Giovanni Reyna is celebrating the U.S. team’s big win…
The 18-year-old half-Argentine American soccer player, who was voted U.S. Soccer‘s Young Male Player of the Year for 2020, scored the United States’ first goal in Sunday’s CONCACAF Nations League final.
The men’s national team headed into Sunday’s final against Mexico as a side heavy on potential but light on experience. But, in an engrossing contest that lasted almost three hours, the young U.S. team grew before the collective eyes of those in attendance, prevailing 3-2 after extra time to claim the inaugural edition of the trophy.
It was a match in which the U.S. navigated myriad twists and turns, rallying twice, converting a pressure-packed penalty through Christian Pulisic in extra time, and then surviving a penalty against it with substitute keeper Ethan Horvath saving brilliantly from Andres Guardado.
There was also the usual venom that accompanies this rivalry. Pulisic and his teammates were showered with debris (and Giovanni Reyna was hit in the face with an object) after his penalty conversion. There were heavy challenges, more than a few scuffles — including a hand around the neck of midfielder Weston McKennie — and even fans invading the field.
And in the end, the U.S. prevailed over El Tri in a competitive fixture for the first time in eight years. And while the game carried extra importance with a trophy on the line, the actual prize seemed almost secondary to the events that transpired throughout the evening.
“For this group, it’s really important,” U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter said about the victory. “We’re a young side and we need to learn how to win. These games are very difficult, and for us it was about having a game plan and executing the game plan, but then it’s also about the fight in the spirit.”