Sometimes when you travel to a hostile stadium, you settle for the point. That was the approach the USA took today when they traveled to Mexico City to take on Mexico in their sixth World Cup qualifier and that was the exact outcome the earned.
Starting Lineup: (3-4-3) Brad Guzan, Deandre Yedlin, Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, Tim Ream, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Kellyn Acosta, Christian Pulisic, Paul Arriola, Bobby Wood
The USA started off the game with a bang when Michael Bradley scored a wonder goal in the 6th minute. Bradley intercepted a pass near midfield and chipped the Mexican keeper from about 35 yards out.
However, the U.S. only held the lead for 17 minutes after Mexico midfielder Carlos Vela finished a slick counter attack with a well-struck shot into Brad Guzan’s near post. Seconds before the counter attack, Bobby Wood had a chance to score, but could not convert. Mexico did a good job of hitting the U.S. fast as the team could not get back to properly defend.
Only two players received yellow cards in this game and they were both U.S. players. Which is shocking, to say the least, because there were many reckless challenges, let only the blatant red card challenge by Carlos Salcedo on DaMarcus Beasley. But going forward, these yellow cards will not cause any suspensions, so Yedlin and Arriola will be available for selection in the U.S.’s next World Cup qualifier.
Even though the whole gameplan was to play for the point, the U.S. made two subs hoping to change the game up a bit towards the end. They brought on Darlington Nagbe in the 64th minute for Arriola and Jozy Altidore for Wood in the 79th. Neither player had much impact after being subbed on. The U.S. did use all three subs, subbing on Graham Zusi in stoppage time.
When it is all said and done, the U.S. got a result in the Azteca during a World Cup qualifier for just the third time in their history. The last thing the team needed was to go to the Azteca and lose. Even though Mexico dominated the possession 74-28 and outshot the U.S. 10-7, the U.S. did a great job of frustrating them and limiting the number of quality chances they had.
A couple of players really gave some top notch performances today. The defense was very good all game, especially Geoff Cameron. Cameron shut down almost every chance Mexico was creating. Beasley, the 35-year old, played his heart out today and besides getting beat for the goal, he had a solid game.
I think Bradley showed his class tonight as well as Kellyn Acosta. Acosta showed he can develop into a good player going forward.
However, offensively the U.S. struggled to create. Every time Pulisic, Wood, and Arriola got the ball they were by themselves. Like forth noted, the U.S. was in a defensive mind today, therefore the attack was never going to be good. But, they did catch Mexico off guard a few times, but could not convert.
It looked like the team was set up with a game plan and executed it perfectly. Every player did the job they were supposed to do and they left the Azteca with a point.
After tonight's result, the U.S. stays in third in the group with 8 points. The U.S. earned a very good four points over the last two games. They showed the fight and passion we love to see. Although the job is not done yet, the last two results surely helped the team out a lot.