US, Mexico battle to draw after Bradley wonder strike

World Cup qualifying: US vs Mexico preview, update

Mexico and the United States played out to a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Azteca on Sunday in Round 6 of the CONCACAF Hexagonal. Well, aside from the lack of oxygen at the sky-high venue.

Bradley became only the sixth American to score at Azteca in the sixth minute, when he intercepted a Javier Hernandez pass, raced in on goal and snapped a 35-yard line drive over the head of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Carlos Vela, the former Arsenal striker, got Mexico's equaliser and the game finished 1-1, leaving the home side four points clear of their rivals in the final stage of World Cup qualifying.

The Americans (2-2-2) pulled even with second-place Costa Rica on points (eight) but remained behind on goal differential.

The former LA Galaxy coach inherited a national team in disarray but now the Americans are organized, re-energized, and on the path to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation. With a win at home vs. Honduras, Panama would leap back ahead of the US and into third place with nine points, one ahead of the Yanks and five points in front of the fifth-placed Catrachos. And the players say Arena, who replaced Jurgen Klinsmann as coach after the USA dropped its first two qualifiers last fall, is responsible for instilling that faith. The short gap between matches and the impact of altitude on unaccustomed minds and bodies prompted the heavy number of moves. They will need that same solidity in their final two road matches against Mexico and the U.S.

The biggest surprise: Brad Guzan started in place of Tim Howard in net.

They'll look to star goalie Tim Howard to shut down the firepower that their opponents from Mexico will bring.

With Estadio Azteca at 7,820 feet above sea level and just two off days between games, Arena paid close attention to recovery time.

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Acosta joined Bradley in defensive midfield.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JUNE 11: Hirving Lozano of Mexico (L) fights for the ball with Tim Ream of USA (R) during the match between Mexico and The United States as part of the Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018 World Cup Qualifiers at Azteca Stadium on June 11, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. He had not started for the US since the October 2015 loss to Mexico in a playoff for a Confederations Cup berth. Unfortunately, it would be following a US set piece that Mexico would equalize. The goalkeeper is off his line. From 40 yards, Bradley chipped the ball.

Pulisic has seven goals in 15 worldwide appearances.

Now 65, Arena is a member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame. Fans at the stadium were loud from both sides and Twitter continued to blow up with tension and nerves. And against Mexico, Arena explained, the US goalkeeper would find himself clearing the ball and taking goal kicks more often than, say, against Trinidad and Tobago.

With the center backs slow to retreat, Beasley was left to fend for himself. Against Vela, DaMarcus Beasley had no chance. Arena's team was unconvincing enough at the back, especially out wide, to merit a sense of foreboding about what might transpire in the Azteca if the favorites are at their incisive best. Also being 18 has its advantages, no one really judges you too harshly when you essentially guarantee a victory in Azteca in the post match interview. Herrera almost put El Tri ahead in the 71st with a 30-yard free kick that bounded off the crossbar, but Mexico had only a modest 10-7 advantage in shots at a venue where it usually dominates.

That goal made it an end-to-end affair, though Mexico ended the half strongest, despite losing Oswaldo Alanis - replaced by Jesus Gallardo - to injury.

Four players started both: DeAndre Yedlin, Michael Bradley and Geoff Cameron went the distance twice, and Christian Pulisic lasted until stoppage time of the second game. Bruce Arena's squad will be back in action on July 1 with a friendly against Ghana before kicking off the Gold Cup later that month.

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