Mexico arrived in Arizona with a bit of a point to prove. American coach Jurgen Klinsmann is unbeaten in his four matches against the American rivals. In fact, Mexico has not scored a goal against the USA in almost six hours of soccer. Would Mexico show a bit of resilience and put up the fight tonight?
The Americans were looking for a better performance than the last time they took the field losing to Ukraine. For this match they had their center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler though not star goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Game on as roster spots are up for grabs for Brazil 2014 and the major pre match news involved US star Landon Donovan not making the starting lineup. Coach Klinsmann stated Donovan had not looked sharp in training.
The match started brightly as both teams moved the ball well. The US were pinging the ball around in impressive fashion. One and two touch passing. Stringing many passes in a row together.
The first good chance came in the 14th minute as the Americans earned a free kick deep in Mexico territory. A great ball from Brad Davis found Omar Gonzalez on the back post. His header forced a smart save from Mexico keeper Munoz who palmed the ball out for a corner.
Once again we were treated to the poor Mexico set piece defense. The ensuing corner found the ball in the back of the Mexico net. A great ball from Graham Zusi found the back post run of Michael Bradley who caught the ball on the short hop and placed it easily into the goal.
No surprise I guess. It seems the United States scores a set piece goal every game against Mexico.
Things continued to spiral for Mexico as the US doubled the lead in the 27th minute. A great attack down the right side produced a cross that was nodded on by the near post run of Michael Bradley. The Bradley header flew to the back post where Chris Wondolowski slid in and fired it home.
The Americans were in full form. How would Mexico respond? Were we in store for that 2-0 scoreline that has been the trademark of USA-Mexico games of late?
Mexico earned a dangerous free kick in the 36th minute but the Americans defended it very well wit Nick Rimando pinching the cross away from danger.the concentration was on as Rimando punched away another corner kick a few minutes later.
As the first half drew to a close I was left thinking "how good is Michael Bradley?". He IS the engine that makes the USA go. World class in my opinion.
Mexico brought Jiminez off the bench changing to a two forward system and emerged from the dressing room with a chip on their shoulder. Within five minutes they had pulled a goal back. This time they scored on a set piece themselves as Rafa Marquez got away from Omar Gonzalez to easily head home. It was the first time in 400 minutes that El Tri has found the back of the net against their rivals.
Game on now as Mexico were on the front foot. Nick Rimando was forced to push a header over the crossbar only a couple of minutes later. How would the US react to the challenge?
At the hour mark Klinsmann brought on Landon Donovan, Clarence Goodson and 18 yr old Bayern Munich wonder kid Julian Green. Could the three shift momentum back into the US favor?
The field stayed tilted in Mexico's favor but the Americans were starting fight back a bit. Not for long though as n the 67th minute Mexico got the game tied. An attack down the right side resulted in a cross that found Aguilar who fired off the post. The rebound fell perfectly for Pulido who tapped easily into the net.
Definitely a tale of two halves tonight for sure. In the first half the Americans played Mexico right off the pitch. In the second half the flank play of Mexico tore the US to pieces.
With twenty minutes left Klinsmann introduced Deandre Yedlin and Maurice Edu to the game. Would either side be able to find a winner?
In the 85th minute the US looked to have scored the go-ahead goal. Michael Bradley stole a ball in the midfield and fed Clint Dempsey who slipper a perfect ball into Eddie Johnson wh curled the ball into the net. To the surprise of all the linesman stood across the way with his fla raised for offside. It didn't look like a good call in full speed and replays showed the call was clearly incorrect.
A very good goal and a miserable call from the linesman. Only two minutes later another bad call from the center referee as he missed a clear trip right on the edge of the box to Julian Green. Mexico dodging clear bullets in the final minutes.
The match ended 2-2 with both sides having things to take from the night. The Americans were wonderful in the opening 45 and despite allowing Mexico to tie the score in the 2nd half they went back and scored a good goal that was disallowed by a poor linesman decision.
Mexico responded well after a horrible opening half fighting back to earn the draw and clearly showed a renewed spirit.