Mexico turn World Rankings upside down with history making win over USA

February 26 – Mexico shocked the USA with a 2-0 win in the Dignity Health Park stadium in Carson, Los Angeles, on a stunning night of Gold Cup football. This may be the inaugural W Gold Cup but it is already delivering the drama, emotion and surprises of the men’s version.

This was end-to-end women’s football at its best with two teams putting everything on the line. Mexico were magnificent. The USA in the end looked dumbfounded as goals by Jacqueline Orvalle and Scarlett Camberos knocked them off their perch.

The win by the world ranked 35th team over the world’s second ranked team was not just an act of giantkilling, it was a historic night for Mexico and Concacaf.

The US, so long the playground bully of the women’s game – especially in their region – were out thought in the first half and outplayed in the second. Mexico pressed and pushed from the start, giving the US very little time on the ball and challenging their every movement. As the game progressed they got better as the US and their considerable powers waned.

Mexico have played the US 40 times but only won once, drawing one other. They have never beaten the US at a major regional tournament. They put that right tonight, and with style.

For the USA it was another stark reminder after a poor World Cup in 2023 that the women’s game is evolving and that they might not be, despite all their noises to the contrary.

Losing to a 35th ranked nation is bad enough, but losing to their biggest football rival in their confederation after so long at the top, makes it a lot harder to bear.

The US are not out of this tournament by any means, but they will have to find a sharpness and edge to their game that for long periods was missing tonight.

Most importantly they will have to find a way of turning pressure into goals, which means – for all their undoubted athletic prowess, strength and power – they have to get closer to goal. They are currently too predictable and too easy to defend against.

Mexico go forward as Group A winners and will miss the other big nations of Brazil, Canada and Colombia in the next round. Play like they did against the US in the next rounds then they could go all the way.

Twila Kilgore made another seven changes from the team that beat Argentina 4-0 on Friday. That team had seen 10 changes from the team that opened the group stages with a 5-0 win over the Dominican Republic.

The obvious question is whether Kilgore has any idea who her best team are.

In contrast Mexico’s Pedro Lopez made just two changes to the team that dismantled Dominican Republic – he clearly knows who is best team are.

The game opened with the US shading possession but not convincingly threatening the danger areas in front of Mexico’s goal. Despite all their athletic talent, the US looked disconnected.

In contrast Maria Sanchez and Jacqueline Orvalle were giving Mexico the dynamic

Rose Lavelle was once again the heart of the US engine room, running from deep at Mexico’s defence but the movement around her was not clever or quick enough to find gaps.

Mexico’s counter attacks were at pace and incisive. On 25’ a ball over the top from the right was just a yard too long for Sanchez to control.

The US’s Sam Coffey through the back of Jaqueline Ovalle on the edge of the US box, but the free kick easily defended by the US. On. 34’ shot from the US’s Emily Fox from outside the box skidded on the wet surface before being pushed wide.

On 37’ Mexico were ahead. Ovalle, chasing down a ball through the middle forced a mistake from Becky Sauerbrunn whose bumbled clearance left Ovalle with the ball who stopped and chipped the ball over Naeher and the covering defenders.

As the half progressed Lynn Williams worked her way into the game and on 43’ was brought down 6m outside the Mexican box.  Sam Coffey crossed the free kick to Lindsey Horan who headed straight into Barreras’ arms.

In added time Sauerbrunn again gave the ball away, this time to Kiana Palacios, who worked the ball to Karla Nieto whose shot rattled Naeher’s bar from the edge of the box. So close to 2-0 and a warning shot that wasn’t heeded.

In added time Palacios again beat Sauerbrunn for pace but could not find her support. Mexico ended the half in control.

At half time Kilgore substituted Lynn Williams for Emily Sonnet and brought on verteran Alex Morgan in place of Sophia Morgan.

Mexico opened the second half with a press that forced the USA into mistakes and giving away a series of corners.

At the other end Lindsey Horan was brought down 5m outside the Mexico box. Horan hit the free kick over the bar.

Morgan had her first real touch on 57’, slipping the ball inside to Trinity Rodman who couldn’t control.

At 65’ minutes Rodman, who was increasingly finding space, was through in the box only to be squeezed out by Mexico’s covering centrebacks.

On 68’ Mexico countered with Orvalle winning the ball in midfield releasing Palacios to attack the US box and force a corner. The corner spawned another corner but Mexico could not find a delivery to trouble the US the aerially dominant US defence.

Kilgore threw the dice again bringing on Midge Purce and PSG teenager Korbin Albert

It was end-to-end with the balance in favour of Mexico who had won 4 corners on the trot.

A trademark drive down the middle by Lavell found Morgan peeling right but without support.

77’ Greta Espinoza cleared off the line from a Rodman shot. Kilgore went again and brought on Jaedyn Shaw but Mexico matched the US physicality with energy, pressure and football nous.

With 10 minutes Lopez went to his bench , removing the outstanding Orvalle and Palacios but bringing on the physical presence of Diana Ordonez and Scarlett Camberos.

On 85’ minutes Naeher was forced into a double save, first from Camberos from distance and then from Jasmine Casarez from 2m.

With the clock counting down and after a spell of Mexican pressure in the US box, the US countered with Trinity Rodman flashing her shot wide of Barrera’s left post. It was to be the US’s last real chance.

Three minutes into added time Mexico had their second. A long clearance from midway on the right side of the Mexican half found Camberos high on the left. She took a touch and teed up a beautiful curing right-footbed shot back across Naeher and into the top left corner of her goal.

Both teams now await their quarter final opponents for Saturday’s matches at the BMO Stadium in Los Angeles.

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