United States players celebrate on the podium after a win...

United States players celebrate on the podium after a win over Mexico in a CONCACAF Nations League final soccer match, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. Credit: AP/Tony Gutierrez

ARLINGTON, Texas — Tyler Adams stood on the field cradling 2-month-old son Jax, a wide smile on his face. The 25-year-old midfielder had just scored the goal of his life, propelling the United States to a 2-0 win over Mexico on Sunday night and the Americans' third straight CONCACAF Nations League title.

“People have a lot of question marks about this, about that," Adams said. "But to see what we do week in, week out when we have the opportunity to work together, we continue to grow.”

Adams scored from about 35 yards in his first start in more than a year for club or country, putting the U.S. ahead in the 45th minute when he received a pass from Weston McKennie, took a touch and curled a shot that just eluded the right hand of diving goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Limited to one league start this season for Borussia Dortmund and Nottingham Forest, Reyna scored his eighth international goal in the 63rd minute. Christian Pulisic’s cross was blocked by defender Johan Vásquez. The ball deflected off American forward Haji Wright back to Vásquez, who headed a clearance attempt. Reyna let the ball bounce and beat Ochoa to the near post from 16 yards.

U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter motivated his players earlier in the week to win their third straight title with the example of Michael Jordan and the 1991-93 Chicago Bulls.

“The Jordan slide, when he’s holding up the three fingers with the trophy,” Berhalter said, “we Photoshopped the Nations League trophy into the same picture with Michael Jordan.”

After June exhibitions against Colombia and Brazil, the U.S. faces Bolivia, Panama and Uruguay in the group stage of the Copa América, where six teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean are invited guests.

United States midfielder Tyler Adams (4) celebrates his goal with...

United States midfielder Tyler Adams (4) celebrates his goal with forward Christian Pulisic during the first half of a CONCACAF Nations League final soccer match against Mexico, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

“It’s good for momentum,” Reyna said. “We’ve been together with our core group for a while now and I think we know what it takes to win big games and tournaments and hopefully we can carry that in Copa America and have a great run there."

Reyna was picked as top player and Matt Turner as best goalkeeper.

Berhalter nearly sent Reyna home from the 2022 World Cup for lack of hustle in training, sparking a Reyna-Berhalter family feud that led the U.S. Soccer Federation to appoint interim coaches for much of last year. Berhalter returned in September and Reyna a month later after recovering from an injury.

“When I took over the team again, I talked about it needing time,” Berhalter said. “And that was something that we both acknowledged. And the more you work together and the more that he believed that intentions were true and that the whole staff has his best interests in mind, I think we started to gain trust.”

United States midfielder Tyler Adams (4) celebrates his goal with...

United States midfielder Tyler Adams (4) celebrates his goal with forward Christian Pulisic during the first half of a CONCACAF Nations League final soccer match against Mexico, Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. Credit: AP/Julio Cortez

The U.S. stretched its unbeaten streak against Mexico to seven games since a September 2019 defeat, including five wins.

“They were a lot more focused than we were. They pressured us,” Mexico coach Jaime Lozano said.

The match was suspended twice by Canadian referee Drew Fischer because of homophonic chants among the mostly pro-Mexican crowd of 59,471 at AT&T Stadium. He stopped play in the 88th minute, resumed after a 4 1/2-minute wait, then halted it again six minutes into stoppage time. Play restarted 1 1/2 minutes later.

Last year’s Nations League semifinal in Las Vegas was ended about four minutes early because of chants from Mexican fans, who for years have directed a slur at opposing teams’ goalkeepers.

Troubled by a right hamstring injury that twice required surgery, Adams had not played for the U.S. since the 2022 World Cup before entering in the 63rd minute Thursday, then leaving in the 100th because of a minutes restriction.

He was limited to a single 21-minute club appearance between March 11, 2023, and this past March 13, when he returned from the injury with a 20-minute stretch for Bournemouth against Luton in England’s Premier League.

Still on a minutes limit, Adams was replaced by Johnny Cardoso at the start of the second half.

“Typical Tyler, we get into an argument in the locker room and he wants to play more. Guys are asking why can’t he play more?" Berhalter said. “As much as I wanted him in the game, because I did, it’s a safety thing. We want to make sure that he gets back in a healthy way because he has a lot more games to play.”

Berhalter had agreed to the minutes limit with Bournemouth. Adams said he probably will be limited to 60 minutes this weekend.

“Coming out at halftime was obviously disappointing, especially after scoring a goal and helping the team," Adams said. "So, yeah, I understand we have to be smart for the long-term plan.”

Fischer initially awarded a penalty kick for a challenge by Antonee Robinson on Santiago Giménez, but following a video review by Nicaragua’s Tatiana Guzmán, Fischer called off the foul and gave the forward a yellow card for simulation in the 74th minute.

Both teams are looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup, co-hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“Before we know it, 2026 is going to be here,” Berhalter said.

Notes: Jamaica beat Panama 1-0 in the third-place game on Dexter Lembikisa's 41st-minute goal.

More soccer news

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.