Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley struggle in U.S. loss to Mexico
PASADENA, Calif. -- Saturday's CONCACAF Cup more than lived up the billing with the U.S. and Mexico providing almost 94,000 fans at the Rose Bowl with a game for the ages.
El Tri striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez gave the "visitors" -- as expected, the game between the archrivals was played in front of a heavily pro-Mexican crowd -- an early lead, but it took the Americans just five minutes to equalize off a Geoff Cameron header.
The game stayed tied until Oribe Peralta scored seven minutes into extra time, but again the U.S. responded through substitute Bobby Wood in the 108th minute. Just as the game appeared headed for penalty kicks, El Tri defender Paul Aguilar won it with a brilliant volley past Yanks keeper Brad Guzan minutes before the final whistle.
Here's how the U.S. players fared in the match:
(Player ratings (1-10; 5=average, 10=best)
GK Brad Guzan, 7.5 -- Strong coming out on crosses and commanded his box well. Stoned Peralta early in the second half and again in the fourth minute of extra time, and was powerless to prevent any of Mexico's goals.
DF Fabian Johnson, 6 -- His touch and crossing was off early, and he failed to pick up Chicharito after Mexico's movement unlocked the rest of the U.S. back line in the 10th minute. But he showed his quality on the dribble in tight spaces and got better as the game went on.
DF Geoff Cameron, 7.5 -- Punished for his aggressive defending on Mexico's slickly created opener but more than made up for it by heading home the hosts' equalizer. Defended superbly overall and even got forward into the attack. Nearly blocked Peralta's strike, with the ball just squirting though his legs and past Guzan.
DF Matt Besler, 6 -- Fooled by Peralta's clever dummy on the first goal but responded well, settling down by making several timely challenges and blocks, including one early in the second half. Got lucky in the 59th minute when he lost Chicharito, who couldn't finish from the doorstep and might have gotten away with a late handball, too. Still, was solid overall.
DF DaMarcus Beasley, 5 -- Had trouble dealing with a few first-half El Tri forays down his left side and almost got punished minutes into the second half when his blocked clearance fell to Peralta, whose shot was stopped by Guzan from point-blank range.
MEXICO 3-2 UNITED STATES
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MF Jermaine Jones, 6 -- Had a few hairy moments early but did better after he switched from the right flank to left, swapping places with youngster Gyasi Zardes. Showed his experience and grit, though, and while he seemed to fade midway through the second half, he found his second wind and was able to stay on the field until it was over.
MF Kyle Beckerman, 6 -- Struggled to deal with the movement of Mexico's three forwards early, as El Tri's attackers kept rotating, taking turns dropping into open space. Got wise to the strategy quickly, however, helping his team by winning the ball in dangerous spots as usual, especially with the U.S. under intense pressure at the end of regular time.
MF Michael Bradley, 8 -- His delivery on Cameron's goal was as perfect as it was timely, and the U.S. captain was everywhere: dropping deep to help out his defenders and orchestrating the attack when on the ball. Even when he was dispossessed by Hernandez late in regulation, he had the wheels to get back and take the necessary yellow card to cut him down. Was one of the few Americans who didn't look gassed by the end of extra time.
MF Gyasi Zardes, 6 -- Young winger had a difficult time getting forward but worked hard defensively. Played some good one-twos with Altidore -- and sent him a dangerous 41st minute cross -- and certainly wasn't overawed by the occasion.
FW Clint Dempsey, 5 -- An unusually quiet night for the national team's active top scorer. Didn't see much service, forcing him to drop deep to get the ball, and never really seemed to get into the game.
FW Jozy Altidore, 6 -- Active and sharp for the most part. Had some good early combinations with both Dempsey and Zardes, and used link-up play to impose himself more in the second half. Had a good crack at goal in the 51st minute but sent his powerful shot right at Mexican goalkeeper Moises Munoz.
MF DeAndre Yedlin, 7.5 -- Came on for fellow young burner Zardes in the 78th minute but had trouble getting into the game until extra time, when his speed began to put the Mexican under pressure. His assist on Wood's goal was a thing of beauty.
FW Bobby Wood, 8 -- Super sub entered in the 98th minute for Altidore and scored 10 minutes later -- his third for the U.S. in his past five appearances.
FW Brad Evans, NR -- Replaced Johnson in the second half of extra time.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.