A 40-yard wonder goal by U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley and a counter-attack goal from Mexican midfielder Carlos Vela allowed the U.S. to get a road point for the third time in 16 games against Mexico in Sunday's World Cup qualifier.
Coming into the game Mexico had the chance to seal their ticket to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. El Tri, also known as the Mexican national team, will have to wait until September to make it official.
The point earned against the U.S. keeps Mexico at the top of the CONCACAF Hexagonal with 14 points.
Team USA still has chances to qualify to the World Cup, as they have eight points in the Hexagonal. They are third on the CONCACAF table, and according to ESPN Soccer Power Index, the team has an 87 percent chance of qualifying.
Paul Carr, statistician for ESPN, wrote on Twitter that a loss against Costa Rica in September would drop Power Index chances for the U.S. to around 65 percent.
Six minutes into the game Sunday, Bradley took advantage of a mistake by Mexican forward Javier Hernandez, who received the ball with two U.S. defenders pressuring him. He couldn’t control the ball and Bradley took possession.
While Mexico was all in their attacking half, Bradley saw goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa out of his position and chipped the ball from 40 yards out. It was a brilliant goal from the U.S. captain, his 16th for the national team in his 131st game for the country.
It was good news for the U.S. after head coach Bruce Arena started a particularly defensive starting line-up, with five defenders.
The line-up created a lot of conversation hours before the game, but in the end the decision helped to get a point.
“We call the formation a 3-4-3 or a 5-2-1-2, or whatever you want to call it. As long as it adds up to 10 [players], we’re good,” Arena said.
Mexico woke up after that goal and took control of a very chippy game that had to stop multiple times because of fouls on both teams.
Team USA’s defense, led by Geoff Cameron, kept Mexico from running circuits and forced them to deliver balls into the defense that were easily sent to the corner by the taller U.S. defense.
Mexico ended the first half with six corner kicks but couldn’t create a decent chance in front of U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Halfway through the first half, the U.S. had a great chance to score again after a scramble in front of Mexico’s goal, but the Mexican defense was able to clear it up. On the counter, Hernandez was able to get the ball to Vela, who received the ball in the right flank and beat defender DaMarcus Beasley to fire the ball past Guzan and tie the game.
The score was 1-1 through 23 minutes and Mexico had the momentum with multiple scoring chances.
The intensity fell in the second half with both teams having chances to score.
Hector Herrera had a free kick that hit the post and kept the game tied in the 71th minute. Bradley responded with a shot that hit the left post of Ochoa’s goal.
Rising U.S star Christian Pulisic had a quiet night. He only participated in three plays throughout the game after he had an outstanding performance against Trinidad and Tobago.
Bradley has scored five goals against Mexico, three of those in World Cup qualifiers. The only U.S. player with more goals against el Tri is Landon Donovan, who scored six.
Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.