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Mexico vs. United States, 2018 World Cup Qualifying: Man of the match

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Mexico opened up hex play against its most bitter rival in Columbus.

Mexico v United States - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Mexico defeated the USA 2-1 at Mapfre Stadium to open up hexagonal play on Friday night.

The first half saw Mexico dominate with long spells of possession and threatening movement towards goal. Mexico’s attack looked sharp with Juan Carlos Osorio entrusting Carlos Vela with the ball. Vela, along with Miguel Layún, fought every ball and brought some serious velocity to the Mexican attack that gave the USA headaches throughout the first 45 minutes. This culminated in the 20th minute when Layún picked up a ball, after Vela struggled against a USA defender for it, and pushed it past Tim Howard.

The 1-0 lead only lasted until the 49th minute when the USA’s Bobby Wood took advantage of a turnover to score and knot the game at 1-1. Freshly substituted Hugo Ayala was unable to contain the turnover, as Wood went on to overwhelm Rafael Márquez and Héctor Moreno. Alfredo Talavera, who had a very shaky first half, was also unable to block the shot. Talavera would make a few nice saves later on when called upon, though.

Javier Hernández and Giovani Dos Santos hardly made their presence felt throughout the encounter. If it weren’t for a few great runs by substitute Hirving Lozano, Hernández would have had even less touches. Héctor Herrera had a subpar performance featuring errant back heel pass attempts. Márquez struggled to keep pace in the midfield in later stages in the game, but netted the game winner in the 89th minute.

Of note was Andrés Guardado’s exit due to injury in the first half. This could be seen as one of the factors leading to Mexico’s loss in midfield command as the game wore on.

Juan Carlos Osorio will now have to prepare his team for the upcoming hex games, starting with a November 11th game against the United States on American soil. Carlos Salcedo’s late red card means that he will miss the next hex game against Panama on Tuesday night in spite of a very solid performance.

Man of the Match: Miguel Layún

Miguel Layún brought so much velocity to the offense that it often helped catch the USA’s defense flatfooted. Offensively, he provided the goal to give the initial lead and assisted with the cross to score the game-winner. Defensively, he provided coverage such as in the 35th minute when he cleared a ball just when it looked like Bobby Wood was set free in front of goal. Being integral on the offense and making interventions on the defensive side of the ball show why Layún is a national team fixture.

Here are the ratings for the entire Friday night squad:

Alfredo Talavera: 6

Héctor Moreno: 7

Rafael Márquez: 6.5

Diego Reyes: 6.5

Miguel Layún: 8

Héctor Herrera: 4

Andrés Guardado: 7

Jesús Corona: 5.5

Giovani Dos Santos: 6

Carlos Vela: 7.5

Javier Hernández: 6

Substitutes:

Hugo Ayala: 6

Carlos Salcedo: 7.5

Hirving Lozano: 7