USA 1-1 Mexico: USMNT, Michael Bradley escape daunting Azteca with rare draw in WCQ

The U.S. men's national team went into Mexico on Sunday night in World Cup qualifying and secured an extremely valuable 1-1 draw against its arch rival. It was an unbelievable goal from Michael Bradley early on that gave the U.S. the lead, before Carlos Vela leveled the scoring less than 20 minutes later. Neither team could get the winner despite chances -- more for Mexico -- as each departed the Estadio Azteca with a point. Here's how it went down.

First half

The visitors came out brilliantly against an American starting lineup that looked not nearly strong enough to get a result on paper, with Bruce Arena making seven changes from last week. It took the U.S. just six minutes to score, with Bradley's world-class goal from over 30 yards making it 1-0. Check it out:

The U.S. continued its fine play and a second goal almost came from Bobby Wood, but the striker missed an open chance and Mexico made the U.S. pay. On the counter, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez found Carlos Vela, and the talented winger did the rest to make it 1-1 in the 24th minute: 

Second half

It was a wild second half that saw Mexico with more chances, with each hitting the frame of the goal. Hector Herrera rocked the crossbar with a thundering free kick midway through the second half before Bradley hit the post with a lovely effort from range moments later.

Though Mexico created more, the U.S. looked to win it in the 89th minute through Christian Pulisic, who had a lovely look at goal, but his effort was a poor one, going wide from the top of the box as it finished level.

Game-changing moment

The Bradley goal, no doubt. With that, the U.S. was comfortable to just sit back and defend that goal, feeling good about getting at least a draw. And they did it.

Player of the match

The entire U.S. defense. It was an inspired performance, with Geoff Cameron leading the way. The veteran was fantastic and confident, Omar Gonzalez made some big stops and DeAndre Yedlin gave the Mexicans trouble on the wing. 

What the result means 

Mexico remains in first with 14 points, five clear of second place. The U.S. remains in third place with eight points, with a game over second-place Costa Rica. All things considered, this was a draw, but it feels like a win for the Americans. A great point on the road in the toughest place to play in CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers. It wasn't pretty, but it was really, really valuable. 

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Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Full Bio

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