After a strong first half that led to two goals, the United States Men’s National Team looked lost in the second half as they let a 2-0 lead slip into a 2-2 final result against rivals Mexico in Glendale, Arizona.
Deciding to spice things up, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann decided to go with a 4-4-2 formation that featured a diamond midfield, which included Brad Davis and Graham Zusi on the left and right sides, Kyle Beckerman at holding midfield and Michael Bradley at the top.
In what was one of the most surprising aspects of the night, Klinsmann started Chris Wondolowski in place of Landon Donovan. Klinsmann said Donovan looked “off” in practice and so the decision to start someone “on the bubble” was a no brainer.
It was a tale of two halves for the USMNT as they worked like clockwork in the first half with crisp, precise passes that made Mexico look lost.
Midfielder Michael Bradley got the scoring going in the 15th minute when Graham Zusi, on the game’s first corner kick, delivered a perfect ball from the left side as Bradley separated himself from Mexico defender Jesus Zavala.
The USMNT set the pace of the match early, making runs down the field several times and making Mexico’s defense work and drawing corner kicks.
The US’s sharp passes early in the game paid off in the 28th minute as Clint Dempsey and Graham Zusi led the attack from the right side as Dempsey sent the ball out wide to Tony Beltran, who then crossed it to Bradley, who found Wondolowski, who had snuck past Mexico’s Rogelio Chavez to head the ball into the back of the net.
As the second half started, Mexico awoke from its slumber as El Tri did not waste any time chipping away at the American lead.
In the 49th minute, off of Marco Fabian’s right-footed corner kick from the left side, Rafael Marquez lost Omar Gonzalez on the set piece and had an open header from seven yards out, which he promptly placed into the left side of the net. The gap between Marquez and Gonzalez was so big, you had to stop and wonder if Gonzalez was even paying attention to the game.
Eighteen-year old Bayern Munich forward Julian Green made his much-anticipated debut, coming off the bench in the 60th minute.
Green showed flashes of why the U.S. coaching staff are so keen on him, with some great moves down the left side, but Green is also raw, as he lost the ball that would eventually lead to Mexico’s equalizer in the 67th minute.
Second-half substitute Eddie Johnson put the United States up 3-2 in the 85th minute but his goal was later called offside (despite being onside). The game petered out to a 2-2 draw in front of 59,066 fans.
Klinsmann will have his work cut out for him as he now faces the difficult task of naming the 23 players he will take to him to Brazil in less than 70 days.
The USMNT will next play in its three-game Send-Off Series that begins on May 27, in San Francisco versus Azerbaijan.