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Bradley’s first half, Mexico comeback leaves U.S. drawn against rivals

Apr 3, 2014, 1:22 AM EDT

kyle_beckerman_michael_bradley Getty Images

A tale of two halves in Glendale, Ariz., ended on even footing, with the United States and Mexico each controlling play for 45 minutes at University of Phoenix Stadium. After a first half dominated by Michael Bradley sent the U.S. into halftime up two, Mexico was back even within 22 minutes of halftime, leaving the two World Cup qualifiers tied 2-2.

Bradley opened the scoring in the 15th minute with an easy finish into an open goal off a Graham Zusi corner. In the 28th minute, the U.S. midfielder helped double his team’s lead when his far post flick of Tony Beltran’s cross allowed Chris Wondolowski to finish an equally easy scored.

Four minutes into the second half, a Rafa Marquez header from just outside the six-yard box brought El Tri to within 2-1. In the 67th minute, a shot off the left upright from Paul Aguilar bounced out to Alán Pulido, allowing the Tigres attacker to score the game’s tying goal.

The match was the last friendly for each side before the teams assemble in May ahead of this summer’s World Cup. Mexico will play Israel, Ecuador, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Portugal in the lead up to its June 13 opener, while the U.S. will face Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria before heading to Brazil.

The United States broke through after 15 minutes, covering a corner kick won after Omar Gonzalez nearly headed the U.S. in front. On Zusi’s restart, Bradley lost Mexico midfielder Jesus Zavaleta on a far post run. With Mexico goalkeeper Moisés Muñoz caught up in a crowd at the near post, Bradley finished into an open net from close range, giving the U.S. and early 1-0 lead.

In the period the followed, the U.S. dominated control of the ball, eventually building a 61-39 possession edge by half time. The approach also allowed Jurgen Klinsmann’s side to reach halftime without having allowed a shot on target, with Nick Rimando’s activity dominated by claiming floated crosses.

Just before the half-hour mark, the U.S made it 2-0. Off a Beltran cross from the right, Bradley’s near post run saw the Toronto FC midfielder flick a perfect header far post. That’s where Chris Wondolowski beat Rogelio Chávez for an easy tap-in, giving the U.S. a lead they’d carry into halftime.

Within four minutes of intermission, though, Mexico cut the lead in half. After earning a corner kick to the left of Nick Rimando’s goal, Gonzalez could not fight through a pick on a Marco Fabián cross, allowing Marquez to beat a flat-footed Rimando with a header from the middle of the area.

source: Getty ImagesIt was part of the second half resurgence that saw Mexico create its first chances of the game, putting a shot off Rimando’s cross-bar in the minutes after the goal. When a flicked on corner allowed Marquez to try a bicycle kick in the moments that followed, El Tri has seized an early control of the second half. By the hour mark, substitute Raúl Jimenez was forcing mistakes from the U.S. defense, drawing a diving save from the Real Salt Lake keeper on a shot from just outside the penalty area.

By that point, the United States had made its first set of substitutions, changes that included the international debut of Julian Green. Coming on with Landon Donovan and Clarence Goodson, the former Germany youth international prospect made his much-anticipated U.S. debut, taking Brad Davis’s spot along the left wing.

In the 67th minute, just after the U.S. had apparently stymied Mexico’s momentum, the visitors were back even. After a Paul Aguilar shot from the middle of the box hit the base of Rimando’s right post, Pulido gave the U.S. keeper no chance to prevent the game-tying goal, with Gonzalez left appealing for an offside call that would never come.

Each side had chances to claim a winner, with a late header from Gonzalez off a corner kick requiring a block inside the six-yard box. Minutes later, a Mexico chance after a Green slip ended with a cross sailing inches over Juan Valenzuela’s head.

In the 85th minute, Eddie Johnson appeared to have put the U.S. in front, finishing into the right of goal after a through ball Clint Dempsey put him behind the Mexican defense. The play was whistled offside.


Lineups and goals

United States: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran (DeAndre Yedlin 72′), Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler (Clarence Goodson 59′), Michael Parkhurst; Graham Zusi (Landon Donovan 59′), Kyle Beckerman (Maurice Edu 72′), Michael Bradley, Brad Davis (Julian Green 59′); Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski (Eddie Johnson 64′)

Goals: Bradley (15′), Wondolowski (28′)

Mexico: Moisés Muñoz (Alfredo Talavera 46′); Rogelio Chávez (Paul Aguilar 63′), Juan Valenzuela, Rafael Marquez, Francisco Rodríguez, Miguel Layún (Miguel Ponce 71′); Jesús Zavala (Juan Medina 46′), Isaac Brizuela (Luis Montes 57′), Carlos Peña (Raúl Jiménez 46′); Marco Fabián, Alán Pulido

Goals: Marquez (49′), Pulido (67′)

  1. schmutzdeck - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:11 AM

    Those finishes by Bradley and Wondo were anything but easy. I’ve seen better players miss those kind of chances many times.

    • Richard Farley - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:59 PM

      The combined length of those finishes was what? Six yards? Neither had a defender or a goalkeeper in front of them. Do we living in a world where there can never, ever be an easy goal?

      Give the guys credit for getting in positions to make them easy, but once the ball got to them … well, we would be seriously taking them to task if they hadn’t converted.

      Not everything has to be so precious. Those were easy finishes.

  2. braxtonrob - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:33 AM

    Once again, Gonzalez stunk.
    Beltran (and Yedlin for that matter) prove that we can’t find a RDB that even knows WHERE RDB plays.
    (Can we please start Defenders who WANT to play defense!?!)

    Dempsey is looking more and more like his ol’ (impact-playing) self.
    Others who deserve their ticket now (to Brazil):
    Bradley, Zusi, Parkhurst, Besler, Wondo, Eddie Johnson, and Donovan.

    Also, Brad Davis looked good. Goodson and Edu were fine off the bench.
    Beckerman, final 30, but final 23? IDK.

    J. Green looked good (for 1st cap); is he too “green” for final 23?

    • rafibomb10 - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      Alright…

      1) What is a RDB? I’ve heard of a Right Back, as well as a Right Wing Back, but never a RDB…Sounds painful. Also, Yedlin and Beltran’s positioning was very far up the field because that is part of their responsibilities. “If there is space take it.” The outside backs were far from the worst problem on the field. And honestly I’m sure they don’t know where a RDB plays because that’s not even a real position.

      2) Gonzalez wasn’t great, we can agree on that. He has mental lapses, two of them specifically that cost us. But stunk “once again”? Not sure about that. He has also never been the biggest of our problems.

      3) Brad Davis was the worst player on the field. When you are trying to build a roster, you want players who stand out and are proactive. The only time he touched the ball was on a curling free kick. His chances of going to Brazil are slim.

      4) Julian Green may be a little green, but in his 30 minutes of play already showed he is a much better player than Brek Shea, his main competition. He was a little nervy, but his skill is undeniable. I would be very surprised if he didn’t go to Brazil.

      Thats all…

      • dp2310 - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:52 AM

        1.) Agreed.

        2.)Gonzo might be too slow, and he doesn’t read the game well enough to make up for his lack of quickness. Besler hides a lot of his mistakes for him by reading the play and being in the right position. Plus such a big body and he might be one of the softer players on the pitch. Be a little mean gonzo and control the space in front of you.

        3.) Agreed. BDavis is terrible, I don’t get why they have him on the pitch.

        4.) Agreed as well. Once he took a breather after getting that stinger, he settled down and played well. A few mistakes and bad passes but the last 15 minutes showed that he gives the US a good wing presence with skill and pace to take on defenders.

      • braxtonrob - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:46 AM

        I didn’t realize Right Defensive Back (as Ian Darke SAID) during the match would be so difficult to decipher. (Nor did I realize a govt. employee would be deciphering my acronyms; I’ll be more careful next time.)

        I should have added that Gonzalez has had brilliant games, so technically, he’s ‘inconsistent’.
        But his bad games seem to be to a lack of focus and even worse – a lack of commitment to Defense (<- careful, I'm using the 'D' word again).
        I don't know if you've noticed, but when the other team scores, not one, but TWO easy goals, it tends to snatch away a result from the jaws-of-victory – translation, not good.

        Brad Davis was decent, and had a brilliant in-swinger on free kick.
        I agree his chances are slim, but there may be room for him on the plane, don't be surprised.

        I like Julian Green as well, but Brek Shea has more credits as of this date and deservedly so. The only reason to take a young Green, is if you're actually going to USE him in Brazil, so we'll what JK decides.

        I think where you and I differ (and apparently 4 others) is I believe our backline's commitment to Defense is HIGHLY suspect. I think it's brilliant that Gonzalez can get in the box at the opposite end and head balls home, but … I'd rather have someone committed to defense, mentally.

        P.s. 'Defense' IS our biggest problem, I promise you, (unless you want to get into a GK'r debate, since those are the men that decide fortunes at the WC.)

      • georgisc92 - Apr 3, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        braxtonrob, when does gonzalez ever get into the offensive box aside from set pieces?

      • braxtonrob - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:28 PM

        @georgisc92, Exactly, he (Gonzalez) doesn’t, so he’s not worth it. He’s too risky, so he HAS to be replaced; otherwise, this summer is going to be UGLY.

    • talgrath - Apr 3, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      Yedlin did extremely well, I felt, exactly what you want from a right back. When he needed to, Yedlin made some excellent tackles and cut off opponents, when the opportunity arose he ranged forward and put in good service, he didn’t give up the ball at all that I recall (again, exactly what you want out of a right back). Personally I think Yedlin is the best right back the USMNT has right now, he definitely should be going to Brazil.

      I agree that Gonzalez once again had major brainfarts, he has to stop that, especially since there really aren’t any better options to replace him. Gonzalez always looks great about 95% of the time, it’s just that little 5% is so stupidly bad.

      Brad Davis, I felt, look just okay. As always, Davis’ left-footed service (a rarity) is excellent and he didn’t do anything wrong, but it was pretty rare that he got anything going, if we could sub him in just for corners and fouls near the goal

  3. docstraw - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Did anyone else notice that Donovan looked like he was carrying a few extra pounds? Also seemed like he was out of shape. Played just 30 minutes but after one long run late in the game he was bent over gasping for air. Can’t say that I have ever seen that from him. He was not a difference maker at all as a sub.

    Green’s play seemed a bit childish at times and he has long way to go physically. He must have been completely overwhelmed by the speed of play at this level.

    Give me Wondo over EJ any day of the week. I would also love to know how many touches Bradley had in the second half. I know he had 54 in the first half but Mexico’s halftime adjustment really took Bradley out of the match for long stretches.

    • sa371916 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:32 AM

      Taking Wondo over EJ would be a huge mistake. I want both of them to go, but the athleticism of EJ is exactly what this team needs on the bench. EJ scored a beautiful winner tonight as well.

    • braxtonrob - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      That “few extra pounds” was the cut of the new jerseys. Don’t let a questionable new jersey skew reality, (he’s fine, as is everyone else wearing that oddly-fitting jersey).

      I agree with you about Wondo over EJ, however, EJ did it again, (his goal was legit, and) I want him on the final 23.

      • midtec2005 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        I agree about Donovan. I watched him play in the CCL game against Tijuana and he was an absolute menace. So he’s fine. My guess is that he was “flat in training” because he’s played a lot of MLS games in quick succession and he’s kind of old.

      • braxtonrob - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        So we’re all agreed … Donovan is not to be selected .. for the 2018 WC :P

  4. bostonredsoccer - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    while the U.S. will face Azerbaijan, Turkey and Mexico before heading to Brazil.

    That last opponent should be “Nigeria.” We’ve seen enough of Mexico, thankyouverymuch.

    • Richard Farley - Apr 3, 2014 at 5:38 PM

      Oooh! Thank you, so much for this.

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