Wednesday, January 28, 2009

US-Mexico countdown: No. 15

15. World Cup qualifier; Foxboro, Mass.; April 20, 1997: US 2, Mexico 2

Entering the first-ever CONCACAF Hexagonal in 1997, the United States was a team in transition. The World Cup and Copa America 95 were not too far in the past but the US had to continue evolving and learning from those relative successes. Mexico, meanwhile, was looking to qualify for its second consecutive World Cup and had the makings of a strong team; in fact, El Tri was a heavy favorite to finish atop the Hex. In April, the U.S. hosted Mexico in what was still a budding rivalry that favored Mexico. U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller committed an early blunder, however, as an early clearance attempt bounced off Carlos Hermosillo and led to an easy Mexico goal. Eddie Pope and Luis Hernandez exchanged goals as Mexico held a 2-1 lead midway through the second half. However, the U.S. eventually found their own bit of luck as Gustavo Napoles countered Keller’s earlier gaffe when his failed clearance went into the back of the net. The match ended in a thrilling and exciting 2-2 draw, one that would be the forbearer of such future encounters.

Lineups unavailable (I’ll post them when I find them)

Mexico – Hermosillo
US – Pope
Mexico – Hernandez
US – Own goal

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