The United States Men’s National Team bounced back from last week’s loss to Brazil by beating rival Mexico, 1-0 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN. Tyler Adams provided the game’s only offense, opening his account in the second half to lift the USMNT to its first win over Mexico in over three years. The U.S. is now 20-37-14 against its southern neighbors.
Interim Head Coach Dave Sarachan trotted out a young lineup to face the Mexicans. Gyasi Zardes replaced Bobby Wood up top in the 4-1-4-1, with Tim Weah slotting in on the left next to Weston McKennie, Adams, and Kellyn Acosta in front of midfield stopper Wil Trapp. The back line consisted of Eric Lichaj and Shaq Moore on the flanks on either side of Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers and in front of goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
The first 10 minutes were tightly contested in the middle of the pitch. The first shot attempt went to Zardes on a header off target on a cross by McKennie. It took Mexico until the ninth minute to mount an attack on the U.S. goal but that ended in the ninth minute with a cross right at Steffen.
Mexico came into the game about 11 minutes or so into the match, getting forward more often, winning corners, and getting crosses into the area. Steffen was called into action to make a good save in the 16th minute, palming a shot off the head of Edson Alvarez over the bar.
Mexico was handed a free kick just to the right side of the penalty area in the 24th minute on a cotton-soft foul on Miazga defending Diego Lainez. Roberto Alvarado sent the ensuing free kick way up into the seats.
The U.S. got a free kick just above the penalty area in the 27th. Kellyn Acosta hit the wall with his delivery but the rebound came back to him and he smashed a shot wide of goal.
Mexico’s attack kept coming, as Victor Guzman headed wide in the 30th minute. Two minutes later, Steffen slipped trying to grab the ball at the edge of the area and was whistled for handling it outside the box.
Lainez hit the set piece low and off the wall. In the 37th minute, Lainez ate up Trapp on the end line and set up Alvarado, who didn’t hit his shot cleanly and Steffen stretched out for the save.
Diego Lainez just destroyed Wil Trapp and put him on the ground.— #ThankYouDeuce (@JogaBonito_USA) September 12, 2018
The 18 year old #ClubAmerica winger has been electric so far, showing why he's the best young player on the pitch tonight.#USAvMEX #USMNT #ElTri #Tekkers pic.twitter.com/WMKsVJcyCN
Julian Green subbed on for McKennie in the 40th minute, as the young defensive mid sustained an apparent knee injury. Green’s injection into the lineup opened up the U.S. offense a bit. Green had his first shot attempt blocked in the 42nd minute, then seconds later Weah fired from the top of the area but Hugo Gonzalez saved it.
Green closed out the first half with a shot that sailed wide and the teams went into the break in a scoreless deadlock.
Mexico held 55% of the first-half possession and a slight edge in passing accuracy (82%-81%). The teams were even in shots (8-8) but the visitors got more on frame (3-1).
The U.S. made another positive tactical change early in the second half, when Antonee Robinson came on for Lichaj at left back in the 56th minute. The U.S. was a bit pinched on the left flank with Lichaj being a natural right footer. Robinson’s insertion gave the team more width and a lot more menace in the attack.
Still, Mexico fashioned the first decent chance of the second period on a 3-v-3 counter attack. Alvarado either hit a messy shot or sent his cross too close to Steffen, who collected easily.
Robinson’s first real involvement came in the 62nd minute, when he fizzed a dangerous cross into the area but Zardes couldn’t make good contact with it and Gonzalez collected. Three minutes later, the game started to get chippy and turned in the USMNT’s favor.
Miazga was pulled back by Lainez, who stands at least a foot shorter than the U.S. center back. The two got involved in a stare down before Miazga made obvious light of Lainez’s height and the two teams started bumping and pushing a bit.
MATT MIAZGA LOVES US SHOWED IT BY PROVIDING THE GOOCH STARE DOWN FOR THIS GENERATION pic.twitter.com/bHcMTFrNPu— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) September 12, 2018
Two minutes later, that bit of chippiness had consequences. Angel Zalvidar went studs up over the ball into Trapp in the 67th minute and was sent off with a straight red, forcing the visitors to play more than 20 minutes down a man.
The extra man paid off with possession and control of the ball for the next few minutes and it also paid off with a goal. Acosta took the ball down the center of the pitch and released Robinson down the left flank. The young fullback sizzled a cross just above the six-yard box where Adams ran onto it and knocked it past Gonzalez to make it 1-0.
Mexico picked up its press to try to get more of the ball but despite a couple of semi-nervy moments, the U.S. handled it well. Green sent a shot over the bar from distance in the 74th minute. Then, just as the U.S. attack started to look tired, Bobby Wood replaced Zardes and Moore and Acosta departed for DeAndre Yedlin and Cristian Roldan, respectively.
The Mexicans had a chance to equalize in the 86th minute when an excellent cross from Erick Aguirre found Elías Hernández, who tried a spectacular volley but couldn’t get it on frame. Neither Miazga nor Robinson was tracking Hernández sufficiently on the play and it nearly cost the U.S. the win.
Good chance for #Mexico as Hernández got in behind, but he volleyed over Aguirre's great ball. Matt Miazga was caught out there, maybe he should focus on defending instead of idiotically mocking other players.#USAvMEX #USMNT #ElTri pic.twitter.com/4ySqKUCJle— #ThankYouDeuce (@JogaBonito_USA) September 12, 2018
That was it for the scoring chances, but the spirited play didn’t end, with Yedlin and Wood each picking up a yellow card in the closing minutes. The U.S. held on and got the win.
Mexico held a 53%-47% advantage in possession but the teams finished dead even in passing accuracy, at 84% apiece. The U.S. out-shot the visitors (13-10) with each team getting three on frame.
The USMNT will play next on Oct. 11 against Colombia in Tampa, FL.