USMNT drop two-goal lead, settle for draw with Mexico

IMAGE, USSOCCER.COM

A dominant and inspiring first half for the U.S. Men’s National Team could not be sustained as Mexico fired back with two unanswered goals in the second half to draw their hosts.

A pro-Mexican crowd of 59,066 at the University of Phoenix Stadium witnessed a rare comeback by El Tri, led by team captain Rafa Marquez. Despite two first half goals by Michael Bradley and Chris Wondolowski, Mexico managed to turn the tides on the U.S. with an early Marquez goal, capped off by an equalizing strike in the 67th minute by forward Alan Pulido.

The scoreline nearly tilted the American’s way with a last-minute goal by substitute Eddie Johnson, but his strike was called back on a questionable offside.

The U.S. started the match vibrantly, challenging the Mexican defense early and often. After threatening on net with a sneaky header in front of keeper Moises Munoz, the U.S. would earn a corner, and their first goal. Graham Zusi sent a delivery to the far post where Bradley followed the ball, beat his marker and snapped his shot top-netting past the keeper for the 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the match.

Chris Wondolowski would find the net some 15 minutes later. Tony Beltran, starting for an injured Brad Evans, whipped a cross from the right side into the box. Bradley laid off a perfect flick header, finding the San Jose Earthquakes striker at the far post to double the lead.

The U.S. enjoyed the better of possession and chances throughout the first, confounding their Southern rivals through most of the 45 minutes and doing well to limit their chances.

The second half was a different story.

Mexican captain Rafa Marquez led his side by example. Like Bradley, the international veteran found opportunity on an early corner and slyly navigated the box behind defenders with a slashing run to catch the cross in open space with a wicked header to cut the U.S. lead in half. Mexico would continue their pressure game, forcing Nick Rimando to stretch for a save in the 53rd minute.

U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann looked to turn the tides in the 59th minute, subbing in veteran Landon Donovan, Clarence Goodson and the much anticipated youngster Julian Green into the match for Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Brad Davis. Minutes later, Eddie Johnson also entered the fray for Wondolowski.

The U.S. and Mexico would exchange chances shortly there after, but it would be El Tri to strike first. A hopeful cross in the box found Paul Aguilar who sent a slow roller past the U.S. defense, hitting the far post. A stoic Omar Gonzalez allowed Pulido to get in behind him and score on the rebound to tie the match.

Mexico continued to pressure the U.S. defense, where Rimando made key saves to keep his side in the match. While a quiet outing, Green did almost manage to draw a penalty in the Mexican area, but the referee thought otherwise of the foul. Johnson’s goal could have put the U.S. ahead but was called back on an apparent offside, forcing the rivals to take home a draw.

This is the United States’ final friendly before a three game send-off series leads them into the World Cup.

Here are your match highlights:

HIGHLIGHTS:

U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: April 2, 2014
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.
Kickoff: 8 p.m. PT
Attendance: 59,066
Weather: 90 degrees, humid

Scoring Summary:
USA – Michael Bradley (Graham Zusi) 15th minute
USA – Chris Wondolowski (Michael Bradley) 28
MEX – Rafael Marquez (Marco Fabian) 49
MEX – Alan Pulido 67

Lineups:
USA: 1-Nick Rimando; 6-Tony Beltran (2-DeAndre Yedlin, 72), 3-Omar Gonzalez, 5-Matt Besler (21-Clarence Goodson, 59), 15-Michael Parkhurst; 14-Kyle Beckerman (7-Maurice Edu, 72), 19-Graham Zusi (10-Landon Donovan, 59), 11-Brad Davis (9-Julian Green, 59), 4-Michael Bradley; 17-Chris Wondolowski (18-Eddie Johnson, 64), 8-Clint Dempsey (capt.)
Substitutions Not Used: 12-Sean Johnson, 16-Luis Gil, 22-Bill Hamid
Head coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

MEX: 23-Moisés Muñoz (1-Alfredo Talavera, 46); 28-Rogelio Chávez (22-Paúl Aguilar, 63), 6-Juan Carlos Valenzuela, 4-Rafael Márquez (capt.), 2-Francisco Javier Rodríguez; 27-Carlos Peña (9-Raúl Jiménez, 46), 17-Jesús Zavala, 7-Miguel Layun (16-Miguel Ángel Ponce, 68); 11-Alán Pulido, 18-Isaac Brizuela (10-Luis Montes, 57), 8-Marco Fabián
Substitutions Not Used: 5-Enrique Pérez, 26-Juan Carlos Medina
Head coach: Miguel Herrera

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 9 / 13
Shots on Goal: 3 / 6
Saves: 4 / 1
Corner Kicks: 3 / 9
Fouls: 16 / 15
Offside: 3 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
MEX – Miguel Angel Ponce (caution) 76th minute
USA – DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 83

Officials:
Referee: Roberto Moreno (PAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Daniel Williamson (PAN)
Assistant Referee 2: Ricardo Morgan (JAM)
Fourth Official: Jafeth Perea (PAN)