Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was the hero as El Tri prevailed 5-4 on penalties against Costa Rica to set up a showdown with rivals the United States in the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League final.

After Thursday's semi-final ended 0-0 at the end of 90 minutes, Ochoa produced the decisive save in the shoot-out to deny Allan Cruz in Denver and send Mexico through to the blockbuster final on Sunday.

CONCACAF Gold Cup holders Mexico – missing injured star Raul Jimenez – drew a blank across 90 minutes and had missed their first penalty via Uriel Antuna.

Hirving Lozano, Orbelin Pineda, Alan Pulido, Luis Romo and Jesus Gallardo all converted their ensuing spot-kicks, after Oscar Duarte missed for Costa Rica, before Ochoa's crucial intervention diving to his right to save Cruz's effort.

The win continues Mexico's dominance over Costa Rica, winning all three shoot-outs and their past nine encounters, dating back to 2013.

Lozano almost spectacularly opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a right-foot overhead kick, which hit the crossbar after a touch from Leonel Moreira – who was deputising for absent Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Diego Lainez came close for Mexico with a drilled shot going narrowly wide 12 minutes later against Costa Rica.

Costa Rica created chances of their own, with former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell setting up Keysher Fuller for an angled shot which was blocked by Ochoa.

Bryan Ruiz and Costa Rica team-mate Campbell combined, with the crafty Alonso Martinez shooting off target on his left foot on the half-hour mark.

Mexico almost broke the deadlock shortly before half-time after a clever dummy from Henry Martin opened up a side-foot chance for Hector Herrera but Moreira was up to the task.

Martinez muscled his way into the box but blazed a deflected shot wide after the break, while Herrera produced a powerful 57th-minute strike from range which stung Moreira's palms, before the game went to penalties.

Jordan Siebatcheu came off the bench and headed the United States into the CONCACAF Nations League final after a 1-0 victory over Honduras in Denver on Thursday.

Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie provided the vital assist for Siebatcheu's 89th-minute winner which decided a game of few clear-cut chances.

It means Gregg Berhalter's USA have qualified for the first-ever CONCACAF Nations League decider, where they will face either Mexico or Costa Rica in Denver on Sunday.

USA had the first genuine chance of the game when Giovanni Reyna jinked past two defenders inside the box but dragged his 10th-minute shot wide at the far post.

Honduras forward Anthony Lozano had an audacious long-range shot saved by USA and Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen shortly after.

The best opportunity of the first half fell to Honduras in the 27th minute from a deep free-kick into the box, where Alberth Elis looped a header over Steffen but was brilliantly cleared off the line by Josh Sargent.

A melee between the sides broke out with Elis claiming the ball had crossed the line as USA defender John Brooks took exception.

Werder Bremen forward Sargent had a header saved, while Chelsea's Christian Pulisic – part of the Champions League-winning side – had a chance blanketed on half-time too.

Steffen made a crucial intervention to deny Lozano early in the second half, while Elis cut inside and fired over the bar as the game slowed down in the second 45.

McKennie had a tame header saved but USA launched a 78th-minute triple substitution, with Siebatcheu among them.

Siebatcheu stooped to conquer, firing his header past Honduras keeper Luis Lopez from McKennie's headed back after Brooks' hopeful lofted ball into the box.

 

What does it mean? Relief for USA

Berhalter will breath a major sigh of relief, booking his side's spot in the decider as expected, although it was far from easy. USA have now won five of their past six games.

Siebatcheu a star on the rise

Washington-born, Switzerland-based Siebatcheu was only making his fourth appearance for the Stars and Stripes but marked it with his maiden international goal. He was coming off 15 goals on loan for Young Boys in 2020-21, before they exercised the option to buy him from Rennes a fortnight ago.

Morris caps off stellar 2019

Honduras may have cruised through the group phase but that was back in 2019. Los Catrachos have now failed to win in their past five matches since returning to international football in October last year.

What's next?

USA will learn their final opponent on Thursday when Mexico and Costa Rica meet, ahead of Sunday's decider. Honduras will play the loser in the third-place final on Sunday too.

Switzerland stepped up preparations for Euro 2020 by coming from behind to beat the United States 2-1 in St Gallen.

Vladimir Petkovic's men were 1-0 down in just over four and a half minutes as Sebastian Lletget captialised on Switzerland's failure to clear their lines.

His close-range strike made it five goals in his last six USA games for Lletget, but the visitors' joy was short-lived as Ricardo Rodriguez levelled in the 10th minute.

Rodriguez found the net with a deflected drive from the edge of the area following Silvan Widmer's right-wing cross, but the left-back then followed his goal by spurning a gilt-edged chance to complete the turnaround.

The Torino left-back sent a penalty wide of the right-hand post after Sergino Dest was ruled to have handled in the area in the 41st minute.

Rodriguez's blushes were spared after another defensive error from Barcelona player Dest presented substitute Steven Zuber with a simple 63rd-minute chance that did not go begging.

Switzerland, who have won five straight matches, host Liechtenstein on Thursday in their final warm-up game before beginning their Group A campaign against Wales in Baku on June 12.

Reigning Olympic 100m champion, Elaine Thompson-Herah, will not be a part of Sunday’s showdown with compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the fastest woman in the world this season, Sha'Carri Richardson, at the Gateshead Diamond League.

The Jamaicans and the American seemed set for a blockbuster showdown over the distance, having recorded three of the six fastest times in history. 

However, Thompson-Herah is not listed on the start list for the meet and according to reports has pulled out of the event.  There has been no official reason provided for the sprinter’s withdrawal.

The field will, however, still boast plenty of quality, with Great Britain’s fastest woman, Dinah Asher-Smith, and another Jamaican, Natasha Morrison, also set to face the starter.  Morrison has clocked the third-fastest time over the distance this year, having run her personal best of 10.87, in Florida, last month.

According to reports, Thompson-Herah is also registered to face off against Richards at next week’s Doha Diamond League meet, where multiple world medallist Marie-Josée Ta Lou (Ivory Coast) and Nigeria’s national record holder Blessing Okagbare are also expected to be a part of the field.  Thomspon-Herah is the second-fastest woman this season having clocked a time of 10.78 in Florida last month.

Sergino Dest's first international goal set the United States on their way to a 4-1 friendly win over Jamaica in Austria on Thursday.

Barcelona wing-back Dest had become the second-youngest American player to score a brace in Europe's 'top five' leagues when netting twice in a 6-1 hammering of Real Sociedad last week and he maintained his impressive form.

Lining up on the left-hand side of a back four, the 20-year-old belatedly forged USA's breakthrough after 34 minutes of dominance.

Dest cut inside from the left and bent a right-footed finish around Jeadine White from the edge of the area, becoming the team's 12th different scorer in their past four matches.

Substitute Brenden Aaronson appeared to take the game away from Jamaica shortly after half-time.

The Salzburg midfielder had earlier created a chance that was squandered by Giovanni Reyna but made no mistake himself from close range when found by Josh Sargent.

A contract dispute meant the Reggae Boyz were robbed of regular stars such as Leon Bailey, instead relying on a host of debutants, but Swansea City's Jamal Lowe - one of the new men - chipped in 20 minutes from time.

Jamaica never truly threatened a late fightback, though, and Sebastian Lletget smartly swept in two more USA goals in the closing stages as they finished with four from 27 attempts.

Several regular players will be missing from the Jamaica Reggae Boyz line-up when they face regional powerhouse the United States, in a friendly international, in Austria, next Thursday.

When the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) released a final 18-man squad on Tuesday, the likes of regular team captain and custodian Andre Blake, defender Damion Lowe, and Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey were a few missing from the line-up.

At present, some members of the national squad have been locked in tense negotiations with the JFF, and according to reports, have yet to sign contracts ensuring their availability to represent the national team.

The squad will in the meantime see the return of defender Adrian Mariappa (Bristol Rovers), Michael Hector (Fulham) with potential debuts for English-based talents Leon Moore, Ethan Pinnock (Brentford), and Watford striker Andre Gray.  Also making a return to the squad will be former Manchester United youth player Ravel Morrison.

The United States have been in top form in recent friendly internationals, handing Trinidad and Tobago a 7-0 thrashing in their previous match  Prior to that, they registered a 6-0 win over another CONCACAF team El Salvador and a 6-2 win over Panama.

The match will take place at the Stadion Wiener Neustadt at 12:00pm (Jamaica time).

 

 

Full squad

  1. Jeadine White Cavalier SC
  2. Kemar Foster Portmore United
  3. Adrian Mariappa Bristol City FC
  4. Michael Hector Fulham FC
  5. Curtis Tilt Wigan Athletic FC
  6. Amari Bell Blackburn Rovers FC
  7. Ethan Pinnock Brentford FC
  8. Liam Moore Reading FC
  9. Wesley Harding Rotherham United
  10. Renaldo Wellington Montego Bay United
  11. Chavany Willis Portmore United
  12. Ravel Morrison Unattached
  13. Ricardo Morris Portmore United
  14. Jabari Hylton UWI
  15. Andre Gray Watford FC
  16. Omar Holness Darlington FC
  17. Kevaughn Isaacs Mount Pleasant
  18. Luca Levee Harbour View FC
  19. Shaven Paul Mount Pleasant

 

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is planning to represent the United States at the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo this year.

Coronavirus forced the 2020 Games to be postponed, with the Olympics now due to be held in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8 this year.

Despite a potentially congested schedule, with the Clippers contenders in the Western Conference and the NBA season set to finish on July 22 if the Finals go the distance, Leonard is ready to play for Team USA.

"My plan is to go," Leonard said on Sunday, ahead of the All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Gregg Popovich's Team USA are set to play their first game against France on July 25.

"If I feel up to it and feel ready to go around that time, then I'm going to play," Leonard said.

Leonard added: "A lot of people were in for 2020, but just the pandemic pretty much killed everything."

Team USA won the Gold Medal in 2016, defeating Serbia at the Rio De Janeiro Games almost five years ago in Brazil.

Jamaica international, Oniel Fisher, has signed with Major League Soccer (MLS) club LA Galaxy as a free agent.

The 29-year-old previously represented Seattle Sounders who he represented from 2015-2017 and later D.C. United, who he also represented for two years, between 2018 to 2020.  The experienced defender, who also played for Seattle Sounders 2, has a total of 89 appearances in US football.  The player also spent a year playing for the New York Red Bulls U-23.

Fisher retcovered from surgery to a partially torn ACL, MCL, PCL, and medial meniscus, for an injury suffered in 2019, and went on to make 15 appearances for DC United last season.  However, the club declined to renew his contract at the end of the 2020 season.  te Kloese believes the player will be a welcome addition to the club.

“We are excited to have Oniel join the LA Galaxy,” LA Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese said.

“He is a talented defender who can play multiple positions along the backline and brings versatility and MLS experience to our defense. We look forward to him joining our club.”

Fisher has made 15 appearances for the Jamaica national team.  He last represented the national team against Saudi Arabia in November of last year.

The United States made history in their 7-0 demolition of Trinidad and Tobago in Sunday's international friendly.

USA scored at least five goals in three consecutive matches for the first time in their history, per Opta.

The United States showed no mercy in the country's first international fixture since crushing El Salvador 6-0 in December amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gregg Berhalter's USA raced out to a 4-0 lead by half-time at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

Looking ahead to a busy 2021 with the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League in June, July's CONCACAF Gold Cup and the start of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, USA only needed two minutes to open the scoring thanks to Jonathan Lewis.

Jesus Ferreira went from provider to scorer as he doubled the lead seven minutes later before Paul Arriola's quick-fire brace put the result beyond doubt at the interval.

Miles Robinson made it 5-0 seven minutes into the second half, while Lewis and Ferreira completed their doubles within seven minutes as the hosts cruised.

Ten different USA players have scored multiple goals in one of the team's last nine matches, including Arriola, Lewis and Ferreira.

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