Marquez late winner downs USMNT in Hex opener

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

The USMNT “Fortress” of MAPFRE Stadium has been breached.

Veteran Mexican defender Rafa Marquez rescued a victory from the jaws of a draw to shock the over 24,000 fans in attendance with a 2-1 Mexico victory. Miguel Layun scored the opener for Mexico less than 20 minutes into the match. Bobby Wood equalized with a spectacular finish in the second half only to have Marquez score just before the death to earn El Tri a well-fought win.

A new-look USMNT came out in a three man backline and looked uncomfortable against Mexico’s standard 4-4-2. Juan Carlos Osorio matched his tactics with Jurgen Klinsmann and managed to draw first blood as Layun converted on a deflected shot attempt, eking the ball past Howard for the early lead.

While a weak strike and fortunate finish, Mexico proved their performance was more than just a fluke, striking the woodwork twice in the half.

The U.S. came out stronger in the second, playing mostly in their standard 4-4-2. Bobby Wood found the equalizer just four minutes in, shaking off several markers to find the back of the net. The play would never have materialized were it not for some brilliant distribution from Jozy Altidore who helped compose and build the play.

The good vibes only lasted so long. Tim Howard was forced out of the match with an apparent leg injury, making way for Brad Guzan to enter the fray.

Then came the dagger. An unmarked Marquez beat Guzan at the far post, sealing an incredible victory for El Tri. The U.S. now prepare to take on their second opponent of the Hex as they face Costa Rica this week.