The defensive shape of a 5-4-1 limited Mexico to just one shot on target (the goal) - which came from a quick counter. From the run of play, Mexico were limited mostly to speculative efforts and an increasing number of crosses as the match went on. With three center backs averaging 6'3", this played into the Yanks' strength in the air and resulted in a meager 0.8 expected goals against, despite Mexico holding nearly 74% possession.
In the attack, the 5-4-1 sprung into a 3-4-3 shape, with the wing backs getting involved and the Pulisic/Arriola combination looking to play between Mexico's lines. Kellyn Acosta's ability to step forward into these spaces at times - often spurred by Cameron stepping into the midfield - also opened space for Michael Bradley to do some Michael Bradley things. Though these opportunities were limited by a lack of possession, they proved enough to bring home the result.
It will be very interesting to see if this system makes a return in the upcoming Gold Cup and the final few World Cup Qualifiers. Perhaps it will depend on the opposition and which system will be most effective against a particular foe. If nothing else, it may prove to be a very useful tool for Coach Arena to have in his back pocket after its successful cameo on the biggest of CONCACAF stages.
Analysis tool - ChyronHego Coach Paint