In this month of World Cup Qualifying matches, the most difficult game on the docket for the US men’s team was Mexico. The two teams have been rivals in the region for some time now with both clubs having the other’s number from time to time.
Team USA has however always seemed to struggle playing against Mexico at the Aztec (Mexico’s home field). Sunday night’s match was a bit of a different story. The US competed well against the obviously stronger Mexican squad, and the result of the match was a draw and a point for both clubs.
It didn’t take long for this rival game to get exciting. USA Captain Michael Bradley struck early for his team in the 6th minute. Bradley found the ball around the center of midfield, took only one dribble, and chipped the ball into the back of the net from 30 yards away. Bradley showed great awareness on this smart play by taking advantage of Guillermo Ochoa’s (GK) positioning up in the box.
Bradley almost scored again later in the game only to have his shot bounce the wrong way off of the post.
Mexico was able to answer with a goal in the 24th minute. Carlos Vela was just able to squeeze a shot through three USA defenders who may have been obstructing US goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s view. Guzan reacted to the shot just a bit too late to do anything about it as the ball whizzed past him into the bottom right corner of the net.
The rest of the match didn’t produce a score change, but it was by no means uneventful. Mexico kept Guzan and his defense on their heels for most of the game. Mexico controlled a majority of possession and came very close to scoring a couple of times in the second half.
For a USA team who typically struggles at the Aztec it was nice to see them come away with points. However, it was clear to anyone who watched the game that Mexico was the stronger of the two squads.
The next World Cup Qualifying matches for team USA aren’t until September against Costa Rica and Honduras, so the team has some time to make improvements.