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USA 2-2 Mexico: Reviewing the Friendly

Final Score: 2-2

Scoring Summary:

USA- Michael Bradley (15′), Chris Wondolowski (28′)

Mexico- Rafael Marquez (49′), Alan Pulid (67′)

Photo via http://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/sports/soccer/2014/04/03/usa-vs-mexico-friendly/7239763/

Review:

In a tale of two halves, USA and Mexico ended in a 2-2 draw. A crowd of over 60,000 USA and Mexico fans gathered in Phoenix for the friendly.  In the first half, the United States looked sharp and were ready to play right from the first whistle. Jurgen Klinsmann used a 4-4-2 diamond formation to start the game and it immediately had success. Michael Bradley  played an attacking midfield role and held the ball well. USA got on the score sheet after 15 minutes, when a Graham Zusi corner fell right to the feet of a wide open Michael Bradley for an easy finish. Klinsmann has been drawing up great set pieces for the USA and this one was marvelous. With three USA players standing around the front post and Mexico keeper Moises Munoz, Bradley was not picked up in time and he had a simple tap in. USA doubled their lead when Chris Wondolowski stabbed in a Michael Bradley header after a beautiful whipped ball into the box by Tony Beltran. The 4-4-2 was working and USA dominated the first half. 

Like any friendly, both coaches made multiple changes in the second half. The Mexican subs brought new life to a team that had a pitiful first half. The USA subs were not bad, but they could not continue the style that the Americans played in the first half. The first goal for Mexico came in the 49th minute for Rafa Marquez. On a corner, USA center back Omar Gonzalez was picked and the Mexican captain had a free header in the center of the box. There was a lack of communication from Gonzalez and his night only got worse. In the 67th minute Gonzalez got caught ball-watching and his man Alan Pulid had an easy tap in after the initial shot from Paul Aguilar hit the far post. In the 85th minute it appeared the USA had grabbed the winner, when a beautifully played ball from Clint Dempsey found a streaking Eddie Johnson on the run. Johnson cooly finished and started to celebrate, until he realized that the linesman had flagged him offside. The game ended controversially with the score 2-2.

Game Notes:

The big talking point within the game was the debut of 18 year old Julian Green for the USA national team. Green, a Bayern Munich reserve and German-American, decided to play nationally for the USA instead of Germany. Jurgen Klinsmann brought him into the game at the 60 minute mark. American fans had high expectations of the teen and he did not disappoint. He looked nervous and had a few bad touches in the first couple of minutes. He then slipped going for a ball and went to the sideline to get his shoulder looked at by team doctors. This gave him time to take a deep breath and finally relax. He came back on and had some decent plays. In the 88th minute, Green received a ball to his feet on the sideline. He dribbled at the Mexican defender and cut inside at the edge of the box. Green was clipped and went to ground. The ref, 2 yards away, did not reward Green with the foul. Whether it was penalty or a free kick outside of the box is still up for debate, but the evidence shows that it was a clear foul.

 

Man of the Match: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)

Many Americans questioned Michael Bradley’s move from AS Roma to Toronto FC. Bradley was losing playing time on Roma and felt playing time was more important than the quality of the opponent. Since coming back to MLS, Bradley has shined. Toronto is off to a fast start in MLS and his play carried over last night. General Bradley, as he was called in Italy, controlled the midfield and helped USA keep possession of the ball. He also scored a goal and assisted the second one. Michael Bradley will be key to USA’s success this summer in Brazil.

Looking Forward:

The USA team will begin pre-World Cup camp in mid May. Jurgen Klinsmann will have his MLS and European based players together for the first time since World Cup qualifying ended in October. The USA have scheduled three friendlies against Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Nigeria in late may and early June. After these friendlies Klinsmann will have to pick the final 23 players that will make the trip to Brazil for the World Cup.

Stats via: http://espnfc.com/us/en/gamecast/statistics/id/388609/statistics.html?soccernet=true&cc=5901

 

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