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USMNT seals valuable point in tie with Mexico


The U.S. Men’s National Team was playing with house money on Sunday, knowing any sort of result would simply be a bonus following a big win on Thursday. Despite being pinned back for large stretches, the U.S. sealed that bonus in the form of a vital point.

Michael Bradley’s early stunner gave the U.S. a lead just moments into the game, but Carlos Vela’s equalizer helped El Tri earn a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca. The draw gives the U.S. eight points through six games, level with Costa Rica for second place. Mexico, meanwhile, remains atop the table with 14 points despite the disappointing home draw.

The match started with the expected level of physicality, but it was the U.S. that got off to the ideal start through Bradley’s stunner. After picking up the ball in midfield, Bradley split Mexico’s central defenders before lofting a shot toward goal from 40 yards out. Guillermo Ochoa was caught well off his line as the ball dropped into the net to give the U.S. a dream 1-0 lead.

Several hard fouls highlighted the first half, along with plenty of chances. Bobby Wood’s whiff on a corner kick served as one of the better ones but, just seconds later, Mexico was back into the match with a goal on the other end.

Spurred on by a Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez run through the middle, Mexico drove end to end rapidly, leaving the U.S. scrambling. Eventually, the ball came to Carlos Vela and, with no one between him and the goal, the Mexican winger placed a shot into the lower corner to level the scoreline.

It was a match which saw Mexico dominate, keeping a bulk of the ball. The U.S. was regularly pinned back, but Mexico struggled to generate true chances throughout the 90 minutes. Bruce Arena’s decision to rotate in seven new starters gave the U.S. fresh legs to defend while the five-at-the-back formation helped frustrate Mexico in the final third.

Unsurprisingly, the first half was defined by its physical nature. Hard fouls were the norm and scattered throughout the first 45 with the stretcher coming onto the field twice in rapid succession. Marco Fabian had to be carted off due to an apparent knee injury and, just moments later, DaMarcus Beasley refused the cart and hobbled off the field. Both players ended up returning to the match.

The physical play continued in the second half, although slightly toned down. An Omar Gonzalez chance early in the half was among the better ones for the USMNT, while Hector Herrera’s 72nd free kick smashed off the crossbar and out for a bit of USMNT good fortune.

Good fortune extended to Mexico just moments later as Bradley saw a shot of his own clang off the post. Once again firing from long range, Bradley’s shot beat Ochoa but not the right post, bouncing out for a goalkick. Christian Pulisic’s shot in the dying moments gave the USMNT one final chance, but it went just wide as the U.S. held on for a draw.

With this round of World Cup qualifying over, the USMNT returns to action July 1 against Ghana ahead of this summer’s Gold Cup. As for World Cup qualifiers, the U.S. looks ahead to September’s return home against Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena.


  1. Not sure where the main thread is, I had to get up early and so went to bed but I thought it was a reasonable game, given the personnel. I would have liked to see how the game payed out with an Acosta yellow card instead of a goal on that counter… but I’m duly impressed by Bruce Arena’s squad performances thus far.

  2. I was satisfied with the one point. Now the task is to beat Costa Rica in the next match. If we do that, its all down hill from there, as we should be able to get no worse than a tie with the other 3 teams. Neither T & Tnor Honduras have the team to be able to qualify. So it is between the U. S.
    and Panama for the 3rd spot. That spot should be decided in the 9th qualifying match with the
    U. S. Team simply going down to T& T for a 10th-match vacation.

  3. Very good point for the boys, could have easily been three if a bounce or two go our way. Here are my thoughts:

    – High praise to Arena, not for the formation change alone, but for the commitment to planning and coaching the team in how to play this style well in advance, and then keeping it quiet long enough for it to be a surprise to the Mexican players.
    – I was not a huge fan of the Beasley choice, and I am shocked he made it through the game. He needed to funnel Vela out wide on that break, allowing him to cut inside sealed the fate on that one. I know FJ is not playing great, but I feel he would have played that one better.
    – I thought we actually had the better chances throughout the game, and although we sat back for most of it, when we got out we did get chances. MB hits the post, Wood misses right in front, and Omar scuffs the header, those were real good chances, more than we usually get in Azteca.
    – Pulisic was good, not great. He had to cover Beasley all night which kept him on the wrong side of the midfield stripe, but his late chance was nice, and I feel he will not miss another one like that. Good learning experience for him.
    – Bradley needs that active box to box midfielder next to him to thrive. He played well, and the goal was awesome, but it was Acosta’s active nature that allowed him to do his thing. Acosta should be a starter, taking over the Jones role from now on.

    I could go on, but that is the big picture. I think this team really believes in themselves and each other right now. That may be just as important as form, and is a nice change from last year at this time.

  4. I don’t understand the elation & incorrect analysis. We are in 3rd place & Panama & Costa Rica still have their match on Tuesday. We could easily be in 4th again by late Tuesday.

    • Even if the US is still in 4th place by Tuesday night, this result was huge. Why? Because they probably have on of the less difficult schedules left. They get Costa Rica and Panama at home and away games to worst teams so far, Honduras and T&T. If the US holds serve at home, while facing Honduras and T&T likely out of contention by then, they should overtake 2nd place, at least.

      • I agree it was all I could realistically ask for this game…though they still have some tough games ahead & I don’t see Costa Rica or Panama giving up.

  5. Mixed feelings about this game, came away with a point is always good in Mexico. I understand letting them have more possession but there was no effort at all to get any spells of passing going. Feel bad for Wood who had only one chance and whiffed but he could never get any service. Yedlin had some shaky moments early but had a decent game, Cameron was solid and rest of backline was good. Really need a CM that can retain possession under pressure not sure Acosta is that guy, maybe someone will come along soon(Emo if he can break into Bournemouth first team). I’m curious to know about Dempsey as well, he gets pulled early against T&T and then this maybe I missed something. Lastly why is dax called in again, bring in someone younger with a future and stop wasting that spot. Dax is the my new Wondo

    • It’s Sunday night this is kind of the state of SBI these days. Bradley’s goal should be remembered as one of the best US goals ever at least outside of WC goals. It wasn’t a beautiful match, but we had our best offensive player and hottest scorer with a good look in the 89th minute to steal the win you can’t ask for much more than that. I’m sure you will see some more posts tomorrow when people get to their work computers. You aren’t going to see the Bradley haters say much which I think is what you are looking for. For me Bradley was MotM, it was really a team effort and Michael made two great reads and a perfect shot from 40 yards.

      Bradley is at his best when he has another CM next to him, like tonight with Acosta. At least in the international game he isn’t the best as a lone #6 in the bottom of the diamond, because it forces him to cover too much ground and makes him be the lone link between the backline and front line. However, to put another CM next to him pulls either Pulisic out of his best spot or forces one of the forwards to the bench, so it becomes a case of which player are you OK with not being in their best spot.

      What Bruce showed over the course of this week was Klinsmann’s flaw wasn’t changing line ups, playing guys in different positions, or roster selection, it was not having a clear direction of how to play together and maintain a shape. Yes, we were stretched at times tonight and certainly they’ve already discussed why there was no help for DmB when he forced Vela inside, but we were for the most part well position to deal with the crosses that came. Of course, JK in his two trips to Azteca also had well organized and compact sides that kept two clean sheets so maybe that can go back to players just not wanting to hear the same things over and over. Going forward I wouldn’t mind seeing a 5 man midfield on the road at Honduras or even Trinidad, perhaps even against CR at home, although I don’t think we need five in the back in those matches. Could this 5-4-1 do us well in the WC against a better opponent certainly.

      • thank you for your thoughtful reply as always
        4 4 2 morphed to 5 4 1…a road tactic roll of dice in Azteca that paid
        MB goal key, help set the tactics afterwards; hard crazy Mexican challenges stopped, game slowed down as did Mexican intensity and belief along with the crowd in Azteca questioning, etc

      • and as a sage buddy of mine remarked, never has there been so much skill on the USMNT across the board. A fact for years now…….

  6. Always will take the point but having watch us play in Aztecs going back to early nineties I don’t think I’ve seen us play a match in Aztecs with that many chances. Need to check crosses and shots stats but I feel like that’s the most we’ve had ever. We could’ve stole that but not complaining will take the point.

  7. By the way guys, just wanted to point out there has been a noticeable pattern recently:

    1. A game is coming up and some fans say “Please anyone but Omar.
    2. Omar Gonzalez gets the start and those fans groan.
    3. Omar Gonzalez does his job and plays a solid to good game.

    Today it played out like that again. Still don’t understand the Omar criticism by some on here.

    On the game itself, we could have won but missed some chances. A good draw and a good point though. I’ll take it. Surprising lineup by Arena but it worked to perfection for what he was looking for.

    • Occasionally, he did not clear well, but that is nitpicking under some sustained attacks. At worst, he did not score on open headers. That said, watch the replay. On the second chance, he was sky high and the ball was just a bit higher. Hard to blame him.

    • These are the four reasons I think cause what you are talking about, notice none really have anything to do with performance.

      Some of it is he’s been around for awhile NT fans like new faces (look at the other players from previous cycle they are almost all loathed by a good percentage of fans Bradley, Altidore, Zusi, even Dempsey when he doesn’t score)

      His size makes fairly routine plays look dangerous because he’s all arm and legs even when they are not.

      He’s a Galaxy guy so that gets him hated by a good portion of US fans (just like Yankee players),

      2017 internet culture, if he’s not your guy you are supposed to hate him mentality (you aren’t supposed to appreciate Omar and Cameron or Wood and Altidore, internet message boards demand hate.)

    • Sometimes the Omar criticism is warranted, like when he gave up on the ball that led to the first goal at Costa Rica in November.

    • Gonzalez, had no issue with the elation because Pachuca at higher attitude. Pachuca is highest city in mexico.

    • When I saw the lineup, I said Jurgen? Are you there?
      Can you imagine if he rolled that lineup out there and what these posts would be like.

      The difference is the preparation and everyone knowing their role.

      Anyway, Gonzo. Like most, I am one of those with mixed feelings. I think it all depends on the game ,formation, and who he is paired with. With the formation and tactics we had, it was ideal for him. Also, I had no problem with him playing against and in Mexico since he plays in that league.
      I do not like him paired with Brooks and vice versa.

      I want to also say that I love Bease but was Villafana hurt?

      I had a hard time comprehending why he wasnt in the lineup.
      Like Old School said earlier – is 35, looked 35. With that said, respect the hell of him.

  8. I thought Acosta played well, but he should have recognized the defensive risk on the Mexico goal. As it happened, I thought he should have fouled and taken the yellow on Chicharito at midfield. Experience. We would have kept momentum and further frustrated Mexico. Thoughs?

  9. We can’t ask for much more than 3 points Thursday night and 1 point tonight. In Mexico, no less. Arena had this team ready to go and they did about as much as you can ask of a team fighting fatigue, and altitude.

    Some positives:

    –I thought Cameron was an absolute monster on the back line.
    –Ream was a pleasant surprise and looked to make a case to be the primary backup behind Brooks.
    –Bradley woke up with a 2013 calendar in his hotel room, evidently.

    Some negatives
    –Pulisic was pedestrian, and I’m guessing it was likely due to the conditions and fatigue.
    –Had Wood put laces on the ball in front of the goal, we likely leave with 3 points.
    –Beasley is 35. Beasley looked 35.

    MOTM: Geoff Cameron

    • Overall, an awesome performance and a brilliant point for Bruce and the team, but….

      I think the biggest negative, adding to your #3, is that our outside backs looked poor in 1v1 situations again. There has been lots of talk about Yedlin’s progress in England, but he’s still got a ways to go on both sides of the ball.

    • I second mostly everything!
      Cameron has really impressed me over the past couple of games.
      I used to talk crap about him being a solid CB.

      CP, I think calling him pedestrian is a bit harsh. I think that is accurate for the first half hour.
      he started to be lively towards the end of the first half. Took him a while. The fact we were mostly in preventive mode I think is the reason why we did not see many if any of his trademark runs off the ball. That late run and shot outside the 18 was a very nice cut in. fatigue and/or nerves got the best of him on that wide shot. Hard to ask more from an 18 year old.

      So our hardest games are behind us. We have to make a statement in September vs CR.


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