Mexican legend Hugo Sanchez, pictured when he coached Eli Tri in 2007, scored against the U.S. in a World Cup qualifier in 1980.
With the United States and Mexico preparing for their World Cup qualifying encounter in Mexico City June 11, FrontRowSoccer.com is looking back at some of the most memorable matches between these two archrivals. Today, we look back at a game from 1980.
The United States already had been eliminated from the 1982 World Cup qualifying competition, but a 2-1 victory over Mexico in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Nov. 23, 1980 did make some history.
It was the first time the Americans defeated the Mexicans in more than 38 years in qualifiers or international friendlies. The previous win was a 4-2 qualifying triumph in Rome, Italy on May 24, 1934, the team’s very first encounter.
Cosmos forward Steve Moyers scored twice, his second goal breaking 1-1 deadlock in the second half, before a crowd of 2,126 at Lockhart Stadium. Cosmos midfielder Rick Davis was converted to sweeper because of a shortage of players. Former Real Madrid scoring star and Mexico legend Hugo Sanchez, a former Mexican national coach, tallied for the visitors.
“There was nothing at stake for the Americans except for their pride,” wrote the late U.S. national coach Walt Chyzowych in his book, “The World Cup.” “They played with heart, outclassing the Mexican team.”
Putting the win into perspective, the U.S. had gone 24 matches vs. Mexico without a win since 1934 — 0-21-3.
That included a number of difficult and embarrassing home losses, including the worst all-time performance against the Mexicans, a 7-2 shellacking in Long Beach, Calif. on April 28, 1957.
The Americans entered the match with a 0-2-1 qualifying record. They played Canada to a scoreless draw in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 25, losing to their neighbors to the north, 2-1, in Vancouver on Nov. 1 before getting drubbed by Mexico in Mexico City on Nov. 9, 5-1.
It was a while before the U.S. would play an international game — almost a year and a half later on March 21, 1982, defeating Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain, 2-1.
Having that much time between national team games is unheard of these days.
It also would be almost another 11 years before the Americans would best Mexico again — 2-0 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Los Angeles, Calif. on July 5, 1991.