Over 93,000 fans packed into the Rose Bowl to watch Mexico defeat the United States 3-2 after extra time. The match looked like it was headed to penalties until Paul Aguilar had a beautiful strike in the 118th minute to win the game. With the victory, Mexico will represent CONCACAF at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.
Mexico came flying out of the gate with its trio of forwards creating many problems for the USMNT. El Tri had two dangerous crosses in the 5th and 7th minutes that its forwards only narrowly missed.
Then in the 9th minute, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez opened the scoring for Mexico. A smart and deceptive series of runs off the ball by the Mexican attackers allowed the ball to be slipped down the left wing to Oribe Peralta.
Peralta easily picked out Chicharito with a low, driven cross and the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Mexico immediately switched its formation, puling back from q 4-3-3 to a 5-3-2.
Despite Mexico's possession and high pressure, the U.S. was able to find a goal in the 15th minute. Michael Bradley played a brilliant free-kick from the left wing into the box and Geoff Cameron's header found the back of the net as the Mexican defense failed to track his simple run.
Mexico seemed to switch back to a 4-3-3 after the U.S. goal, but El Tri took its foot off of the gas allowing the Americans to gain more possession.
In the 20th minute, Mexican defender Paul Aguilar became the first player to be booked after taking down Jermaine Jones on the left wing.
While Mexico continued to control possession it failed to create truly dangerous chances for the rest of the half.
Guardado had a strike from about 25 yards out in the 23rd min, but it was easily saved by Brad Guzan.
Tempers flared in the 33rd minute, resulting in Raul Jimenez being booked. Brad Guzan and a Mexican forward appeared to get tangled up on the ground after Guzan made a save. Both teams rushed over to defend their respective players and a somewhat mild shoving match ensued.
Mexico had another shot that failed to truly threaten in the 36th minute, as a flying Oribe Peralta headed a Paul Aguilar cross well wide.
The U.S. had several chances to take the lead towards the end of the first half. In the 40th minute, Gyasi Zardes whipped a dangerous cross into the book that a falling Jozy Altidore skied over the bar.
In the 42 minute, Jozy Altidore spun away from Alberto Moreno and was cynically fouled just outside the box. Moreno became the third Mexican player to be booked. Michael Bradley sent a powerful free kick from the left wing to the near post and Moises Muñoz barely managed to tip the strike wide.
The teams went into the break level with Mexico controlling possession, but both teams had equal opportunities to score.
One minute into the first half, Brad Guzan made a key save against Raul Jimenez from point blank range.
The U.S. was presented with its first good opportunity of the second half after clearing a corner kick and quickly counter attacking. Jermaine Jones latched on to the clearance and ran fifty yards before squaring the ball to Clint Dempsey.
Next, Dempsey found Altidore on the left side of the 18-yard box.Then Altidore proceeded to cut into the center of the box and fired a strong shot at Muñoz, who made the save.
Kyle Beckerman became the first USMNT player to be booked as he hip-checked a Mexican player about 25 yards away from goal on the left wing. Beckerman was visibly angered as he felt he had been fouled seconds earlier, but no free kick was awarded.
Mexico should have taken the lead in the 59th minute. Herrera played Raul Jimenez into the box with a great outside of the foot pass. Jimenez played a square ball across the face of goal towards an unmarked Chicharito, but Chicharito failed to make contact with the ball.
The U.S. had a decent chance in the 67th off a Michael Bradley corner kick. The U.S. filled the six-yard box with players and Michael Bradley curled the corner kick toward the goal, but the ball was just punched away by Moises Muñoz.
In the 75th minute, Raul Jimenez fired a shot from the top of the box a few yards wide of goal.
Both teams made changes late on in regulation: José Arturo Rivas replaced Rafa Marquez in the 76th minute and DeAndre Yedlin replaced Gyasi Zardes in the 78th minute. It wasn't a surprise to see Marquez taken off as he had been questionable for this match after suffering a groin injury.
Mexico replaced Andres Guardado in the 80th minute with Javier Güemez. The normally influential Guardado failed to have the impact coach Ricardo Ferreti would have hoped for.
Michael Bradley was yellow-carded in the 86th minute as he fouled Chicharito about 30 yards out to prevent a quick Mexico counter-attack.
Some desperate defending allowed the U.S. to withstand a barrage of Mexican crosses as the game edged toward extra time. Mexican appeals for a penalty were denied in the 90th minute when Matt Besler appeared to have his arm slightly away from his body but not far enough to warrant a penalty.
Despite El Tri dominating the second half, regulation ended with the teams deadlocked at one apiece.
A beautiful through ball to Oribe Peralta gave Mexico the first chance of extra time, in the 93rd minute. Brad Guzan made a huge save as Peralta fired right at him from point blank range.
In the 96th minute, a long ball over the top of the U.S. defense found Paul Aguilar out on the right wing. Aguilar sent a perfect cross to Oribe Peralta who buried the ball in the back of the net to hand Mexico the lead.
The U.S. and Mexico both made substitutions right after the goal. Bobby Wood was brought on for Jozy Altidore and Jesús Manuel Corona replaced Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
In the 108th minute, the U.S. clawed its way back into the match thanks to super-sub Bobby Wood. DeAndre Yedlin played Wood into the box with a brilliant through ball and Wood slotted the ball through Moises Muñoz's legs.
Jurgen Klinsmann made his final substitution in the 111th minute bringing on Brad Evans for Fabian Johnson.
In the 118th minute, Mexico punched its ticket to the 2017 Confederations Cup. After a U.S. clearance off a Mexico free-kick, the ball came to Raul Jimenez. Jimenez kicked the ball up into the air and it came to Paul Aguilar. Aguilar rifled a volley from the left side of the box into the net, winning the game for Mexico.
The Better Team Won
The scoreline for this match is deceptive. The match wasn't as close as the scoreline indicated. Mexico had more shots on target than the U.S. (7 to 4), more possession (63.4% to 36.6%), and more corners (6 to 1).
Mexico dominated the statistics and as a result dominated the match. The U.S. were frankly lucky to get two goals and stay in the game for so long.
Jurgen Klinsmann decided to go with a defensive formation featuring two natural defensive midfielders (Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman) and subsequently the team was constantly defending. The U.S. was content to try to catch Mexico on the counter-attack, but the U.S. attack is too slow to be truly deadly as a counter-attacking team.
The U.S. defense was awful and the attack wasn't much better, as a result the USMNT won't be going to the 2017 Confederations Cup.
Bobby Wood Deserves More Call-Ups
Booby Wood hasn't exactly produced impressive statistics during his club career. However there is something special about him.
In five national team appearances this year he has three goals. Two of those goals were game-winners and the third tied the game tonight in the 108th minute.
What makes these goals even more impressive is that Wood scored all three as a substitute. As long as Wood produces this kind of magic he deserves to be called up. When you also take into account Jozy Altidore's atrocious form, Wood must keep getting call-ups.
What Happens Now?
Surely there must be some sort of fallout from this match. This game capped a dismal few months for the U.S. that included finishing fourth at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Will U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann be fired? According to Sunil Gulati: no. However, it would seem that at the very least Klinsmann will make roster changes after a string of disastrous results.
Several veteran players have been struggling and there are many players on the fringe of the national team player pool who are deserving of a call-up. It will be interesting to see the extent to which Klinsmann changes the national team in the coming months.