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2022 Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers: USA 2-0 Mexico - a tornado of a soccer game brings back dos a cero

The USA saved their best performance of qualifying for the right time

Mexico v United States: 2022 World Cup Qualifying Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images

After winning their previous two matches against Mexico in 2021, the USA once again took on El Tri. While there wasn’t a trophy, the top spot in the Octo was up for grabs with the USA set to play two huge matches in qualifying. A trip to Jamaica would follow, but first the Stars and Stripes took on its old foe, Mexico.

The USA would line up in a now familiar 4-3-3 without Paul Arriola not in the XI. Perhaps surprisingly, DeAndre Yedlin got the start at right back with Reggie Cannon on the bench and Joe Scally not in the gameday roster.

Mexico came to play in a 4-3-3 of their own with Raul Jimenez facing the USA for the first time in 2021.

In the end, the USA put together their best game under Gregg Berhalter and possibly, best showing against El Tri ever. The Americans controlled possession, out shot El Tri 18-8, and generally out hustled Mexico for the entire match. Mexico had their chances, but the Americans were confident and in the second half took full control of the game. Goals from Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie sealed the win as dos-a-cero made it’s return in timely fashion.


From the start, the game had all of the intensity and energy that is expected of USA vs. Mexico. For the opening minutes, Mexico seemed to struggle to settle into the game and Ricardo Pepi nearly converted a chance supplied by a cross into the box. However, the USA also had some sloppy turnovers and one led to a one v. one with Jimenez charging down the field only to be covered by Walker Zimmerman, though a second ball fell to Edison Alvarez who sent a shot on goal that was pushed out by Zack Steffen in the 12th minute.

Memo Ochoa would come up big for El Tri when a ball fell to Brenden Aaronson on a set piece and his shot was saved by the keeper. That was immediately followed by another huge save from Steffen on a shot from Chucky Lozano in the 18th.

As the half wore on, the USA showed the press that had been discussed before the match. However, the team also spent portions of the first 45 with possession in Mexico’s half, but attacking moves and threats on goal were lacking.

Mexico would have another good chance around the 30 minute mark when Jesus Corona sent a shot wide. The Stars and Stripes had a few promising moves just before the half with Yunus Musah nearly dribbling the ball into the goal and Antonee Robinson taking a header that sailed wide. After a whirlwind first half, the teams went into the dressing rooms at nil-nil.

The second half began and Weston McKennie almost kicked a ball all the way to Michigan, but it ended up being right at Memo Ochoa. There would be chances in the box from Musah, Ricardo Pepi, and Brenden Aaronson even hit the post, but their efforts would not bear fruit.

Around the 63rd minute the fighting started. First Tyler Adams got into it with Hector Herrera on a throw in. Another incident happened minutes later with Luis Rodriguez poking Aaronson in the eye as the American tried to get up after a foul. To his credit, the ref restored order quickly and handed out yellow cards to Rodriguez and McKennie and Steffen who had come to partake in the Sharks vs. Jets action.

With the game devolving into silly fights, Christian Pulisic came in off the bench for Aaronson in the 69th. He promptly scored after being on the field for four minutes.

This is basically what the US had been trying to do all game, but the final product finally arrived. Weah got the ball into a wide area, did a stepover, found space for a cross and sent the ball right into the zone of uncertainty for CP10 to head it home.

Pulisic promptly asked Memo Ochoa what would happen if Mexico’s best athletes played soccer.

With 10 minutes left, Berhalter once again went to his bench taking Musah off for Kellyn Acosta and swapping Pepi for Jesus Ferreira. It would be a few more minutes, but some poor defending from Mexico led to American hero Weston McKennie


Things went... well, they got more interesting a few minutes later when Miles Robinson got a second yellow as the ref suddenly decided to start calling tighter fouls. Thinking that having two center backs would probably be good, Berhalter brought in Chris Richards for Weah to see the game out. The USA continued their dominant showing as Antonee Robinson ran past the entire Mexico team and found Ferreira in the box, but the forward’s shot went wide.

Mexico would push forward looking for a goal, but it never came. The ref blew the final whistle and the game ended two-nil.