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Dos Santos leads Mexico to eighth Gold Cup title

Mexico’s Jonathan dos Santos scored in the 73rd minute to give his side a 1-0 win over the United States in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on Sunday.

The victory over the defending champions at Chicago’s Soldier Field earned Mexico a record-extending eighth title at the biennial tournament, which crowns the continental champions of North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter sent out the same starting XI that guided the USA through the semifinal while handing the captain’s armband to Weston McKennie for the first time in his career, upping the number of players to captain the U.S. in 2019 to an even 10.

U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter sent out the same starting XI that guided the USA through the semifinal while handing the captain’s armband to Weston McKennie for the first time in his career, upping the number of players to captain the U.S. in 2019 to an even 10.

The USA looked the better bet to score early on with Jozy Altidore putting Christian Pulisic, named Young Player of the Tournament, through on goal only to see his shot blocked by charging Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. The rebound was headed back in by Paul Arriola and a missed overhead kick attempt by Altidore was nearly cleared off Pulisic into the upper left corner.

A minute later, Tim Ream cleared the ball upfield where Altidore brought it down and cut past a defender into the box but dragged his shot just outside the right post.

Later opportunities for the industrious Arriola and the creative Pulisic rolled wide of the left stick and landed in the hands of a nearly-chipped Ochoa, respectively.

When the teams emerged from halftime tied at 0-0, play carried a similar pattern to the first half. In the 51st minute, Jordan Morris was denied on a glorious chance as his header from a Pulisic Corner was cleared off the line by Andrés Guardado.

After that point, the field slowly tilted in Mexico’s favor. Berhalter made a pair of subs after the hour mark, bringing on Cristian Roldan and Gyasi Zardes to provide fresh legs. A cushioned header from Zardes put Pulisic in on goal in the 71st minute, but the young attacker was closed down by a Mexico defender and put his shot wide. Two minutes later Mexico took the lead when Raúl Jiménez laid it off for dos Santos to hit the winner.

The USA continued to search for a way back into the game and a final burst of pressure resulted in a last-gasp chance for Roldan in the 87th minute but his one-time drive from inside the box was blocked by Héctor Moreno.

“This was what we came here for” said Mexico’s Andres Guardado. “We did it and in an unforgettable setting. We’re very happy. The whole team was spectacular.”

“I thought we had a good start to the game. If anything the beginning of the second half wasn’t what it needed to be,” said American midfielder Michael Bradley.

“They were able to get some momentum and got their goal. Tough way to lose.”

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