USMNT take point from Azteca Stadium with 1-1 draw against Mexico

Solenn Plantier
Juin 15, 2017

The United States would go on to tie Mexico 1-1 Sunday.

Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream and DaMarcus Beasley joined the five-man back line, with Beasley, 35, becoming the first us player to appear in five World Cup qualifying cycles.

United States captain Michael Bradley said head coach Bruce Arena has got the Americans "back to who we are" following Sunday's entertaining World Cup qualifying draw in Mexico.

A major question mark for the US team is how would it move on from the Jermaine Jones-Michael Bradley central midfield pairing?

Carlos Vela equalised in the 23rd minute, with his low shot from the edge of the box beating US goalkeeper Brad Guzan after a slick Mexico counter. The U.S. already has played its three most hard games (on paper), having lost at Costa Rica, lost at home to Mexico and drawn on the road against "El Tri".

"It's a shame to give away the goal that we did", said Bradley, who rocketed a long-range blast off the right post in the 74th minute.

"Last time we did this in Columbus, it was a maybe", Gonzalez said. "The mentality and the commitment from every guy was really, really good". Although Costa Rica has a game in hand and the lead in point differential, the top three teams of The Hex will all automatically qualify for the World Cup.

The fourth-place team advances to a playoff against Asia's No. 5 nation. Guzan had not started since last November's 4-0 defeat at Costa Rica, the last game before the U.S. Soccer Federation fired coach Jurgen Kinsmann and brought back Arena, the Americans' coach from 1998-2006. "But I think that clearly the team has responded to some of the things that Bruce has outlined and is doing, and that's what we were hoping for", Gulati said. "We made up some lost ground".

At 35, Beasley became the first American to appear in five qualifying cycles. Mexico is certainly a very good team and even a better team at home. The quick turnaround forced USA head coach Bruce Arena to consider the recovery and stamina of his players, especially playing at 7,200 feet above sea level.

On Saturday, Arena thought about making as many as nine changes. With a five-man backline, there needs to be good chemistry and communication-and there was.

Bradley's exquisite goal rattled Mexico, who struggled to keep possession as the Americans managed to dictate play and keep the Azteca supporters quiet. "We knew at certain moments that Chicharito was going to come to the ball". An exuberant Bradley ran to the endline and raised the badge on his jersey to the several thousand red-white-and-blue-clad fans.

On any other field, Michael Bradley's goal would still have been considered a work of art, but Azteca Stadium providing the canvas made it all the more magnificent. Bradley sent Vela tumbling some thirty yards out on the USA center-right.

Fans booed and whistled "The Star-Spangled Banner", as usual when the Americans play in Mexico, and there was an occasional T-shirt disparaging U.S. President Donald Trump.

The biggest surprise: Brad Guzan started in place of Tim Howard in net. Kellyn Acosta and Paul Arriola were in midfield and Bobby Wood at forward. Central defender Geoff Cameron had a stellar performance, frustrating Mexico's Javier Hernández throughout the game. Klinsmann had a similar idea of going with a three-man back line in the 2-1 loss to Mexico in Columbus, but that US team looked woefully unprepared for the strategy, leading to mistakes and a change to a 4-4-2 in an attempt to salvage the game.

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