Published: Sun, November 13, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Marquez late victor downs USMNT in Hex opener

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.

In an emotion-packed, pulsating match, where tension levels racked up a notch with every spirited challenge, it was Mexico who started on the front foot and, around the 20-minute mark, they got their reward. With emotions running high, "El Tri" delivered a brutal knockout punch to the Americans as Marquez directed a header into goal off a corner kick in the 89th minute to deflate the hosts who had dominated during a feisty second half.

Guzan had lost the USA goalkeeper job to Tim Howard, who started at the last two World Cups. Instead, the Americans began the hexagonal with a loss for the second straight cycle, and they play Tuesday night at Costa Rica, where they have never won in qualifying.

Unlike the 2014 World Cup qualifying, Mexico is in the driver's seat after Friday's result.

Each team was forced to make an unanticipated first-half substitution, with Mexican captain Andres Guardado exiting due to injury in the 28th minute, and Howard departing for Brad Guzan in the 40th minute.

Mexico held on to get the final say in the closing minutes.

"We lost him, as simple as that", Klinsmann said of Marquez, adding that it was an "individual mistake".

"Out midfielders didn't get into the one-on-one battles we expected them to", Klinsmann said, citing Jermaine Jones and Bradley. Giovani dos Santos won a battle with Bradley, and the ball trickled out to Miguel Layun. The legend of Dos a Cero may be gone, but the Americans showed in Columbus that they will be a hard out for any team they face during qualifying. Typically, 15 points assures advancement to the World Cup, meaning as long as the United States wins its four remaining home games, and picks up a few points in the cauldron that it is Central America, everything will be fine.

In the second half, the United States posed the greater threat and equalized four minutes after the restart when Bobby Wood finished behind Alfredo Talavera for the 1-1.

Mexico looked threatening right from the opening whistle, and they came close to grabbing an early opener in just the 9th minute when Jesus Corona rattled Tim Howard's far post with an effort from just outside the eighteen yard box - Howard appeared to get the slightest of touches on the ball to guide it onto the post.

With the USA team struggling early in what Klinsmann called a 3-4-3 formation, Mexico could have led 3-0.

Altidore and Wood have combined for seven goals in 11 games they've started together.

Elsewhere, Costa Rica defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 and Panama beat Honduras 1-0 as every away side opened with three points.

As a result, the match between the bitter CONCACAF rivals was ill-tempered at times and featured eight yellow cards and a late red for Carlos Salcedo.

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