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Sizzling volley lifts Mexico to thrilling extra-time CONCACAF Cup victory over USMNT

Mexico celebration USMNT CONCACAF Cup 82

photo by Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports


PASADENA, Calif. — After two hours of dramatic soccer, Mexico’s Paul Aguilar drove home a late dagger with a wonder volley to beat the U.S. Men’s National Team in extra time of a thrilling CONCACAF Cup.

Aguilar scored in the 119th minute to lift Mexico to a 3-2 victory over the U.S. in a game played before a sold-out crowd of 93,723 at the Rose Bowl. The Americans had equalized twice in the match, including in extra time through Bobby Wood, but did not have enough time to find a response to Aguilar’s superb strike.

“Tactically, the way they played, gave us a little bit of trouble over the course of the game, they were able to pin us back,” said midfielder Michael Bradley after the match. “But in the end, over the course of 118 minutes, it was 2-2, and all that stuff goes out the window. In the end, they scored an amazing goal, and we didn’t.”

With the victory, Mexico booked a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup, to be held in Russia as a precursor to the next World Cup.

The U.S. misses out on the tournament for the second consecutive four-year cycle. Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann also now has his first loss to El Tri as either a player or coach, and drops to 5-1-5 against them.

“I think we showed a lot of character,” said Klinsmann. “We gave tremendous effort. They left everything out on the field, and when you’re on the losing side, that hurts. That’s normal. It takes a couple of days to swallow a pill like that.”

Oribe Peralta, playing perhaps his finest match for El Tri, initially appeared to land the knockout blow when he finished a cross from Aguilar to give the Mexicans a 2-1 lead seven minutes into extra time.

But unlikely hero Bobby Wood, who subbed on for Jozy Altidore immediately after Peralta’s go-ahead goal, appeared to rescue the U.S.’s chances of at least sending the match to a penalty kick shootout.

Wood brought the Americans back on level terms in the 108th minute when he streaked onto a well-weighted DeAndre Yedlin through ball, beat Mexican goalkeeper Moises Munoz in a footrace, and drove the ball underneath the sprawling netminder for his third goal for the U.S.

Mexico, which had the lion’s share of possession and supporters at the Rose Bowl, also drew first blood in the match with an exceptional display of combination play.

Aguilar started the play with a sharp through ball, but it was Mexican talisman Peralta who unlocked the American defense, first by dummying the pass and then by spinning to make a darting run toward the U.S.’s near post.

Raul Jimenez, with his back to goal, back heeled the entry pass to the now wide open Peralta, whose run forced U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan off his line and opened up Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez for the tap-in finish.

The goal, Hernandez’s first vs. the U.S., brought a thunderous response from the Mexico faithful. It did not take long for the Americans to have their turn to celebrate, however.

In the 15th minute, Michael Bradley whipped in a flawless free kick, and when Peralta abandoned his mark, Geoff Cameron had a relatively easy header to tie the game.

The match was a chippy affair throughout. Only five cautions were issued on the night, but Salvadoran referee Joel Aguilar nevertheless had his hands full managing two sides who were both on edge.

Tempers soared in the 35th minute when Peralta charged in on the U.S. goal and slammed into Guzan as he lay prone on the ground clutching the ball. Guzan lashed out at Peralta, and within seconds a 22-man scrum erupted.

The second half saw El Tri continue to boss possession, but the Mexicans could not find a winner before regulation ended.

“We knew they were coming again” said Klinsmann when asked about the relentless pressure the U.S. faced in the second half. “What we didn’t do well in the second half was simply to keep the ball. We ran all out, we won a lot of balls, and then we couldn’t combine. We couldn’t calm the game down enough.”

Mexico had a great opportunity to score in the 59th minute when Jimenez got around the corner and fired a lovely low cross that once again beat a diving Guzan. Chicharito muffed the finish, however.

For the U.S., the defeat came on the same day that its Under-23 national team missed a chance to directly qualify for the 2016 Olympics with a 2-0 loss to Honduras.

“A loss is always difficult to swallow, especially when there’s a lot at stake” said Klinsmann when asked about the state of U.S. Soccer. “We have to get our group together and rethink the next couple of months. We have to sit together and discuss things, who we’re counting on, how we want to build toward the next couple of games. There’s not much time.”


What did you think of the USMNT’s 3-2 loss in extra time to Mexico? How disappointing a loss is this? Are you concerned about the direction that Klinsmann has the team going in?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Cameron and Bessler played very good and at times F Johnson did also, but no one to help out. Time to start new…….We have so much talent in the lower ranks to supplement into the squad but we choose not to.
    Jordan Morris when healthy should get minute in every game possible. Zardes and Yedlin should start every game somewhere on the field. Woods should be getting more time over Jozy. In the U23’s you have players that are doing a fine job finding the net in Alonzo Hernandez and Romain Gall and creative players in Luis Gill and Hyndman. You can throw L Ngyuen in there also
    There is Josh Gatt, Ruben Rubio, Joe Gyau, Perry Kitchen, and Danny Williams.

    There are so many young upcoming players that aren’t afforded the opportunity that they have earned on the USMNT. Now is the time…….. and if JK cant see that the players he has now are old and tired. He doesn’t have a damn clue. Cameron, Bessler, FJ, Bradley, need to start playing with THESE young pups and building some chemistry for 2018. We don’t need Beckerman, JJ, Beasley, Wondo, B. Evans and all these other older players seeing any more time. Soccer is a young mans game, with a few veteran players on the pitch for balance and leadership

    • You mentioned Fabian Johnson. FJ is very teflon among American fans. He is skillful and a very good attacking player. He is not a right back who is very interested in defending. If you go back and watch Peralta’s goal, when the ball got played behind Beasley and Jones, FJ did not even jog back into the box, he WALKED. He never got to a sprint recovery he jogged the last few steps and still was within 5 yards of Peralta. If this is Frankie Hedjuk at right back (or a guy who is totally invested in defending), that play gets broken up

      Go back and analyze the 6 goals that we conceded in the World Cup and see how many of those goals JJ was not behind the ball and FJ was not engaged mentally.

      • Very interesting point. I once wrote that coaches who pick defensive backs because of their ability to go forward and join the attack are usually called ex-coaches. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think a defensive player’s first responsibility should be defense and it’s defense that wins championships.In general, it looked like the US as a whole did a whole lot of walking or slow jogging.

  2. That’s Coaching. An effective Coach would yank either of them off the field if instructions are not being followed. Remember what BB did to Ricardo Clark? If the player is not following the game plan or is strolling around on the field you yank his ass.

    • A lot of us never could figure out why BB insisted on playing Clark. At another website someone billed him as Red Cardo Clark and sure enough he got one in the WC, ruining 2010 for us. Also, I don’t think DeMerit was the best choice and he was pretty much responsible for one of the goals Ghana scored in the Round of 32.

      • I checked and you are correct and my memory is faulty. He did, however, make a bad give away in the US half that led to a Ghana an easy goal in the first 20 minutes or so.

  3. I have to say this was more the players fault. For a while there I forgot joz was there or Dempsey. Say all you want about the formation but they are the two players that are supposed to provide a relief by holding the ball making smart passes to the flanks and expect the cross or the pass in the middle. The only players that I heard their names being called more than anyone’s was zardes Cameron and Beasley the rest were sleep. We need the the line ups that we had against Germany or holland that’s why you saw a spark at the second half those dudes are hungry Dempsey feels entitled and jozy can be compared to Freddy adu. Altidore is done wood came and showed h how it’s done in less than five minutes in. No excuses. We will get creamed in the qualifications if we don’t get rid of all the dinasours and busts.

  4. Chris, you lost me at Altidore, Deuce, Bedoya and Chandler. You need Morris, Llegett, and Kew(u23) on the front line. Speed, technical ability, nose for goal, cohesiveness, selfless and enjoyment of the game on the field. You need a midfield general to control the tempo of the game and to make those defense splitting pass. Bradley is unable to do that. You may have to look at the U23, Red Bulls, Portland or Cleveland to find such a player. Mix is also capable but has been played out of position by JK.

  5. They actually played a lot better than i thought they would against this mexican team, which is quite talented. I would say this is the end for players like DMB, beckerman and wondo, as we have younger players in those spots who are nearly as good, and only getting better. I would also start phasing out jones and deuce, who both looked unbelievably selfish in the final 3rd. Also something tells me that howard makes one of those two saves in extra time, nothing against guzan, but howard when playing with the USMNT is a top 10 keeper in the world. So going forward this is my 11:
    –F. Johnson——–Deuce/Iceman—–Bedoya-

    Also would like some other players seeing a bit more time, like Hamid, Gonzo, Brooks, Morales, Mix, Zusi, Zardes and Wood or Boyd when he comes back.

  6. Mexico Papa, thanks for sharing what our neighbors to the South has in the mill for us. Beas and Donovan were integrated in the Team as teenagers. Both were allowed to overcome their deficiencies and became integral part of the Team. That’s where JK misses the train. He does not trust anyone who plays in the MLS and is not willing to give these players the time of the day. There are midfielders, wingers, defenders in MLS who can contribute to the Team. He has a aging group of keepers. Yet, he is not giving the good young keepers a chance to get the experience they need. That’s the difference with other Countries. JK give these players a couple mins at the end of games when they cannot impact the game then shun them to the side. The USA has players who can take this Team further but they need a Coach who is willing to give the players the chance to integrate into the Team.

  7. I’m absolutely amazed at the continuing love fest between Klinsmann and the US soccer media. Has any US journalist ever ask him any tough questions during a news conference?

  8. The best thing is that US fans can’t complain or find any excuses beyond the limitations of their own team. All fans were great, so no one can express useless xenophobic ideas. The best team won. Had Gio been in the game and Corona come in a bit earlier to run at the tired defenders, Mexico could have won the game in the second half. There are some great players that I can’t wait to see in the next qualifying cycle. Jurgen Damm, Lozano, Van Rankin, Bueno. All players who when they play with the national team have been good and have led the youth teams to success. Looks like a bright future for Mexico.

    • In the end, the game could have gone either way despite Mexico dominating possession. There is a long way to go and qualifying is another beast.

      • Well, there is the issue of the penalty that wasn’t called. That could’ve been it. You may say it’s not important, but it is. A call can change a whole lot. Mexico, in 2011, seemed like it was going to be unstoppable in the region. And then poor officiating in very close games led to Chepo being axed (blown call against the US at Azteca, blown calls against Honduras in both matches in the qualifiers) and the instability that led to Mexico being a laughing stock made it seem that the team had lost its edge. Those blown calls would’ve been 9 points – 9 points that would’ve seen the team qualify directly to the WC.
        A cycle, an era, can hinge on these kind of things. Mold our perspective of reality. I bring this up because it may be helpful for US fans to step back and see the last 4 odd years with a bit more clarity. The US team isn’t as good as some thought – but it sure as heck isn’t as bad as others are trying to make it out to be. Yes there needs to be even more focus on youth because, lo and behold, those youth tournaments actually do pay dividends. The argument that very few in the u17s or u20s make it to the full team is misaligned since you really only need 3-4 (and that’s a good crop) going through at each cycle to provide a good foundation for the full mens. Especially when you don’t factor in the late bloomers and the unexpected player who comes around to round out the team. And the US has some good players coming through.
        That aside, the team has its limitations. But JK isn’t at fault for the lofty expectations that US fans have. Guess what? Mexico isn’t a pushover that a string of games during an unstable period for its senior program led them to believe it was. It also isn’t in the elite. Maybe really getting a sense of reality, for both teams, is needed. The belief that the US is going to be a top 10 team (and not FIFA ranking top 10) in a short period is unrealistic. So why not be a bit more realistic and set the expectations that are actually attainable in the short term? But as a Mexico fan, I’ll just say that at the moment and in the spirit of friendly competition, Mexico is the king of CONCACAF.

      • There are missed calls all the time. Mexico was terrible in qualifying and was very fortunate to have made it to the WC 2014. Talking about terrible calls, what about the Costa Rica game; and even worse, the Panama game? Mexico should never even have been in the this playoff. You say the US isn’t as good as people think well neither is Mexico. During every 4 year cycle Costa Rica may be the King for a while, Mexico for a while but in the end, it is the US that wins the group. The US is in a strange transition period which will take about two years to get settled but with the quality they have, they will get through qualifying just fine. I think the Confed Cup is important but it is really just icing on the cake. Mexico will not win every game in qualifying. As I said, qualifying is a different beast and teams play differently in qualifying. Mexico is predictable in its attack and most teams will give up possession because Mexico has difficulty breaking through. Sure Mexico will win their share but México will also have their share of draws. I also believe the US will beat México at home in the Hex. We will see. But in the end, qualifying is what really matters and being in form and healthy at the start of any WC. It is not unrealistic that the US can be a top 10 team by 2018. Nobody knows that. People never thought that the US would make it to the quarter finals in 2002. As a US fan, nobody can take away that precious 2-0 victory against México in 2002. You can have the victory you had last night, and I’ll take the 2002 one and the victories in qualifying any day.

  9. Can anyone honestly say that the team is one iota better than it was when JK took over? Everything about last night – tactics, lineup, substitutions – reflect a coach who is out of ideas except bad ones. For the last 30 minutes, Jermaine Jones was our main playmaker and ball handler. Chris Wondolowski was set to come in as striker. We lacked any width and any speed on the wings all game. The JK era has yielded no progress, but only confusion and stagnation. One could even argue that the team is actually worse now at what it has always done well. Kinsman is Ali Curtis without the actual plan. He is a fine cheerleader but has not delivered in his promises.


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