Altidore scores first international goal as U.S. ties
HOUSTON -- U.S. coach Bob Bradley spotted a glaring weakness as the Americans tied Mexico 2-2 in an exhibition game Wednesday night.
Jozy Altidore made his first start for the U.S. team and scored a go-ahead goal late in the first half. Oguchi Onyewu also had goal for the Americans, who twice blew leads but extended their home unbeaten streak against Mexico to 10 (8-0-2).
Bradley was worried by how much faster the Mexican team appeared.
"Against their pressure, our ability to play faster, connect faster, that's certainly something, an area we want to improve," Bradley said. "I see a lot of things we must improve. Tonight, the main thing for me is the ability to play faster."
Onyewu scored his third international goal in the 30th minute, but Magallon's first goal for Mexico tied it five minutes later. Altidore, playing just his third match with the national team, scored in the 40th only to have Magallon retie it in the 47th.
The match, played four months before the teams start qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, drew 70,103 boisterous fans, most of them clad in green and rooting for El Tri.
Mexico controlled the ball most of the match and outshot the Americans 13-3. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard made six saves.
The fast-paced game was marked by physical play with the United States called for 19 fouls and Mexico whistled for 13.
"The teams played this 'friendly' with the intensity of a qualifier," Mexico coach Hugo Sanchez said in a bit of an exaggeration.
Onyewu made a throw-in that led to the first goal. Landon Donovan controlled the long pass over his shoulder, spun and popped the ball back toward the 6-foot-4 Onyewu, who outleaped defender Israel Castro and headed the ball past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa on an angled shot from about 8 yards that went in off a post.
Mexico tied the game on a restart from just outside the penalty area. Pavel Pardo hooked a pass toward the far post and Magallon booted it home as defender Drew Moor grabbed his jersey from behind. The 26-year-old Magallon scored his first goal in 20 career international matches.
"I'm happy for him because, besides being a defender, he also likes to score," Sanchez said of Magallon.
The Americans retook the lead when Altidore, a rising 18-year-old star for Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls, headed a long pass from Moor past a frozen Ochoa.
Clint Dempsey appeared to score another U.S. goal late in the half, but it was negated by an offside call.
Carlos Vela missed a left-footed shot wide of the net in the opening minute of the second half. The Mexicans kept the attack at the American end and tied the game on a corner kick that ended with Magallon beating Moor again.
Moor, who turned 26 last month, was playing in just his fourth international match.
"His positioning is not great, but it was more just the reaction," Bradley said. "You never want to give up those in set pieces. That ability to put yourself in the right spot and react faster is what happens at this level."
This time, Fernando Arce sent the pass across the goal area and Carlos Salcido deflected it to Magallon. Mexico hadn't scored two goals against the Americans since a 2-1 win in a World Cup qualifier at Mexico City on March 27, 2005 -- El Tri's last win in the series.
Mexico generated several more scoring chances, but never got another clear shot on the U.S. goal.
The U.S. and Mexico were meeting for the 54th time. Mexico leads the series 29-14-11, but the Americans have won nine of the last 13 meetings overall, including a 2-1 win in last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup final.