The U.S. will fly to Birmingham Ala. on Sunday night to prepare for the first home qualifier of the final round against Guatemala on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT at Legion Field in Birmingham Ala. on the third matchday of qualifying this year. Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley will sit out that match after picking up his second yellow card of qualifying in the 37th minute vs. Mexico. The match will be televised live on ESPN2 and same-day-delay on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET and PT. The match can also be followed live via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips.
After a slow-paced beginning Mexico sprinted to a two-goal lead with finishes by Jared Borgetti and Antonio Naelson within a four-minute span in the first half that put a dent in the USA's plans to come away from Estadio Azteca with a point something the U.S. has only done once. The U.S. struggled offensively getting only three shots in the first half but finally got in a bit of an offensive groove in the second half and Eddie Lewis cut the lead in half with a well-placed strike in the 59th minute. The U.S. looked to find the equalizer in the final 20 minutes but it ended up being Mexico who peppered the U.S. goal forcing U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller to come up with a couple big saves.
The U.S. has never beaten Mexico in Mexico as their record dropped to 0-22-1. The loss was the first for the U.S. in 16 games an unbeaten streak that began over a year ago and also ended their 11-game unbeaten streak in World Cup qualifying games and their 31-game unbeaten streak against CONCACAF opponents.
"Any way you look at it altitude was a big factor. I believe our players shut down in the last 15 minutes of the first half and it cost us the game said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena who fell to 6-4-1 against Mexico. "Our goal at halftime was to get a goal back in the first 15 minutes and we did that and we positioned ourselves to perhaps get a point from the game.
"We were the only team in this competition that had their first two games on the road. If you had asked if I would be happy that we had three points after two games I would say yes."
The U.S. had the first shot on goal in the fifth minute. Right back Steve Cherundolo curled in a cross to the left side of the box where Eddie Johnson brought it down and dropped it to the top of the area for Claudio Reyna but his low strike was wide right.
A minute later Mexico got deep into the U.S. penalty area as a cross came in from the left side. Borgetti brought it down at the right post and struck a shot that Gregg Berhalter was able to block. The deflection fell dangerously to Francisco Fonseca in the front of the goal and he hit it first time but Reyna was there to block his shot as well before it was cleared out of the area.
Mexico took the lead in the 30th minute on an attack that started with Fonseca dribbling into the left side of the penalty area. Unable to get around Carlos Bocanegra Fonseca dropped the ball back towards the sideline for Salvador Carmona who lofted a cross to the back post for Jaime Lozano a few yards from the endline. Keller traced the cross from left to right and dove to cover the left post believing Lozano would head it on goal but instead the midfielder headed it back across the goalmouth to Borgetti who headed it into the wide-open net after getting free from Oguchi Onyewu.
Borgetti's goal ended Mexico's scoreless streak against the U.S. at 463 minutes. The streak spanned the last six games between the two rivals four of which were shutouts by the U.S. defense.
Three minutes later the U.S. fell into a deeper hole when Mexico doubled their lead. Blanco knocked in a long ball from left side of the centerline to the top of the 18-yard box where Borgetti was able to head the ball back to the left for an unmarked Naelson in the penalty area. With just Keller to beat Naelson took a settling touch and then chipped the ball around the 'keeper hitting the inside of the upper right post before the ball crossed the goal line.
In an interesting twist Mexico head coach Ricardo LaVolpe was sent off in the 41st minute for arguing with the referee on the sidelines.
In the 42nd minute the U.S. had their last attempt on goal of the half when Donovan brought down a cross inside the penalty area on the right side. He cut inside and unleashed a low shot towards the near post but a defender deflected his attempt out for a corner.
The U.S. finally tested Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez in the 52nd minute off a good buildup that started on the right flank. DaMarcus Beasley pushed the ball up to Donovan who dribbled toward the right corner of the penalty area before dropping it across the 18-yard line where Johnson let it roll through his legs leaving it for Lewis. The midfielder cracked a low drive on goal but Sanchez was able to get down and deflect the ball for the save.
Lewis got another attempt on goal seven minutes later and this time didn't give Sanchez any chance for a save cutting Mexico's lead in half in the 59th minute. Johnson was released down the right flank and brought the ball into the penalty area before cutting the ball back to Donovan a few yards behind the penalty spot. Donovan was able to control the ball while holding off Carlos Salcido and pass the ball square to his left to set-up Lewis who drilled a left-footed one-timer into the lower right corner.
After weathering the U.S. storm Mexico turned up the pressure as they looked to put the game away with a third goal but Keller gave the U.S. the chance to find the equalizer in the final 10 minutes with some big-time saves. In the 75th minute Keller did well to parry a 25-yard blast from Pavel Pardo and then was well positioned to make a save on Ramon Morales' shot directly in front of the goal that went just wide of the left post.
Keller's best effort came in the 79th minute as he stretched out to knock away a Mexican free kick. Morales curled the 18-yard free kick around the U.S. wall towards the lower-left corner but Keller was able to react quickly and dive to his right to get a glove to the ball and push it to the outside of the post.
Looking for the equalizer to sneak out with a point the U.S. moved to a 3-4-3 bringing Pat Noonan in for Bocanegra and Brian McBride for Cherundolo with McBride joining Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan up front. The change didn't provide the offensive attack the U.S. was hoping for though as it was Mexico that took advantage of the fewer men on the backline. Mexico continued to attack mainly up the right flank but were unable to connect on a final pass as the U.S. defense bent but didn't break.
After Matchday 2 the U.S. is now in third place in CONCACAF Final Round qualifying as Mexico leads the group with six points and Guatemala the U.S. opponent this Wednesday is second with four points. In other CONCACAF action this weekend Costa Rica topped Panama by a 2-1 margin in an empty Estadio Saprisa in San Jose Costa Rica as the Ticos were ordered to play the game behind closed doors as a sanction for fan actions in their opening game. In the other game the next U.S. opponent Guatemala trounced Trinidad & Tobago at home by a 5-1 margin with Guillermo Ramirez opening the scoring and Carlos Ruiz and Dwight Pezarossi each scoring two.
-- U.S. Men's National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Mexico
Date: March 27 2005
Competition: 2006 World Cup Qualifier
Venue: Estadio Azteca; Mexico City Mexico
Kickoff: 12 p.m. CT
Weather: partly cloudy 79 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
Mexico 2 0 2
MEX - Jared Borgetti (Jaime Lozano) 30th minute
MEX - Antonio Naelson (Jared Borgetti) 33.
USA - Eddie Lewis (Landon Donovan) 59.
USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 4-Carlos Bocanegra (13-Pat Noonan 75) 3-Gregg Berhalter 22-Oguchi Onyewo 6-Steve Cherundolo (20-Brian McBride 83); 25 Pablo Mastroeni (14-Steve Ralston 70) 10-Claudio Reyna (Capt.) 7-Eddie Lewis 17-DaMarcus Beasley 21-Landon Donovan; 9-Eddie Johnson
Subs not used: 24-Jon Busch 2-Clint Dempsey 12-Cory Gibbs 16-Josh Wolff
Head Coach: Bruce Arena
MEX: 1-Oswaldo Sanchez; 18-Salvador Carmona 4-Rafael Marquez (Capt.) 5-Ricardo Osorio 6-Carlos Salcido; 19-Jaime Lozano (23-Luis Perez 68) 8-Pavel Pardo 7-Antonio Naelson; 17-Jose Francisco Fonseca 10-Cuahutemoc Blanco (11-Ramon Morales 68) 9-Jared Borgetti (16-Alberto Medina 65)
Subs not used: 2-Francisco Rodriguez 12-Oscar Perez 20-Rafael Garcia 22-Hector Altamirano
Head Coach: Ricardo LaVolpe
MEX - Cuauhtemoc Blanco (caution) 28th minute.
USA - DaMarcus Beasley (caution) 37.
MEX - Ricardo La Volpe (ejection) 41.
USA - Gregg Berhalter (caution) 51.
Referee: Rodolfo Sibrian
1st Asst.: Carlos Pastrana
2nd Asst.: Reynaldo Salinas
Fourth Official: Carlos Batres
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Kasey Keller