Michael Bradley the glue as U.S. earns huge point in draw with Mexico
The United States national went into a building where they've never won a game in World Cup qualifying and still didn't win. But a 1-1 draw against Mexico and the point that comes with it is more than good enough for an American squad with low expectations coming into the match.
For the better part of an hour, the American plan to flood the midfield and slow down the Mexican attack worked fairly well. After Michael Bradley's stunning early goal, the U.S. looked to be about as comfortable as it could have hoped. Mexico's equalizer through Carlos Vela changed the game, but the Americans showed good resolve to keep them out for the second over the balance of the match.
There's certainly an argument that the U.S. was overly negative, but there was never going to be another approach in the cauldron of the Azteca. Brad Guzan looked shaky at times, and there were moments when the back line's communication was lacking. With so many players behind the ball and little press, the attacking trio of Bobby Wood, Christian Pulisic and Paul Arriola didn't threaten Mexico with dangerous chances.
Manager rating out of 10
6.5 -- A lot was made about the mass changes Bruce Arena made for this match, just three days removed from the win against Trinidad & Tobago, but the U.S. boss looks somewhat vindicated by the events at the Azteca. Mistakes combined with moments of brilliance ultimately ruled the day for the goal, but Arena's setup did provide the defensive backbone the Americans needed to put themselves in position to get a result.
Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Brad Guzan, 6 -- Slow to react on Vela's goal when he might have done better. May have gotten away with a foul on Hernandez. Saved by the woodwork on a Hector Herrera free kick late in the game.
DF DeAndre Yedlin, 6.5 -- Rose the occasion in the second half with a yellow card already on his ledger. Mixed bag in one-vs.-one moments but mostly held his own.
DF Geoff Cameron, 7 -- Slow to step out on Vela on Mexico's goal. Improved in the second half and made several crucial interventions that kept the game level.
DF Omar Gonzalez 6.5 -- Competent defensively, including his usual good work in the air. Missed a free header that could have given the U.S. a second goal.
DF Tim Ream, 7 -- Hardly stood out, which speaks to his work across the evening. Held the line well, made smart plays with the ball at his feet.
DF DaMarcus Beasley, 6.5 -- Heroic performance considering his age and Mexico's penchant for wide play. Clearly gassed in the second half, but maintained discipline.
MF Kellyn Acosta, 7.5 -- Handled his big moment expertly, minus a few lapses. Set piece service was mostly poor, a lone black mark on his shift.
MF Michael Bradley, 7.5 -- Scored the U.S. goal that set up the opportunity to grab a point. Did what he could against mobile midfield target, including a tactical fouling program that broke up Mexican rhythm.
MF Paul Arriola, 6.5 -- Feisty evening that included a few slashing runs that opened up the Mexico defense. Worked hard on defense and left everything on the field in 64 minutes.
MF Christian Pulisic, 6.5 -- Occasionally looked nervy on the big stage. Made clever runs that went unrewarded. Worked back on defense. Missed a late chance he'll want back.
FW Bobby Wood, 6 -- Fought like hell for almost 80 minutes. Whiffed on his best chance, which led directly to Mexico's goal at the other end. Showed off his strength with his holdup play.
MF Darlington Nagbe, NR -- Added energy when it was vital to do so. Pushed out through midfield to relieve pressure.
FW Jozy Altidore, NR -- Came on and pushed a few Mexican defenders around.
MF Graham Zusi, NR -- No impact after coming on in added time.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.