Mexico needed a miracle to keep its World Cup hopes alive.
It never came.
Kristie Mewis scored a controversial goal in the 89th minute to finally break the deadlock as the U.S. beat Mexico 1-0 to officially end La Tri’s 2023 World Cup aspirations on Monday in Nuevo León. The USWNT claimed first place in Group A having already clinched World Cup qualification on Thursday at the Concacaf W Championship.
Mexico kept it close throughout but was undone by a red card and a late goal. La Tri needed a win to have any hope of finishing third in Group A to qualify for a 10-team intercontinental playoff. Mexico fell to 40-1-1 all time against the USWNT.
In the other Group A match, Jamaica beat Haiti 4-0 to qualify for a second Women’s World Cup after qualifying for the first time in 2019. The Reggae Girlz rebounded from a heavy 5-0 defeat to the U.S. on Thursday and news of the death of U-17 player Jedine Carr, who was shot while traveling to soccer practice on Friday.
Haiti will go to the intercontinental playoff and won’t be a team anyone wants to play. Melchie Dumornay, 18, was arguably the best young player of the group stage and hit the post twice against Jamaica.
The Group B finales were also on Monday, with Canada topping Costa Rica 2-0 in a battle of two teams already qualified for the knockout rounds and the Women’s World Cup. Panama edged Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 to earn the other intercontinental playoff berth.
The U.S. will play Costa Rica in the early match of the semifinals on Thursday followed by Canada against Jamaica. The winner of the tournament qualifies for the 2024 Olympics, while the second- and third-place teams will go to a playoff in September 2023 for the second Olympic berth.
No Mexico Miracle
Mexico qualified for the World Cup in 2011 and 2015, even beating the U.S. in 2010 qualifying. La Tri failed to get out of the group in qualifying for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, a disappointing result given the country had just launched Liga MX Femenil. With the growth of the domestic league, expectations were high Mexico could get back to the World Cup in 2023, despite a tough draw going head to head against Jamaica, which took the third and final Concacaf berth in 2019.
After a disappointing 1-0 loss to Jamaica in the opener, Mexico capitulated in a 3-0 defeat to Haiti in the second match. This meant Mexico needed a miracle (beating the U.S., favorable results in the other match) just to keep its World Cup hopes alive by finishing third in the group for a berth to the intercontinental playoff. Jamaica’s big win over Haiti meant if Mexico had found a winner, La Tri would have finished third in the group.
Mexico played much better Monday and, buoyed by a strong home crowd, battled the U.S. better than most. But Mexico was unable to get the necessary win and finished dead last in Group A with zero points, failing to even score a goal in the tournament it hosted.
USWNT vs Mexico Highlights
The U.S., knowing a draw would be plenty to win the group, rested some key players, notably Rose Lavelle and Mal Pugh. As a result, the Americans looked a bit toothless, nothing like they did in a 5-0 rout of Jamaica on Thursday.
Midge Purce nearly scored in the 15th minute with a brilliant piece of control and quick shot, but her effort struck the post.
— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) July 12, 2022
Lindsey Horan will admit she should’ve done better with an effort in the 43rd minute straight to keeper Itzel González that left the score 0-0 at halftime.
A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE USWNT.Midge Purce's impressive run to feed an open Lindsey Horan goes right into the arms of Itzel González. pic.twitter.com/bAEfO3i7aw
— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) July 12, 2022
Vlatko Andonovski made four changes just after the hour mark to try to create a spark for the Americans. He even threw 6-1 midfielder Taylor Kornieck to replace Alex Morgan in the 80th minute in a move that screamed desperation. Not even a red card for Mexico midfielder Lizbeth Ovalle, who caught second-half substitute Lavelle’s ankle with a rash challenge, could spark the USWNT.
MEXICO ARE DOWN TO 10 PLAYERS AS LIZBETH OVALLE IS SHOWN RED. pic.twitter.com/O8wNeYmiEV— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) July 12, 2022
The red card in the 73rd minute seemed to galvanize Mexico, which finally created some offense in the dying minutes. Casey Murphy, in her seventh cap, made her first and only save with three minutes left as Mexico desperately searched for a winner.
Ultimately, it was defensive midfielder Kristie Mewis who found the winner, but not without some controversy.
Emily Sonnett had her header turned onto the crossbar by González allowing Mewis to follow up for an awkward finish. Replays showed Sonnett may have been offside, but the VAR upheld the goal.
KRISTIE IN THE 89TH pic.twitter.com/8RhSJz4pXJ— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) July 12, 2022
The U.S. then held on through eight minutes of stoppage time (González was treated for cramps about two dozen times throughout the match) to claim an unconvincing win and end Mexico’s hopes.
Though the USWNT looked good against Jamaica, questions once again arose about the team’s finishing ability. Costa Rica shouldn’t pose much of a problem in the semifinals, but a showdown against Canada in the final in a week’s time could be a scary proposition for this U.S. squad. The USWNT might want revenge on Canada for the semifinal defeat at last summer’s Olympics, but at this rate Canada might enter that match as the favorite.