The U.S. Men’s National Team was able to hold on to draw Mexico 1-1 in Sunday’s World Cup qualifier, providing the Americans with a crucial point in The Hex.
The effort was lead by captain Michael Bradley, who was able to catch Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa out of position after intercepting an errant pass at midfield. Setting himself up with a single touch, Bradley lobbed a strike just out of Ochoa’s reach and into the goal from close to 40 yards out to give the American side the lead just six minutes into the match.
Hope you didn't tune in late to #USAvMEX.
Rewind to Michael Bradley's incredible strike. Caught 'em sleeping ?. pic.twitter.com/zUKykesw5W
— U.S. Soccer (@ussoccer) June 12, 2017
It’s a goal that gets more impressive with every replay.
The early lead was a shock to the crowd of Azteca, and sent a wave of delirium to the enclave of U.S. supporters who made the journey to Mexico City.
But the home team would answer less than 20 minutes later, when a Mexico counter-attack blazed through the American defence. After well-placed outlet passes provided the setup, forward Carlos Vela did the legwork himself, making space for himself in the attacking third and leaving DaMarcus Beasley in the dust, finishing with a sharply fired strike that found the back of the net.
You can see the equaliser below, with commentary from an ecstatic Spanish-language broadcast team.
— FanSportsClips (@FanSportsClips) June 12, 2017
As Mexico went on to dominate possession, the most thrilling moment of the second half for United States supporters came in the 76th minute, when Bradley almost did it again all by himself.
Attempting to volley a bouncing ball off that found it’s way to his midfield position, the American captain made an absolutely brilliant strike that got around the keeper but finished its journey at the right post rather than the back of the net. Fans from both sides of the border could be heard screaming at their televisions.
When the triple whistles blew to signal the end of the match, the U.S. side was visibly (and deservedly) thrilled with the result. Heading into the match, the national team had only won two points in the history of their World Cup qualifiers at Azteca Stadium, and on Sunday they added one more crucial point to that tally.
In the all-important Hex standings that will go on to determine CONCACAF’s World Cup representation in Russia in 2018, the United States now find themselves tied for second in points after six games played. Although Costa Rica has a game in hand and the lead in point differential, the top three teams of The Hex will all automatically qualify for the World Cup.
So as for now, the USMNT is in safe territory.
After a scary start to Hex play that left the United States with only four points through four games, the four additional points that the Americans picked up between this draw and their 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago last week were absolutely vital to their standing. While the team still has work to do, they have gotten through the most difficult matches that The Hex will present them with and have some easier opportunities to pick up points in their remaining four matches.
Hex play continues in September, with the United States hosting Costa Rica in a match that could flip the teams’ respective positions in the standings before travelling to play a Honduras squad that the Americans have already soundly defeated 6-0.
While the team will obviously be looking to win both games and take six points out of the stretch, their performance the past few games is a relief to supporters and the team alike. When you consider the Americans lost the battle of position 76%-24%, earning a point on Mexican soil is an absolutely stellar result.
Now with a little breathing room, look for the national team to try out a few different looks and start determining just what their team will look like and find their form heading into 2018. With a combination of young stars and experienced veterans who have seen all sides of World Cup play, it’s a team that could do something special on soccer’s biggest stage.
What. A. Goal.
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