US battle for hard-earned point at Azteca vs Mexico in WC qualifier


US battle for hard-earned point at Azteca vs Mexico in WC qualifier

MEXICO CITY — Michael Bradley scored a stunning early goal from about 40 yards and the U.S. hung on for a 1-1 tie against Mexico in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday night, gaining only its third point at Azteca Stadium as coach Bruce Arena changed seven starters and used a five-man defense to overcome the thin air and short recovery time.

Bradley put the U.S. ahead in the sixth minute when he deflected a poor backpass by Mexican star Javier Hernandez and created his own breakaway.

Carlos Vela tied the score in the 23rd minute with a 23-yard shot that beat goalkeeper Brad Guzan to the near post, and Hector Herrera nearly put El Tri ahead in the 71st with a 30-yard free kick that rebounded off the crossbar.

With its second draw in three road qualifiers, the U.S. continued to recover from its awful 0-2 start last fall and prompted chants of "U-S-A!" from the American Outlaws section in the upper deck.

"It's a shame to give away the goal that we did," Bradley said. "Any time you can get a point here it's great. ... Now we can move ourselves forward."

Mexico leads the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 14 points, followed by Costa Rica (eight), the U.S. (seven), Panama (six), Honduras (four) and Trinidad and Tobago three. The top three advance to next year's World Cup in Russia, and the fourth-place team faces Asia's No. 5 nation in a playoff.

Panama hosts Honduras on Tuesday, when Costa Rica is home against T&T.

Mexico was trying to sweep the Americans in a qualifying cycle for the first time 1972. The U.S. was 0-19-1 in Mexico City — getting outscored 81-14 — before a 1-0 exhibition win in 2012. The U.S. held Mexico to 0-0 in qualifiers at Azteca in 1997 and 2013,

With Estadio Azteca at 7,820 feet above sea level and just two off days between games, Arena paid close attention to recovery time and tested his roster's depth.

Bradley, one of just four holdovers in the U.S. starting lineup from Thursday night's 2-0 home win over Trinidad, stunned the boisterous crowd of about 81,000. Hector Moreno passed to Hernandez, who passed back for Herrera in the center circle.

Reading the play, Bradley quickly stepped up and knocked the ball toward Mexico's goal. Bradley sprinted to catch up with the ball, and when he reached it lofted a right-footed shot from about 40 yards over goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa's outstretched left arm and under the crossbar. An exuberant Bradley ran to the endline and raised the badge on his jersey to the several thousand red-white-and-blue-clad fans.

He became just the fifth American to score at Azteca, joining Michael Orozco (2012), Charlie Davies (2009), Eddie Lewis (2005), Ricky Davis (1980), Willy Roy (1972).

Bobby Wood failed in to knock in an open shot from close range that could have made it 2-0, and Vela scored on a counterattack. Ochoa made a long outlet throw to Hernandez, who passed to Vela on the right flank. He dribbled around DaMarcus Beasley and across the top of the penalty area, and from the arc beat Guzan.

Fans booed and whistled "The Star-Spangled Banner," as usual when the Americans play in Mexico, and there was an occasional T-shirt disparaging U.S. President Donald Trump.

A downpour began during second-half injury time.

Guzan took over in goal from Tim Howard, and Beasley, Tim Ream and Omar Gonzalez joined the back line in a 5-4-1 formation. Kellyn Acosta and Paul Arriola were in midfield and Wood at forward. In addition to Bradley, 18-year-old midfielder Christian Pulisic remained in the lineup along with right back DeAndre Yedlin and center back Geoff Cameron.

Beasley at 35 became the first American to appear in qualifiers of five World Cup cycles. He had not started for the U.S. since the October 2015 loss to Mexico in a playoff for a Confederations Cup berth..

Mexico was trying to sweep the Americans in a qualifying cycle for the first time 1972.

Bradley is encouraged by the Americans' progress under Arena.

"Look, we were pretty honest with ourselves and we had let a lot of little things drop," he said.

Defensive lapses cost Quakes in first loss of new season


Defensive lapses cost Quakes in first loss of new season


Is Saturday's road effort a sign of things to come or a new team trying to gel?

After a 2017 campaign where the San Jose Earthquakes struggled on the road -- especially defensively -- the 2018 season did not start much better in a 3-2 loss to Sporting Kansas City. 

"Of course, I am disappointed to be leaving here without points," said Quakes head coach Mikael Stahre, "but especially because in the first half and then in the first 15 minutes of the second we played really well."

The teams went into the half tied but Sporting Kansas scored twice in the second half, both times taking advantage of San Jose's gift of enough space for KC to take advantage of.

Chris Wondolowski scored for the Quakes -- putting him 10 goals away from Landon Donovan in the MLS all-time race and all alone in second place on that list. 

"I wish we could have won," Wondolowski said. "but credit to our team and Magnus [Eriksson] for putting that ball in there. To finish it was pretty cool, but hopefully we will get a couple more wins."

After conceeding a penalty halfway through the second half, Valeri Qazaishvili equalized in minute 34, following up his own header attempt and cashing in for his second goal of the seaon. 

But that would be all San Jose could muster for the majority of the second half.

Graham Zusi scored in the 56th minute on a beauty of a shot. 

Felipe Gutierrez will be awarded with the game-winner after a left-footed bullet beat Andrew Tarbell.  

San Jose (1-1-0) is winless in its last four against Sporting.

"We came here with ambition to win the game, or second best to leave with a point," Stahre said. "We fought until the end and it was really important for us to score the second goal, but I felt at halftime that we could have won the game. Then we conceded the second goal and we lost the momentum. They are a good team, but I think we can take some positive things with us."

Earthquakes media services contributed to this report.

Quakes choose young FIU defender with their first pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft

Quakes choose young FIU defender with their first pick in 2018 MLS SuperDraft

The San Jose Earthquakes are hoping they've caught lighting in a bottle twice. 

Last season, Nick Lima emerged as one of the game's best young defenders. And on Day 1 of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, San Jose went to the fullback well with the selection of Paul Marie from Florida International University with the 12th pick in the first round. 

"Paul has the profile we were looking for from the very beginning heading into the combine and the draft," said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli via press release. "We were looking for a fullback. We see in him an offensive-minded outside back that has technical qualities and the ability to read the game."

Experts pegged Marie, 22, as a late-first, early-second-round selection. But a pair of solid days during the MLS Combine boosted the Frenchman's stock -- especially on San Jose's board. According to Fioranelli, Marie was No. 4 on their draft board -- having him there at No. 12 must have felt like a steal for Fioranelli and staff. 

"We especially liked that he has character and in the interview that we had with him, he convinced us," Fioranelli said. "The entire coaching staff are really excited about having him part of the club."

San Jose not only lucked out that their fourth-best footballer was there at 12, but with American parents, he does not take up an international slot for San Jose -- the team is still three players over their allotment.

In an interview after his selection with Jason Davis of Sirius XM radio, Marie told San Jose fans what they can expect from the defender. 

"They can expect Paul Marie to give it all for San Jose," he said. 

The Quakes were in need of defensive depth going in to Day 1 of the SuperDraft. In Marie, they have a fullback who can stretch the pitch from the right side and be a backup to Lima.