Mex­ico win first World Cup qual­i­fier in USA since 1972

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

A pro-Amer­i­can crowd of 24,650 chanted "Dos a cero!" at the start.

Mex­i­can sup­port­ers yelled "Dos a uno!" as they left.

Rafa Mar­quez scored a tiebreak­ing goal on a header in the 89th minute, giv­ing Mex­ico a 2-1 vic­tory Fri­day night and its first vic­tory at the United States in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing since 1972.

Af­ter win­ning four straight home qual­i­fiers against Mex­ico by 2-0 scores — all in Columbus — the U.S. hoped to open the fi­nal round of the North and Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean re­gion with another vic­tory. In­stead, the Amer­i­cans be­gan the hexag­o­nal with a loss for the sec­ond straight cy­cle, and they play Tues­day night at Costa Rica, where they have never won in qual­i­fy­ing.

"It gets a sense of anger in us. It gets a sense of ab­so­lutely ur­gency," U.S. coach Jur­gen Klins­mann said. "It's not a prob­lem, but it's ob­vi­ously dis­ap­point­ing."

Miguel Layun put Mex­ico ahead in the 20th minute, but Bobby Wood tied it in the 49th.

The U.S. dom­i­nated the sec­ond half be­fore the 37-year-old Mar­quez, un­marked and drift­ing across the penalty area at the near post, got a glanc­ing nod on Layun's cor­ner kick. The Mex­i­can cap­tain lifted the ball over goal­keeper Brad Guzan for his 17th in­ter­na­tional goal.

Mex­ico's pre­vi­ous win at the U.S. in qual­i­fy­ing was also by a 2-1 score, at the Los An­ge­les Coli­seum.

"I think we de­served this match," Layun said. "We were fo­cused."

Klins­mann said John Brooks was sup­posed to mark Mar­quez on the cor­ner kick. Jozy Alti­dore blocked the de­fender from get­ting there.

"We lost him there. In­di­vid­ual mis­take," Klins­mann said.

The Amer­i­cans had been 30-02 at home in qual­i­fy­ing since a 32 loss to Hon­duras at Wash­ing­ton's RFK Sta­dium in Septem­ber 2001.

"They're very good in terms of when they have a lit­tle time cir­cu­lat­ing the ball, and they start to find space," Amer­i­can cap­tain Michael Bradley said.

Guzan had lost the U.S. goal­keeper job to Tim Howard, who started at the last two World Cups. But Howard pulled a mus­cle in his right leg on a goal kick and was re­placed in the 40th minute.

Howard was to have a scan Satur­day, a day be­fore the U.S. trav­els, and Klins­mann said Howard likely will miss the match at Costa Rica.

"He knows it's not look­ing that good," Klins­mann said.

The top three teams in the six­na­tion round qual­ify for the World Cup, and the fourth-place coun­try ad­vances to a play­off.

With the U.S. strug­gling early in what Klins­mann called a 3-4-3 for­ma­tion, Mex­ico could have led 3-0. Howard tipped Je­sus Corona's 10th-minute shot off a post and Car­los Vela's 25thminute header hit a cross­bar.

"Out mid­field­ers didn't get into the one-on-one bat­tles we ex­pected them to," Klins­mann said, cit­ing Jer­maine Jones and Bradley.

Af­ter switch­ing to a more fa­mil­iar 4-4-2 in the 27th minute, the Amer­i­cans be­gan to find their rhythm, and Wood scored off a pass from Alti­dore.

It was 44 de­grees at game time, half the 90-de­gree tem­per­a­ture for the 2013 match in Columbus, when the U.S. clinched its sev­enth straight World Cup berth.

Mex­ico went ahead af­ter Bradley and Gio­vani dos San­tos bat­tled for the ball 30 yards out. The ball skipped to Layun, who took a touch, and his right-footed shot de­flected off Timmy Chan­dler past Howard's left for his fourth in­ter­na­tional goal in 46 ap­pear­ances,

Wood tied the score af­ter Brooks forced a turnover. Alti­dore turned his de­fender and passed to Wood, who took two touches as he split de­fend­ers. His 8-yard, left-footed shot de­flected off a leg of Layun for his eighth goal in 28 in­ter­na­tional ap­pear­ances. Wood also scored against Mex­ico last fall dur­ing an ex­tra­time loss in the play­off for a berth in the 2017 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup.

Alti­dore and Wood have com­bined for seven goals in 11 games they've started to­gether.

Notes: All three vis­it­ing teams had vic­to­ries in their open­ers. Costa Rica won 2-0 at Trinidad and Tobago on goals by Chris­tian Bolanos in the 65th and Ron­ald Matar­rita in sec­ond-half in­jury time, and Panama won 10 at Hon­duras on Fidel Es­co­bar's 22nd-minute goal . ... CONCACAF and Fox ex­tended their Gold Cup agree­ment to cover the 2017 and 2019 tour­na­ments . ... Mex­ico's Car­los Sal­cedo is sus­pended for Tues­day af­ter re­ceiv­ing two yel­low cards late in the match.

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