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U.S. Fails to Keep Step With Mexico’s Lead


PASADENA, Calif. — Mexico defeated the United States, 3-2, on Saturday night in a game staged to decide which team would earn a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup, an eight-country tournament of dubious prestige that will take place in Russia, the site of the 2018 World Cup.

Mexico’s winning goal was scored in spectacularly skillful fashion in the 118th minute, in the second half of overtime, as Paul Aguilar sprinted into the right side of the box, settled under a rapidly descending lob pass from Raul Jiménez and lashed a low, wicked volley inside the left post. The Mexican players scrambled to form a joyous pile near the corner flag. The Americans stood still, stunned.

Mexico had previously gone ahead in the 96th minute, when Oribe Peralta tapped in a cross from Aguilar, who had hustled to keep the ball inbounds near the right side of the goal. And the game appeared headed for penalty kicks after the 108th minute, when Bobby Wood swooped into the box to meet a pass from DeAndre Yedlin and slipped it with his first touch through the legs of Moisés Muñoz, the Mexican goalkeeper.

The crowd at the sultry, claustrophobic Rose Bowl was announced at 93,723, the most for a men’s national team home game since the 1994 World Cup. It was a largely pro-Mexico crowd, and scores of people arrived hours before the game to revel on the golf course adjacent to the stadium, huddling under whatever slivers or specks of shade were around.

The Mexicans dictated the game’s rhythm, and in just the 10th minute, a clever, swirling sequence of passes on the right side freed Javier Hernández near the penalty spot for a one-touch finish. But the Americans evened the score five minutes later, when Michael Bradley lashed a free kick from the left corner toward Geoff Cameron, who stomped to the near post unattended and delivered a powerful header.