Nashville, Tenn. — Tyler Adams showed he might be able to help when the rebuilding U.S. soccer team resumes competitive matches next June. So did Antonee Robinson and goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
Adams scored his first international goal, four minutes after Angel Zaldivar was ejected for a studs-up tackle, and the United States rebounded from a poor first half for a 1-0 victory over Mexico on Tuesday night and their first win over El Tri in three years.
“We wanted to show our character and pride for the country, and we went out there and battled at times,” Adams said. “Maybe at the beginning the soccer wasn’t there completely, it got a little chippy at times, but we handled ourselves well. “
A 19-year-old who made his national team debut last November, Adams scored after Kellyn Acosta passed to a sprinting Antonee Robinson on the left flank. Robinson crossed for Adams, who one-timed the ball from the penalty spot past debuting goalkeeper Hugo Gonzalez.
Adams has started for three seasons with Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and may transfer in January to the Bundesliga’s RB Leipzig, owned by the same parent company.
“He’s a winner this kid, and I think I’ve been really pleased in terms of his growth with the ball in tight spots,” U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan said. “We know that he can run and cover ground and win tackles and compete. But at the next level now can you do the next part? And that’s have a presence with the ball and picking your spots so it just keeps getting better.”
The left-footed Robinson, burned by Diego Costa with a cross that led to Brazil’s opening goal in a 2-0 loss Friday, had replaced right-footed Eric Lichaj at left back in the 56th minute.
“I just saw the defenders dropping really deep toward the goal so I cut it back across so hopefully someone could get on the end of it, and thankfully Tyler did,” Robinson said. “And it was a really great finish."
Adams called Robinson’s cross good timing, with the ball trickling right to him.
“So watching it was like in slo-mo, the ball just came to me and I was able to finish it,” Adams said.
Mexico played a man short after Zaldivar took down U.S. captain Wil Trapp in the 67th minute, and the U.S. immediately surged in its attack.
U.S. midfielder Weston McKennie was replaced in the 40th minute with a sprained left knee that appeared to occur without contact. McKennie, a 20-year-old who has become a regular with Schalke in the Bundesliga, will have a scan Wednesday.
Zack Steffen made three saves for his second shutout in five international appearances, and appears set to compete with 34-year-old Brad Guzan for the No. 1 goalkeeper’s job over the new World Cup cycle.
The U.S. has three wins, two losses and three draws under Sarachan, who took over last October after Bruce Arena quit when the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup. New general manager Earnie Stewart plans to announce a permanent coach later this year.
The Americans had two losses and a tie in their previous three matches against Mexico, including a home defeat and a road draw in World Cup qualifying. Sarachan liked how his team kept their composure.
“This was a group that wasn’t going to lose tonight, and I couldn’t be more proud,” Sarachan said.
Since opening the World Cup with wins over defending champion Germany and South Korea, Mexico has lost four straight games for the first time since 2001. Losses to Sweden and Brazil and the World Cup were followed by an exhibition defeat to Uruguay, with El Tri outscored 10-1 over the four matches.
There were few chances in the first half, when both teams showed little creative flair.
The match between the regional rivals became heated in the second half. Edson Alvarez was given a yellow card for bumping Matt Miazga after the 6-foot-4 American mocked Diego Lainez, who was defending him despite being nearly a foot shorter.
A crowd of 40,194 turned out for the game at Nissan Stadium, one of the sites on the proposed preliminary list for 2026 World Cup matches.
Sarachan made six changes from Friday and his lineup averaging 23 years, 5 days, the youngest starting lineup for the Americans against Mexico since at least 1990.
Mexico changed 10 starters from Friday and gave debuts to Gonzalez, defenders Jose Abella and Gerardo Arteago, and midfielder Erick Aguirre.