USMNT: Yanks Fight For Draw In Azteca: Recap and Player Ratings

Javier Hernández will look to get in amongst the goals tomorrow | Source

Javier Hernández will look to get in amongst the goals tomorrow | Source Kevork-Getty Images

In a dream start to proceedings, Bradley chipped Ochoa from distance for a sixth-minute lead, much to the delight of the travelling fans - the first U.S. player to score at the Azteca since Michael Orozco in August 2012.

That the set the tone for an entertaining first half, in which El Tri looked to threaten with build-up play, making them the most risky side.

Mexico struck on the counterattack in the 23rd minute, with Carlos Vela cutting inside of DaMarcus Beasley to pull El Tri level. If his shot from distance in the second half had gone in instead of hitting the post, we'd be talking about a once-in-a-lifetime performance from the USA captain. The goal for the United States is to finish in the top three and get one of the automatic spots to Russian Federation and avoid the qualification playoffs.

The U.S. captain knocked the ball toward Mexico's goal, sprinted to catch up with it and lofted a right-footed chip from about 40 yards over goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa's outstretched left arm and under the crossbar.

USA coach Bruce Arena changed seven starters and used a five-man defense to overcome the thin air and short recovery time and the team's all-time record in World Cup qualifiers at Azteca moved to 0-5-3.

"Any time you can get a point here it's great", said captain Michael Bradley, who scored the lone US goal. 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.

"Obviously when you're on the field and in camp and the team starts to believe even before they've played a game that they're capable of playing better and of winning, that helps".

USA skipper Bradley later praised the American resilience as they dug deep for a vital point.

CONCACAF World Cup qualifying is past the halfway mark for both the United States and Mexico.

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Bruce Arena chopped and changed his lineup on Sunday, and the USMNT came away with a 1-1 draw against Mexico at Azteca Stadium. "We've played against [Ochoa] a number of times".

Geoff Cameron, Tim Ream and Omar Gonzalez are far from being household names, yet they showed the type of defensive resilience that is needed if the team is to make progress, both in the immediate term and potentially at the World Cup. Three minutes later, Bradley sent a 30-yard shot off a post.

Ultimately, the U.S. held only 24% possession the entire match and had no interest in playing an open game whatsoever.

For only the sixth time in history had a US player scored at Azteca. With Jermaine Jones at age 35, the 21-year-old Acosta may very well be the future of the U.S. midfield.

Mexico remains in first with 14 points, five clear of second place. "We knew at certain moments that Chicharito was going to come to the ball".

Meanwhile, for the U.S., they get a bit of a break before the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Although Costa Rica has a game in hand and the lead in point differential, the top three teams of The Hex will all automatically qualify for the World Cup.

Bradley also had words of praise for U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who has helped steady the United States qualifying campaign since returning to the helm after the sacking of predecessor Jurgen Klinsmann previous year.

"I was wrong. And the Muslim ban is just the latest example of someone who couldn't be more out of touch with our country and the right way to move forward".

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