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Hernandez, Araujo score in 1st half, Mexico beats Costa Rica

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Javier Hernandez and Nestor Araujo scored in the first half, and Mexico overcame the absence of half a dozen players to beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Friday night in a World Cup qualifying match.

Hernandez scored on a cross from Carlos Vela to open the score in the seventh and Araujo added a goal on a header in the 45th.

[ USMNT: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

Hernandez scored his 46th goal with the Mexican team and tied Jared Borgetti as the all-time leading scorer.

With the win, Mexico remains undefeated and has seven points after three rounds to take sole command in the six-nation tournament. Costa Rica stays on six points and is second and Panama is third with four.

The top three teams qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Mexico beat Costa Rica for the first time since September 11, 2012, when they prevailed 1-0.

CONCACAF: USMNT, Trinidad & Tobago seek first points of Hexagonal

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Through two rounds of play in the Hexagonal, everything has gone according to plan for Mexico and Costa Rica.

Not so much though for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

While Los Ticos and El Tri currently sit in the top two positions of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the U.S. is left at the bottom and faces a difficult match against Honduras when play resumes on Friday night.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras match ]

Mexico and Costa Rica will face off at the Estadio Azteca in the second of Friday’s three slated qualifiers, and while both nations surely expect to reach the World Cup in Russia, both CONCACAF heavyweights have the opportunity to put their stamp on the group.

For Costa Rica, a victory could potentially open up a five-point gap over El Tri, while a win for Mexico would bring Juan Carlos Osorio’s side the opportunity leap over their Central American foes.

Friday’s action will kick off at 7 p.m. though when third place Panama travels to Trinidad & Tobago, who seeks its first points of the Hex. Trinidad will be led by captain Kenwyne Jones of Atlanta United as well as Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, with the duo scoring a combined 39 international goals for the Soca Warriors.

Below is the schedule and current table ahead of Friday’s CONCACAF matches as the region turns its attention to Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal.

Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama — 7 p.m. ET

Mexico vs. Costa Rica — 9:50 p.m. ET

USMNT vs. Honduras — 10:30 p.m. ET (PREVIEW)

1. Costa Rica — 2-0-0 — 6 pts.
2. Mexico — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
3. Panama — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
4. Honduras — 1-0-1 — 3 pts.
5. Trinidad & Tobago — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
6. USMNT — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.

VIDEO: Mourinho on which Man Utd players he “would’ve never sold”

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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho says he took over a “sad” club this summer, and part of that is done to the quality of players sold by previous bosses.

Speaking to Gary Lineker, Mourinho says he would have “never” sold at least three players unloaded by United.

[ MORE: Klopp on facing Man City ]

Angel Di Maria, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, and Danny Welbeck would all remain Red Devils if Mourinho was in charge.

Mourinho also talks about Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 10-minute interview, posted above.

Liga MX: Mexico mourns soccer-less weekend as referees strike

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexican sports fans are mourning a weekend without soccer because referees refused to officiate at games in protest of the Mexican league’s decision not to impose tougher punishments on two players who shoved officials.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

In the words of Sunday’s headline in the sports newspaper Record: “We are going to miss you!”

Last week a player for Club Toluca shoved a referee after an expulsion, and a player for the America squad appeared to head-butt another referee after a call.

[ MORE: Tim Howard is back, and ready to start for USMNT again ]

The referees reported both players for “aggression”, which could have led to them being banned for a year.

But the league’s disciplinary committee punished them with eight- and 10-match suspensions for the lesser offense of “attempted aggression.”

USMNT learns Gold Cup draw

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Bruce Arena is aiming for his third Gold Cup as USMNT boss, and on Tuesday learned the first three nations which stand in the way.

The U.S. will face Panama, Martinique, and either Nicaragua or Haiti depending on the playoff between the Caribbean zone and Central American zone sides.

[ MORE: Arena to be cautious with players ]

The U.S. plays Panama on July 8 in Nashville, Martinique on July 12 in Tampa, and closes off the group stage on July 15 in Cleveland.

The top two teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals, with the two top third place teams also moving onto the knockout rounds. The 2017 Gold Cup winner qualifies for the 2019 CONCACAF Cup, and advances to the 2021 Confederations Cup if it wins the 2019 Gold Cup.

Mexico is in Group C and Costa Rica in Group A. Mexico can avoid the U.S. and Costa Rica until at least the final by winning Group C.

Last summer saw the Yanks miss the proverbial podium for the first time since 2000 and just the third time in history, finishing fourth in a tournament that helped spell doom for Jurgen Klinsmann as USMNT boss.