BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, October 16, 2013
In what was likely the most dramatic night in the history of Concacaf soccer, the United States rallied to defeat Panama and keep Mexico's qualifying campaign alive.

Entering into the game the U.S team had little on the after clinching both a spot in Brazil and first place in the Hexagonal. While the U.S was spared the drama, plenty was on the line for its opponent as Panama was within reach of securing a playoff. Meanwhile in Costa Rica, Mexico faced a possible elimination with a loss combined with a Panama win.

The game started well for Panama as the hosts took an early lead in the 18th minute when Gabriel Torres finished off a play that began with an Edgar Castillo turnover. Marcos Sanchez fed Torres into the middle of the 18 and the Colorado Rapids based forward beat Brad Guzan with a powerful low-driving shot for a 1-0 win.

At the time, Costa Rica scored over Mexico to give Panama the scores it needed.

In the second half, Panama was dealt a setback when Michael Orozco equalized for the U.S team in the 63d minute off a corner delivered by Brad Davis. Then Mexico would equalize against Costa Rica to jeopardize Panama's hopes for the playoffs again.

20 minutes later, the momentum swung again for Panama when Luis Tejada put the hosts up again when U.S keeper Brad Guzan was unable to hold onto a difficult cross and Tejada tapped it home for a 2-1 lead. Meanwhile up north, Costa Rica took a 2-1 lead over Mexico to once again give Panama the needed results and put El Tri on the brink.

Disaster however struck for Panama in injury time when Graham Zusi headed home a Brad Davis cross to equalize the game at 2-2 and once again move Panama to the brink of elimination. One minute later Aron Johannsson sealed Panama's fate with his first international goal on the last kick of the game with a 20 yard shot that snuck just inside the left post for a 3-2 win.

Mexico, who won just two games in the hexagonal, will now face off against New Zealand next month in a playoff for a spot in Brazil.

The U.S team finished with 22 points to match its best ever performance in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying.
Wednesday October 16, 2013 8:59 pm
Like most US fans I've had my share of bad feelings with Mexico. I've been outraged hearing about the antics our players face when at Azteca and personally encountered jerk Mexico fans that booed me and a few other US fans that showed up at the Mexico v. France match in South Africa... to cheer on our CONCACAF neighbors.

But I've also met plenty of decent Mexico fans and with large numbers of our nationals making a living in eachother's leagues, I'm not so sure the DEFCON 1 level of Mexico hate some US fans have is sustainable.

I get the rivalry factor of two closely matched teams and enjoy it as a fan. But I didn't want to see Mexico miss the WC and I can't help but think that a strong Mexico that performs well in the WC ultimately helps the region.

I'll say it... Go Mexico.
Wednesday October 16, 2013 12:27 pm
Well there goes the best rivalry in Concacaf history. Right out the window. I guess it was time to make up and be BFF's with a most bitter arch rival of all. USA/Mexico are now buddies that can sit down have a cerveza together and laugh about the good ol days, when the tension and animosity was thick enough to cut with a knife. Now instead of unknown liquids and batteries falling on the heads of US players in Azteca.....we will be blown kisses and red, white and blue steamers will fall down upon us. All because in a meaningless game,we felt compelled to win at any cost and politely give El Tri another chance at the Greatest Show on Earth. I only hope that they don't forget this very importante favor and return it to us with the same outstretched hand as ours!!!!! LOL

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