Paul Aguilar scored late in overtime to give Mexico a 3- 2 victory over the U.S. in the inaugural CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer game at the Rose Bowl before a sold-out crowd of 93,723.
A ball that had popped up fell to Aguilar, who put his volley into the far corner of the net in the 118th minute.
Just like after Mexico’s first two goals, the score set off boisterous flag-raising cheering from much of the crowd in Pasadena on Saturday night.
Shortly after the goal, smoke bombs with green and red smoke, the primary colors of the Mexican team, were set off behind the goal Mexico was shooting at.
The U.S. had re-tied the score 10 minutes earlier on a goal by substitute Bobby Wood, who played for the Irvine Strikers club team.
Wood had taken a pass from DeAndre Yedlin and put a shot past Mexican goalkeeper Moises Munoz.
Wood, who plays for the second-division German team FC Union Berlin, was added to the roster at Friday’s deadline, replacing Alejandro Bedoya, who was unable to play because of illness.
Regulation play ended in a 1-1 tie prompting 30 minutes of overtime play, played in two 15-minute halves.
Mexico regained the lead six minutes into overtime when Oribe Peralta scored off a cross by Aguilar.
Mexico opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Javier Hernandez scored off a pass from Peralta.
The U.S. tied the score in the 15th minute when defender Geoff Cameron headed in a free kick by Michael Bradley for his second national team goal.
A scuffle broke out in the 35th minute when Peralta and U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan became tangled. Peralta received a yellow card from Joel Aguilar.
Mexico led 20-13 in shots and 10-5 in shots on goal. Munoz made seven saves, including two in overtime. Guzan made three saves, two in the first half and one in the second.
The victory gives Mexico a berth in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, a tournament played every four years in the year before the World Cup in the host nation of the World Cup.
The eight-team field in the Confederations Cup consists of the champion of each of FIFA’s six regional federations, the reigning World Cup champion and the host nation, which in 2017 will be Russia.
“It’s a dry run for the World Cup,” Bradley, the U.S. captain, said before the game. “You get to spend time in the country a year before, you play in the stadiums, you stay in the hotels, you get a feel for what the weather is like and the way things work.”
The loss ended the U.S.’ six-game unbeaten streak against Mexico. The U.S. had won three times and three games ended in a tie since Mexico overcame an early two-goal deficit to rally for a 4-2 victory in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final on June 25, 2011 at the Rose Bowl, the most recent time the U.S. Mexico in the Los Angeles before today.
Organizers announced on Monday that the game was sold out.
“This is one of the biggest soccer games to be played on North American soil since the 1994 World Cup and the fans have certainly responded,” said CONCACAF acting General Secretary Ted Howard.
Fans applied online for the right to purchase tickets via a lottery system. A supplemental ticketing process was held for supporters groups of the U.S. and Mexican teams.
Mexican fans have traditionally outnumbered their U.S. counterparts in games between the teams in Southern California.
“One of our goals for this game was to make the Rose Bowl a representation of both passionate fan bases,” Howard said.
“The interest and demand for an event of this magnitude requires a process that allows for an opportunity for a fair and equitable distribution of tickets.”
The crowd appeared to be pro-Mexican, despite the efforts by the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, soccer’s governing body for the region, to find balance.
In April 2013, the split of the region’s berth in the Confederations Cup between two editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup was announced, assuring both editions of the region’s national team championship in each four-year cycle have the same importance from a competitive perspective.
The U.S. won the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, while Mexico won the 2015 edition.
— From Staff and Wire Reports