A second-half equalizer from Jesus Ferreira pushed the United States to a 1-1 friendly draw with regional rivals Mexico on Wednesday night.
Featuring alternate rosters for both sides due to the match being played in a non-FIFA window, the USMNT are now undefeated against Mexico in their past five meetings.
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Under the guidance of new manager Diego Cocca, Mexico opened the scoring at Glendale, Arizona's State Farm Stadium. After a first half that had an impressive defensive performance from the USMNT, Uriel Antuna pounced on a poor pass in the midfield and sprinted up the field before scoring in the 55th minute.
In response, U.S. interim manager Anthony Hudson made late tactical changes that shaped his team into a more dangerous attacking unit. By the 81st minute, the USMNT created a threatening counterattack that led to Jordan Morris squaring for Ferreira's equalizer.
1. Ferreira saves U.S. with dramatic second-half equalizer
Just when it looked like Mexico were about to score a golazo from distance that would put them up 2-0, the USMNT capitalized on a counterattack that helped change the entire outcome. With Sergino Dest sprinting forward after helping regain possession, the full-back eventually connected with substitute Alan Sonora, who then dished the ball to winger Jordan Morris.
As Morris ran forward, so did Ferreira and the striker eventually was able to connect with Morris' pass into the 18-yard box, thereby making it 1-1 by the 81st minute.
Enough to hold onto the draw by the final whistle, it was a moment of brilliance from a USMNT squad that didn't truly wake up until the second half. Mexico looked like the better team overall on Wednesday and nearly had a victory with their controlled possession and nine shots, but ultimately fell short after failing to shut down a clever transitional move from the hosts.
2. Mexico stumble and extend winless streak to five
Even with alternates on the field in a new World Cup cycle, the story remains the same: Mexico can't get a win over the USMNT. Thanks to the result on Wednesday, the U.S. extended their undefeated run over Mexico to five games.
Sure, the match was a friendly played on a non-FIFA date -- and Mexico looked like the more dominant team for most of the 90 minutes -- but the result is still a statement for the USMNT side who have stolen the spotlight away from Mexico again. In the shadow of Mexico for years, the USMNT, who are the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup titleholders, can continue to boast that they have yet to lose to their rivals in five meetings.
It could also augur for more heartbreak to come for Mexico this summer. The two countries are scheduled to faceoff in the semifinal of the 2022-23 CONCACAF Nations League on June 15, and depending on how results go, there's a good chance they could also meet in the knockout round of the Gold Cup in July.
3. Hudson makes right moves after worrisome start
If we are giving credit to Mexico for looking better overall on Wednesday, then we should also praise USMNT coach Hudson for his second-half changes. No longer happy to just sit back like they did in the first half, the U.S. did a better job of stealing back possession and creating more decisive moments in the latter stages of the game. Second-half substitutions, such as Aidan Morris and Sonora, helped shift the momentum as well.
Hudson's changes allowed more space for Mexico as they launched more shots and runs towards the USMNT defense, but the gamble was a worthy one after their late counterattack solidified a 1-1 result that could have easily gone in El Tri's favor.
That said, the first half wasn't pretty from the USMNT. Regardless of the dramatic end to the game that'll feel like a morale boost for Hudson and his men, the initial 45 minutes were dismal in the attack. In the first half, they registered no shots and just one touch in Mexico's 18-yard box.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Jordan Morris (United States)
Ferreira will earn lots of praise for the goal, but Morris was the key figure who helped create it in the final third. Early into the match, he also nearly deflected the ball into Mexico's net.
BEST: Uriel Antuna (Mexico)
Mexico's goal scorer and risk-taker on the right wing. A busy night for the attacker that connected most of his passes in the final third.
BEST: Luis Chavez (Mexico)
A standout evening for the midfielder that provided an immense amount of work with his duels and distribution. Were it not for Ferreira's equalizer, Chavez would have been man of the match.
WORST: Kellyn Acosta (United States)
Lost possession in dangerous areas and was at fault for the poor pass that led to Antuna's goal. Wasn't strong with his duels either.
WORST: Jesus Gallardo (Mexico)
With his experience, Gallardo needed to have more of an impact in both the defense and attack as Mexico's left wing-back.
WORST: Brandon Vazquez (United States)
A forgettable evening for the striker that had no shots. It didn't help that the U.S was so defensive in the first half, but Vazquez didn't have much of an influence in his 64 minutes.
Highlights and notable moments
Antuna kept his composure when racing clear to put Mexico 1-0 up.
Uriel Antuna makes the USMNT pay 😬— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 20, 2023
Watch live on TBS or @hbomax 📺 pic.twitter.com/xd5OXDLGI8
Ferreira deserves praise for being in the right place, at the right time, for the U.S.'s equaliser, but Morris' outside-of-the-foot pass made the goal.
The run from Serg, the ball from JMo, the finish from Jesús. 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/vdrEmXzyrk— U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (@USMNT) April 20, 2023
What the managers and players said
U.S. interim coach Hudson, on the result: "I think the five games unbeaten streak is nice, it's obviously very nice, but the next time we play Mexico again, all of that goes out the window."
Mexico coach Cocca, on the draw: "I only see the glass half-full. Today we were superior."
U.S. forward Ferreira, on his goal: "Anything can happen in the box, so I just followed the play and it went in."
Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
- The United States have extended their unbeaten streak in all competitions vs. Mexico to 5 games, their longest since 2011-15 (6). Mexico's last win over United States was on Sept. 7, 2019.
- This is the first time that the U.S. failed to register a shot on target in the first half of a game against Mexico in all competitions since March 3, 2013 (2014 World Cup qualifiers).
- Mexico also failed to register a single shot on target in the first half, the first time in a game against the U.S. since April 3, 2014 (a friendly match also played in Glendale, Arizona).
- The United States' one shot on target, 0.28 Expected Goals (xG) was its lowest in game since Sept. 27, 2022 (0.28 vs Saudi Arabia).
United States: The next game for the USMNT will be against Mexico, although expect the big-name players for both sides. The two teams will clash in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals on June 19 in Las Vegas. The winner of that one will take on either Canada or Panama on June 18, also in Las Vegas.
Mexico: As above.