The U.S. men's soccer team were handed their first defeat from the Mexico squad under head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, losing 3-2 at the CONCACAF Cup Saturday night.
The majority of fans in attendance for the one-game playoff between the last two Gold Cup champions were rewarded for supporting the cross-border rivals, and will be going home happy in their green jerseys.
"We have a sold-out crowd, and we have a lot of guests coming in that live here but maybe wear the green jersey first," Klinsmann said Friday before training. "Hopefully by the end of the game they pull that jersey off and have the red, white and blue underneath it on. This is our goal. We want to win over a lot of our Mexican friends. We won already a lot of them over the last four, five years, and we want to keep on doing that."
U.S. & World
Klinsmann's sunny optimism was reflected by his players, but they were unable to end a summer skid with a sweet victory over a Mexican team bouncing back from a rocky summer under steady interim manager Ricardo Ferretti.
The game opened up fast, with Javier Hernández capitalizing on some sloppy U. S. defense, chipping in a cross from Oribe Peralta in the 10th minute to put Mexico up 1-0. U.S.'s Geoff Cameron quickly responded with a beautiful header set up by Michael Bradley to score in the 15th minute, equalizing the score at 1-1.
The scoring stopped after that, replaced with increasingly physical plays and three yellow cards on the Mexican side. The game almost got nasty in the 34th minute after Peralta slid into U.S. keeper Brad Guzan while attempting to score, resulting in the second yellow on his team. Peralta and Guzan started a shouting match, causing both squads to rush together. Luckily, the two teams broke apart without any further escalation.
The second half started with Mexico basically living on the U.S. side. Stellar defensive play by the home team, along with some lucky misses kept the score even through the entire half, forcing extra time.
Mexico cleaned up its play in the second half, getting no more yellow cards while the U.S. ended up with two. A controversial no-call in the 90th minute saved the U.S. from a Mexico penalty kick when an apparent hand ball bounced off the U.S. defender.
Peralta put Mexico ahead 2-1 in the 96th minute with an assist from Paul Aguilar. Bobby Wood tied it up in the 108th minute with a shot through the Mexico Keeper Moisés Muñoz's legs with an assist from DeAndre Yedlin. Mexico answered in the 117th minute when Aguilar drove the winning goal into the back of the U.S. net with an assist by Raúl Jiménez.
This win earned Mexico a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup, an eight-team tournament matching confederation champions in Russia one year before the World Cup. The U.S. is now 3-1-3 against Mexico since the 2011 Gold Cup loss that led to the departure of former U.S. coach Bob Bradley.
The future reward means less to both teams than the bragging rights in North America. "I don't think that any of the players going on the field feeling 90,000 people will even think one second about next summer or two summers further down the road," Klinsmann said. "You just live for this moment. You want to play your game, and then at the end of the day, you want to hold up a trophy."
After a tough summer that saw the U.S. squad take a disappointing fourth place in the 2015 Gold Cup, Klinsmann's job may be on the line with this loss.