A lot of expectations were placed on the United States Men National Soccer Team heading into their opening match in the fifth round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers.
Expectations were even higher after their opening match on Friday evening pitted them against rivals Mexico in Columbus. Jurgen Klinsmann‘s team will look to advance from the hexagonal round which will conclude next October.
Whenever the U.S. and Mexico get together, it is always a hard-fought contest which brings a lot of passion and drama. Another chapter of the story was written as the two sides faced off.
Mexico came out on the front foot early creating numerous chances against the U.S. back-line. Jesus Corona came closest to breaking the 0-0 score ten minutes in, but saw his top-right effort saved by U.S. keeper Tim Howard.
Continuous pressure by El Tri saw a breakthrough ten minutes later as wingback Miguel Layun‘s long-range effort found the bottom right corner for a 1-0 Mexico lead.
Five minutes later, striker Javier Hernandez hit the bar from a header inside the box. U.S. keeper Tim Howard was subbed off after suffering a groin strain near the half-hour mark. The visitors looked the deadlier of the two sides in the first half, and Mexico would take a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
The U.S. equalized four minutes into the second half as Bobby Wood slotted home from close range to make it 1-1. A nice set-up from Jozy Altidore and nice control from Wood inside the box set-up the goal.
The equalizer jump-started the U.S. who saw chances from Omar Gonzalez and Michael Bradley saved near the hour-mark. Fabian Johnson had a great chance to put the hosts up in the 62nd but saw his curler soar just over the crossbar.
Wood’s nice turn and strike forced a save in the 74th before Altidore tested his luck in the 77th. However a mental defensive breakdown in the 89th minute saw Mexico snatch all three points.
Captain Rafael Marquez headed home from Miguel Layun’s cross to give Mexico a 2-1 win on American soil. Marquez was not picked up inside the box and looped a header into the bottom right corner. It would be the American’s first World Cup Qualifying defeat on home soil since 2001.
Mexico led in possession 58%-42% while forcing two saves out of Howard. The U.S.A. forced six saves out of Mexican keeper Alfredo Talavera.
Overall, it was a tough match but the U.S.A. will be kicking themselves after several missed opportunities. Sitting fourth in the group after the defeat, the U.S.A. will be back in WCQ action Tuesday at group-leaders Costa Rica. Third-place Mexico travel to Panama on the same night.
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