Shocking loss to Mexico, but all is certainly not lost at the Gold Cup

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie N. Peterson, March 4, 2024

The U.S. women’s national team lost 2-0 to Mexico in the final group match last Monday night (after we had already filed Soccer Monday) at the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup. Then they rebounded last night with a 3-0 victory over Colombia.

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The United States will play Canada in a semifinal at Snapdragon on Wednesday night. Brazil plays Mexico in the early game.

So was the USWNT loss to Mexico bad? One hundred percent. But was it cataclysmic as some pundits have suggested? Let’s unpack that.

The United States had not lost to Mexico since a 2010 World Cup qualifying match that secured Mexico a spot in Germany; the United States was forced into a two-legged playoff against Italy for its berth. Overall, the United States has lost just twice all-time (44 matches) to their southern neighbors.

It certainly didn’t look even remotely good for the USWNT, which seemed out of sorts for the entire game — following two strong performances, albeit against lesser competition — to open the tournament. The inconsistency seems to be a theme lately as the U.S. tries to find a groove in the post-Vlatko Andonovski era.

The team has made sweeping lineup changes during the tournament and it’s been clear the players haven’t really found cohesion. The U.S. is looking at different combinations as it prepares for the arrival of new coach Emma Hayes — and a very tight 18-player roster for the Olympics.

Becky Sauerbrunn, who gave up a painful and uncharacteristic first-half goal, took full responsibility afterward, raising her hand on the field to acknowledge her mistake. She said she also took responsibility in the locker room.

“As a veteran you have some rough days at the office and tonight is definitely a rough day,” she said. “But luckily, you’ll have another day at the office and it’s just what you make out of it.”

At the same time, Mexico looked like a much different team than the one the U.S. faced last at qualifying for the 2023 Olympics. Soon after the team failed to make the field for Australia and New Zealand, Mexico fired coach Monica Vergara. Pedro Lopez took over as coach in September 2022.

Lopez has Mexico playing a determined, attacking style. He said he hopes the result is the start of a new era for the Mexican women.

“I wish, I have that dream,” he said. “I went to Mexico to do everything that I can. I want them to win. Today we won and that’s great for women’s football in Mexico.”

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The rebound victory over Colombia showed that the loss to Mexico may not mean all that much in the long run. The USWNT is still in the semifinals. Get past Canada, and the team could potentially play a revenge match against Mexico for the first-ever women’s Gold Cup trophy.

But could it serve as a wake-up call for the United States going forward? Absolutely. Could it be an anomaly? Maybe. Was it just Mexico’s night? For sure. Time will be the ultimate judge, but there’s no doubt that the competition the U.S. is facing is just getting tougher.

And the U.S. has some issues to overcome, including, but not limited to — the team’s mindset that they’re still the best in the world. The reality is that they’re slipping and the competition is catching up. It’s time to play hungry. It’s time to play like they were played by Mexico.

The youth movement may bring those changes: Jaedyn Shaw, along with the return of both Mallory Swanson and Catarina Macario, could shakeup the team dynamic.

So cataclysmic? Probably not (Granted, I’m an eternal optimist). The United States isn’t going to wake up tomorrow and be ranked No. 20 in the world. But definitely Hayes has work to do.

Respect to Alyssa Naeher, who got her 100th cap against Colombia. Only three goalkeepers for the U.S. have reached that milestone.

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This week’s news

This story on CONCACAF is amazing.

Cesar Hernandez wrote a great story for ESPN about Mexico and the victory.

The players pointed to the rest of the world catching up to the USWNT.

The Athletic’s Meg Linehan writes that the US mystique is gone.

Pardeep Cattry takes stock of the US loss for CBS Sports.

Horan is confident the youth will lead the way back.

USA Today looks at the reaction to the loss from various pundits.

Kassouf again for ESPN says the team lacks creativity

Yahoo Sports’ Henry Bushnell says the loss is an alarming sign of the team’s decline.

The Defector had one of those cataclysmic takes. looks at Horan’s assessment.

Jeff Kassouf looks at the NWSL’s new kits for ESPN.

Interesting take from Sportico that the NWSL’s private equity rules.

Adweek on ESPN’s NWSL branding.

Smart piece by Steph Yang on analytics in the NWSL.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
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Written by Annie Peterson