New era for CONCACAF shown as USWNT loses to Mexico

Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports
The future of the USWNT/Mexico rivalry changed on Monday.

CARSON, Calif. — The USWNT had beaten Mexico in 40 of 42 matches and had never lost in a CONCACAF game at home in over 80 matches. But, on Monday, their history and rivalry changed.

The match between the USWNT and Mexico was also taken to the next level as Mexico beat the USWNT, 2-0. It was a performance featuring a disruptive Mexico and a sneak peek into the next era of women’s soccer.

“They were bold…. That was a spectacular match today. This is great for the Gold Cup, the fans, and everyone watching,” said Mexico head coach, Pedro López.

It was clear from the start that the match was going to be intense. Dignity Health Sports Park was rocking ahead of kickoff as Mexico and USWNT fans traded chants and counted down to kickoff. The USWNT fans chanted through most of the match, but every few minutes, “Mexico, Mexico, Mexico,” drowned them out. 

Mexico disrupted the USWNT through its press and high intensity. The teams traded punches early on, but the USWNT struggled to capitalize on and make final passes. Neither team had many chances in the early minutes, but Mexico’s appeared more dangerous.

Nine minutes into the match. Mexico’s Maria Sanchez and Lizbeth Ovalle had moments of individual brilliance, but Sanchez’s attempt missed the goal.

35 minutes into the match, USWNT’s Emily Fox hit a ball on target from outside the box, but it was saved for a corner.

Then, 39 minutes into the match, Ovalle faced a charging goalkeeper, Alyssa Naeher, after deflecting a pass from Becky Sauerbrunn. Despite the pressure from Naeher, she turned and fired a shot over Naeher and into the goal. The moment stunned the USWNT crowd, and put Mexico ahead, 1-0.

“I immediately raised my hand, both on the field and in the locker room, being like, ‘that was all on me,’” Sauerbrunn said.

In first-half stoppage time, Karla Nieto nearly doubled Mexico’s lead, hitting the crossbar on a shot from outside the box. 

The second half featured much of the same despite halftime substitutions of Alex Morgan and Emily Sonnett. The USWNT has a few solid moments, but much like the first half, they failed to make the final pass. And when they did, little came from it.

89 minutes into the match, Rodman fired a shot towards the bottom corner of the net but missed wide. 

In stoppage time, Mexico’s Mayra Pelayo fired a shot from outside of the box, finding the top corner of the net. The goal iced the match, a significant result for the team. 

Mexico’s win is notable as it breaks the USWNT’s trend of CONCACAF victories on home soil. It also shows a continued rise in the competitiveness of international women’s soccer; the overall talent gap is closing.

“I wish,” said López about the hope for a new and improved era of Mexican soccer. “I have that dream. I went to Mexico with that dream.”

The USWNT recently exited in Round 16 during the 2023 Women’s World Cup after back-to-back tournament wins. In 2024, they suffered a historic loss in the group stage to Mexico. Their tournament hopes are still alive, but they finished Group A in second as Mexico moved to first.

“Women’s football is just getting better and better in general,” Morgan said. “We’ve seen that with all of the leagues around the world.”

Next, the USWNT plays in the quarterfinals at BMO Stadium, as they try to rebound from the loss. There, they could look to reclaim a sense of dominance in the region with a victory. But, either way, the skill gap is closing and team’s are challenging the USWNT (and even winning), like Mexico did on Monday.