Soccer: Green makes U.S. debut in 2-2 draw with Mexico
Glendale, Ariz. • U.S. versus Mexico lived up to its billing with the rivals battling to a 2-2 draw Wednesday night, and provided a possible glimpse into the future with 18-year-old Julian Green making his first national team appearance for the Americans.
The highly touted Green made his senior U.S. debut, coming on in the 59th minute as a substitute at midfielder for Brad Davis.
Green was on the pitch as Mexico completed a rally from a two-goal deficit to earn the exhibition match draw at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"All the players that were here today gave everything they had, and if they understand that a game goes at least 90 minutes ... we had 55, maybe 60 maximum at that (World Cup) level. So that means we have a lot of homework to do," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said, lamenting a non-call against Green in which he wanted a penalty in the closing minutes of the game. "You saw in some moments what this kid is capable to do. He goes in the box, he draws two guys. ... It is what it is. Obviously he was nervous, too. He played his first cap in front of 60,000 against Mexico."
Green, the product of German club Bayern Munich's developmental system, recently committed his international soccer future to the United States national team.
Born in Tampa, Fla., but raised in Germany, Green has played for both German and U.S. national teams from the U-16 to U-19 levels. He was called in last year by Klinsmann, but declined the invitation to attend the team's camp at that time.
Green appeared to injure his shoulder in the 80th minute after he fell down, but was checked out quickly on the sideline and returned to the field. Klinsmann said Green simply lost his balance.
Mexico turned a dreadful first half into a tight game following captain Rafael Marquez's 49th-minute goal. Mexico became more active on the attack and threatened to tie on almost every run in the second half.
The tying goal came in the 67th minute. Alan Pulido collected the rebound of Paul Aguilar's shot that hit the post and kicked the ball into an open net.
"We got a tie that we needed to get," Mexico goalkeeper Moises Munoz said in Spanish.
Both teams had chances to take the lead late in the match. Second-half substitute Eddie Johnson was ruled offside and his goal was nullified in the 85th minute. Mexico's Miguel Angel Ponce took a shot in the 86th minute that barely went over the goal.
Early on, the U.S. looked as if it might run away with another satisfying win over its biggest rival. It took the U.S. less than 15 minutes to get on the scoreboard.
Midfielder Michael Bradley outran Mexico midfielder Jesus Zavala to a corner kick that went far post from Zusi, and Bradley finished with one touch to give the Americans the early lead.
The U.S. set the pace of the match early, making runs down the field several times and making Mexico's defense work and drawing corner kicks.
The U.S. took a two-goal lead in the 28th minute with some effective passing. Clint Dempsey sent the ball wide to Tony Beltran, a defender making just his third appearance for the national team. Beltran crossed to Bradley, who found Chris Wondolowski to his left near the goal, and Wondolowski slotted the ball into the net.
The goal elicited chants of "Dos a Cero" from outnumbered U.S. fans, in reference to the final score of several previous U.S. wins over Mexico in the long history of the rivalry.
"The first half we came out really well. The second half Mexico kind of got together and played really well," Wondolowski said. "There's a lot of learning points that we take from this game that can help us out throughout the summer."
Mexico's first goal came off a corner kick from Marco Fabian to Marquez, who found space in the box for an on-target header. Four minutes later, Marquez got free for another header that goalie Nick Rimando had to tip over the cross bar.
"We're still in a good position heading into the World Cup," Zavala said. "We were down, but we knew we had to lift our heads and we got the tie."
U.S. midfielder Landon Donovan, who is hoping to play in his fourth World Cup, was bothered by left knee soreness during training sessions earlier in the week and did not start, entering the match as a sub in the 59th minute.
"He didn't train well," Klinsmann said. "He understood it. He was ready and came off the bench, no problem."
The match served as a pre-World Cup tuneup for both teams as they evaluate players to be on their respective World Cup rosters. The next U.S exhibition is May 27 against Azerbaijan at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. Mexico hosts Israel in Mexico City on May 28.