Whew, if you missed the Nations League final between Mexico and the USA you missed a doozy. We are talking peak CONCACAF shenanigans. In 120 minutes of pure intensity and grit, the USA exorcised in large part many of the demons it has wrestled with over the last four years.
Weston McKennie threw himself meekly on the altar of the soccer gods while Mexican national team player Hector Herrera kindly obliged in choking the last remaining bad juju from the collective soul of our footballing nation. The universe coalesced its infinite power to convert Christian Pulisic into the king of “top-bins” and convert Andrés Guardado from Mexican team captain to the biggest let-down to ever come out of Guadalajara, Mexico. Finally, finally, all seems to be right in the footballing world once more.
"I don't know what it is, but they seem to like to grab my neck."— USMNT Only (@usmntonly) June 7, 2021
- Weston McKennie after the match pic.twitter.com/JtqXDCQzzN
You know you have returned from the darkest timeline to the brightest when the first USMNT match post winning the Nations League final is played at Rio Tinto stadium. Unlike the pioneers of yesteryear who sought refuge in this valley, the USMNT arrives in Salt Lake in grand splendor and might, clothed in glory and baptized in $15 beers showered down upon them from obliging “fanaticos” in Denver. If you listen closely you can hear the mountains whisper, “this is the place” for all the brightest stars to play their magnum opus to this summer’s tournament.
If you are anything like me you have spent much of the last 4 years disenfranchised with the male version of our US national team. Something died inside all of us on that fateful night in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago in 2017 when the US lost 2-1 to be eliminated from World Cup Qualifying. I watched the Russia 2018 World Cup with a heavy heart, wondering how and why our nation failed to participate. Much has changed in those 4 years with the USSF installing Cindy Parlow Cone following backlash surrounding Carlos Cordeiro, as well as a new head coach in Gregg Berhalter and a lot of young and up and coming talent. Even Clint Dempsey has emerged from his cave, nature is finally healing.
Tonight is the night that Utahns will be able to personally join in the revelry and once again be proud of the men that represent us on football’s greatest stage. My guess is that many of the brightest stars won’t see the field tonight, making way for those lower on the depth chart, but that shouldn’t distract from the fact that for the first time since 2017, our team is back in Salt Lake and back to being competitive. For that, we can all be proud, excited and optimistic about qualification into the Qatar 2022 World Cup. We’ll see you tonight at Rio Tinto Stadium, let’s go get it America!