Clint Dempsey

USMNT can't hold onto early lead against Mexico in thrilling 2-2 draw

If Wednesday night’s friendly against Mexico was to serve as a proving ground for the U.S. National Team in its preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the first 45 minutes from Jurgen Klinsmann’s side would leave the U.S. Head Coach ecstatic about the depth of his squad. Meanwhile, the second half was a mirror image for the Americans and Mexico stormed back to finish the match in a 2-2 draw at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Sounders FC forward Clint Dempsey started the match at forward in a 4-4-2 formation while defender DeAndre Yedlin subbed into the match in the 71st minute for his second cap.

“Overall, I think it was an exciting match from both sides. I think it was a great test for us,” Klinsmann said. “I think we got a lot of positive out of it and we have some negatives that we can work on.”

In a wide open match, midfielder Michael Bradley staked the U.S. to an early 2-0 lead, scoring in the 15th minute and then assisting a Chris Wondolowski goal in the 28th minute

The first came after the U.S. took a few minutes to get their form right while starting with a diamond-shaped midfield for the first time under Klinsmann. Off a Graham Zusi corner kick, Bradley got away from his defender and hit a first-time shot into the open side of the net for a 1-0 lead.

“It was something we talked about before the game, that on set pieces at the back post there was going to be an opportunity for us,” Bradley said on ESPN’s broadcast after the match. “A good ball came in and I was able to get free and put it in.”

In the 28th minute, late addition Tony Beltran crossed the ball to Bradley from the right side. Bradley flicked a header toward the far post for an on-rushing Wondolowski, who got his right foot to the ball to vault the U.S. to the 2-0 lead.

However, the lead wouldn’t hold and it was a set-piece that started the charge for Mexico.

In just the 49th minute, Marco Fabian played a corner kick to the edge of the six-yard box, where Rafa Marquez broke free from Omar Gonzalez and headed it home to cut the lead in half at 2-1.

Then the comeback was complete in the 67th minute when Alan Pulido raced to a rebound off of a Paul Aguilar shot that caromed off the post and touched it home for the equalizer.

“We know Mexico and when they get a little confidence and the crowd gets into it, they’re a good team,” Bradley said. “We’re certainly not happy with that, but it was still a really good night. We’ll use it for what it is as we move forward toward the World Cup.”

In the 85th minute, Eddie Johnson made a great run to get behind the Mexican defense and popped his shot past Alfredo Talavera and it looked like the U.S. had not only staved off Mexico, but netted a go-ahead score. However, the linesman’s flag was up and Johnson was whistled offside, negating the goal and the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

U.S.A. – Michael Bradley (Graham Zusi) 15; Chris Wondolowski (Michael Bradley) 28.
Mexico – Rafa Marquez (Marco Fabian)49; Alan Pulido 67.

U.S.A. – None.
Mexico – Miguel Ponce (caution) 72.

U.S.A. – Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran (DeAndre Yedlin 71), Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler (Clarence Goodson 59), Michael Parkhurst, Graham Zusi (Landon Donovan 59), Kyle Beckerman (Maurice Edu 72), Michael Bradley, Brad Davis (Julian Green 59), Clint Dempsey, Chris Wondolowski (Eddie Johnson 64).
Mexico – Moises Munoz (Alfredo Talavera 46), Francisco Rodriguez, Rafa Marquez, Juan Valenzuela, Miguel Layun (Miguel Ponce 71), Rogelio Chavez Martinez (Paul Aguilar 63), Jesus Zavala (Juan Medina 46), Isaac Brizuela (Luis Montes 57), Carlos Pena Rodriguez (Raul Jimenez 46), Marco Fabian, Alan Pulido.