A Tale of Two Halves

The United States grabbed a 2-0 first half lead behind goals from Michael Bradley and Chris Wondoloski, but fell apart in the second half as Mexico’s Rafael Marquez and Alan Pulido scored to assure the match would end 2-2 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. on Wednesday night.

The match was the third friendly of the year for the U.S. as they continue to prepare for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this June. The U.S. is 1-1-1 on the year.

U.S. head coach Juergen Klinsmann went with a 4-4-2 all MLS line-up for the friendly lacking the team’s European based players. The biggest starting line-up surprise was the absence of Landon Donovan, while Rhode Island native Michael Parkhurst got a start out of position at left back. Eighteen-year-old Bayern Munich reserve striker Julian Green – the lone European based player on the roster – made his U.S. debut off the bench in the second half.

After an opening 14 minutes devoid of chances for either team, the U.S. finally threatened in the 14th minute on a set piece on the right flank. Brad Davis curled service towards the far post where Omar Gonzalez managed to direct it on frame despite being tightly marked. Mexico ‘keeper Moises Munoz could only punch wide for a corner.

The U.S. would grab the lead on the ensuing corner. Graham Zusi sent a curling cross to the far post, where Bradley came in and beat his defender to the ball, volleying the ball in to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.

Fourteen minutes later Wondolowski doubled the American’s lead. This time the U.S. goal came from the run of play with right back Tony Beltran serving in a dangerous cross that Bradley headed towards the back post. Wondolowski was there and slotted a shot in past Munoz to make it 2-0.

Mexico made three changes at half time and cut the lead in half just three minutes in after earning a corner kick. Marco Fabian’s corner kick found a wide open Rafael Marquez, who made no mistake, heading it in from close range to make it 2-1.

Five minutes later Mexico nearly found an equalizer, but Nick Rimando kept the U.S. ahead with an impressive save off a powerful Miguel Layún header.

The U.S. switched things up in the 58th minute with three changes. Landon Donovan and Clarence Goodson entered, along with 18-year-old striker Julian Green, making his U.S. debut after recently making his decision to play for the Americans over Germany.

But it was Mexico who would threaten next with a Raúl Jiménez shot from just outside the box in the 61st minute forcing Rimando into a difficult save.

Mexico then found the equalizer in the 67th minute after a misplayed header by Green gave Mexico the ball with numbers in the U.S. attacking third. The ball found its way to Paul Aguilar, who hit a quick shot that bounced off the post. The rebound fell to Alan Pulido, who easily beat a flatfooted Omar Gonzalez to the ball and finished to make it 2-2.

The U.S. thought they had retaken the lead in the 85th minute on a quick counterattack sprung by Bradley. The ball came to Dempsey who sprung substitute Eddie Johnson behind the defense. Johnson coolly finished past substitute keeper Alfredo Talavera, but was ruled offside. Replays seemed to show Johnson was in line with the last defender when the ball was played

Despite a back-and-forth finish to the match, neither team was able to take the lead before the end of the match.

The U.S. doesn’t return to action till facing Azerbaijan in San Francisco on May 27th at the start of their World Cup training camp.

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue