Top Stories

Marquez scores late winner to push Mexico past USMNT in Hex opener

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

Mexico jumped out early, determined to avoid yet another Columbus Dos a Cero, but a second half push from the U.S. Men’s National Team appeared to seal a Hexagonal-opening draw. However, a late goal from a longtime El Tri pest sealed a late win for the visitors on Friday night.

Rafael Marquez scored an 89th minute headed goal, earning Mexico a 2-1 win over the USMNT on Friday at MAPFRE Stadium. The loss ends the USMNT’s string of four-straight 2-0 World Cup qualifying wins over their CONCACAF rivals, each of which came in Columbus.

Marquez’s goal came with just moments remaining in a second half that saw the USMNT create a bulk of the chances. On a Mexico corner, Marquez was left wide open for a glancing header. The shot sailed past Brad Guzan and into the far post, sealing a dramatic road win for El Tri.

Mexico came out flying, rattling the crossbar twice in the first half. Layun scored the deserved opener in the 20th minute, as the Porto fullback’s shot deflected off Timmy Chandler to leave Tim Howard handcuffed in net for the game’s first goal.

The second half saw the script flip, at least early, as the U.S. jumped on Mexico from the start of the second 45.  Wood then broke through four minutes in, drawing the U.S. level while regaining momentum to start the second stanza.

Wood’s play was created by Altidore, who spun his defender before darting towards the El Tri defense. The TFC forward slid a pass towards Wood, who bumbled through Mexico’s three-man backline before banking a shot off a defender and in to level the scoreline at one apiece.

The USMNT opened the match in a 3-4-3 formation, but it was made obvious from the start that the tactics were very off. Following Mexico’s opening goal, the U.S. switched to a 4-4-2, moving Matt Besler to left back while pushing Fabian Johnson higher up the field.

Things went from bad to worse for the U.S. later in the half as Howard departed due to injury. The move brought Guzan into the match, depriving the USMNT of a much-needed sub early in the match.

Fortunately for the USMNT, the formation switch worked, as the U.S. turned the pressure on throughout the second half. The best chances tended to run through Wood, whose 74th minute rocket was saved in what was the USMNT’s best chance at a second. Several minutes later, Altidore saw a free kick pushed just over the bar as Mexico weathered the storm before Marquez headed home the decisive goal.

The U.S. returns to action Tuesday for a visit to Costa Rica, while Mexico faces another road qualifier against Panama.


  1. I was fine with the starting formation. It seemed like it would have been very effective if our central mids weren’t walking all over the field and Gonzo knew how to pass the ball out of the back at all.

    I think Bradley and Gonzo killed almost every possession they were a part of, losing the ball on a majority of their touches. We looked better after the formation shift, but Jones was also flying all over the field making up for Bradley walking. Brooks also started taking control of almost every ball out of the back, and Jozy and Wood started winning, and holding up every long ball. The formation change did make a difference but I think players stepped up in the second half and made up for the weak links on the field.

    Chandler to me was one of the best players on the field. His runs going forward and crosses were good and he defended well too.

    I just cant get over how bad Gonzo were. He had 3 bad passes in a row late in the game before Mexico scored that either went out of bounds or directly to the other team. And that slide tackle he made in the box that would have been a PK if Mexico’s players werent diving pussies.

    If I was gonna blame JK for anything it wouldnt be the formation or the subs, it would be for starting Gonzo, and continuing to let Bradley be captain. Gonzo is bad, especially if you put him in a formation alongside another big defender who is faster, and better on the ball. Bradley can keep starting, but strip him of the captain and give it to Jones , or Jozy, or no one idc. You have to punish him for continuously bad performances in big games.

  2. Apparently I’m one of few people who didn’t think Chandler played all that bad. He played a few decent balls into the box. He’s having a great season in Germany, and was being looked at by Roma. Don’t be surprised if he’s there again against Acosta Rica.

  3. Horrible US fans throwing cups and debris at the Mexico bench after scoring their first goal. Dreadful.

    Sounds familiar, US fans? Oh, US fans would never! But they did. Guess everyone is adopting Trump’s behavior.

  4. The second half was good, marred by bad defense on a set piece. You do have to give the Mexicans credit. They high pressured like crazy and certainly every time Pulisic had the ball it seemed like there were three opposing players around him or they just fouled him.

    Having given them credit for energy and tactics, I hate the cynical play (which to be fair, is probably part of tactics). Each contact on our part results in the opposing player screaming, throwing himself to the turf, rolling around and holding an appendage. I love the game of soccer but hate that part of the game played at an elite level. Then there are the melees in which it appears quite clear that the opposing player is trying to get us to strike them so that they can fall down and have us ejected. I don’t really understand why we can’t maintain our composure when it’s clear that we are being goaded.

    I think Gonzalez got the nod because of his familiarity with the Mexican players but it is an irony to me that he plays, apparently well, in a technical league. His passing is terrible.I still think Birnbaum was a better choice because he seems to have better foot skills, is quicker and we really didn’t need two giant defenders at the back (it’s not like he’s terrible in the air, he’s pretty darn good). I don’t think Omar should be anything more than a backup or even a late game tall guy to throw in the mixer if we’re behind a la Gordon. He certainly should not play against quick teams.

    By the way, is there someone besides Bradley who can take the free kicks and why, when you have two giant defenders in the box waiting do you do short corner kicks (admittedly the one with pulisic was not bad). I would probably qualify any comment I might have about tactics to say “just get Pulisic the ball”. As good as he was, I don’t think he got the ball enough. It’s just that when he gets the ball something happens.

  5. Its hard not to blame Klinsmann in times like this. Where did the 3-5-2 idea come from? TFC?
    The USMNT midfield looked totally lost (possession USMNT 35%, Mexico 65%)…WTF?
    When has Bradley / Jones midfield lead to anything but defensive responsibilities?
    How do you leave the best ATTACKING MIDFIELDER in the line-up off the team (Especially someone who combines best with our BEST PLAYER on the field)? Did we come into this game to defend and counter? What gives?

    —————-Altidore——————Wood—-(Surprisingly combined well)

    —————————KLJESTAN——-(The missing piece)


    ———————Jones or Bradley —–(Not both….leaning towards Jones defensively)



    One of the few times that our attackers seem hungry, like they were in the mood to play, regardless of their shots / chances on goal, and they are starved of service up top…….due to bad formations and the lack of a true CAM.
    We are lucky the game ended 2-1

  6. Klinsmann is a POS. How many times do we need to go there Gulati and US Socccer. How many historic failures does he need to put this program through????? nOt a fan anymore. Ended up rooting for Mexico because they deserved it

    • Not a fan and rooted for Mexico, huh? Well, fuck you, move to Mexico and post on a Mexico site. I guess you never were a fan, since a real fan sticks with their team through thick and thin.

  7. Klinsmann always coaches better after reality slaps him in the face. I don’t expect him to go mad scientist and fuck around for at least 5-6 games. The USMNT is lucky it happened in the first game of the hex with time to recover.

    That said this game was a total war and i expect it to motivate and unite this group going forward.

    I thought they missed Dempsey a lot. Wood and Altidore looked better together than I thought but they are both more suited to teaming up with deuce than each other. Wood and Altidore seem too similar in playstyle. A creative foward who is looking to link the forwards and midfield and finish off moves (a lot to ask i know) is still lacking other than Dempsey, i believe the term is false 9.

    • yeah, that was a weird one. i’m actually one of those commenters who’ve been proposing a 3- (or 5-)man back line for a while, but this wasn’t the game i expected to see it, not least because i think cameron is crucial to it.

  8. I had thought it would be 2-1, US. I knew Mexico was too good to shut out. But for that one missed assignment on the corner kick and the US converting a chance, it could have easily been 2-1 the other way. Don’t kid yourselves. This is a very, very good Mexico team. When we have everyone we are a very good team. But Mexico may be better. Terrible mistake on the formation by Klinsmann to start and I missed the first part of his press conference, so I don’t know why he tried it. Perhaps the thought was that with 4 in the back Mexico controlled the middle too much, but that’s not how it worked out tonight. Once we switched, the game changed. I thought the US had the better of it the second half and it was a game that could have gone either way. I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I have for other US losses in the past because Mexico is really good and we turned it around and played a little better than they did thereafter. My only real disappointment besides some individual breakdowns, was that in the first half Mexico out fought the US players for 50/50 balls far too often. That was because they had more desire and more fight. We took care of that disparity after the half. I find it encouraging that right now our two best players seem to be Pulisic and Wood and they have a lot of years ahead of them to develop and improve. Fabian Johnson seems to have plateaued or even regressed. He hasn’t looked very good his last couple of league games and except for that saving tackle on defense, wasn’t that notable in the game tonight.

  9. My few thoughts from watching this match:

    1- CP continues to surprise and impress. He did very well against the physicality of the Mexican pressure and seemed to grow into the game very nicely. This kid is the truth… I’m having a hard time preventing myself from going down to the tattoo parlor and getting a big 10 on my back with Pulisic underneath… ok, keep your composure…

    2- We missed Geoff Cameron immensely. Gonzalez did excellent defensive work in his place, but with the ball at his feet he’s a major liability. Multiple times he booted it straight to Mexico, lots of extra touches that put himself in danger. I’d rather he just boot most of the time. Do we know when Cam will be back?

    3- Jones is a step slow, probably due to still not being at 100%, but I’m worried he might not ever get back fully. Haven’t watched him enough with Colorado, can someone with more knowledge enlighten me?

    4- Not sure if the 3-man backline was because Cam was out or so we could clog the midfield more, but it didn’t quite pan out for us. Lots of people not quite in their preferred positions, sans Chandler/Johnson, which causes hesitation and thinking about where you’re supposed to be. It makes it much tougher to retain possession if you have to consciously remind yourself where to go. Kudos to Klinsman for trying something different, and I like the gamesmanship of not revealing the formation in advance. That being said, I’m sure glad we went back to 4-4-2…

    5- I almost forgot how much fun it was to hate Chicharito. Almost…

    6- Is it just me, or is Bradley’s touch completely gone?

    7- what about a big eagle across my back with CP’s face? too much?

  10. Well I heard that Trump had struck a wager with the President of Mexico that whoever lost pays for the border fence. Likes look it’s on us. Thanks Obama.

  11. I was at MAPFRE. The 3-5-2 left the players confunded and confused. Mexico bossed the game through midfield until the formation switch. Pulisic was the best attacker. But we desperately need another wide mid opposite CP10 so we can spread the field. We rarely attacked down the other side. Wood played really well and his goal showed speed, skill and toughness. Bradley and Jones are not the right combination. Klinsmann keeps going back to this well and it is dry.

    Besler was cramping up which is why he was subbed off. Lozano was eating his lunch. I’m not sure who has Marquez on the winner, but if it was Brooks, that’s just bad tactics.

    Klinsmann needs to go. A bad formation, playing Chandler who was awful and losing the most important game. If we lose in Costa Rica, we will have to average more than two points a match to qualify. That means winning all 4 remaining home games and coming up with 5 road points. Looks like we may need Mexico to backdoor us into qualification.

    • I agree re: formation, but Chandler was not awful. He was up and down the side the entire time he was in. He beat Yedlin out for that spot in training (you know Yedlin is one of Klinsmann’s go-to guys) and was solid tonight.

      • Chandler was average by his standards. Normally is absolutely awful, but last night he at least didn’t make any glaring errors. Although, of course, Mexico knew from the beginning where the weakness of this US team was — most of Mexico’s attacks came from Chandler’s side.

    • If and when Zardes gets healthy, I think he could be a good complement to Pulisic.With those two and Johnson and Yedlin at fullback, we certainly would have a ton of speed on the outside.

  12. I don’t think that it was the formation change that improved the USA in the second half but rather that they started were pressing very high (Chile style). Of course that opens you up a little for the counter attack. When the in very good form and very fast Lozano came in then Orozco came in to help on that front. Very good game, they both had their chances.

  13. This is a complete disaster. Klinsman should be fired if we don’t win in CR. This is again a reminder that if you have one chance to kill soccer development in Mexico you take it. Zusi does not score and Mexican soccer goes back 10 years. Now we need to get Klinsi out NOW

    • Dude get over it. Also Mexico’s development wouldn’t have been killed off. What a ridiculous assumption. Lots of teams miss out on World Cups and come back better and stronger afterwards.

  14. One of the worst coaching jobs I have ever seen.

    First playing a formation which we have played once, for 45 mins, in one friendly. Second subbing in a RB to play RM and moving a RM to play RB. Third subbing in Orozco when all the momentum is on our side and only 10 mins left. That last sub really seemed to take the wind out of our sails.

  15. If the miracle happens and we win in Costa Rica, this game will have been forgotten and USMNT will be in a more certain path towards Russia 2018. Otherwise, we still have MLS.

  16. To be dominated in the first half before we finally caught on (USMNT 35% / Mexico 65%) and changed formation says a lot about our preparation and planning. 3-5-2 is doo-doo!!!
    First corner, towards the end of the game…. THE END, and we give up a goal (for lack of personnel back post…. rookie mistake smh)
    Howard out / Guzan in = Goal. Wrong positioning, slow reaction. Guzan got beat cleanly and easily, and wasn’t verbal (and didn’t control his box) as to where he needed people!!!!
    Altidore and Wood actually showed up to play in the second half…. the passing, the effort, the challenges…

    Wish we had those first 32 first half minute back, and played like we did in the second half

    • Wow. This is an example of you seeing something that wasn’t there because of your like or dislike for certain players. How you can blame that goal on Guzan is beyond me. There is nothing he could do on that unless if he had a crystal ball that told him ahead of time where that ball was going to go.

      As far as having someone on the back-post, I agree. But how the team lines up on corner kicks comes from training and the coaching staff, not from Guzan. I’m watching the replay right now, Guzan was yelling telling someone to get out there.

      • I have nothing against Guzan but he is not an agile goalkeeper. He is ONLY about good placement and if you (as an attacker) see him soon enough he is easily beaten. He was moving to his FAR right on that play and the ball was headed to his left. If Guzan was in goal for the chance that came 10 minutes in for Mexico, when Jesus Corona dribbled past Bradley and co. and the shot got a touch from Howard….if that was Guzan, I’m sorry but 3-1 Mexico. Everyone has blame in that last goal for lack of coverage….especially Guzan. you have to be verbal around YOUR area.

        If you didn’t even have your hands up or react means you didn’t even see it. Example: Nick when he was Nick 1:08 (and please God I’m not saying Rimando is better than Guzan just an example of a reaction save and agility….. lol)

    • Klinsmann was asked about this specifically and he said they had drawn up the defense on a white board before the game, but someone missed an assignment. When asked who, he said it was Brooks. Brooks didn’t have a very good game, IMO, as he got beaten several times and since he is bigger than Marquez, if he had stayed with him, there’s a good chance the goal isn’t scored.

  17. Mexico dominated first half, with an assist from Klinsmann’s formation choice, but only scored 1 goal. Then USA comes out and dominates second half, but also only scores 1 goal, wasted some good chances. Then the mistake letting Marquez have that free header. That’s game.

    First half seemed like our mids and forwards were horrible and couldn’t combine. Second half most of our players played well. Pulisic played very well but completely messed up on that play that was a clear scoring opportunity. Chandler played very well. While not as fast as Yedlin is clear to see why he is a much more dangerous attacking option than Yedlin, atleast right now.

    Disappointing loss. Even though Mexico is good and played well, I still feel USA could have and should have won the game. Losing the Columbus streak hurts. And we’ve now lost back to back against Mexico in two huge games (Concacaf Cup).

    • Yup. About sums it up. Klinsmann outsmarted himself tonight with that initial formation and we spent the rest of the match pretty much trying to fix that mistake, Almost did, maybe should have, but our hubris was such we kinda deserved the “L”.

      Still, honestly, that second half was rip-roarin’ good fun. Lusty tackling, ill will, in-your-face, yellows flying left and right, the game being played so fast it looked at times like old-school Galaga on Level 10. Mexico has assuredly learned from the days when they just got pushed around; we’ve learned to get a lot more technical and just trying to bang it in on set pieces, kinda looked like a holdover of some of the better Copa America games. Win or lose, we compete against that on a regular basis, we’ll be just fine come the World Cup, because we’ve seen as good as we’re going to see. I will say, if Mexico can keep up the level we saw in the first 20-25 minutes, and then again at the end, Mexico can aspire to a lot more than just getting out of Group as per usual. That’s by a bunch the best Mexican squad of the last 20+ years…and we still could have beaten it. They’re still going to give a lot of mediocre Eurosquads absolute fits.

      Probably is the developmental coach in me. I just wanna see quality and I saw it in spades for a lot of tonight. Wish the result had gone better but honestly if you lose a game like that on occasion, them’s the breaks. Do wish Klinsmann hadn’t tried to be cute about the way he opened the game but it’s obvious his next big frontier is tactical flexibility. Considering his C-mids are Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones and I think both of ’em are as flexible as they’re ever going to get, that might be a discussion he’d be best off leaving until next cycle. One brick at a time, Jurgen.

      • Quezzel,
        You hit my sentiments exactly. One of the best played games I have seen overall in a long time, and very entertaining. After the first 20 minutes, I saw the U.S. finally start playing technically toe to toe with Mexico, and Osorio has Mexico playing tactically very well. How you don’t mark Marquez, by far their most dangerous threat on a corner, is a mistake that cost them.

      • Mexico has always had very skilled technical players. Now they have a lot who are athletic with real speed. Both back lines had trouble handling the attackers on each team. Pulisic made Saucedo look poor and our defenders had a lot of trouble keeping up with the Mexicans such as Lozano, Layun and others. I think this is the best Mexican team I’ve seen since I began following the US in 1990.

  18. Anyone know what the Orozco sub was about? It seemed like a compromise between going for the win and going for the draw. I don’t get that sub.

    Pulisic going 90 was cool to see, and I think very appropriate.

    Even though we lost, that was a fun game to watch.

    • I’m guessing it was because Besler was already on a yellow and with the way he was fouling it was only a matter of time until he go a 2nd.

    • At first glance I thought it was a bad move, now I’m not sure. Besler couldn’t stay with Lozano in the seven minutes leading up to that point. You could have moved FJ back, but then you take out one of our better attackers and put him in the back to bring who (Green, Bedoya, Gooch) are those options better than FJ, plus Lozano fresh legs vs FJ on tired legs. Other option was to hope Besler could make due for 10 to 15 more minutes and sub Jones, but with Mexico still looking for a goal his bite was still needed in midfield.

      You could say the injury bug bit us again, but Guardado went off early as well so that pretty well evens out. Bottom line if we finish some of those quality chances between 50-70th minute we are celebrating. The US loss focus with 5 minutes to play and it cost them.

      Can anyone explain to me why Salcedo’s football tackle in 76th minute wasn’t a straight red. Last defender, not even attempting a play on the ball, purely trying to take the player out.

      This was as a great soccer match, I know its not good to not get any points at home, but it was fun to watch and both sides played well for large stretches.

      • “Can anyone explain to me why Salcedo’s football tackle in 76th minute wasn’t a straight red. Last defender, not even attempting a play on the ball, purely trying to take the player out.”

        from what i recall, he wasn’t the last defender. i’m also giving him points for creativity, though; looks like he’s been watching tape of frankie heyduk.

  19. If Jurgen continues to try to be the star with his mad scientist experiments, the U.S. is possibly in a danger zone for the Hex. Plus, I thought the Orozco sent the wrong message to the team and killed the momentum. Bad loss.

      • In the post game presser JK said that Besler was cramping up and that’s why he had to bring in the sub. Considering how Mexico killed us when we played with only 3 defenders, I think JK was justified in bringing in like for like.

      • It’s perfectly logical that Besler was cramping up but you don’t bring in Orozco, you move Fabian to LB and bring in another capable attacker or creator. I thought the 3-5-2 would work and it back fired, OK fine, but your next moves have to be on point and they weren’t. I will not put this loss solely on the shoulders of JK because there were several players that left a lot to be desired but it’s incumbent upon Jurgen to get the player selection and tactics right for Costa Rica or we’ll be in deep trouble

  20. Hats off to Mexico, Rafa still getting it done, It feels like we might be more talented then ever but have less of a game plan, and less organized.

    • They’re a bit more talented than we are at the moment, and I don’t fault the game plan that much. JK didn’t lose this one. Jozy, as much as I defend him and think he had a pretty good game, didn’t mark Rafa like he should have on that late goal. If Bradley would’ve passed to Wood on that 2 on 1 break in the early 50 minutes, that could’ve been us up 2-1.

    • You know, I will give up all the results against Mexico for the next decade if could send all their illegal citizens back and let no more into our nation. At least Mexico would not play home games in US soil. You got it backwards a$swipe.

  21. Rafa “The Ancient” Marquez was the difference. Tough spot we are in now, going to Costa Rica with the memory of that snow will be difficult. Good luck Klinsi.

  22. Not a good move starting with 3 in the back, but at least they adjusted back to 4-4-2 25 minutes in. Could have happened earlier. Pulisic was great. Woods was awesome. Bradley was subpar by his standards. Missed a few passes that he should have made and looked a little slow. But lets not overlook the fact that Mexico played very well. US also missed a few chances.


Leave a Comment