WATCH: Mexican Fans Hurl Bottles, ‘Homophobic’ Insults At U.S. Men’s Team During Contentious Soccer Match
DENVER, COLORADO - MAY 6: Mexico"u2019s #23 Jesus Gallardo, left, puts his hand on the throat of United States"u2019 Midfielder Sebastian Lletget, #17 as Midfielder Andres Guardado, #18, center, gets in a shouting match with United States"u2019 Defender Reggie Cannon, #20 and Mexico"u2019s Carlos Salcedo, #3, tries to keep the peace during the championship game at the Concacaf Nations League Finals at Empower Field at Mile High on June 6, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. The United States beat Mexico 3 to 2 in a heated game that lasted over two hours. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

U.S. men’s soccer is back, and while their Sunday victory over the Mexican national team in the CONCACAF Nations League final signaled their apparent resurgence on the national stage, it was the contentious nature of the match — both from fans and players — that dominated the conversation afterwards. 

Christian Pulisic’s penalty kick in extra time won the match 3-2 for the Americans before backup goalie Ethan Horvath’s incredible penalty save off of a hand-ball. 

“For this group, it’s really important,” U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter said after the win. “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.”

It was the first competitive victory for the U.S. men’s team over Mexico since 2013, and the match between the two rivals was far from friendly, with shoving matches between players, flying projectiles from the stands, and homophobic slurs hurled at American players. 

Following Pulisic’s game-winner, the USMNT team were pelted with debris — including beer cans and water bottles — and USMNT player Giovanni Reyna was struck in the head by a flying object. 


Thankfully, Reyna was able to return to the pitch for the trophy ceremony. 

“Total lack of respect for what’s happening on the field and all effort that both teams are putting into the game,” Berhalter said. “I think he’s going to be OK, but he did take something to the head, and it could have been a lot worse.”

Near the end of the match, a homophobic Spanish chant from the stands reportedly grew so loud that the referees had to stop play for three minutes until the chanting stopped, as part of CONCACAF’s anti-discrimination policy. 

The use of the Spanish word at Mexican soccer games goes back years, and FIFA does have a three-step procedure to deal with the chant in its tournaments. 

According to The Washington Post, the first step is to halt the match, the second is to send players to the locker room, and the third is to call the game. 

“Our aim is to educate and inform fans that even if their intention is not to offend, this chant does offend many people and has no place in the game,” Victor Montagliani, Concacaf’s president and a FIFA vice president, said in a statement. “The Mexican Football Federation have themselves made it very clear that they want their fans to cease this chant and leave it in the past.”

The USMNT victory is a major step forward for a program that has drastically underperformed in recent years. The U.S. men’s national team did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup after losing to Trinidad and Tobago in qualifying, and head coach Bruce Arena resigned following the loss.

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