Written by Tyler West
Before I was on a trip back home from Miami University where I attend school, I started my November 11th afternoon by watching the first half of England vs Scotland at Wembley Stadium after a moving memorial for Remembrance Day. I thought it was fitting that those two nations played in a competitive match on such an important day for both. Here in the United States, November 11 is Veterans’ Day, where we honour the heroes who have served our country in the military. This year, we had the opportunity to play Mexico in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualification on this sacred date. Just last week, we elected a president who is known for his disrespect towards Mexico. This game had everything setting it up to be a classic.
This was the first time I had the opportunity to attend a USMNT match, and I was very excited that it was against Mexico. I am at school to become a history teacher so here’s a quick lesson on this rivalry. Mexico dominated the USA for many many years, until the World Cup Qualifiers came to Columbus in 2001. The scoreline: 2-0. Dos a Cero. This trend continued in 2005, 2009, and 2013. Until 2016.
Once I heard we were playing three in the back, I knew we had a problem. The US can afford to try that against St Vincent and the Grenadines or Trinidad and Tobago, but against Mexico I’d much rather see a solid back four. Basically for the entire first half Mexico looked on another level. The Yanks basically kept giving the ball back to Mexico. I can’t believe it took until the 20th minute for them to score when Miguel Layún snuck the ball in from outside the box thanks to a deflection. No more “Dos A Cero.” The first half had me feeling like they should have scored more. The US had some bright spots and should have been able to score off of a few chances but the final ball wasn’t there.
credit Victor Araiza
The second half finally gave the Yanks some hope. In the 49th minute, Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood combined and Wood was able to beat a defender to get enough on the ball. It catches the arm of the keeper but the ball bounced under and somehow found the net.
For most of the game, Mexico was getting away with flop after flop and the referee bought it every single time. Finally in the second half they gave a Mexico forward a yellow for diving. But every time the US breathed on a Mexican player I feel like he fell to the floor. All bias aside, I think we were CONCACAF’d by the referees in this match.
The US was getting better chances in the second half and there were a few that should have been converted into goals. The US started to actually play possession, but were still afraid of dribbling at the Mexican defence. Step in Christian Pulisic, the kid who is younger than I am who is living out my dream. He is fearless. This guy really impressed me. He was never afraid to get creative on the ball. On the other hand, Michael Bradley was absolutely terrible. I think he passed the ball away more often than not. He is our captain for Christ’s sake. He was so unimpressive I wish he wouldn’t even play against Costa Rica in our next hexagonal stage match.
Mexico weren’t afraid to be physical against the United States on Friday night. They were the better team on the field all night. As a team, they impressed me with their quickness on the ball and vision to pass around the midfield to kick it out to a wing and eventually force a cross in the box. Crossing was very important for their game winning goal. It was set-up perfectly to haunt me in my sleep. In the 90th minute, Mexico were awarded a corner kick that in my opinion should not have been awarded to them. This sequence happened right in front of my section at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. Layún, who scored in the first half, set up the corner kick. He whipped it in, and none other than the 37 year old captain Rafa Marquez was able to head it across the six and into backup keeper Brad Guzan’s net. Mexico celebrated right in front of us at the corner flag. There was not enough time for the US to mount a comeback. Mexico put the “Dos a Cero” story-line to rest with a 2-1 victory.
Mexico’s second hexagonal match is at Panama while the USA are also away at Costa Rica. Both matches take place on Tuesday November 15.
Which side do you think you will have a greater chance in future tournaments? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Senor Codo