USWNT ends spirited Mexico's Women's World Cup dream with CONCACAF W Championship win
There was palpable hope inside the Estadio Universitario on Monday as a home crowd of 20,522 Mexico fans attempted to will its underperforming team to its most unlikely victory in history against the United States.
For 89 minutes, everything went as close to plan as possible, right down to Jamaica blowing out Haiti 4-0, in the other Group A game of the CONCACAF W Championship being played simultaneously across town, opening the door for Mexico.
One goal would have salvaged a place in the global FIFA Women's World Cup playoff for El Tri Femenil and saved the complete embarrassment on home soil.
Even after Lizbeth Ovalle was sent off in the 73rd minute for a reckless challenge that twisted Rose Lavelle's ankle in the wrong direction, Mexico pushed on with 10 players, nearly going ahead through Diana Ordonez in the 87th minute on their best opportunity of the night.
Then Kristie Mewis scored an ugly, scrappy goal, pouncing on a rebound from Emily Sonnett's header, which was initially pushed off the crossbar by Mexico goalkeeper Itzel Gonzalez.
Several bodies fell into the net as part of the scramble, and after a long VAR check for a potential offside, Mexico's fleeting dreams of a miracle fell by the wayside as well.
For the United States it was a gritty win, the type of result any good team needs to labor through to prevail at a big tournament. On home soil, and in friendlies, the 1-0 victory could be viewed as ugly and unsatisfactory.
In Mexico, against a home side desperate to keep its World Cup hopes alive, it was a new experience for just about every player on the roster -- and exactly the type of adversity U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski has repeatedly said he wants his team to endure prior to next year's World Cup.
"As the atmosphere was getting fired up, our team started losing the focus [and] the tempo," Andonovski said postmatch. "We actually had very good control of the tempo until the atmosphere started getting riled up a little bit.
And then our players started falling into the trap. We could have just finished the game the way we started it, controlling the tempo, but that's where the inexperience comes.
"But I was very happy to see at the end that we found a way. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't nice, but in order to win big tournaments, we know that sometimes you are just going to have to find a way. We were able to do that."