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Mexico draw with United States, maintain lead at top of qualifying group

It also gave the US eight points in World Cup qualifying, equaling the total of second-place Costa Rica in the CONCACAF standings.

The result was a disaster. Speaking in Azteca's tunnel on Sunday night, Bradley diagnosed what had gone wrong. He is a player that has been trending well all year long and could have a bright future ahead with the US men's national team.

But there was nothing haphazard about this risk.

Arena said 38-year-old Tim Howard remains the Americans' No. 1 goalkeeper, but for this match he preferred Guzan, partly because Howard is coming off surgery to fix the adductor muscle in his right leg, an injury sustained against Mexico last fall that still affects his kicking.

Some were calling it a 5-4-1, some likened it to a 3-4-3. There were no last-minute surprises. He said after the match that he "told the team on day one of this camp that we would play that way in this game". "I am proud of the result".

Arena is not known as a master tactician.

No details were spared.

Then once the match started, USMNT goalkeeper Brad Guzan was taunted - sadly, in a bit of a tradition at Estadio Azteca - with the homophobic slur "puto", which roughly translated means "gay prostitute", according to USA Today.

There was explicit planning there too.

Mexico had a handful of chances after that, but none that troubled Guzan. DaMarcus Beasley has played in every Azteca game since Vietnam. Unfortunately, it would be following a US set piece that Mexico would equalize. The U.S.'s transition defense was actually not completely terrible, with numbers back, but the ball found Vela on the U.S. left. As expected, the first-half was ravaged by its physical nature.

Defensively, Arena's team was stout.

In the sixth minute, Hector Moreno passed the ball to Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez in the center circle and Bradley pounced on Hernandez's pass back toward Hector Herrera. DeAndre Yedlin was excellent in the second half, while Beasley persevered - despite taking a beating - on the opposite flank. Only Carlos Vela, who scored Mexico's lone goal in the first half, was able to find a shot on target. A group stage exit, regardless of how El Tri plays, will be seen as a failure for Mexico.

It really couldn't have gone much better.

Panama hosts Honduras on Tuesday, when Costa Rica is home against T&T.

Much as the USA would love to have qualification close to being wrapped up by now, such an outcome was never going to happen once it lost the first two matches, results and performances that got former chief Jurgen Klinsmann fired. Bradley sent Vela tumbling some thirty yards out on the US center-right.

The U.S. would have Mexican hearts in mouths just a few minutes later, however, and again it was Bradley.

"I think their intention from the start was to defend, with a line of five and three midfielders to stop our attacks", said Osorio after the match.

Arena knows his way around this region and this job. He has made Mexico a better and more balanced team while managing to avoid, or at least limit, the drama that has riddled past Mexico coaches. One of the knocks on the manager throughout his career - revived when he was tabbed to replace Klinsmann last winter - is that he has often been slow in trusting young talent. That wasn't the case in previous years.

At the end, the Americans were gassed even 18-year-old star Christian Pulisic.

Carlos Vela cancelled out a spectacular early opener from Michael Bradley as Mexico and the United States shared a point in Sunday's World Cup qualifier.

In a pivotal 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match, the US Men's National Team came away with just their third ever point at the Estadio Azteca.

With its second draw in three road qualifiers, the US continued to recover from its terrible 0-2 start last fall and prompted chants of "U-S-A!" from the American Outlaws section in the upper deck.

Bradley is encouraged by the Americans' progress under Arena.

This was a moment of sublime skill, one you don't normally expect from a US team usually defined by its rough-and-tumble athleticism.



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