Kellyn Acosta (23) congratulates goalkeeper Matt Turner (1) after Turner stopped a penalty kick by Qatar. (Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

We’ve seen it happen so many times involving Concacaf teams, for either club or country.

A vital set piece or a penalty kick is about to be taken and the defending team does everything to distract the player who is going to attempt his shot with some world class gamesmanship.

Only this time it wasn’t a Central American or Caribbean country, it was the United States.

“I think it shows how much we want it to win,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said.

What the Americans did just prior to Hassan Al Haydos’ penalty kick helped the Qatar player miss in the USA’s 1-0 win in the Concacaf Gold Cup in Austin, Texas Thursday night.

“I don’t think that the words I had been said will be good for a press conference,” USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner said. “It’s just normal back and forth. It was a big moment obviously in an international tournament, tensions were high, emotions were running high.”

After a five minute wait and a look at VAR, referee Juan Calderón (Costa Rica) awarded Qatar a penalty kick in the after James Sands fouled Akram Afif in the box.

As Al Haydos tried to set up, the USMNT, led by Kellyn Acosta, did its best by getting in the face of the Qatar player with some gamesmanship and trash talk.

Anything to distract them.

Turner tried some psychological warfare as well.

“I just tried to let the guy know that I knew; I’ve been watching his penalties,” he said. “I think even beforehand, I kind of like I mimicked his run up as I was heading back to my goal to try to just mess with him a little bit. Wait as long as possible in the middle because I knew that he chipped down the middle earlier in this tournament and see what happens from there, even though I sort of went the wrong way.”

It didn’t matter.

Five minutes after Calderón checked VAR, Al Haydos finally took the kick and sent a right-footed shot over the net and into the stands. into the stands at Q2 Stadium.

“I like to think that [it was] a combination of all things,” Turner said. “My team delaying it, delaying the shot. Me holding my ground all sort of led to that moment. It was a big moment for us. We were able to take that momentum forward for the last 30 minutes of the game and get the goal.”

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at