CONCACAF’s biggest rivalry ended with an intense 2-2 draw at the University of Phoenix Stadium, in Glendale, Ariz. in front of 59,000 spectators in an international friendly exhibition match. Both Mexico and the United States showed a completely different face during the game, but gave the fans four goals to cheer.
The first 15 minutes were intense with rough play but no real attacks on each other’s net. But after the first goal the USMNT took control of the field and dominated a Mexican team that looked sluggish on the pitch. The game was completely different in the second half as El Tri came all out to demonstrate why they are still a force to reckon with in football.
The game began in the midfield with both teams battling for control of the field. The U.S. had the precision passing, and the Mexicans had better skill. Mexico had the first shot on goal but barely made goalkeeper Nick Rimando think about the shot.
In the 13th goalkeeper Moises Muñoz tapped the ball to a corner kick as the U.S. gave the first warning sign. But the U.S. was able to take advantage of the set-piece. Michael Bradley, who was a terror on the pitch in the first 45 minutes, ran in from the wing past defender Jesus Zavala to put the ball in the open net. All defenders and Muñoz were bunched in the far corner anticipating the shot. While Zavala was on Bradley, the U.S. international beat out the defender to give the Americans the 1-0 in the 14th minute.
When Mexico played better, Chris Wondolowski appeared on a cross that Bradley headed to him to find the hole in Muñoz’ net once more. In 26 minutes of play the USMNT was leading their regional rivals 2-0.
The U.S. played their traditional game holding in the back and waiting for a counterattack opportunity to move the ball forward. With the Mexican team down, this gave them plenty of chances as El Tri was trying to get back into the game attacking and opening spaces for the Americans.
Miguel “Piojo” Herrera made his first substitutions at the half bringing in Alfredo Talavera to guard the net. Raul Jimenez and Juan Carlos Medina also entered the pitch. Both players made a difference on the pitch for El Tri.
With less than four minutes on the field, Rafael Marquez put the ball in the net on a corner kick set up by Marco Fabian de la Mora. Marquez ran in and unmarked executed Rimando at close range. There were 41 minutes left to play and Mexico had closed the gap. El Tri put the ball in the net for the first time in the U.S.A. against the USMNT since Aug. 10, 2011; game that ended in 1-1 in Pennsylvania. Mexico applied pressure after the goal putting Rimando on edge for the rest of the game.
In the 56th Herrera made another change, removing Isaac Brizuela and bringing in Luis Montes. The Leon FC midfielder changed the attack pattern that the U.S. mid and defenders could not solve. The U.S. was buried in the back giving up possession to the Mexicans who took advantage of the opportunities given up by the USMNT and made run after run, but short in the final shot.
Jurgen Klinsmann made his first substitution in the 58th minute sending “Captain America” Landon Donovan and Julian Green to the pitch. Green from Germany’s Bayern Munich was the only Europe-based player participating in the game.
Jimenez had a good shot in the 60th minute forcing Rimando to dive for the first time in the match. He cleared the ball, but the hits kept coming from El Tri.
Eddie Johnson entered the game for Wondolowski as Klinsmann intended to add more firepower on the front line. But the pressure from the Mexican squad was too much in those initial minutes of the second half and in the 67th Paul Aguilar took the ball in, passed and received it back but hit the post. Alan Pulido was there to put the ball in the back of the net and the game was suddenly 2-2 with El Tri on the attack.
Veteran Maurice Edu entered the game in the 71st for Kyle Beckerman as Klinsmann made modifications to get control of the game once more. The changes managed to slow down the Mexicans for a few minutes and allowed the Americans to make their first approach on Talavera’s net.
Johnson stopped the hearts of the Mexican fans in the stands when he put the ball in the net in the 85th minute of play. However, the linesman saw that Johnson was inches ahead and annulled the goal. Green took a dive inches outside the penalty area minutes later that the referee waved away. Klinsmann yelled at the top of his lungs in protest to the call.
Rimando earned his spot to Brazil 2014 with his performance in the final minutes of the game facing a barrage of shots from the Mexican squad. Time would run out and the game would end with a 2-2.
“We had plenty of opportunities, we just need to apply more pressure,” Marquez said at the end of the game. “We were better in the second half, we had runs on goal, the team was more intense, but we need to learn from both halves of the game.”
Both Mexico and the United States are playing in their final games before traveling to Brazil to participate in the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup.