USMNT ties with Mexico in inaugural Continental Clásico: 3 takeaways

Must Read

In the 75th all-time meeting between the United States and Mexico — and the first of the 2026 World Cup cycle — the U.S. and rival El Tri played to a 1-1 tie Wednesday in a hard-fought exhibition match in Glendale, Arizona.  

Uriel Antuna scored for Mexico in the 55th minute after intercepting a pass by U.S. midfielder Kellyn Acosta, but Jesús Ferreira equalized for the Americans by converting a Jordan Morris pass with just under 10 minutes of regular time remaining.

The draw extends the USMNT’s unbeaten streak against Mexico to five games — a run that includes victories in the 2021 CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup finals and in a qualifying game for the 2022 World Cup. El Tri’s last win over the U.S. came in 2019.  

Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s match.  

The game was a dud … until it wasn’t  

With both teams missing their top European-based players, and just two days for each mostly domestic league-based side to train together beforehand, maybe the lack of free-flowing play shouldn’t have been a surprise. Besides, these games are rarely pretty even when both teams are at full strength.   

“We knew the game was gonna be chaotic and intense,” interim coach Anthony Hudson said afterward.”  

The intensity was there, as usual. So were the bone-crunching tackles. But outside of a few half chances, sustained cohesion was nowhere to be found for either side until after the opening goal. Antuna’s strike was the first shot on target for either team to that point.  

Things began to open up as the U.S. chased the goal it needed in the second half. The hosts were lucky not to concede a backbreaking second before Ferreira’s tally; Mexico missed a couple of golden chances, including a shot off the crossbar that actually sprang U.S. fullback Sergiño Dest on the counterattack that ended up pulling the Americans level. 

“We felt like in the first half we weren’t getting enough pressure on the ball,” defender DeAndre Yedlin told broadcaster TBS afterward. “We wanted to get a little more aggressive.” 

To their credit, both coaches went all-in for the win in the dying moments, delighting the almost 56,000 mostly green-clad fans in attendance at State Farm Stadium. In the end, though, a stalemate was the fair result.  

Bigger U.S.-Mexico matches await  

The best news for the Americans is that the outcome on this night didn’t count. While the U.S. players obviously always expect to beat Mexico on home soil, that’s just not realistic given how little has separated the two foes over the last three decades and how much support El Tri enjoys in the stands whenever it competes stateside. Plus, being able to come back from a late second half deficit is hardly a bad thing with a high-stakes rematch looming June 15.  

That’s the date of the Nations League semifinal in Las Vegas, where a fully stocked U.S. — which two years ago outlasted El Tri in the final to win the inaugural event — must eliminate Mexico’s best to defend its trophy. A month after that is a potential rematch of the 2021 Gold Cup final, which was also won by the Americans.  

Those on this U.S. roster who will also be a part of those games will be able to think back to this one if they find themselves down a goal with time running out again.   

“We’ve got a lot of competitions coming up against them,” Yedlin said. “It’s something that will stay in the back of their heads.” 

A worthwhile exercise for the Americans overall 

With no more official FIFA windows on the schedule between now and the two summer tournaments, Wednesday’s contest provided a rare opportunity for U.S. regulars like Acosta, Dest, Ferreira and Walker Zimmerman to get reps together. For fellow veterans Morris and Yedlin, this marked their first week back with the USMNT since the World Cup ended in December.  

Several less established guys (Cade Cowell, Brandon Vázquez) got valuable starts. Eighteen-year-old Atlanta United defender Caleb Wiley made his senior international debut off the bench. The unbeaten streak against the USMNT’s biggest nemesis continued, and is now away from equaling the longest in program history.  

The likes of Premier Leaguers Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie will be back for that opportunity. “We have a lot of players to add to the squad, adding a lot of quality,” Yedlin said.  

That could make for some tough decisions for the coaching staff, which is expected to remain in place until a full-time manager is hired later this year. Wednesday’s game provided another valuable data point.  

“I think tonight, we’ve added a few more players to the player pool,” Hudson said. “It allows us to get into the summer with a much better understanding of what we’re gonna face.”

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

Top FOX Sports Stories:

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience

United States

Mexico



Get more from United States Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more


Latest News

More Articles Like This