation (+ 130)

Mexico midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos (6) sprints for the ball
Mexico midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos (6) sprints for the ball against Guatemala during a CONCACAF Gold Cup Group A match in Dallas on July 14.
(Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press)

I also like Mexico to start this game in a strong way. El Tri has outshot opponents 50-13 in the first half at this Gold Cup, leading at halftime in four of five games and outshooting Trinidad & Tobago 19-3 in the first half of the other game.

U.S. was outshot 13-3 by Qatar in the first half, and Mexico can do everything Qatar can do in terms of pressuring midfield and attacking quickly, only better. Mexico has completed 55 more passes than the U.S. on average at the Gold Cup, moving the ball 30 yards toward the opponent’s goal each possession, also the most in the tournament. I fear that the relatively inexperienced U.S. midfield and backline won’t be ready for Mexico’s intensity.

United States defender Miles Robinson (12) is held by Canada forward Junior Hoilett (10)
United States defender Miles Robinson (12) is held by Canada forward Junior Hoilett (10) as he attempts to drive to the goal during a CONCACAF Gold Cup match in Kansas City, Kan., July 18.
(Colin E. Braley / Associated Press)

Miles Robinson has been perhaps the best American in the tournament, and fellow center back James Sands may have played his way onto a World Cup qualifying roster this fall. But Sands is more comfortable playing in a back three than a back two, as suggested by mistakes against Qatar. And 19-year-old midfielder Gianluca Busio has shown promise while being physically handled too often during the tournament. Acosta provides some steel in midfield, but not enough to disrupt Mexico.

In June’s Nations League final, the first-choice U.S. team took much of the first half to adjust to the tempo of the game, and many of those players are playing in top European leagues and competitions. I expect more of the same Sunday, so I’ll play Mexico to win the first half.

Pick: Mexico to win first half (+ 200)

VSiN, the Sports Betting Network, offers more expert sports betting content in a free daily email at VSiN.com/email.

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U.S. vs. Mexico Gold Cup final will kick off at 6 p.m. PDT

U.S. forward Gyasi Zardes (9) chases after a loose ball during a CONCACAF Gold Cup match
U.S. forward Gyasi Zardes (9) chases after a loose ball during a CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal against Jamaica July 25 in Arlington, Texas.
(Brandon Wade / Associated Press)

The U.S. versus Mexico Gold Cup final at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas is set to kick off at about 6 p.m. PDT and will air on Fox Sports 1, TUDN and Univision.

Pregame shows begin at 5 p.m. PDT on Univision and TUDN, while Fox Sports 1 will begin its coverage at 5:30 p.m. PDT.

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