USMNT Beats Mexico Behind Two Pulisic Goals

The game was ugly on the field — four red cards, shoving, a torn jersey, a bloody nose — and off it. The referee Iván Barton ended the game in the eighth minute of added time, rather than play the full 12 minutes that had been announced, because of a second instance of homophobic chanting from the crowd.

Mexico’s soccer federation, its players and officials from Concacaf, the soccer confederation for North and Central America and the Caribbean, have made many efforts over the years to encourage fans to stop shouting the homophobic slur during games. Mexico has been fined more than a dozen times in a failed effort to stamp out homophobic abuse, which remains a feature of games in Central and South America. Several years ago, Mexico even enlisted its star players to try to persuade fans to stop using it.

But as Mexico, which struggled in last year’s World Cup, played poorly again, fans became increasingly restless and chanted the word during a contentious second half. Barton stopped play for the first time in the 90th minute amid the chanting, and Concacaf public service announcements were shown throughout the stadium encouraging fans to stop. When it happened again minutes later, he followed the tournament organizers’ protocol and blew the final whistle to end the lopsided match.

“I want to make it very clear,” the United States interim coach B.J. Callaghan told reporters afterward, “it has no place in the game.”

The United States will play Canada in the final on Sunday night in Las Vegas. Canada defeated Panama, 2-0, in the other semifinal on Thursday behind goals from Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies.

But because of the red cards from the Mexico match, the United States will face Canada, which emerged as the top team in North and Central America last year during World Cup qualifying, without two key players after midfielder Weston McKennie and defender Sergiño Dest were sent off for pushing Mexican players during testy moments.

In the 70th minute, Folarin Balogun, a talented young striker making his U.S. debut after choosing it over England and Nigeria, stole the ball from César Montes, who then kicked Balogun to the ground from behind. Montes was instantly issued a red card but players from both teams began shoving one another.