Miles Robinson's Late Goal in Extra Time Lifts USA Past Mexico in 2021 Gold Cup Final

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 2, 2021

USA's defender Miles Robinson heads the ball during the Concacaf Gold Cup football match final between Mexico and USA at the Allegiant stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 1, 2021. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

For the full 90 minutes of regulation in Sunday's Gold Cup final between the United States and Mexico, the match was defined by missed opportunities.

Miles Robinson ended all that in extra time.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

MILES ROBINSON IN THE 117TH MINUTE 😱<br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a> takes the lead!!!!f <a href="https://t.co/1CwsO0qQWe">pic.twitter.com/1CwsO0qQWe</a>

His 117th-minute goal on Kellyn Acosta's brilliant free kick was the difference in the United States' 1-0 win in yet another entertaining and intense—if sloppy—entry in this CONCACAF rivalry. Would you expect anything less when these two teams meet?

It was fitting that Robinson—who helped lead a stout defense throughout the tournament—ended the deadlock.

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

Miles Robinson SHOULD BE the Gold Cup Player of the Tournament. Periodt.<br><br>The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> defense posted five shutouts and didn't allow a goal in the run of play, and Robinson was a HUGE reason for that.

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

Hector Herrera is named Gold Cup Player of the Tournament.<br><br>GTFOH<br><br>Guess they wanted to give Mexico something gold to take home.<br><br>Miles Robinson Player of the Tournament is the ONLY right answer.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a>

Brian Sciaretta @BrianSciaretta

Best player of the tournament went to Hector Herrera.. My vote was Miles Robinson.

"We were focusing a lot on set pieces," Robinson said after the game on the FS1 broadcast. "I knew if I could get open, get a half-step, I could finish one. Kellyn put a perfect ball in, so I had to finish it."

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

"I'm happy we got the W. That's all I can say." 🇺🇸<br><br>Hear from tonight's hero for the <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/_milesrobinson_?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@_milesrobinson_</a> <a href="https://t.co/EmZVxcgMwH">pic.twitter.com/EmZVxcgMwH</a>

Robinson may have missed out on being named Player of the Tournament, but Matt Turner won Goalkeeper of the Tournament. The 27-year-old was an obvious selection because of his dominance.

This was a performance the USMNT and its fans won't soon forget, in large part because the squad that took the field for the Gold Cup was missing many of the country's best players. It was largely a second- and third-choice United States versus a Mexico side comprised of many of its best veterans. 

Suffice to say, it was a gritty showing by the young Americans, who displayed immense heart and poise to win an extra-time showdown against their bitter rival.

Kyle McCarthy @kylejmccarthy

Pretty impressive from <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> to win this Gold Cup given the lack of experience and the absence of key figures in this group.

Stu Holden @stuholden

Warriors man. Kings of Concacaf. WHAT A PERFORMANCE FROM THIS TEAM. <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a> Champs.

Ives Galarcep @SoccerByIves

WHAT a performance by this <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> squad. Facing the favored Mexicans, boasting its strong squad of European-based stars, this young USA side stepped up and knocked off El Tri.<br><br>A clean sweep of trophies this summer sure does suggest there's a new king of Concacaf.

Brian Sciaretta @BrianSciaretta

The heart this <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USMNT?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USMNT</a> team played with was off the charts. This was unbelievable

It can't be overstated just how many good chances each side failed to capitalize on, however. Mexico controlled possession, peppering the United States with dangerous opportunities. The Stars and Stripes came into the game in the second half, posing a major threat on the counterattack. 

Just look at all these chances:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

WHAT A CHANCE FOR THE USMNT <br><br>Paul Arriola just misses putting the 🇺🇸 on top <a href="https://t.co/Y7Fc6dnv5X">pic.twitter.com/Y7Fc6dnv5X</a>

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Mexico with another big chance but <a href="https://twitter.com/headdturnerr?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@headdturnerr</a> once again shuts it down for the <a href="https://twitter.com/USMNT?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USMNT</a> 💪 <a href="https://t.co/ix8tgjyJWl">pic.twitter.com/ix8tgjyJWl</a>

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Pineda gets a clean look but can't put it on frame for Mexico! 😬 <a href="https://t.co/cH3dGVaRKz">pic.twitter.com/cH3dGVaRKz</a>

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

How did this not go in?! 😱<br><br>Pineda gets another HUGE chance for Mexico! <a href="https://t.co/uyTZQeEXT9">pic.twitter.com/uyTZQeEXT9</a>

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

What a tackle by Edson Álvarez to keep Hoppe from putting it in the back of the net 😤 <a href="https://t.co/0rPT4XhYQn">pic.twitter.com/0rPT4XhYQn</a>

All's well that ends well for the United States, which won its second consecutive final over Mexico for the first time in history. It also won the CONCACAF Nations League final over El Tri in June.

As for Mexico, well, there will be major questions to answer. Heated as this rivalry may be, there's no shame in losing to a USMNT with its full complement of stars. But losing to a largely unproven collection of American players?

Well, that can't be framed as anything less than a major disappointment.