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A decade of the USMNT vs. Mexico

The rivalry ramped up in the 2010s

US striker Freddy Adu fights for the bal Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

As 2019 winds down, not only will the year end, but the decade will come to a close also. The USMNT has had some ups and downs (by that I mean the lowest point for the team in the post-1990 era), and that goes for the rivalry with Mexico also. There have been massive wins, heartbreaking and deeply consequential losses, and thrilling draws. All through the decade, the matchups showed why the rivalry is one of the best in soccer. Here are some of the biggest moments between El Tri and the Stars and Stripes between 2010-2019.

Fireworks in Pasadena with fateful consequences

In 2011 Mexico and the USA met at the Rose Bowl in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. The first match between the sides in the decade would be a massive one. It was an exciting game that filled fans with hope and dread in equal measure that ultimately ended in defeat for the USA. The Americans would go up 2-0 and it seemed like an overwhelmingly pro-Mexico crowd would witness another dreaded Dos a cero. But that wasn’t to be. El Tri came storming back and four goals later came away with the win.

The game would have profound impacts for the US Men. After being open to hiring Jurgen Klinsmann following the 2006 World Cup, the MNT brought in Bob Bradley. With the loss to Mexico, the federation had a reason to move on from him and did so following the match. The next five years would see some of the most dramatic results for the MNT over the last decade with Klinsmann ultimately having something of mixed success with the team after promising a revolution.

Going undefeated at El Azteca

Until the 2010s the USMNT had never gotten a win at Estadio Azteca. In fact, the team only had a single draw at the stadium in its entire history. The 2010s would be a different story for the Stars and Stripes.

It started with the most successful result at the stadium ever, a 1-0 win in a friendly played in August of 2012. The winning goal came from a link up between Brek Shea and Terrence Boyd with Michael Orozco Fiscal poking home the winner.

The next two matches would be draws in World Cup qualifying as the team kept a 0-0 score during the Hex in 2013 and a Michael Bradley wondergoal bailed out Bruce Arena in 2017.

Something called the Concacaf Cup

Halfway through the decade the teams met in a match that would determine who would represent Concacaf at the Confederations Cup. After a pair of early goals, the game was deadlocked at one for 75 minutes of regular time and six minutes through extra time. Mexico jumped ahead, but substitute Bobby Wood evened the score at two. As the game seemed set to wind down and head to penalties Paul Aguilar scored in the 118th minute on an absolute stunner.

Jordan Morris scores in his debut

It was “just a friendly” but Jordan Morris was thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire in his first USMNT match. Morris had yet to sign with the Sounders and was still a Stanford Cardinal in the USA vs. Mexico fixture in San Antonio, Texas. In front of a crowd clad in the green of El Tri and the Red, White, and Blue of the US, the then 20 year-old had a hype-worthy debut. Not only would Morris score, but the game would be the last Dos a Cero in the rivalry.

It was a great performance that was possibly worthy of a Man of the Match award, which he wasn’t eligible for due to sponsorship reasons, and Morris has been a fixture on the USMNT since.

The death of Dos-a-cero... kinda

It will never die, but the idea that Columbus, Ohio was a fortress for the USMNT was dealt a hearty blow in 2017. That year on a cold November night, the US and Mexico played a hard fought match with a fateful result. The Dos-a-cero charm was broken in the 20th minute when Miguel Layun put El Tri ahead. Bobby Wood equalized for the USA after the half began and each team played a fast and furious second 45 to find a game winner. It would come from Mexico from who else but Rafa Marquez. Despite being a game against a tough opponent with a good performance, the next match, a tepid 4-0 loss in Costa Rica, the game would be the last in the rivalry managed by Jurgen Klinsman.

Jonathan Gonzalez picks El Tri and Jesse Gonzalez goes with the USA

One of the unique features of the USA-Mexico rivalry is that several players have allegiances to both nations. In 2018, promising central midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez elected to play for Mexico. The year before, goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez choose to wear the Stars and Stripes after playing for Mexico as a youth player. In the next decade, Efrain Alvarez will be a player that both nations will be eager to bring into the fold as well.

Matt Miazga raises the bar

Mexico v United States Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

For possibly one of the more meaningless of the meaningless friendlies that the US played in 2018, the match against Mexico was fairly eventful. Both teams were awaiting new full-time managers, big name players for El Tri weren’t called in, Christian Pulisic wasn’t available, and each team could have just as well packed it in and taken it easy. That wasn’t the case as Tyler Adams scored his first USMNT goal, Angel Zaldivar got a red card and Matt Miazga reminded Diego Lainez that he was not very tall. It was the kind of moment that makes the rivalry great - intense dislike and disrespect.

Mexico dominates to end the decade

With the US looking to rebuild after missing the 2018 World Cup, the two teams would face off twice more under new managers in the last year of the decade. In both matches, the US was out played, out coached, and out-worked by Mexico. While the results aren’t promising, the USMNT going through five managers in the decade would hardly have been predicted when the calendar hit 2010. Nothing is forever and the next 10 years should be a wild ride in one of the best rivalries in the sport.

Looking back over the past 10 years

All told, the USMNT went 4-4-5 against Mexico in the 2010s. That seems like a pretty good record and there were some great results. Two of the draws were in Mexico along with one of those wins. But Mexico had a better 10 years both in terms of overall record and in matchups between the sides in competitive games. The US would only manage one win in a World Cup qualifier or Gold Cup match against El Tri. That includes two losses in Gold Cup finals, dropping the Concacaf Cup, and one World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio.