CONCACAF Cup: Chicharito scores vs. USMNT

In perhaps their biggest game since the 2014 World Cup, Jürgen Klinsmann’s U.S. team once again failed to live up to expectations. The Stars and Stripes took on their fierce rival Mexico Saturday night at the Rose Bowl for the CONCACAF Cup and a chance to play in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia; a tournament the U.S. hasn’t been a part of since 2009. Before the match, whispers that a defeat would spell the end of Klinsmann’s reign of the squad swirled through various media outlets, and now it’s looking as if that rumor is inching closer and closer to reality.

It was a dream start for the “visitors” (I say that term lightly as Mexican fans heavily outnumbered the Americans in California) as they took the lead at the ten-minute mark. A well-worked give-and-go on the right wing gave Oribe Peralta miles of space inside the penalty area and the Club América forward made no mistake in finding Javier “Chicharito” Hernández whose deflected shot rolled into the back of the net. It would have been easy for the U.S. to collapse after such a disastrous start to such an important game, but the hosts found a way to fight back.

The equalizer to Chicharito’s early goal came soon after, courtesy of a Geoff Cameron header. The Stoke City center back, who has been moved around the field a lot by Klinsmann recently, muscled his way past his defender on during a Michael Bradley set piece and sent a powerful header past a helpless Moisés Muñoz in net. Cameron’s swift reply gave the American fans hope that a much-needed victory was within reach, but a rollercoaster of emotions was awaiting them for the remaining 75 minutes.

For the remainder of regulation, both teams saw amazing chances to take the lead squandered. Impressive performances by Brad Guzan and Muñoz kept the sides level at one goal apiece. Chicharito should’ve made the score 2-1 just before the hour mark when Raul Jimenez found him wide open at the top of the six-yard-box. However, the Bayer Leverkusen striker couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and his shot dragged disastrously wide of a wide open net. Despite these chances, neither team was able to take advantage of the other’s mistakes and the game went into extra time.

Once again, Mexico looked dangerous from the opening whistle as Peralta’s close range shot went just wide, but the 31-year-old veteran would soon find himself on the scoresheet. In the 96th minute, Peralta finally beat Guzan with a well hit one-timer into the bottom corner, once again leaving the U.S. keeper with little chance of keeping the ball out of the back of the net. Peralta’s early goal was the only shot to find the back of the net during the first period of extra time as Mexico went into the final 15 minutes with an invaluable one-goal lead.

The U.S. replicated their opponents’ knack of scoring just after the whistle as two substitutes linked up for the equalizer. DeAndre Yedlin, who is currently on loan with Sunderland in the Premier League, made a darting run into the attacking third before laying a through ball into the path of Bobby Wood, who slid his shot into the back of the net. Penalties began to look like a certainty as the second period of extra time dragged on, but Mexico had one more piece of magic left in the match. A poorly cleared Mexican set piece bounced around the 18-yard box before eventually falling to Paul Aguilar who thundered a wonderful first-time volley past Guzan into the side netting. Game, set, match, Mexico.

The defeat added insult to injury for United States soccer as their U-23 team failed to qualify for the Olympics, as well. Is it finally time for the USSF to seriously evaluate the state of soccer stateside as consistent disappointment in the big matches continues to plague any chances of the nation claiming silverware? Only time will tell, but U.S. fans may be close to seeing the last of their once-beloved German manager at the helm.


Tags: , , , , , , ,