Mexico and the United States played one of the best games in the long history of their rivalry on Saturday, and for the first time, El Tri have defeated Jurgen Klinsmann. "Tuca" Ricardo Ferretti departs his post of Mexico boss having guided his adopted country to the Confederations Cup with a 3-2 extra time win over the Americans in their playoff.
Bobby Wood came off the bench for the Americans in extra time and scored a shocking equalizer when it looked like his team had nothing going forward. But the USMNT couldn't hold out for penalties, with Paul Aguilar scoring a world-class volley in the 118th minute.
The game started with a fast pace, and within the first 15 minutes, both teams had scored. The American defense got picked apart in the 10th minute, with all of Mexico's forwards combining in a spectacular move. Raul Jimenez hit a first-time pass to Oribe Peralta, who crossed to Javier Hernandez, and "Chicharito" finished it off to record his first career goal against the USMNT.
Geoff Cameron came up with the American response in the 15th minute, off a set piece. The Mexican line wasn't set well and Moises Muñoz failed to come for the ball, allowing Cameron a free header off Michael Bradley's gorgeous free kick.
The rest of the first half was fairly even, with both sides generating some solid chances. But in the second half, Mexico camped in the American half and dominated. Jozy Altidore forced a big save from Muñoz in the 51st minute, but the USMNT struggled to generate chances after that.
While the game went to extra time, it certainly shouldn't have. Matt Besler handled the ball in the box in the 90th minute, but the referee failed to spot the infraction.
Mexico didn't have to wait long to go ahead in extra time, though. The American defense was easily picked apart in the 96th minute, with Aguilar hitting a cross to Peralta, who had dropped back a step and had an easy finish to put El Tri ahead.
Klinsmann responded by putting Wood on for Altidore, which paid dividends quickly. On their only real counterattack of substance up until this point, Wood latched onto a pass from another sub -- DeAndre Yedlin -- and finished through the legs of Muñoz.
The USMNT was better after that, and penalties looked likely, but Mexico found their legs again at the end and pushed forward for the winner. Aguilar got it, and with an absolutely incredible first-time volley, giving Mexico the victory that their play deserved.
United States: Guzan, Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Johnson (Evans 111'), Beckerman, Zardes (Yedlin 78'), Jones, Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore (Wood 98')
Goals: Cameron (15'), Wood (108')
Mexico: Muñoz, Layún, Moreno, Reyes, Aguilar, Marquez (Rivas 76'), Guardado (Guemez 80'), Herrera, R. Jimenez, Hernandez (Corona 98'), Peralta
Goals: Hernandez (10'), Peralta (96'), Aguilar (118')
1. This was a typical USA vs. Mexico game -- In case you were worried that anything had changed, this had everything we've come to expect from the rivalry. The pace was frantic, there were hard tackles, protests to the ref, pushing and shoving. Mexico had most of the ball and camped in the USMNT half, but the Americans kept their shape and created some decent chances on the break. It was properly dramatic and it felt like a final from whistle to whistle.
2. Both managers were conservative -- Jurgen Klinsmann and "Tuca" Ricardo Ferretti both made substitutions that suggested they were more afraid of losing the game than confident they could go win the game. Klinsmann's only regular time sub was right back/winger hybrid DeAndre Yedlin for winger/forward hybrid Gyasi Zardes, while Tuca put holding midfielder Jesus Guemez on for box-to-box player Andres Guardado.
3. El Tri were the better team -- As usual, the Americans were able to make the most of their chances, finishing one on a set piece and one on a counter. But their defense was just OK, their midfield worse, and Brad Guzan wasn't quite good enough to keep Mexico from scoring the excellent opportunities that they generated. There was no getting CONCACAF'd or other kinds of bad luck here -- Mexico were just quite a bit better than the USMNT.