United States coach Gregg Berhalter said Mexico were the "better team" in Sunday's Gold Cup final, but the manager and forward Jozy Altidore tried to take some positives from the losing effort.
The USMNT created and squandered their own chances to win the match, leaving Berhalter, in his first year in the job, suggesting the final showed how far his side still have to go.
"Over the course of 90 minutes, Mexico were the better team," he said. "Having said that, we started the game really bright. We came out, created some really good chances.
"When you talk about a step the team needs to take, we're close. We're close, but we weren't there tonight."
Altidore added: "That's what's hard about these tournaments. You play games that aren't up to scruff until the final. The final is a huge step.
"It's a faster game, just way more intense than some of the group-stage games. In that regard, it was tough but it was a good measuring stick of where we're trying to go.
"I think it's a step forward. If you look at the final here and how we started the game, I think it was terrific.
"I've been on this team a long time. To see that initiative, to see the guys eager to play forward and play out of pressure and keep the ball in a game like this, this is progress in my opinion."