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USMNT laments CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico

USMNT dejected CONCACAF Cup 22

photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports


In soccer, sometimes one moment of magic proves to be the difference.

That was apparent as ever in Saturday’s clash between the U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico.

Tied as the CONCACAF Cup entered the 118th minute, the U.S. conceded a late goal that gave Mexico a 3-2 victory. The difference was a spectacular strike from Mexico’s Paul Aguilar, a volleyed goal worthy of being the difference in a cup final.

For the U.S., the loss stung as much as any in recent memory, especially given how late the finish came. That hurt was only magnified by the knowledge that the U.S. was just moments away from a penalty kick shootout that could have helped the team achieve its goal of reaching the 2017 Confederations Cup.

“In the 118th minute, they score a great goal and, in the end that’s the difference,” said captain Michael Bradley. “Obviously we can talk about how things went over the course of the game, but, like I said, in a final like that, it’s never going to go perfectly and I still thought that we were able to deal with things for the most part in a pretty solid way.

“To get to that point in the game, the difference is a great goal.”

The great goal, to Mexico’s credit, was certainly deserved. Throughout the course of the 120 minutes at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Mexico was the more aggressive team, creating chance after chance while the U.S. was forced to bunker deep in their own half.

Bradley said that Mexico’s ability to create was aided greatly by its front three. With Oribe Peralta, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, and Raul Jimenez roaming and interchanging at will, the U.S. defense was forced to retreat while leaving space on the wings.

Aguilar and fellow fullback Miguel Layun took full advantage of that space, running outside U.S. midfielders Jermaine Jones and Gyasi Zardes back time and time again.

Forced to chase El Tri all over the field, the U.S. began to tire in the second half. Even with a pair of come-from-behind goals, the Americans finally collapsed by conceding a goal almost as late as could be.

“We knew they were a good team,” said goalkeeper Brad Guzan. “We knew at times they would have possession of the ball. They are entitled to have possession of the ball. Like I said, they are a good team, and I think, come that late in the game there is obviously going to be tired legs. It’s warm, it’s intense, good atmosphere. All those things, take a toll on your body when you’re competing in a game like this.

“We can talk about all this stuff but this is football,” Bradley added. “This is what goes on. You can play 118 minutes and it’s 2-2 and, in the end, they score. Aguilar scores a great goal, a great goal off a broken set piece. You talk about the margins, this is it. With a question about ‘was the game not as close as the scoreline represents?’ To me, it was pretty close.”

No matter how close the defeat was, it remains just that: a defeat. With the loss, the U.S. now misses out on the viral experience of playing in a Confederations Cup.

The margins don’t matter, the scoreline is irrelevant, and history will remember Saturday as a loss, one that will remain a sore spot for the extended future.

“At the end of the day, we didn’t get the result we wanted,” Guzan said. “Plain and simple. Deserved. Soccer is a cruel game sometimes. We came up a bit short tonight.”


  1. All of you talking about “holding the ball” as if each USMNT player was schooled at La Masia. Get real, guys. We made a lot of money on this game, isn’t that the important thing?

  2. we cant hold the ball for squat. what was the percentage? 75 to 25%? Ugh. I know weve attacked well this year at other times..Germany and the Netherlands match..but this was just horrible to watch in that regard. Sure, the defense was great for pretty damn near all of the match. but mexico owned us in my mind. hats off to them. anyone know why Vela didnt play? was he even on the bench?

      • well, they sure as f*%# did that, didn’t they. i just rewatched highlights of those germany and dutch matches earlier this year to convince myself that were not as capable as we looked last night. thank the lawd i was right: there was real attacking verve in those games. still, im bummed about last night. changes gotta be coming.

    • Vela hasn’t played that great this year and he actually looks fat/big (compared to two years ago for example). In theory he could be the best forward for Mexico but I think he likes to relax too much in the off season. I saw him on the sideline so I assume he was on the bench

  3. —–Wood—–Wooten—-Zardes



    I’m with Jack I don’t care how many goals we give up, but I don’t want to see another 4-4-2 diamond. Howard not that he would have stopped any of the Mexico goals, but because I think he’s a better distributor.

  4. In for Costa Rica
    Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Mix Diskerud (NYCFC), Lee Nguyen (New England), Brek Shea (Orlando City), Andrew Wooten (Sandhausen)

    Nick Rimando, DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler, Kyle Beckerman, Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi, Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski

    • I’d like to see

      ——-Wood- Altidore——-
      Shea- Ream- Cameron- Yedlin

      I don’t care if we give up 4 goals, lets just go for it and have fun

  5. Let’s be honest there’s plenty of blame to go around. JK is certainly part of that as the US seemed unprepared or unable to attack the 4-3-3, and bringing in so many older players in a game almost destined to go 120 minutes seems in hindsight a bad move.

    MLS and by association the USL are also to blame. By paying big money for foreign and USMNT members there are fewer and fewer young Americans playing MLS minutes. The league is better from a competition standpoint, but it is not developing players like it once did. Home grown player system has failed our youth teams, and although probably better for their adolescent experience of living at home and around their friends it is not producing the talent that we saw previously.

    Finally, the American youth sport system as a whole needs to take a look at itself. Far too many clubs and coaches across all sports (baseball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer) put too much emphasis on winning to boost their own egos and pocketbooks rather than actually developing skilled players. Why do we have no holding midfielders that can connect defense to the forwards, because we don’t play that way until our kids are 17,18, 19 years old, but we know how to knock it long to the biggest kid and hope he can shield off the defenders and get off shots. And yes you can blame JK for that since he said he was going to change the system, but I am not sure how any one person could even try to fix the giant youth system in a country so large.

    • Yeah I share a lot of your frustrations, which you have articulated well. JK deserves plenty of blame, and if people think it’s time to move on, I would be ok with it provided we identify a proper successor in advance and don’t just “wing it” and end up with some retread European who can’t get a job elsewhere, or Frank Yallop.

      But this wasn’t about just JK. At all. So many guys have seen their games plateau or even regress in recent years, and it can’t allH be the NT coaches fault. Jozy in particular was an abomination out there. Television doesn’t even even do justice to his lack of movement. Off the ball, he looks like a lobotomized version of Mario Balotelli (with a few extra cheeseburgers thrown in for ballast)

      Bradley still gives the ball away far too much for a player of his pedigree. Jones looked past it. Sadly, in spite of his miscue on the winning goal, Beasley looked like the most energetic guy in our side. That should never happen.

      I guess you could say I’m starting to sympathize more and more with the idea that MLS is not yet the place for us to develop our top-level talent.

      Credit to Mexico– they simply looked the better side. Not by a huge margin, but enough to say that they would win 7-8 times out of 10 on current evuidence.

      It’s time for some soul searching here. I feel really low right now. I’m sure I’m not alone. It may be that there is no “quick fix” here. But I think we should be open to lots of ideas — “fire klinsmann” i one of them and that view will be stated a lot I’m sure, but I think there’s a lot more that we need to be looking at either way.

      • Sometimes the other team is better. If people have read Mexican trolls the past few years, they never tire of telling you how Mexico won the Olympic gold medal in soccer in 2012 and the U-20 World Cup before that. Obviously they have a good group of young talented players in the 22 to 26 year old range, an area where we have been seriously lacking.

    • Fewer young americans because of DPs? Have you taken a look at MLS and the number of young american talents getting first team minutes and coming up in academies? It’s very promising. Klinsy just refuses to play them because they don’t play in Europe.


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