The United States Men’s National Team is a work in progress and there’s a lot of work left to be done. The USMNT was sloppy playing out of the back and made two fatal turnovers in the second half, allowing Mexico to break open a 1-0 game to win 3-0 in front of 47,960 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
It was the worst loss for the USMNT against Mexico since 2009. The U.S. fell to 19-36-15 in the all-time series.
In the 70th meeting between the two teams, Mexico was the better side simply by being the team not making horrible errors. Chicharito was left unmarked for the first goal, a turnover gifted an easy one for Erick Gutierrez, and Uriel Antuna added another on the break. Josh Sargent had a chance to pull one back on a late penalty kick but saw his spot kick saved.
Gregg Berhalter put out this lineup against El Tri.
The first 10 minutes were a feeling-out process with neither team really threatening much. Weston McKennie got the first look at goal in the 12th minute as the U.S. finally started to grow in possession, but he fired his shot right in on goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco. Two minutes later, Sergino Dest cut inside from the left and sent a curling shot toward the far corner that forced a save from Orozco.
Around the 20-minute mark the U.S. started to come undone with sloppy play trying to build out of the back. Mexico broke the scoreless deadlock in the 21st as Jesús Manuel Corona undressed Dest with a nutmeg and crossed through the box to a completely unmarked Chicharito to head home. No U.S. player seemed particularly concerned that Mexico’s striker was in acres of space right in front of goal.
The USMNT was poor for the rest of the half but had a decent chance to equalize around the half-hour mark when Orozco and Pulisic raced for a loose ball and it was deflected high into the air. Pulisic tracked down the ball but was dispossessed on the play in which it appeared Mexican defender Diego Reyes jumped on his back just inside the penalty area. There was no call and the chance evaporated.
Mexico should have doubled the lead in the 32nd minute. McKennie sent a soft back pass that resulted in a turnover. The ball found its way over to Corona on the right but he fired his shot over the bar.
Pulisic worked his way up the field in the 37th, seemingly dribbling through the entire Mexico team in transition. He crossed for Alfredo Morales who sent a weak shot wide of goal from the top of the area.
That was the last decent look of the half for either side, but Mexico dominated the final 30 minutes of the half by pressing high and simply waiting for the U.S. to turn the ball over with an errant pass or a long ball to no one in particular just to relieve the pressure. Forwards Tyler Boyd and Gyasi Zardes were invisible throughout the half, although Zardes at least managed to chip in some decent defensive work.
The U.S. started the second half brightly but couldn’t find the final ball. Reggie Cannon fizzed a cross into the box just two minutes after the restart and the U.S. players shouted for handball on the deflection out of the area but there was no whistle.
A few minutes later tempers flared as Morales fouled Jorge Sánchez along the sideline and Hector Herrera walked over and made contact with his hand to Morales’ face. Both Morales and Sanchez were booked but nothing was given to Herrera for escalating a situation that wasn’t even simmering, as the U.S. player had walked away from Sanchez.
Corona fired wide again at the end of a four-on-three Mexico break in the 60th minute after Wil Trapp turned the ball over with a bad square ball in the attacking third. Ten minutes later, Andrés Guardado fired over the bar for Mexico as the pressure continued to create problems for the U.S. defense.
A minute later, the U.S. tried to break but the ball was kept in the U.S. end with an overhead kick that nearly caught Pulisic in the face. No foul was given for the high boot and Hirving Lozano shot just wide on the resulting chance.
One of the best buildups of play for the U.S. came in the 72nd minute but Pulisic hesitated before passing to a wide open Daniel Lovitz and by the time he released the pass it was well behind the substitute fullback.
Six minutes later, the visitors doubled their lead when goalkeeper Zack Steffen made a foolish decision to try to pass out of traffic and his attempt was offline. Gutierrez was the recipient of the gift goal and it was 2-0 in the 78th minute.
After Steffen saved a shot by Antuna in the 80th minute, the U.S. took it down to the other end and earned a free kick. The delivery was nodded down by Sargent to Morales, who fired off the right post as nothing would fall for the Yanks.
The U.S. pressed for a goal and Morris had his shot saved in the 81st. A minute later, Cannon had his cross cut out and Mexico quickly went on the break. Lozano pulled the defense apart and got the ball to Antuna in behind for an easy third goal.
Reyes knocked Pulisic down in the box in the 87th minute and it looked as though the USMNT would at least avoid the shutout. Pulisic handed Sargent the ball and the youngster stepped up to take his first senior national team spot kick. He fired to his left but Orozco read it and it was at a comfortable height for the save.
After four minutes of stoppage time, the game was mercifully over on a frustrating night for the U.S., but not before Morales was stretchered off the field — literally adding injury to insult.
The USMNT will be back in action Tuesday night in St. Louis when the Yanks take on Uruguay in another international friendly at 8 p.m. ET.