The U.S. Men’s National Team started off World Cup Qualifying Friday night in stunning fashion, as Rafa Marquez scored late to deliver Mexico a 2-1 victory before a standing room only crowd of 24,650 in Columbus.
Jurgen Klinsmann opted to field a surprise 3-5-2 formation.
It didn’t work. Mexico rolled over the U.S. midfield early, and just 20 minutes in, the unthinkable happened. Giovani dos Santos dispossessed Michael Bradley, and the ball bounced to Miguel Layun, who’s shot deflected off the exposed studs of Fabian Johnson and agonizingly trickled past Tim Howard to give Mexico the lead, ending the historic Dos a Cero streak.
Not soon afterwards Howard was forced to exit the match early with a groin injured as the U.S. looked on the ropes.
However Klinsmann switched to a more natural 4-4-2 and the Americans began to ease into the game.
The U.S. looked better in the second half, and just minutes in bagged the equalizer. Jozy Altidore neatly turned and found Bobby Wood racing down the center, and after beating Mexico’s back line, it was Wood’s turn to benefit from a deflection as his shot ricocheted off past a helpess Talavera and into the net.
The rest of the match was a sequences of heart-stopping moments. Miguel Layun looked to have earned a penalty kick after Omar Gonzalez’s sliding challenge made contact, but the referee rightly gave Layun a yellow card for simulation. Jozy Altidore’s free kick was just tapped over the bar by Talavera, then a Chicarito tap-in was cleared thanks to a last-ditch tackle by Johnson.
However, Mexico saved their best for last, as Rafa Marquez glided across the box to glance a header to an empty net and stun the Americans.