Mexico edged the United States by a score of 3-2, in a game that ended up going to added extra time and left fans of both teams on the edge of their seats, a riveting back and forth affair.
After much anticipation the day finally came for both fanbases to see these two fierce rivals do battle in the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. The winner would get the ultimate prize, a spot as the CONCACAF representative in the Confederations Cup in 2017 in Russia.
Once the game was underway, Mexico wasted no time getting on the board as a horrible defensive breakdown by the USMNT led to an easy tap in goal by Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who sent the reported 80% of Mexican fans in the Rose Bowl into a frenzy. The USMNT fans were dejected to see their team down 1-0 with only 10 minutes played.
However, the U.S. team responded quickly with a beautiful set piece taken by captain Michael Bradley, who sent a cross into the box and connected with Geoff Cameron as he headed the ball past Mexican keeper Moisés Muñoz for the equalizer. At the 15 minute mark, the score was even at 1-1.
The rest of the half, and game as a matter of fact, was a defensive battle between both teams who were waiting on one another to make a mistake. As usual, Mexico played a more aggressive style and ended the game with four cautions, compared to the United States’ two.
At the final whistle, the game was all square with Hernández’s and Cameron’s goals being the only tallies at this point. The game would go into extra time to decide a winner, and if no winner was decided at that point, then the game would go into penalty kicks.
Much like the start of the game, Mexico was quick to score in extra time to put them up 2-1 in the 96th minute. Oribe Peralta was the man who put Mexico ahead, through a nice feeder pass from Paul Aguilar that went right past the whole U.S. defensive line and found Peralta all alone in front of the six-yard box for the go-ahead goal.
As Mexico fans were celebrating their potential victory, super sub Bobby Wood came to the USMNT’s rescue, scoring a superb goal for the equalizer. Coming in at the 98th minute, it took Wood 10 minutes to score a grandiose goal, from a DeAndre Yedlin through ball, that gave the U.S. fans a glimmer of hope.
But that joy for the United States was not to last as a fantastic volleyed goal by Paul Aguilar off a broken set piece won the CONCACAF Cup for Mexico. Mexico took a free kick from about 25 yards and the ball bounced around the box as the USMNT tried to clear the ball away. It then that Raúl Jiménez found the ball, flicked it up, and landed right where Paul Aguilar was and he rifled a shot that beat USMNT keeper Brad Guzan for the 3-2 lead.
The USMNT had a few more chances going forward, but the clock was their worst enemy. Finally at the 122 minute mark, the referee blew the whistle and Mexico stormed the pitch to celebrate their birth into the Confederations Cup 2017.
It was a well deserved win for Mexico and certainly a hard fought game by the United States as they can hold their heads up high knowing they left it all on the field. But again the questions remain: Will this performance be enough to save Jürgen Klinsmann’s job? How will the hiring of Juan Carlos Osorio affect Mexico going forward?
One thing for sure, both teams will have a lot of work ahead of them in the coming years as now both squads will now focus on World Cup qualifying in the near future.