Final, 2-2: It’s all over between the United States and Mexico, as the latest version of “The Clasico” ends in a draw.
The longtime foes played two pulsating and chaotic halves of soccer. The U.S. capitalized on Mexico’s late arrival at the University of Phoenix Stadium by seizing control and scoring two goals in the first half. But Mexico recovered at halftime, flipped a switch and simply dominated the second period.
While both teams will accept the result as a just reflection of the balance of play, there are aspects of each side’s performance that will simultaneously delight and infuriate their coaches, players and fans.
The U.S. was composed and clinical in the first half, and Bradley was instrumental to its early success. That wasn’t the case in the second, as Mexico attacked the Americans’ flanks with great effect, often through Ponce’s marauding runs on the right. Marquez equaled Bradley in stature in the second half. The veteran defender led his team by example, scoring the first goal and frustrating the Americans, as they tried to seize momentum.
As for American World Cup hopefuls, Chris Wondolowski’s stock rose with that first half goal and a strong performance overall. The San Jose Earthquakes striker has helped his cause more than any other American player in 2014.
Parkhurst shined early, but he struggled in the second. He could have cemented a spot on the roster, but his mixed showing against Mexico raised question marks about his ability to contain wide players who combine speed and skill (Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance). The others remain where they stood coming into the game.
Green looked tentative in his much-anticipated debut. The 18-year-old entered the game in difficult circumstances, and looked out of his depth for much of his 35 minutes of action. Green only showed flashes of his vast potential in the final minutes of the contest. If Green makes the World Cup squad, it’s unlikely that he will see much playing time anyway. After all, he is one for the future.
That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.
90th minute, 2-2: It’s action-packed, end-to-end stuff in the closing stages, as both team search for the winning goal.
87th minute, 2-2: The Americans have a penalty appeal, after Green was taken down right on the edge of Mexico’s area.
The referee, who was standing just a few yards away, waved play on, saying “no penalty.”
85th minute, 2-2: Johnson looked like he scored a would-be game-winner, but the referee’s assistant said he was offside.
Dempsey played a perfect into the area for Johnson, and the D.C. United forward curled his shot past Tavalera.
Replays showed Johnson was, in fact, onside.
80th minute, 2-2: Mexico continues to overwhelm the stunned Americans, sending a host of dangerous crosses into the U.S. penalty area from either flank.
Only desperate defending on the part of the U.S. is keeping Mexico from taking the lead.
Herrera’s change in personnel and formation has helped, but Mexico’s improved desire and commitment has given it all the momentum in the second half. It must have been something he said to his team at halftime that did the trick.
72nd minute, 2-2: Edu and Yedlin replace Beckerman and Beltran for the U.S.
67th minute, 2-2: It’s a tie game.
Just when it looked like the U.S. was gaining a foothold in the second half, Aguilar hits the post with a shot from inside the penalty area. Pulido is first to the rebound and fires it into the open goal from a tight angle.
64th minute, 2-1 U.S.A.: Wondolowski’s game is over, as Johnson replaces him.
63rd minute, 2-1 U.S.A.: Aguilar replaces Chavez for Mexico.
61st minute, 2-1 U.S.A.: Jimenez shoots from distance, forcing Rimando to dive to his right and make the save.
58th minute, 2-1 U.S.A.: Donovan, Goodson and the debutante Green come on for Zusi, Besler and Davis respectively.
53rd minute, 2-1 U.S.A.: Mexico has the U.S. under increasing pressure.
Marquez put another shot on goal, forcing Rimando to palm it over the bar.
49th minute, 2-1 U.S.A.: Marquez cuts the U.S. lead in half, as he thunders a header past Rimando from eight yards out.
It came off a Mexico corner kick.
Gonzalez assigned to mark Marquez, but he lost the Mexican defender. It looks like he was blocked, allowing Marquez to roam free.
Marquez’s goal ended Mexico’s lengthy drought against the U.S.
Mexico went just short of 400 minutes without scoring a goal against the United States.—
Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) April 03, 2014
46th minute, 2-0 U.S.A.: Mexico makes a pair of substitutions at halftime.
Talavera comes in for Munoz in goal, Medina replaces Zavala in midfield and Jimenez is on for Fabian up front.
Halftime, 2-0 U.S.A.: The first half is over, and the U.S. takes its healthy lead into the dressing room.
The Americans started slowly, but a set piece in a dangerous part of the field got them going. Bradley volleyed them ahead, and their performance only improved from there. Their passing grew sharper, and Mexico exerted more energy as the clock ticked toward the 45 minute mark. Wondolowski’s goal merely confirmed the trend.
Mexico could use its late arrival as an excuse, but “El Tri” actually started the game better than the U.S. The two goals seemed to sap the belief of Mexico’s players, and it’s hard to see who will step forward and put Mexico on the scoreboard.
Expect both sides to make many changes in the second half. Both coaches are giving a number of player their final auditions before they announce their World Cup squads.
44th minute, 2-0 U.S.A.: The Americans have dropped a deeper in the last few minutes, allowing Mexico to push into its third of the field.
However, they remain compact and have repelled everything Mexico sends into it penalty area.
37th minute, 2-0 U.S.A.: It’s hard to overstate Bradley’s importance to the U.S. team.
Aside from scoring one goal and setting up another, the central midfielder is organizing his team and dictating the tempo of the game. Some wondered if his sharpness would drop upon returning to MLS earlier this year. It doesn’t seem that way, as Bradley looks energetic and commanding out there.
27th minute, 2-0 U.S.A.: Wondolowski puts the U.S. up by two.
U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) April 03, 2014
Beltran first swung an early cross to the near post. Bradley surged forward and headed it to the far post where Wondolowski, arrived first and slid it into the goal.
23rd minute, 1-0 U.S.A. : Mexico looked to assert itself after the goal by pushing more players into the attack and increasing the tempo.
15th minute, 1-0 U.S.A.: Bradley puts the U.S. ahead.
U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) April 03, 2014
Zusi delivered the ensuing corner kick to the far post, and neither Munoz nor one of his defenders cleared it.
An unmarked Bradley arrived first and volleyed it in from close range. It’s his fourth career goal against Mexico.
14th minute, 0-0: Davis creates the first scoring chance of the game with an in-swinging free kick from the right side of Mexico’s area.
Gonzalez got a head on it, but Munoz palms it away.
Sixth minute, 0-0: It’s a bit of a hectic start to the game, as both teams are playing with a lot of energy and pressing each other high up the field.
First minute, 0-0: The game is under way.
The United States is wearing its brand-new road uniform in front of a pro-Mexico crowd in Arizona. Either U.S. Soccer has a rich sense of irony or they really want to sell some jerseys.
Pregame: Apparently, Mexico arrived at the University of Phoenix Stadium later than it should have because the team bus was stuck in traffic. Herrera was not happy about it, either. More on that below.
ESPN desde México (@ESPNdesdeMexico) April 03, 2014
There is one major surprise in the U.S. lineup, as Donovan, the Americans’ all-time leading goal scorer and assist man, is on the bench.
It was thought that the L.A. Galaxy star would occupy one of the wide midfielder positions, but Zusi and Davis will start.
Watch the fullback positions closely. Beltran starts on the right in what will be his third national-team appearance, while Parkhurst starts on the left. Beasley (left) and Brad Evans (right) would likely have started, but Puebla prevented Beasley from playing and Evans is out due to a calf injury he suffered in an MLS game on March 15. Beltran can make a late push for a spot on the World Cup roster if he shines against Mexico. Parkhurst can boast versatility if he plays well, as he played most of his career at right and center back.
Meanwhile, here’s how Mexico is expected to line up.
Fútbol MLS (@futbolMLS) April 03, 2014
10:15 p.m.: Here are the lineups:
Nick Rimando, goalkeeper
Michael Parkhurst, left back
Matt Besler, center back
Omar Gonzalez, center back
Tony Beltran, right back
Kyle Beckerman, midfielder
Michael Bradley, midfielder
Brad Davis, midfielder
Graham Zusi, midfielder
Clint Dempsey, forward
Chris Wondolowski, striker
Bill Hamid, goalkeeper
Sean Johnson, goalkeeper
Clarence Goodson, defender
DeAndre Yedlin, defender
Maurice Edu, midfielder
Luis Gil, midfielder
Landon Donovan, forward
Julian Green, forward
Eddie Johnson, forward
Moisés Muñoz, goalkeeper
Miguel Layún, left back
Francisco Rodríguez, center back
Juan Carlos Valenzuela, center back
Rafa Márquez, center back
Rogelio Chávez, right back
Jesús Zavala, midfielder
Carlos Pena, midfielder
Isaac Brizuela, midfieler
Marco Fabián, forward
Alan Pulido, striker
Alfredo Talavera, goalkeeper
Enrique Perez, defender
Paul Aguilar, defender
Miguel Ponce, defender
Juan Carlos Medina, midfielder
Luis Mendoza-Escamilla, forward
Raul Jimenez, forward
2 p.m. ET: This is it.
The U.S. men’s national soccer team faces Mexico at 11 p.m. Wednesday in Glendale, Ariz., in its final game before head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announces his provisional squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
A host of MLS-based stars populate the latest U.S. squad, as Klinsmann declined to call up Americans who play in Europe.
Two Mexico-based American players, DaMarcus Beasley and Michael Orozco, were on the original squad, but their club, Puebla, refused to release them for Wednesday’s exhibition.
Roughly half of the U.S. World Cup squad is expected to come from this group, so players must perform well in order to strengthen their cases for inclusion.
Mexico’s players are in a similar situation, as head coach Miguel Herrera is relying on Liga MX (Mexico’s first division) standouts.
This is officially an exhibition, but there are no “friendlies” when the U.S.A and Mexico step onto the field. Especially, when there is so much at stake.
Wednesday’s game kicks off at 11 p.m. ET. Watch this space, as we’ll bring you all the action live.
Photo via Facebook/U.S. Soccer