U.S. Men's National Team

USMNT squanders two-goal lead, settles for 2-2 tie with Mexico

Landon Donovan

Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com


GLENDALE, Ariz. — A dominant and aesthetically-pleasing first half had the U.S. Men’s National Team looking primed for an easy victory.

The second-half was a different story, with a pro-Mexican crowd being treated to a rousing comeback against an American defense that looked

The U.S. were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw with El Tri at University of Phoenix Stadium on Wednesday night after letting a two-goal, first-half lead slip away. Michael Bradley and Chris Wondolowski had the Americans sitting pretty after scoring in the first 28 minutes, but a flat Mexico came to life in the second half and erased the lead quickly.

“We learned a lot from tonight,” said U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “It was an exciting game. It was a game with a couple of different faces. I think Mexico started well the first 15-20 minutes and then we took over. We really had it under control, scored the goals, 2-0 up at halftime.

“We told the players to be right alert from the first minute on (in the) second half, but they were not. It took them too long to get back into the game and then some mistakes that you can’t make in terms of how you concede the goals. You take that away, you know you have to work on those things.”

Despite allowing their southern rivals to get back into the game, the Americans appeared to have secured a last-minute winner from substitute forward Eddie Johnson, but the would-be goal was negated by a questionable offside call.

Rafa Marquez started the comeback for the Mexicans, who had the majority of the support from the 59,066 fans in attendance, in the 49th minute. Alan Pulido then tapped in the equalizer in the 67th minute after a shot that caromed off the post fell to him.

The friendly also saw Julian Green make his much-anticipated U.S. debut just two weeks after he filed his one-time change of associations to FIFA. The 18-year-old Green came off the bench in the 59th minute, replacing Brad Davis on the left wing.

Green also looked to have drawn a foul on a play near the penalty area three minutes from the final whistle, but Panamanian referee Roberto Moreno allowed play to continue.

“We should’ve gotten the third goal, the clear goal from Eddie. We should’ve gotten a clear penalty on Julian Green, but it’s actually not that important,” said Klinsmann. “All the players that were here today gave everything they had and understand that a game goes at least 90 minutes, maybe in a World Cup it goes 120 minutes, and we don’t have those 90 minutes yet. We have maybe 55-60 maximum on that level.

“It’s not enough. so that means we have a lot of homework to do.”

It was a bright start for the U.S., who came out in a 4-4-2 formation that saw Bradley play atop of a diamond in midfield. Those changes quickly paid dividends as the Americans showed quality passing and movement in the attack and disciplined and swarming defense.

That led to the game’s opener in the 15th minute. After Mexico goalkeeper Moises Munoz pushed away an Omar Gonzalez header, Graham Zusi whipped in a corner kick that founding a streak Bradley at the backpost for the easy finish.

Thirteen minutes later, a well-worked sequence that was among the most beautiful ones that the U.S. has had in recent memory led to Wondolowski’s goal. Clint Dempsey received a pass with his back to goal and hit it one-time into space despite facing pressure, and Tony Beltran raced onto it before hitting a corner that Bradley flicked into the path of Wondolowski.

“The first half, as a group we played well,” said Bradley. “The mobility was good. I felt we played at a tempo that htey were uncomfortable with. We were able to close them down, we were able to be aggressive and even if the first guy didn’t win the ball, the next guy was there. We were stepping and really pushing the tempo in a good way.”

The U.S. continued to dominate for the remainder of the first half, but that was far from the case after halftime. Mexico looked like a revitalized side from the start of the second half, and Marquez started the rally when he headed home a Marco Fabian corner four minutes after the intermission.

Marquez broke free of Gonzalez’s mark and headed home with ease past a helpless Nick Rimando, sending the pro-Mexico crowd into a frenzy.

El Tri continued to attack while the U.S. looked a shell of the team that controlled the proceedings in the first half, and the Mexicans found the equalizer when Pulido tapped home a rebound from two yards out.

Gonzalez was caught ball-watching on the initial shot that hit the post, and that allowed  Pulido to bury the golden opportunity.

“If we learned anything it’s that when you have them on the ropes, you’ve got to keep your foot on the pedal and I think our attitude, our mentality and just our shape was too timid in the second half,” said Landon Donovan, who did not start and came off the bench in the 59th minute. “We dropped off too much and we allowed them space and more of the ball. We didn’t do that in the first half, they couldn’t breathe, so if you have a game 2-0 you’ve got to finish the game.”

Mexico kept piling on the pressure, and would’ve taken the lead if not for Rimando making several key stops, but it was the Americans who nearly found a winner.

Johnson finished a shot into the bottom right corner in the 85th minute after the U.S. strung together some passes but he was deemed to be offside when he made his run in on goal to received the feed from Clint Dempsey.

Green was then involved in his own bit of controversy, as he looked to have been fouled just inside the penalty area on an explosive dribble that signaled one of his better moments in the match. No call was made, however, and the two rivals settled for a draw.

“You look at it from a bigger picture in the sense that was a good game, great atmosphere, good for the fans and a good test for us as we move forward towards the summer,” said Bradley.

The Americans’ attention now turns completely towards Brazil. Klinsmann is expected to name a preliminary 30-man World Cup roster in mid-May before trimming it down to 23 in early June.


What do you think of the USMNT’s 2-2 draw with Mexico? Who impressed/disappointed you? What did you think of Green?

Share your thoughts below.

  • MikeG

    Omar Gonzalez: well, he signed with MLS and not in Europe…we all saw that today. Green, should continue to train with USMNT whenever he can. He is a future core player, but I prefer he gets first team Bayern Munich minutes ASAP. Loved the first half. Edu, nice to be home and game ready. IF only our better players who returned home from England would just go back to Europe, but stay out of England. That goes for Altidore too.


    • Kev

      Well, if you prefer Green getting first time minutes with the best team in the world then Pep better listen! 🙂 I think we all would prefer that, yes.


    • Quit whining about soccer in the US

      Yeah can’t believe he is having trouble getting mins with BM.

      Let me go out on a limb and say he never gets mins for BM. Hope he is wrong, but odds are WAY in my favor.


  • MikeG

    Wondo made a run into the box again, off the ball, and was rewarded. We must keep doing that. Overall, I like the approach we saw in the first half.


    • John

      His work rate was really impressive, winning balls in mexico’s half. That’s something I think Klinsmann really wants to see more of but we rarely do with a few other strikers in the pool.


  • SBI TroII

    Donovan is a pure #10 or a second forward in this stage of his career. It seems more obvious to me that Donovan and Dempsey are fighting for the same spot in the lineup. Seems like everyone else has most of everything else covered.


  • BeardedSoccer

    Gonzalez has been caught ball watching and slow to react this year with LA, no surprise he did it for the US. If he is our starting centerback we won’t manage a point in Brazil. It shocking how bad he is playing for a MLS DP.

    And those Praising Edu? He was “fast” because he was out of position and kept having to recover. Beckerman is much better suited to play with Bradley if Bradley is going forward.


  • Phil D

    And this why not having Nevin Subotic in the US pool still stings like a bee.


    • chuck

      We’d be in the same situation for this WC since he is injured. And by 2018 Brooks and Zimmerman will be stars.


  • Tim F.

    Bradley was pure gold. Rimando fantastic. Yedlin was surprisingly good; he needs to get more of a look even for this World Cup cycle. Beckerman and Edu should as well. Can we try Edu at centerback?


  • Skifast!

    I may disagree with some here, but I was somewhat disappointed with Parkhurst. His distribution leaves a lot to be desired, he tends to give the ball away when getting into the attack. His slower foot speed is also a liability against wingers with pace. He may make it to Brazil, but it speaks to the lack of depth at that position right now.


    • user222

      nope… he was the worst out there… lost lotta possession… has no pace.


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  • Micronesia Justin

    Not sure if it has been said, but I hope JK lets Bradley play in a similar spot in Brazil.


  • cps

    So when can we do the sane thing and bench Dempsey so that Aron & Jozy can play together up top?


  • Landon Klinsmann

    Franco – “squanders” was appropriate, “settles” was not. USA didn’t settle for a tie, they scored the game winning goal, but were “Conccafed” (a new word with an old meaning).


  • JD

    Clark is better than Beckerman and Edu. He can play the position in front of the back 4, cover the ground required at the international level and let Bradly play the advanced role. As long as Bradley promises not to put him in danger with a soft pass in transition to allow a team to run 60 yards uncontested towards the goal again. Of course, Clark probably learned his less to not try and keep possession when put in that situation from a teammate and to ‘put his foot through it’ instead. Jurgen obviously does not have Clark in his plans so my comment is pointless.


  • Joe Dirt

    Green showed some glimpses of what the hype is all about. On the sequence where he was fouled just outside the box he really impressed, but it has more to with what he did before the foul that impressed me.

    He stayed wide receiving the ball, so wide his feet were actually outside the sideline when he received the pass which shows he’s well coached. He the makes a great first touch with pace and stretches the defense. He then takes open two defenders and gets them leaning one way and cuts it back inside. Had he not been fooled he’d have been in on goal with the ball on his strong foot.

    These type of moves and touches are what you expect to see from great inverted winger types. He not there yet but that sequence has me salivating for the future. This team lacks wingers who can create like that while stretching the defense and widening the pitch with their positioning.

    I say bring him for pre World Cup camp and make him earn a spot, but he’s earned a shot at leader with that sequence. Which by the way should have been a least a foul right outside the box and a yellow if not a red card since he was in on goal without the foul.

    My opinion is should have seen red. If the shoe was on the other foot at the World Cup and we fouled CR7 like that it would be red.


  • Joe Dirt

    Deliberately clipping a players to prevent an obvious goal scoring opportunity is at minimum a yellow and often a red.


  • Adams

    Very disappointing performance. It feels like a loss when we squander two goals against Mexico. Reminded e of 2-4 loss at GC final.


  • Rob Jones

    The USA’s defense got exposed big time in the second half when Mexico woke up. Bring buckets of lube to Brazil, boys.


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