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U.S. women’s soccer falls to Mexico for second time ever, 2-0

Americans still advance to knockout round of Women's Gold Cup

By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer
Published: February 26, 2024, 10:28pm

CARSON, Calif. — Mexico beat the United States for the second time ever, getting goals from Lizbeth Ovalle and Mayra Pelayo for a 2-0 victory Monday night in the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup.

The U.S. entered the game 40-1-1 against its rival, with its only previous loss a 2-1 decision during Women’s World Cup qualifying in 2010.

It was the first loss for the U.S. under interim coach Twila Kilgore, who took over after the team’s dramatic exit from the Women’s World Cup last summer in the round of 16. Emma Hayes will take over for Kilgore this spring.

Mexico, which failed to qualify for last year’s World Cup, finished atop Group A in the Gold Cup while the United States finished second. Both teams advanced to the knockout round.

“They went out and they were bold they were brave with the dream of playing a good game against the United States,” Mexico coach Pedro Lopez Ramos said.

Ovalle, who plays for Tigres of Monterrey, put Mexico ahead in the 28th minute. U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn tried to defend Ovalle but kicked the ball right at her. Ovalle floated a shot over goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and two U.S. defenders and into the net.

It was the first goal conceded by the U.S. to a CONCACAF opponent in 33 matches.

“I think it just shows how far the game is coming and there’s no easy games anymore. And if we don’t take care of business and we don’t execute, this is to be expected,” Kilgore said. “We’ll step up and take ownership in that and I think anytime you have a group that is willing to take ownership in things like this, it’s a good thing for the future of the tournament. Everything’s still on the table and we’ll be motivated, that’s for sure.”

Mexico nearly scored again in first-half stoppage time but Karla Nieto’s shot from distance hit the crossbar.

Kiana Palacios had a good chance to give Mexico a cushion but her shot hit defender Abby Dahlkemper and bounded away.

Pelayo scored from distance in stoppage time and Mexico’s players celebrated wildly on the field.

“If we lose in the quarterfinals, then the beautiful win of today is useless,” Lopez Ramos said through a translator. “I hope that this is not an isolated moment.”

The United States saw success from its teenagers in the first two games of the tournament. Olivia Moultrie, 18, scored twice in a 5-0 victory over the Dominican Republic and Jaedyn Shaw, 19, scored a pair in a 4-0 victory over Argentina.

This is the first-ever Women’s Gold Cup, created to give women’s teams in the CONCACAF region more competitive matches. Twelve teams played group-stage matches across three cities: Carson, San Diego and Houston.

Argentina beat the Dominican Republic 3-0 earlier Monday in Group A.