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The United States men’s national soccer team claimed a valuable point as they drew 1-1 with Mexico at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Sunday in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
El Tri remain comfortably top of the Hexagonal standings, but the USMNT are now tied on points with second-placed Costa Rica, who they play next, per FIFA:
#WCQ | CONCACAF
Next round 1 Sept:
🇺🇸USA🆚Costa Rica🇨🇷 https://t.co/75N7qolSan
Having moved up to third with their 2-0 defeat of Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday, as Mexico beat Honduras 3-0 and Costa Rica drew 0-0 with Panama, Bruce Arena’s men vitally took something from the Azteca clash to consolidate their position—the top three automatically qualify for Russia 2018.
And a fine performance from the U.S., which included a stunning goal from captain Michael Bradley, saw them come away from the Mexico game with an excellent result.
To put the draw into context, it was only the third time ever the USMNT had earned a qualifying point against their fierce rivals at the Azteca, per Sports Illustrated‘s Grant Wahl.
The match could barely have started better for the U.S. as Bradley put his side ahead inside six minutes with an exquisite 40-yard lob, per Fox Soccer:
FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer
What a chip from Michael Bradley! 😱
Captain America has put the #USMNT up 1-0 early against Mexico. #USAvMEX https://t.co/AlBTYZTxeq
Carlos Vela equalised in the 23rd minute, with his low shot from the edge of the box beating U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan after a slick Mexico counter.
Both sides had further chances, but it was clear as the final whistle approached that the United States were happy to hold on for a draw.
There was little point in going all-out for the win in the toughest away game of the campaign when it could have meant risking a defeat.
Now the U.S. are well set to kick on and secure a top-three spot, and beating Costa Rica would be a huge boost.
There are still four games of the qualifying campaign remaining, and a defeat to La Sele would not be terminal.
But it would ease the pressure heading into the final stretch as the Stars and Stripes look to secure a spot at an eighth consecutive World Cup.