Michael Bradley stars, Julian Green debuts as U.S. draws 2-2 with Mexico
By Sun-Times News Services April 3, 2014 9:08AM
U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley, left, celebrates with defender Matt Besler (5) after scoring a goal against Mexico during the first half of a 2-2 draw in an international friendly soccer match Wednesday night in Glendale, Ariz. AP Photo
Updated: April 3, 2014 11:18AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — In the final audition before the U.S. men’s national soccer team begins its World Cup training camp, the Americans settled for a 2-2 draw as Mexico rallied from a two-goal halftime deficit in an exhibition match Wednesday night.
U.S. star Michael Bradley, who played youth club soccer in the northwest suburbs for Sockers FC Chicago, was the Americans’ man of the match, scoring the first goal and heading along a cross to Chris Wondolowski for the second.
But the player whose presence might have generated even more interest was highly touted 18-year-old Julian Green, who made his senior U.S. debut, coming on in the 59th minute as a substitute at midfielder for Graham Zusi.
Green is a product of German super club Bayern Munich’s developmental system who recently committed his international soccer future to the United States national team. Born in Tampa, Fla., but raised in Germany, Green has played for both German and U.S. national teams from the U-16 to U-19 levels. He was called in last year by U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann but declined the invitation to team camp at that time.
Green appeared to his a shoulder in the 80th minute after he fell down but was checked out quickly on the sideline and returned to the field.
Early on, the U.S. looked as if it might run away with another satisfying win over its biggest rival. It took the U.S. less than 15 minutes to get on the scoreboard first.
Midfielder Bradley outran Mexico midfielder Jesus Zavala to a corner kick that went far post from Zusi, and Bradley finished with one touch to give the Americans the early lead.
The U.S. set the pace of the match early, making runs down the field several times and making Mexico’s defense work and drawing corner kicks.
The U.S. took a two-goal lead in the 28th minute with some effective passing. Clint Dempsey sent the ball out wide to Tony Beltran, a defender making just his third appearance for the national team. Beltran crossed to Bradey, who found Wondolowski to his left near the goal, and Wondolowski slotted the ball into the net.
The goal elicited chants of “Dos a Cero” from outnumbered U.S. fans, in reference to the final score of several previous U.S. wins over Mexico in the long history of the rivalry.
Mexico turned a dreadful first half into a tight game following captain Rafael Marquez’s 49th-minute goal. Mexico became more active on the attack and threatened to tie on almost every run in the second half.
The tying goal came in the 67th minute. Alan Pulido collected the rebound of Paul Aguilar’s shot that hit the post and kicking the ball into an exposed net.
Both teams had chances to take the lead late in the match. Second-half U.S. substitute Eddie Johnson was ruled offside and his goal nullified in the 85th minute. Mexico’s Miguel Angel Ponce took a shot in the 86th minute that barely went over the goal.
Surprisingly, Klinsmann kept all-time U.S. scoring leader Landon Donovan on the bench until he came on with Green in the second half, saying Donovan hadn’t looked in top form during training. Later, Donovan said he’d been bothered by knee tendinits but that his knee was “OK” now.
Klinsmann has some big decisions to make in the next five weeks on who he’ll take to Brazil for this summer’s World Cup. May 12 is the deadline to submit the 30-player preliminary roster, and June 2 is when the 23-player final roster is due.
The next U.S exhibition is May 27 against Azerbaijan at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. Mexico hosts Israel in Mexico City on May 28.