The United States Women's U-20 National Team had to settle for a shock 2-2 draw against rivals Mexico to start its continental title defense at the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
After a slow first 15 minutes, the U.S. earned its first golden chance in the 20th minute when a handball in the box by a Mexican defender earned the Yanks a penalty. Captain and leading scorer this year for the U.S., Mallory Pugh, stepped up and converted the spot kick to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. The Stars and Stripes appeared ready to go on cruise control just two minutes later when Emily Fox made it 2-0 after slotting home from just inside the 18.
But Mexico would not go down without a fight. In the 32nd minute, Blanca Solis cut the deficit in half after scrambling home a goal following a free kick. The goal snapped a six-game shutout streak at the CONCACAF Championship for the U.S., and Mexico almost had a second nine minutes later off another set piece scramble.
After halftime, Mexico continued to search for the equalizer and deservedly got it in the 65th minute. Off of another free kick, a header from near the penalty spot by Kiana Palacios sneaked its way past U.S. keeper Rose Chandler to stun the Americans. The U.S. had chances to retake the lead, including a breakaway by Pugh, who shot wide in stoppage time, followed by a golden chance by Fox that was blocked at the last moment by a Mexican defender -- just seconds before the final whistle blew -- but the Americans could not regain the lead.
The draw was the first for the U.S. in the tournament since 2004 and leaves the Yanks tied for second in group B with Mexico. Haiti are the surprise leaders in the group after seeing out a 3-2 win over Panama, who sit at the bottom of the group. Next up for the U.S. is Panama on Sunday (8:30 p.m. ET), followed by the final group match against Haiti two days later.