On June 11, 2017, the United States men’s national team was in the midst of a battle to try and qualify for the 2018 World Cup. They desperately needed points to move up in the standings. However, they were about to compete in their biggest match on the schedule: Mexico away. Estadio Azteca, a mecca of international soccer sitting 7,800 feet above sea level and a place where the United States had never won in World Cup qualifying. They had left the fabled stadium with draws on two occasions, 1997 and 2013. They were looking for some sparks to control the crowd of 87,000, save the 900 or so American fans packed into the away section at the top of the stadium.
In the 6th minute, one of the illest goals in the history of the rivalry occurred. With the ball bouncing around midfield, it finally landed at the feet of captain Michael Bradley. He took a dribble past midfield, saw Mexican goalkeeper Memo Ochoa off his line, and he tried it:
The ball floated just over the outstretched hands of Ochoa and into the net, sending the Mexican fans at the Azteca into a haze of stunned silence. The American away section, however, was in all out bedlam, with fans celebrating, jumping up and down, and providing enough noise for an entire nation. Bradley ran to the endline to celebrate, staring up at the American section while patting the US Soccer crest over his heart. It’s considered one of the remarkable goals in the USA-Mexico rivalry that has provided so many classic moments.
The USMNT would eventually allow an equalizer later on in the first half, and the match would go on to end in a 1-1 draw. But, for those fans that watched in the stands or on TV, we’ll always have that Michael Bradley strike that was a haymaker to the jaw of a hostile Azteca crowd during its biggest match.