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USA Earns Hard-Fought Point in 1-1 World Cup Qualifying Draw with Mexico at Estadio Azteca

MEXICO CITY (June 11, 2017) – The U.S. Men’s National Team utilized a brilliant sixth-minute chip from Michael Bradley and a strong defensive performance to earn a spirited 1-1 draw against Mexico at the monstrous Estadio Azteca on Matchday 6 of CONCACAF’s Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. The tie is the USA’s third all-time at the stadium in World Cup Qualifying and pushes the MNT’s record to 1-8-3 all-time at the iconic venue.  

Heavily pressing Mexico in midfield, the U.S. got out to the best possible start when Michael Bradley cut out a back pass at midfield from Javier Hernandez and quickly drove towards goal. Looking up to find Guillermo Ochoa well off his line, the MNT captain alertly chipped the Mexico goalkeeper from 40 yards, stunning the boisterous crowd into silence as he celebrated in front of the USA’s traveling supporters.

Not content to sit back, the U.S. came close again in the 23rd minute when Bobby Wood’s shot at the six-yard box was partially deflected. Immediately thereafter, Ochoa hurriedly distributed out to Hernandez at midfield before he fed Carlos Vela on the right. The Mexico forward cut inside and hit a blistering low effort from outside the area that caught Brad Guzan leaning the wrong way before it snuck inside the right post.

While the U.S. continued to pick its moments to go forward in the second half, Mexico kept the visitors honest when Hector Herrera rocketed his free kick from 30 yards off the underside of the crossbar in the 71st minute.

Just moments later, Bradley received a bouncing pass from Kellyn Acosta and hit a half volley from 30 yards that beat Ochoa, but rang off the outside of the right post in the 74th minute. 

Relying heavily on an assured performance from the back line in midfield, the U.S. continued to pick out passes and frustrate the home side in the dying moments before center referee Joel Aguilar Chicas blew the final whistle on the well-contested match.

With the result, the USA improves to 2-2-2 and moves level with second-place Costa Rica on eight points in the Final Round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Hexagonal Matchday 6 concludes on Tuesday, June 13 when Panama hosts Honduras and Costa Rica welcomes Trinidad & Tobago.

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - CONCACAF Final Round Standings

TEAM

GP

W

L

D

Pts.

GF

GA

GD

Mexico

6

4

0

2

14

9

2

+7

Costa Rica

5

2

1

2

8

7

3

+4

USA

6

2

2

2

8

11

8

+3

Panama

5

1

1

3

6

2

2

0

Honduras

5

1

3

1

4

4

12

-8

Trinidad & Tobago

5

1

4

0

3

2

8

-6

Next on the Schedule: The MNT reconvenes later this month for a friendly against Ghana on Saturday, July 1 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut before beginng 2017 Gold Cup play against Panama on Saturday, July 8 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. (4:30 p.m. ET; FOX and Univision Networks). Social: Twitter (@ussoccer; @ussoccer_esp); Facebook; Instagram; Snapchat (ussoccer_mnt)

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Michael Bradley, 6th minute:
Utilizing a heavy press in midfield, the U.S. shook off the early jeers of the partisan crowd and took advantage when Michael Bradley anticipated Javier Hernandez’s back pass at midfield. The U.S. captain quickly pushed forward and catching Guillermo Ochoa cheating off his line, alertly chipped the Mexico goalkeeper from 40 yards out for his fifth career international goal vs. El Trí.
USA 1, MEX 0 [WATCH]

MEX – Carlos Vela (Javier Hernandez), 23rd minute: The U.S. nearly went up 2-0 when Bobby Wood’s effort inside the box was partially deflected before Ochoa quickly collected. The Mexico goalkeeper alertly distributed to Javier Hernandez at midfield, where he glided towards goal before laying off for Carlos Vela on the right flank. The Mexico forward cut inside on the dribble and fired a low effort from outside the box that squeezed inside the right post.
USA 1, MEX 1 [WATCH] FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
MEX – Hector Moreno, 62nd minute: The U.S. came close just after the hour mark as Kellyn Acosta snuck into the box on the right and centered a dangerous, low cross for Bobby Wood that was cleared out for a corner thanks to a desperate slide from Moreno.

USA – Geoff Cameron, 75th minute: After a nice spell of possession in the attacking third, Carlos Vela slipped Hirving Lozano into the box on the right where he drove to the end line before centering a pass that was cut out for a corner kick by Cameron at the near post.

NOTES:

  • The 1-1 draw is the USA’s third tie at Estadio Azteca in World Cup Qualifying and fourth positive result in 12 trips to the iconic venue.
  • The USA is unbeaten in it last three trips to the Azteca, going 1-0-2 since 2012.
  • Michael Bradley’s sixth minute goal was the 17th of his international career and fifth all-time against Mexico.
  • The sixth minute strike was also the USA’s fastest at Estadio Azteca, beating Charlie Davies’ ninth minute effort in the 2-1 loss on Aug. 12, 2009.
  • With the start, DaMarcus Beasley earned his 34th World Cup Qualifying appearance and became the first U.S. player to appear in Qualifiers for five different FIFA World Cups. The Fort Wayne, Ind., product earned his first WCQ appearance in the final game of qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup (Nov. 11, 2001 at Trinidad & Tobago).
  • Seven players in the MNT starting XI had previous international or club experience at Estadio Azteca: Paul Arriola, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Brad Guzan and Christian Pulisic.
  • Making his fifth appearance for the U.S. MNT, Paul Arriola earned his first start in World Cup Qualifying.
  • DeAndre Yedlin (44th minute) and Paul Arriola (56th minute) received yellow cards. They join Jozy Altidore, Bradley, Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler, John Brooks and Cameron on the list of U.S. players that will be suspended for a match with their next yellow card in World Cup Qualifying.
  • The MNT moves to a 1-8-3 record in 12 all-time visits to Estadio Azteca and is 0-5-3 in eight World Cup Qualifiers at the historic stadium.
  • U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena took his all-time record against Mexico to 7-4-2, earning his first away result against El Trí.
  • Arena played a big role in the USA turning the tide against Mexico. He of course led the USA to the biggest win in the series with the 2-0 Round of 16 victory at the 2002 FIFA World Cup and has a 7-4-1 all-time record against El Trí, going 2-2-0 in World Cup Qualifying.
  • Pulisic leads all of CONCACAF with five assists during 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualification and has tallied four goals and three assists in his last four international matches.
  • Kellyn Acosta, Arriola and Tim Ream all earn their first caps against Mexico.
  • The U.S. Men’s National Team is 18-34-14 all-time against Mexico and 6-17-6 vs. El Trí in World Cup Qualifying.

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: June 11, 2017
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Estadio Azteca; Mexico City
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Attendance: 71,537
Weather: 76 degrees; cloudy

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F                                                         
USA                             1          0          1        
MEX                            1          0          1 

USA – Michael Bradley                                   6th minute
MEX – Carlos Vela (Javier Hernandez)         23 

Lineups:
USA: 12-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 20-Geoff Cameron, 14-Tim Ream, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Paul Arriola (15-Darlington Nagbe, 63), 16-Kellyn Acosta, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 10-Christian Pulisic (19-Graham Zusi, 90+2); 9-BobbyWood (17-Jozy Altidore, 79)
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 22-Nick Rimando, 5-Matt Besler, 6-John Brooks, 8-Clint Dempsey, 13-Dax McCarty, 18-Jordan Morris, 21-Matt Hedges, 23-Fabian Johnson
Head coach: Bruce Arena 

MEX: 13-Guillermo Ochoa; 3-Carlos Salcedo, 5-Diego Reyes, 15-Héctor Moreno (capt.), 4-Oswaldo Alanís (23-Jesùs Gallardo, 31); 6-Jonathan Dos Santos (18-Orbelín Pineda, 77), 16-Héctor Herrera, 8-Marco Fabián (7-Javier Aquino, 53); 11-Carlos Vela, 14-Javier Hernández, 22-Hirving Lozano
Subs not used: 1-Rodolfo Cota, 12-Alfredo Talavera, 2-Luis Reyes, 9-Raúl Jiménez, 10-Giovani dos Santos, 17-Jürgen Damm, 19-Oribe Peralta, 20-Jesús Dueñas, 21-Jesús Molina
Head coach: Juan Carlos Osorio 

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 7 / 10
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1
Saves: 0 / 0
Corner Kicks: 7 / 9
Fouls: 21 / 13
Offside: 2 / 2 

Misconduct Summary:
USA – DeAndre Yedlin (caution)              44th minute
USA – Paul Arriola (caution)                    56

Officials:
Referee: Joel Aguilar Chicas (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Francisco Zumba Galan (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: William Torres Mejia (SLV)
Fourth Official: Jose Kellys Marquez (CRC) 

Budweiser Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

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MNT Jun 11, 2017

- U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Date: June 11, 2017
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Final Round
Venue: Estadio Azteca; Mexico City
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Attendance: 71,537
Weather: 76 degrees; cloudy

Scoring Summary:    1          2          F                                                          
USA                             1          0          1         
MEX                            1          0          1 

USA – Michael Bradley                                   6th minute
MEX – Carlos Vela (Javier Hernandez)         23 

Lineups:
USA: 12-Brad Guzan; 2-DeAndre Yedlin, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 20-Geoff Cameron, 14-Tim Ream, 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Paul Arriola (15-Darlington Nagbe, 63), 16-Kellyn Acosta, 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 10-Christian Pulisic (19-Graham Zusi, 90+2); 9-BobbyWood (17-Jozy Altidore, 79)
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 22-Nick Rimando, 5-Matt Besler, 6-John Brooks, 8-Clint Dempsey, 13-Dax McCarty, 18-Jordan Morris, 21-Matt Hedges, 23-Fabian Johnson
Head coach: Bruce Arena 

MEX: 13-Guillermo Ochoa; 3-Carlos Salcedo, 5-Diego Reyes, 15-Héctor Moreno (capt.), 4-Oswaldo Alanís (23-Jesùs Gallardo, 31); 6-Jonathan Dos Santos (18-Orbelín Pineda, 77), 16-Héctor Herrera, 8-Marco Fabián (7-Javier Aquino, 53); 11-Carlos Vela, 14-Javier Hernández, 22-Hirving Lozano
Subs not used: 1-Rodolfo Cota, 12-Alfredo Talavera, 2-Luis Reyes, 9-Raúl Jiménez, 10-Giovani dos Santos, 17-Jürgen Damm, 19-Oribe Peralta, 20-Jesús Dueñas, 21-Jesús Molina
Head coach: Juan Carlos Osorio 

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 7 / 10
Shots on Goal: 2 / 1 
Saves: 0 / 0
Corner Kicks: 7 / 9
Fouls: 21 / 13
Offside: 2 / 2 

Misconduct Summary:
USA – DeAndre Yedlin (caution)              44th minute
USA – Paul Arriola (caution)                    56

Officials: 
Referee: Joel Aguilar Chicas (SLV)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Francisco Zumba Galan (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: William Torres Mejia (SLV)
Fourth Official: Jose Kellys Marquez (CRC) 

Budweiser Man of the Match: Michael Bradley

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Vexed by the Hex? A Simple Guide to the Final Round of World Cup Qualifying

The U.S. Men’s National Team has played in the last seven World Cups – one of only six nations in the world to accomplish that feat – and some people naturally assume that every four years the U.S. is just penciled into the bracket. Not so!

In fact, qualifying for the FIFA World Cup out of CONCACAF  is a marathon. Since the current qualifying format was adopted for the 1998 tournament, the U.S. has had to play 16-18 matches spanning two years in order to book its place in the FIFA World Cup.

In the case of the current cycle, the MNT began its quest to qualify for Russia 2018 when it started play in CONCACAF’s Semifinal Round in November 2015. Having finished on top of a group that also featured Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the U.S. now finds itself in the CONCACAF's Final Round of World Cup Qualifying.

The six-team group, nicknamed “The Hex” (short for Hexagonal), pits the top two teams from each of CONCACAF’s three semifinal groups – in this case, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and USA -- in a home-and-away mini-league which began in November 2016 and concludes in October 2017. At the end of the 10-game schedule, the top three teams in The Hex automatically qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Meanwhile, the fourth-place team from CONCACAF will go into an intercontinental playoff with the fifth-place finisher from the Asian Football Confederation’s own qualifying tournament. The winner over two games will be 32nd and final entrant into the World Cup.

Got all that?

Here’s a breakdown of the 10-game schedule the MNT will have to navigate to qualify for its eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup, with a little history added in.

USA 1, Mexico 2 - Nov. 11, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio
Having defeated Mexico 2-0 in each of its previous four Final Round matches played in Columbus, Ohio, the MNT went back to MAPFRE Stadium in November, where they fell 2-1 to a talented Mexico side

A deflected effort from Miguel Layun gave Mexico a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute, before the U.S. suffered another setback when goalkeeper Tim Howard suffered a fractured right adductor while taking a routine goal kick and had to leave the match in the 40th minute. After halftime, the U.S. bounced back through Bobby Wood's 49th minute strike and had chances to push ahead that came up empty. Just as it looked like both teams would settle for a 1-1 draw, Mexico captain Rafael Marquez headed home an 89th minute corner kick from Layun to give El Trí all three points.

WATCH: U.S. Falls 2-1 to Mexico in November 


Costa Rica 4, USA 0 - Nov. 15, 2016 in San Jose, Costa Rica

Four days after falling to Mexico, the U.S. traveled to Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica for a match against Los Ticos. The MNT's success rate in Costa Rica had never been great and while the U.S. nearly went into halftime tied 0-0, but Johan Venegas pushed the home side ahead in the 44th minute. Costa Rica then added strikes from Cristian BolaƄos and a brace from Joel Campbell to run out 4-0 winners.

In the days following the match, Jurgen Klinsmann was replaced by former MNT head coach Bruce Arena, who is charged with righting the ship for the U.S. to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. 

USA 6, Honduras 0 - March 24, 2017 in San Jose, Calif.

After dropping its opening Final Round qualifiers to Mexico and Costa Rica, the USA entered the March slate of games with the necessity to #Get3 points at home against Honduras. Under the guidance of Arena, the team showed up to Avaya Stadium in a big way, using goals from Sebastian Lletget, Michael Bradley, Christian Pulisic and a hat trick from Clint Dempsey to lay down a 6-0 drubbing on Los Catrachos.

The resounding result came despite a number of injury setbacks, showed the response of the team to new leadership under Arena and helped symbolize the MNT's turnaround in its goal of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. 

WATCH: USA Turns Things Around With 6-0 Win vs. Honduras

Panama 1, USA 1 - March 28, 2017 in Panama City, Panama

Four days later, the USA traveled to take on a Panama side that it was in direct competition with for one of the top three spots in the Hex. What transpired at Estadio Rommel Fernandez was a cagey and physical match, high on atmosphere, but devoid of many chances. 

A moment of brilliance from Christian Pulisic saw the U.S. jump on board first. The young attacker chased down a ball up the right side before dispossession Felipe Baloy and shaking off a second defender before centering for Clint Dempsey who scraped home the opening goal in the 39th minute. Just as the U.S. looked headed to halftime, Panama equalized when a long throw in led to a break in the defense and allowed Gabriel Gomez to put home the equalizer from close range.

Just after the break, Pulisic saw a great volley turned away by Baloy, while goalkeeper Tim Howard came up with two big stops to preserve the 1-1 draw and an important away point

After starting the March qualifying set in last place, the win and draw handed the USA four crucial points and moved the side up to fourth heading into June. 

WATCH: U.S. Battles Hard for Important Away Point in Panama

USA 2, Trinidad & Tobago 0 - June 8, 2017 in Commerce City, Colo.

With momentum for March, the U.S. took a high-altitude approach to its June set of qualifiers, playing a warmup friendly against Venezuela in Sandy, Utah, before taking on Trinidad & Tobago at the 5,280 feet provided by Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo. Though favored against the Soca Warriors, the USA was left frustrated in the first half due to the stellar play of Jan-Michael Williams and entered the locker room knotted at 0-0.

The deadlock was broken in the 52nd minute when a clever pass from Jorge Villafaña found Christian Pulisic who poked home the opening goal. Ten minutes later, Jozy Altidore cleverly picked out Pulisic's run before the attacker slotted the icing goal past Williams, giving the USA a 2-0 victory and another crucial three points at home

WATCH: Pulisic Brace Hands U.S. 2-0 Win vs. Soca Warriors

Mexico 1, USA 1 - June 11, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico
With nearly two weeks of altitude adjustment under its belt, the U.S. Men's National Team headed to the vaunted Estadio Azteca to take on rivals Mexico on Matchday 6. A young U.S. midfield featuring Christian Pulisic, Paul Arriola and Kellyn Acosta was joined by captain Michael Bradley, who opened the scoring with a stunning goal just six minutes in. The veteran midfielder anticipated a pass in midfield, quickly countered and sent a 40-yard chip over Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. 

The U.S. continued attacking and came close again through Bobby Wood in the 23rd minute. The saved attempt was quickly collected by Ochoa who sent an outlet pass through midfield to start a Mexico counter and led to the equalizer through Carlos Vela. Both teams would trade chances the rest of the way and Bradley's second effort from distance rang off the post, but in the end, the sides would share the spoils, giving the USA its third all-time draw in World Cup Qualifying at Estadio Azteca

WATCH: Bradley Chip Spurs USA to Road Point at Azteca

USA 0, Costa Rica 2 - Sept. 1, 2017
Riding high off strong performances during June's World Cup Qualifiers and July's Gold Cup championship, the MNT welcomed fellow CONCACAF power Costa Rica to Red Bull Arena. While the U.S. had a number of dangerous opportunities, they were thwarted by the stellar play of goalkeeper Keylor Navas and an unlikely brace from Ticos and San Jose Earthquakes forward Marco Ureña in a 2-0 loss

WATCH: MNT Falls 2-0 to Costa Rica on Matchday 7

Honduras 1,  USA 1 - Sept. 5, 2017
Thanks to the home defeat vs. Costa Rica and other results on Matchday 7, the U.S. found itself with little room for error when it visited Honduras on Sept. 5. A mid-afternoon kickoff meant the players on the field were dealing with heat and humidity that made the temperature feel like it was over 100 degrees. Despite that factor, the MNT looked steady and comfortable through the early going, only to be undone when Rommel Quioto put the home side up 1-0 in the 27th  minute. Nail biting moments ensued, but the USA stayed composed and earned a late free kick when Christian Pulisic was upended about 10 yards from the penalty area. Kellyn Acosta's ensuing take was well saved by Honduras 'keeper Luis Lopez, but a scramble to the right of goal involving Matt Besler and Jordan Morris keeping the ball alive before Bobby Wood buried the dramatic 85th minute equalizer. The goal stood up through the remaining minutes as the U.S. earned an important 1-1 draw

With Honduras sitting level with the U.S. going into the match, the late goal was crucial in making sure the U.S stayed in control of its own destiny going into October's final set of matches. 

WATCH: How They Scored - Bobby Wood's Important Equalizer in Honduras

October 6, 2017 - USA vs. Panama
Historically speaking, the MNT will still be in need of points to qualify when they host Los Canaleros on Matchday 9. The U.S. has won all three of its previous home World Cup Qualifying matches against Panama, outscoring the Central American side 10-0 in process. Last go around, the USA also played a major role in denying Panama a potential place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup when Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson's stoppage time strikes doomed the nation to just missing out on CONCACAF's fourth-place playoff spot. The result has appeared to motivate an improved Panama side, with Los Canaleros playing the USA to four consecutive 1-1 draws, including March's result in Panama City, ever since.

The stakes for USA-Panama, presented by Volpi Foods, are similar to that 2013 match. A Panama win on U.S. soil would see the side book its first World Cup appearance, while a U.S. victory would push the MNT two points ahead of Los Canaleros, keeping the team in the driver's seat for its Matchday 10 visit to Trinidad & Tobago. 

WATCH: U.S. sees off Panama during 2013 Hex in Seattle 

All-Time WCQ Record vs. Panama: 5-0-2
All-Time Home WCQ Record vs. Panama:
3-0-0

October 10, 2017 - Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA
In 1989, the MNT visited Trinidad & Tobago on the final day of World Cup Qualifying knowing that only a win would take the USA to its first World Cup since 1950. On that day, the task of winning away in Port of Spain was no foregone conclusion, and Paul Caligiuri’s “shot heard ‘around the world’ launched the modern era of U.S. Soccer. Flash forward almost 30 years, and anything less than three points there hasn’t met expectations. The MNT learned that lesson last in November 2015 following a 0-0 draw in its semifinal round match at Hasely Crawford Stadium. 

Similar to the match in 1989, this last qualifying game will have huge stakes for the United States, who will no doubt need some kind of result in Trinidad in order to book its ticket to Russia. Not so similar is the fact that the game will be played in tiny Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, approximately 45 minutes away from Hasely Crawford Stadium in the capital, Port of Spain. 

WATCH: Paul Caligiuri sends USA to first World Cup since 1950 

All-Time WCQ Record vs. Trinidad & Tobago: 13-1-3
All-Time Away WCQ Record at Trinidad & Tobago:
4-1-2

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MNT Sep 28, 2017

All For One: Brad Guzan and Ethan Horvath in the Mix During June World Cup Qualifiers

Throughout the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying cycle, ussoccer.com will be documenting the developing competition between the U.S. Men’s National Team’s goalkeeper pool.  Read the first installment of the series here

In naming his June World Cup Qualifying roster, U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena bolstered the goalkeeper contingent with the addition of veteran Brad Guzan and up-and-coming youngster Ethan Horvath along with Tim Howard and Nick Rimando in Denver.

Originally a part of the roster in March, Guzan had to make a judgment call and eventually withdrew from squad due to the impending birth of his second child, a decision he doesn’t regret in the least.

“My wife was expecting our second child, and being on the other side of the pond with not a lot of help it would have been very tough for her. In terms of timing and different things, it was important for me to be there for my wife and welcome our daughter into the world,” he told ussoccer.com.

Though somewhat familiar with Arena – the current MNT boss handed Guzan his first cap as a 21-year-old back in 2006 – Guzan had been looking forward to being a part of the gathering. Though home duty called, he admitted he kept close tabs on what was happening around the team during that camp.

“Whenever a new coach comes in, you want to be involved, you want to make a good first impression, but it was important for me to be there for my family,” he said. “It was always kind of one eye on the team and seeing how the games were going and obviously the results. The guys did a fantastic job to put us back on track and put the qualifying road back in a good position. It was a great two games.”

The U.S. picked up four points thanks to a 6-0 win against Honduras on March 24 and a 1-1 draw at Panama on March 28. That set the table for the June World Cup Qualifiers, where Guzan backed up Tim Howard during the MNT’s 2-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago on June 8, before being called on to mind the net in the USA’s much-anticipated visit to Estadio Azteca three days later.

While he wasn’t forced into making big saves, Guzan’s distribution and control of the penalty area contributed to a complete team performance as the USA walked out of Azteca with a 1-1 draw and a rare point on the road against Mexico.

Now with a new coach at the helm and critical matches still on the horizon, the competition for playing time remains intense.

“With goalkeepers there’s an understanding that only one of us is going to play,” Guzan said.  “You understand that when you take up the position at whatever age, but when you come into a National Team environment you want to push the guys and everyone wants to play. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of this National Team for a few years now and I’ve been able to get some games and experience under my belt.

“Being able to work with someone like Tim has been good for me, and I’m able to push him just as much as he’s able to push me. That’s a good working environment. At the end of the day, you want to get the best out of the team and you need that to get the best out of each other. Whether it’s Tim, Nick, Ethan or whoever, I think we do that here. We have a good group. We like to laugh and joke, but at the same time when it’s time to work we get after it and get the job done.”

The camp also marked another return of sorts for Guzan. Having begun his career with Major League Soccer’s Chivas USA in 2005, the veteran moved to England with Aston Villa three years later. After eight seasons in Birmingham and another one with Middlesbrough, Guzan bid farewell to England last month and is set to begin playing with new M.L.S. side Atlanta United FC in July.

“It’s been a very proud achievement for me to be able to go over there and spend nine years in England, and to have that come to an end is a pretty big change. Both my kids were born there. My wife and myself enjoyed our time greatly and we’re going to miss it, but at the same time we’re excited to be coming back to Atlanta. I’ve been able to see the league grow so much in the nine years since I left. Obviously Chivas USA is no more, but to see the way the league has grown in terms of the quality and the popularity, it’s really exciting. Atlanta is doing great things and I’m excited to be a part of it."

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MNT Jun 23, 2017

Q&A: Bruce Arena on the U.S. MNT's Successful June WCQ Camp

With a few days to reflect on the U.S. Men’s National Team’s successful June World Cup Qualifying camp, Bruce Arena spoke to ussoccer.com about his takeaways from the Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico games and outlook for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

ussoccer.com: On the first day of camp, you told the team about your plan for the two matches which centered around preparing two very different lineups to play in the June World Cup Qualifiers. How did you feel about the team’s response to the approach?

Bruce Arena: “I think there’s enough evidence there to indicate that they responded well to a plan that we had in place. When we came into camp, we had an unprecedented challenge ahead of us with playing two games at altitude and having two less days of rest between games than you typically have. We had to have a plan that not only enabled us to have fresh players available to play against Mexico, but also to deal with the altitude for the two games and the two weeks. Overall, I think the players did well.”

ussoccer.com: In playing nearly two different teams, you made the decision to insert younger players in the midfield, with Paul Arriola and Kellyn Acosta joining Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley. How did you feel they responded to being put into a game of that magnitude?

BA: “I think with Christian we saw the effects of the altitude. He played three full games for us when you include the Venezuela game, and he was really physically done near the 60-minute mark in Mexico and hung in there. That was good, but it also validated the fact that we did need to make changes when you see our fittest player struggling so much. I thought Paul Arriola did an excellent job on the right side of the field, and with a little bit more experience he’ll be a little bit better in passing and having more composure. It’s the same thing with Kellyn. His work rate was outstanding. He could be a little better passer of the ball, but I think the experience for him was outstanding as well.”

ussoccer.com: The U.S. MNT now has eight points and sits in third place after six Final Round World Cup Qualifiers. With you taking over a team that was rooted to the bottom at the start of the Hex, does it now feel like there’s a little more breathing room?

BA: “There’s a little bit more, but there’s not a whole lot. It’s a pretty tight race at this point, and I don’t think we have any interest in finishing fourth. Our goal is second or third place, because I think Mexico is far ahead and it’s unlikely we can catch them. We can be second or third and I don’t really care which way we end up, but we certainly don’t want to be in fourth. Stepping away from this camp, we recognize the home game against Costa Rica on Sept. 1 is critically important to making sure we finish in the top three.”

ussoccer.com: Michael Bradley scored a stunning goal early in the game against Mexico. Could you speak to the U.S. MNT captain’s performance and leadership since you returned as head coach?

BA: “I think he’s been pretty solid with his approach to everything. Michael has been consistently good for us, buys into everything we’re doing and leads the team that way. He’s been very good both on and off the field.”

WATCH: Bradley Discusses Highlight Reel Chip at Azteca

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MNT Jun 15, 2017

BY THE NUMBERS: U.S. MNT's June World Cup Qualifying

The U.S. Men’s National Team just completed a successful three-game stretch in June capped off with four massive points from two important World Cup Qualifiers – a 2-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago and another historic 1-1 draw away to Mexico

Here are some of the significant numbers that stick out:

16,995 feet or 3.2 miles – Combined elevation the U.S. MNT played at during its three June matches: Mexico City (7,382 feet), Commerce City, Colo. (5,164 feet) and Sandy, Utah (4,449 feet).

134 and 39 – Number of overall caps and World Cup Qualifying appearances made by Clint Dempsey. The U.S. forward is tied with Jeff Agoos for third all-time on the MNT caps list and just one World Cup Qualifying appearance behind U.S. MNT leader Landon Donovan (40).

Some current teammates are right on his heels in both categories

All-Time Time U.S. MNT Cap Leaders

All-Time U.S. MNT WCQ Cap Leaders

Cobi Jones

164

Landon Donovan

40

Landon Donovan

157

Clint Dempsey

39

Jeff Agoos

134

Jozy Altidore

37

Clint Dempsey

134

Tim Howard

36

Michael Bradley

133

Michael Bradley

35

Marcelo Balboa

127

DaMarcus Beasley

34 

92% - Average passing percentage in the opponent’s half by U.S. MNT outside backs Jorge Villafaña (92.6%) and DeAndre Yedlin (91.4%) in the 2-0 win vs. Trinidad & Tobago. 

51 – Number of all-time home World Cup Qualifying wins following the 2-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago. The USA is 51-5-12 in 68 all-time home World Cup Qualifying matches. 

WATCH: Michael Bradley Discusses His Chip Against Mexico at Estadio Azteca

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MNT Jun 13, 2017
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