USA vs. Mexico: Nations League final will be latest chapter in USMNT-El Tri rivalry

Once again it will be the USA vs. Mexico in a high-stakes match.

The archrivals won their respective CONCACAF Nations League semifinals Thursday night in Denver to set up a highly anticipated final that will be played Sunday night (9 p.m. ET). Neither side had an easy time advancing: The USMNT used a last-minute goal to advance against Honduras, while Mexico needed a penalty-kick shootout against Costa Rica

Watch: USA vs. Mexico in Nations League final on fuboTV (7-day free trial)

USMNT vs. El Tri: Soccer rivalry like no other

The USA and Mexico have faced off in World Cup qualifiers for decades, but it has only been at the turn of the 21st century that the U.S. has begun to go toe-to-toe with Mexico and taste success in their competitive matchups. That new dynamic has helped transform the rivalry into one of the best in the world.

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One of the flashpoints came in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 stage when the Americans ousted Mexico from the tournament. The subsequent rise of the U.S. as a regional soccer power meant that the USMNT and El Tri began to see more of each other in the late stages of CONCACAF competitions. 

In fact, the USA and Mexico have a growing list of CONCACAF finals in which they’ve locked horns. The last major regional competition before the COVID-19 pandemic saw them meet in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup final. El Tri won that match 1-0 and they’ve won most of the others (list below). The Americans will want to reverse that trend beginning Sunday.

  • 1993 Gold Cup final: Mexico 4, USA 0
  • 1998 Gold Cup final: Mexico 1, USA 0
  • 2007 Gold Cup final: USA 2, Mexico 1
  • 2009 Gold Cup final: Mexico 5, USA 0
  • 2011 Gold Cup final: Mexico 4, USA 2
  • 2015 CONCACAF Cup: Mexico 3, USA 2
  • 2019 Gold Cup final: Mexico 1, USA 0
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How to watch USA vs. Mexico in Nations League final

  • Date: Sunday, June 6
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT)
  • TV channel: CBS Sports Network (CBSSN)
  • Live stream: Paramount+, fuboTV (free 7-day trial)
  • Spanish-language TV: Univision, TUDN

What is CONCACAF Nations League?

CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, launched the Nations League tournament in 2019 to provide a meaningful competition for the 41 countries in the region between World Cup qualifying and the biennial Gold Cup tournament.

The Nations League divides the 41 countries into three tiers with countries promoted and relegated based on performance. The four group winners of the top tier “League A” (USA, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras) advanced to the final four, which had been postponed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Now the USA and Mexico get to battle for the honor of having their names etched on the first edition of the Nations League trophy, adding another twist to a rivalry that has captured the imagination of a continent.