Peter Vermes, pictured coaching Sporting Kansas City, tallied the second goal in the 2-0 win over Mexico in the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
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 turning-point game from 1991.
After registering only two other wins in 28 previous encounters, the United States stunned Mexico behind a 2-0 victory in the 1991 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals in Los Angeles on July 5, 1991.
Defender John Doyle and forward Peter Vermes scored 16 minutes apart in the second half to secure a rare American win before a crowd of 41,103 at the L.A. Coliseum.
The only other times the U.S. had defeated the Mexicans was during World Cup qualifying for the 1934 and 1982 tournaments. The Americans, who had prevailed in that encounter in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. In the 1982 competition in November 1980, already had been eliminated from the competition, which made that win rather moot.
How earth-shattering was the victory? The Mexicans fired their coach, Manuel Lapuente, two days later.
The victory in L.A. was the U.S.’s fourth straight.
“I think we showed Mexico that they’re going to have to show us some respect in the region,” Vermes said. “We came here to win the Gold Cup, but to get to the final is a big step for us, a real big step.”
Added U.S. coach Bora Milutinovic: “Right now my problem is deciding what team to fill next Sunday. Everybody [on the roster] wants to play in the final.”
After a lethargic first half, the Americans struck early in the final half. Doyle scored three minutes into the second half. Defender Marcelo Balboa took a pass from Hugo Perez and fed Doyle, who beat goalkeeper Pablo Larios from the right wing for his third career goal. Some 16 minutes later, dribbled to his left and left-footed a 20-yard shot into the top corner of the net.
Postscript — The U.S. went on to win the first Gold Cup, surviving a penalty-kick tie-breaker with Honduras after a scoreless draw. The Americans prevailed in the shootout, 4-3. Former MetroStars and Red Bulls goalkeeper Tony Meola proved to the hero of the match, making through shootout saves and five in the game. He had 24 saves in the five Gold Cup matches (excluding the tie-breaker). Balboa, Paul Caligiuri, Dominic Kinnear and Fernando Clavijo (game-winner) converted their attempts.
U.S. 2, Mexico 0
U.S. — Tony Meola, Paul Caligiuri, Marcelo Balboa, John Doyle, Fernando Clavijo (Derek Armstrong, 83), Brian Quinn, Chris Henderson, Brian Murray, Hugo Perez, Peter Vermes, Eric Wynalda (Ted Eck, 71).
Mexico — Larios, Hernandez, Herrera, Ruiz, Esparza, Munoz, De la Torre (Espinoza, 57), Farfan, Galindo (Garcia, 83), Alvez, Hermosillo.
U.S. — Doyle (48), Vermes (64)