Mexico's Rafael Marquez (black jersey) and Michael Bradley of the USA battle for the ball during their World Cup qualifier on November 11, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: John Bacon/Straffon Images)
COLUMBIS, Ohio – Rafael Marquez played in three FIFA World Cup qualifiers here and three times the Mexico defender departed MAPFRE Stadium with a loss.
The fourth time proved to be the charm for Marquez as Mexico broke the “dos a cero” jinx with a 2-1 victory over the host United States in the opening match for each in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the FIFA World Cup.
Not only did the 37-year-old play solid defense, he connected for the game-winner in the 89th minute, heading in Miguel Layun's corner kick.
"The goal was a prize for Rafa," said Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio. "We won justly and if we'd have scored the two that hit the post we'd have won more easily."
Marquez was part of losing Mexico sides in 2-0 World Cup Qualifying results to the USA here in 2001, 2005 and 2009.
"Rafa Marquez is to Mexico what Peter Schmeichel was to people from Denmark," Osorio remarked. "I've been involved in the retirement of such players. Steve McManaman in Manchester City, for example. Rafa has a love for the game like no one else.
"He wants to play all the games. Today the game rewarded him and I'm very happy for him."
Marquez was delighted with the outcome.
"It was a long time that we haven't had a good game [here],” commented the former Barcelona star. “We are very happy and this is very important for us."
The last time Mexico defeated the Americans in a World Cup qualifier on U.S. soil was in Los Angeles, 2-1, in 1972.
"We showed that we have the mental fortitude to compete anywhere, that the team is able to overcome adversity, that it's capable of winning games in the last minute like many good national teams do on the international level," Osorio finished.
The Tricolor will visit Panama, a 1-0 winner at Honduras, at the Estadio Rommel Fernández in Panama City on Tuesday.