49 min: CHANCE for the USA! No surprise — Weah is the one who set it up, dropping a ball back to the onrushing McKennie, who tries to drill the ball straight through Ochoa. The veteran keeper knocks it away for a corner.
Unfortunately, US corners have not looked inviting on this occasion.
47 min: Weah continues to be industrious, involving himself in two consecutive semi-promising attacks.
Antonee Robinson (we keep saying Antonee because there’s also a Miles Robinson on the team) has a shot at an acute angle that’s blocked.
Theatrics. Through qualifying thus far, the USA has scored one goal in the first half and eight in the second.
Also, the latter part of halftime took place in partial darkness that we’ll assume was intentional.
Still chilly. Rain resumed. Kickoff.
Halftime: USA 0-0 Mexico
The optimist’s way of looking at it from a USA point of view: The attackers are making life difficult for the Mexican defense, and Christian Pulisic may yet be riding in with the second wave.
The pessimist’s view: Yeah, all that possession and pressure is cool, but does this team have the grit and savvy to cope with Mexico’s counterattack?
The minute-by-minute commentator’s view: What’s in the kitchen?
45 min +1: Yellow card to Luis Romo for an unnecessary clip of McKennie’s heels at the center line.
44 min: Nifty attack, no dangerous shot. Aaronson collapses theatrically in the box and pops up looking for a penalty that was never going to be called.
41 min: Nifty attack, no dangerous shot. Nifty attack, no dangerous shot. Repeat. The last went to Antonee Robinson, who is filling in for Dest very nicely — lively in the attack, less than solid on defense. I’m waiting for someone to start calling the Barcelona man “Est” because he has no D.
And … Panama just took the lead.
Free kick to Mexico, cleared easily. Taylor Twellman, the ESPN commentator, thinks it’s a strange decision to hit the outswinging cross rather than an inswinger that could veer in toward goal, and he’s not wrong.
Meanwhile, Honduras leads Panama 2-0 … oh, wait, it’s 2-2. Wow. That was fast. Panama is far from a traditional power in Concacaf, but they might just hang around in contention long enough to make the Big Two (plus the newly invigorated Canada) nervous.
38 min: Musah falls near the top of the arc. Unfortunately, he wasn’t fouled.
Robinson follows with a terrific cross to Pepi in the middle of the box. He lays it off to Musah, who fires his shot over the bar.
35 min: Musah slices through the Mexican defense several times, as if making the mark of Zorro, but he has no help.
Fun players to watch, these young Americans. They just leave themselves more exposed than a hermit crab between shells.
33 min: Weah has been an attacking spark, and he wins a corner with a quick move on the right. The USA retains possession until it doesn’t.
30 min: CHANCE for Mexico. US attackers press and press, and it looks promising until Mexico pops it forward with a couple of clean passes. Lozano plays a long diagonal ball to Corona, who has a step on Robinson but can’t finish.
I think the word I’m seeking for the US approach thus far is “naive.”
29 min: Can’t shake the feeling here that the USA has the better of possession but Mexico still looks more likely to score.
Corner to the USA, taken quickly and short and pointlessly.
25 min: Antonee Robinson has turned into a bit of a pest for the Mexican defense. His cross here is cleared, but Mexico has to devote a lot of resources to get out of danger.
19 min: CHANCE FOR MEXICO on the counter, with Steffen diving to his left to stop a near-breakaway. That’s the second time Mexico has sprung an attacker into space with just one US defender keeping him company.
Remember when the USA was the counterattacking team in this rivalry?
17 min: Corona takes out McKennie, and it’s a 40-plus-yard free kick for the USA. That’s headed clear, but the ball pings around and eventually falls to Aaronson for an easily saved shot.
Not quite sure what Dunny means here, but Mexico is indeed having trouble playing out of the back, like an Under-12 team under strict orders to do so for the sake of development even if it hurts the result.
11 min: SHOT for Mexico’s Alvarez from the top of the box, and it requires a diving save from Steffen, who couldn’t be sure whether it was going wide. The sequence started with a bad pass in midfield. Zimmerman alertly stopped the counter, but Mexico kept possession as both teams raced into the fray.
9 min: That free kick is headed wide by somewhere between one and three people.
8 min: Weah’s shot from 25 yards is perhaps a bit impetuous.
Antonee Robinson drives up the left flank, dives and picks up a free kick.
7 min: Most of the action has been in the Mexican half, but Gallardo surges down the left side of the field and wins a corner. The ball is knocked out, and the rebound goes roughly 33 feet (10 meters) over the goal.
Mexican coach Tata Martino appears to be dressed for a polar expedition.
5 min: The USA is managing a good bit of possession here, and Pepi gets the first half-chance on an alert cross from Weah.
1 min: Antonee Robinson makes a promising run down the left before being tripped by an unseen force.
It’s a lively crowd. U.S. Soccer has made a point in this century of scheduling this game farther away from the border to ensure a good ratio of USA-to-Mexico fans, and it seems to have worked.
Is everyone enjoying the college football game featuring the startlingly high-ranked Cincinnati team?
Well, eventually, maybe you’ll get to see this game. (It’s available on ESPNews and ESPN’s various apps. And in Spanish on TUDN.)
Standings so far
The top three will make it to the World Cup. The fourth-place team has to go to a playoff.
It’ll be a lot easier when these two countries and Canada co-host the 2026 World Cup, by which time the field will have expanded to so many teams that we will be hoping to bring in countries from as-yet-undiscovered planets to round out the numbers.
Anyway, through six games out of 14:
14 Mexico 11 USA 10 Canada 8 Panama 6 Costa Rica 5 Jamaica 5 El Salvador 3 Honduras
So the USA could fall to third tonight with a loss/draw and a Canadian win over Costa Rica, but Panama seems unlikely to move ahead due to a five-goal margin in goal difference. Actually, upon checking the scores, it’s even less likely — Panama trails Honduras 1-0 at the half, a score that should make USA and Canada fans quite happy. For now.
The non-graphical version of the lineups …
Zack Steffen (Manchester City) in goal. Back line of Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville), Miles Robinson (Atlanta) and DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray). Captain Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) is in midfield with Weston McKennie (Juventus) and Yunus Musah (Valencia). The frontline has Brendan Aaronson (RB Salzburg) and Tim Weah (Lille) alongside the newest, brightest light for the USA, Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas), who has three goals in his first four appearances.
Guillermo Ochoa (Club America) in goal. Back line of Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey), Johan Vasquez (Genoa), Cesar Dominguez (Cruz Azul) and Luis Rodriguez (UANL Tigres). Midfield: Edson Alvarez (Ajax), Hector Herrera (Atletico Madrid) and Luis Romo (Cruz Azul). Up front, it’s Jesus Corona (Porto), Raul Jimenez (Wolves) and Hirving Lozano (Napoli).
Mexico has a massive edge in experience. Most of the team has at least 50 caps. The notable exception is Vasquez, who’s getting his third.
If you’re English, you’ll love the weather. It’s chilly (about 43 degrees in American measurement and 6 degrees Celsius) in Cincinnati. And it’s raining.
Good evening to all of our readers in the Americas, and a good early morning to those watching out of curiosity in Europe.
This is a big one. USA-Mexico games are always hot tickets no matter what’s at stake, but this time around, everything is at stake.
That’s especially true for the USA, which beat Mexico twice this year to win the Concacaf Nations League and the Gold Cup but is still shaken by their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. A sputtering start in the new Octagonal (eight-team final round), with a 0-0 draw against El Salvador and a 1-1 home draw against Canada didn’t settle the nerves. A 4-1 win at Honduras calmed things a bit, but the October window had a 1-0 loss at Panama.
As it stands now, the USA are second in the group. But a loss tonight will cause national hand-wringing and social media outrage.
Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, here is Cesar Hernandez’s preview of tonight’s match:
It began with a corner kick.
If you’re looking for a starting point for the US men’s national team’s failure to book a spot at the 2018 World Cup, there may be no better moment than a set-piece for Mexico on 11 November 2016.
After four consecutive 2-0 World Cup qualifying wins over Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, the US suddenly found themselves with an unfamiliar 1-1 scoreline against their old rivals at the Mapfre Stadium.
Then, in the 89th minute, that corner from Miguel Layún found the head of veteran defender Rafael Márquez, who perfectly redirected the ball into the back of the net. The crowd of 24,000 in Columbus were stunned as Mexico not only took a 2-1 lead, but also secured their first World Cup qualifying away win against the Americans since 1972.
The loss to Mexico foreshadowed a dismal run against Concacaf opponents and the US failed to make the World Cup for the first time since 1986.