November 1, 2016
by Michael Lewis, BigAppleSoccer.com Editor
UNO A DOS
Mexico snaps Columbus losing streak with a 2-1 win over USA in World Cup hexagonal opener
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Dos a cero is history as Mexico made some history of its own in the CONCACAF hexagonal opener Friday night.
|Bobby Wood scored the lone U.S. goal to equalize.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Veteran defender Rafa Marquez, who has tormented the United States with some unwarranted physical play in the past, scored the game-winner in the 89th minute to boost El Tri to a 2-1 triumph before a capacity crowd of 24,650 at MAPFRE Stadium.
It was the first time the Mexicans had defeated the Americans at the stadium. The previous four results were 2-0 victories by the USA -- in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013.
It also was the first time the Americans dropped a home WC qualifier since a 3-2 loss to Honduras in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 1, 2001.
"It's disappointing," U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said about Friday's result. "You don't want to lose this game at all."
The loss meant the U.S. desperately needs at least a point in Tuesday's encounter in Costa Rica, a venue in which the Americans have never won a qualifier.
"The message is very simple. We got to go down there and get a result," Klinsmann said. "I told them we'll correct it in Costa Rica.
"It gives us a sense of anger, a sense of urgency."
The USA will have to get that result without starting goalkeeper Tim Howard, who pulled a leg muscle late in the first half. Howard, who will undergo an MRI Saturday, was replaced by Brad Guzan in the 44th minute.
The game was played against the backdrop of Tuesday's presidential election. President-elect Donald Trump threatened to build a wall along the USA-Mexico border during the campaign, although it did not appear that his rhetoric incited any violence among the supporters.
Marquez, who tussled with several American players through the years, including Howard and Cobi Jones in qualifiers and World Cup matches and Landon Donovan in the Major League Soccer playoffs, found the range with time running out in regulation. He knocked home a corner kick by Miguel Layun, who had scored earlier in the match.
Defender John Brooks was supposed to cover Marquez.
"We lost him, as simple as that," Klinsmann said of Marquez, adding that it was an "individual mistake."
Both teams played with much intensity. Referee Walter Lopez was forced to hand out nine yellow cards, six to Mexico, and a red card to Carlos Salcedo four minutes into second-half stoppage time.
"It kind of confirmed of what we all thought before the game," Klinsmann said. "It was a nail-biter, very intense, hard-fought game."
At kickoff, the temperature of 44 degrees was cold enough that Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio kept his team in the warmth of its locker room until a half hour until kickoff.
The strategy seemed to work as El Tri dominated the opening half, forcing Howard to save Layun's drive to the upper right corner in the 10th minute.
They took a well-deserved lead in the 20th, when Layun drilled a low, deflected 24-yard shot into the lower right corner, snapping the USA's 380-minute shutout streak against El Tri here.
Howard suffered the leg injury on a goal kick, forcing Klinsmann to pull him for Guzan in the 44th minute. Guzan stayed out at halftime to warm up.
The USA equalized in the 49th minute. Jozy Altidore fed an onrushing Bobby Wood, who beat two defenders before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera from six yards.
While he was happy with Wood's score, Klinsmann rued some opportunities that the USA failed to convert.
"We had chances to put it away, but we didn't," he said.