by Bill Norris

A raucous crowd of 6,236 fans saw Manuel Rojo score the game’s opening goal, and its final goal as Mexico rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the United States 4-3 Friday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.

Rojo broke through with the game’s first goal with about five minutes to go in the second quarter. He blasted a cross-field pass from the Ontario Fury’s Juan Carlos Gonzalez into the upper corner past his San Diego teammate Boris Pardo. It stayed that way through the end of the half.

But the United States came out charging in the second half. Just 32 seconds into the half, team captain Israel Sesay (Ontario Fury) tapped home a pass from Ontario teammate Adrien Perez to tie the game. And 1:26 later, the US took the lead off a set play. Andy Reyes made a quick pass off a corner kick to Felipe Gonzalez, who lifted a shot under the bar and past Carlos Reyes to give the US a 2-1 lead.

M2Soccer MVP Thomas Hoang extended the lead early in the fourth, as he shot home a pass from Brian Farber on a counterattack, and the US led 3-1.

But Mexico had one more rally in them. Daniel Lopez cut the lead to one as Mexico kept the pressure on after a goal-saving clearance from Nelson Santana. And with 7:23 to go, free agent Warner Resendes slotted a shot inside the post to tie the game.

Both teams looked for an advantage in the closing moments. Just after both teams returned to full strength after 1:46 of four-on-four play, Rojo came up with the game winner, running down the left wing and shooting one under a diving Pardo for the game-winner.

The two teams won’t have long to rest, as they will make the trip to Stockton, Calif., on Saturday for a rematch at the Stockton Arena. Tickets for the game, which is scheduled to kickoff at 6 p.m., are available at Ticketmaster.com.