Alfredo Talavera

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Enough about the USMNT, what’s going on with Mexico?

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While United States supporters are understandably focused on the failure of their side to get a result on Friday, Mexico fans can feel buoyed by snatching all three points in the former house of horrors now called MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.

Most of our staff argued that El Tri should triumph atop the Hex table, even though the majority expected at least a point on Friday.

[ MORE: Asking questions on Bradley, Klinsmann, RB ]

But what did we learn about Mexico from Friday, aside from Eric Scatamacchia’s player ratings?

It all goes through Guardado — If Andres Guardado can’t go against Panama, look for Juan Carlos Osorio to opt for a completely different game plan.

Why? Because as much as we want to herald the United States midfield for their distinct change in play after moving from a 3-4-3 to a 4-4-2 on Friday, that same move happened right after Mexico’s best player left the game with injury.

Guardado is one of the more complete attack-minded players in the world, and if Atlanta United is really prepared to land him then may Don Garber have mercy on Major League Soccer.

The softness has hardened a bit under Osorio — Mexico still looked prepared to melt down after the USMNT equalized, and perhaps they would’ve had the Yanks punished them (I’m looking at you, Michael Bradley inexplicably not playing Bobby Wood in alone on Alfredo Talavera).

But there wasn’t a quit in the team, something we’ve seen often. Perhaps it was the rivalry, but the vicious nature stuck around in Mexico. They fouled because they needed to, and did a lot of the things we haven’t seen during their weak spells.

[ USMNT-MEXICO: Recap | Ratings | 3 things ]

This could be a turning point for them, and you might as well print their tickets for Russia if Mexico can grab all six points from trips to the USMNT and Panama.

Goalkeeping still a question mark Talavera had one strong stop on a vicious turn-and-rip from Bobby Wood, but was dicey in collecting the ball (even given the cold night for Mexico).

Osorio has opted for plenty of rotation between the sticks, and I’m often left scratching my head whenever it’s not Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa between the sticks. The 31-year-old has gone 90 minutes in each of Granada’s La Liga matches, and mostly held Barcelona in a 1-0 loss (He also allowed 7 to Atleti and 5 to Las Palmas, but you get the idea).

Who do Mexico fans think should be No. 1?

USMNT 1-2 Mexico: Marquez the villain as late corner dooms Yanks

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
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  • Layun ruins the Cero
  • Marquez heads home winner
  • Howard injured
  • Altidore levels

An inspired second half from the United States men’s national team was wasted when Rafa Marquez nodded Miguel Layun’s 88th minute corner home to give Mexico a 2-1 win in the opening match of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualification.

Layun also scored, ensuring there would be no Cero for Mexico in the World Cup qualifier, but Jozy Altidore found Bobby Wood for a second half equalizer at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things ]

Jurgen Klinsmann opened the match in a 3-5-2, and it did not work well at all.

A moment of promise in the fourth minute, as Christian Pulisic led a charge up the middle of the pitch before leaving the ball for Bobby Wood. Unfortunately, Fabian Johnson popped an attempted cross over goal.

The other end saw a neat bit of work from Miguel Layun on Mexico’s left flank end with Javier Hernandez turning the ball wide of Tim Howard‘s right post.

Tim Howard made a fingertip save that saw Jesus Corona’s 10th minute shot hit the far post, and Jozy Altidore then drew a yellow card on Diego Reyes off the counter.

John Brooks picked up the Yanks first yellow card when he chopped down Hernandez in the 15th minute.

[ MORE: Panama, Costa Rica strike first ]

The Yanks finally got an effort on Alfredo Talavera in the 20th minute, but Jozy Altidore didn’t get enough power on his header of Fabian Johnson’s long cross and it stayed 0-0.

The goal came at the other end moments later, as Layun’s shot changed direction off Timmy Chandler to skip of a diving Howard’s gloves and into the goal.

Bobby Wood earned the U.S. a corner minutes later, and Altidore looked set to make it 1-1 until a Mexican intervention inside the six.

Mexico headed a ball off the crossbar through Vela, who outjumped Matt Besler in the center of the pitch only to see his offering bomb off the underside of the bar.

[ MORE: The evolution of Pulisic ]

Timmy Chandler earned a free kick for the United States on the right side in the 33rd minute. Michael Bradley lorded over the offering from 30-plus yards, and Altidore nodded it back into the mix before Pulisic bungled his chance to make it 1-1.

Jones came close to picking up a second yellow as Mexico won a central free kick about 30 yards out, but Giovani dos Santos fired over the goal.

Howard had to come out of the game with a groin injury, and Jurgen Klinsmann used his first sub to bring Brad Guzan into the game in the 40th minute.

Chandler picked up a yellow in the 45th minute.

The U.S. came very close to knotting it up in the first 30 seconds of the second half, with a flubbed volley from Johnson after a Pulisic dribble and cross from the left.

It was a harbinger of what was to come, as Altidore made a tremendous play in the center of the park to hold the ball before playing Bobby Wood between two defenders. Wood got around Talavera, who looked sketchy all night, and it was 1-1 in the 49th.

The Yanks would soon earner a corner through Johnson, but it came to nothing. Another one came courtesy of Wood, but Omar Gonzalez missed a free header. Then a turnover had Michael Bradley and Wood working on one defender, but Bradley inexplicably shot instead of playing Wood 1v1 with Talavera.

Johnson missed a decent chance from 20 yards out, belting a curling shot just over the frame.

Talavera made a good save on Wood’s turn and rip from 16 yards after Altidore chested him Michael Bradley’s free kick.

Altidore tore into a 22-yard free kick that Talavera tipped over the bar for a 78th minute corner kick.

Mexico countered and Johnson made a goal-saving clearance before Hernandez could strike.

El Tri won a late corner, and that’s when they struck. The Yanks failed to mark the back post and Marquez, and the ex-New York Red Bulls mad pushed the ball beyond Guzan for a gut-punching finish.

LINEUPS

USMNT: Howard (Guzan, 40′); Besler (Orozco, 81′), Brooks, Gonzalez, Chandler (Yedlin, 74′), Jones, Bradley, Johnson, Pulisic, Wood, Altidore.

Goal: Wood (49′)

Mexico: Talavera, Reyes (Ayala, HT), Marquez, Moreno, Layun, Guardado (Salcedo, 28′), Herrera, G. Dos Santos, J. Corona, Vela (Lozano, 73′), Hernandez.

Goal: Layun (22′), Marquez (88′)