Rafa Marquez scored a tiebreaking goal on a header in the 90th minute, giving Mexico a 2-1 win and its first victory in a World Cup qualifying match played in the United States since 1972.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rafa Marquez scored a tiebreaking goal on a header in the 90th minute, giving Mexico a 2-1 win Friday night and its first victory in a World Cup qualifying match played in the United States since 1972.
Miguel Layun put Mexico ahead in the 20th minute in the opener of the 10-match final round of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean, but Bobby Wood tied the score in the 49th.
The United States dominated play in the second half before the 37-year-old Marquez, unmarked, got the back of his head on Layun’s corner kick. The Mexican captain lifted the ball over goalkeeper Brad Guzan for his 17th international goal.
“It gets a sense of anger in us. It gets a sense of absolutely urgency,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said of the loss. “It’s not a problem, but it’s obviously disappointing.”
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Guzan had lost the U.S. goalkeeper job to Tim Howard, who started at the last two World Cups. But Howard pulled a muscle in his right leg on a goal kick and was replaced in the 40th minute.
The U.S. team plays Tuesday at Costa Rica, where it has never won in qualifying, and Klinsmann said Howard likely will miss the match.
Howard also is the goalkeeper for the Colorado Rapids, who are playing the Sounders in the Major League Soccer Western Conference final series starting Nov. 22.
The United States had defeated Mexico four straight times by 2-0 scores in home qualifiers — all in Columbus — and Marquez had received two yellow cards and a red in those matches. The U.S. team had been 30-0-2 at home in World Cup qualifying since a 3-2 loss to Honduras at Washington D.C.’s RFK Stadium in September 2001.
Mexico’s previous victory on U.S. soil in World Cup qualifying also was by a 2-1 score, in Los Angeles.
“I think we deserved this match,” Layun said. “We were focused.”
Klinsmann said John Brooks was supposed to mark Marquez on the corner kick.
“We lost him there. Individual mistake,” Klinsmann said.
The top three teams in the six-nation round qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the fourth-place country heads to a playoff.
With the U.S. team struggling early in what Klinsmann called a 3-4-3 formation, Mexico could have led 3-0.
“Our midfielders didn’t get into the one-on-one battles we expected them to,” said Klinsmann, citing Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley.
After switching to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation in the 27th minute, the Americans were more effective, and Wood scored off a pass from Jozy Altidore.