From Mexico’s perspective, there couldn’t have been a better, more passionate player who could’ve scored that winner. El Tri‘s 37-year old captain Rafa Marquez headed in the match-winner right when the clock was threatening to strike 90’. Yet, failure to put a man at the far post meant that the U.S. had as much blame to put on themselves as they did on that wonderfully placed header from Rafael Marquez.
It was all going Mexico’s way from the get-go, as they capitalized on their dominance in the first half with a well-deserved goal in the 20th minute, when Layun’s shot scrambled over the line after touching a USMNT defender and goalkeeper Tim Howard. Mexico controlled the game for the remaining of the half, presenting the U.S. with only scraps to feed off of occasionally. The physical edge in the game, though, was always noticeable and made for some great viewing—if you’re a fan of sport, that is.
The 2nd half couldn’t have started in a more thrilling manner as the U.S. got themselves back in the game within four minutes, Bobby Wood coming up big once again on the international level. Altidore’s pass is also to be lauded, as the Toronto man, who’s been amiss for quite some time, marked his start with a key assist.
The story of the game was supposed to be surrounding Christian Pulisic, the youngster who’s been hyped anywhere and everywhere you can possibly look. However, the Dortmund star had a quiet game, though it had a lot to do with him not getting the ball in 1V1 situations, where he’s at his best.
The physical edge, although appreciated by fans, got a bit over-the-top in the second half as reckless fouls and tackles flew in. The referee kept had his conservative whistle on for the day, otherwise there might’ve been a few red cards shown to either side. Besler, Chicharito, Vela, et al should thank their lucky stars they got out of the game without one; the same cannot be said of Carlos Salcedo, the Mexican player sent off deep into extra time.
For the U.S., there are still nine games left to qualify for Russia 2018, but this bad start could trouble them when they go to Costa Rica to, erm, play Costa Rica. The islanders have been known to cause trouble in the past, not to mention their impressive run in the 2014 World Cup still comes to memory. Klinsmann needs to win that game to ensure that the Mexico loss isn’t the big takeaway that the players go home with at the conclusion of this international break.