These are Michael Bradley's three most amazing USMNT moments versus Mexico
Michael Bradley has a knack for coming up big against Mexico, not that his every piece of genius leads to three points. The United States men’s national team claimed just one point from Sunday evening's vital World Cup qualifier at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, riding its captain's brilliant early strike and some wonderful defense for a 1-1 draw. It was just the fourth time the U.S. has avoided defeat in 23 Mexico City encounters over 80 years.
It left the U.S. even on points in CONCACAF's final-round hexagonal with second-place Costa Rica. The result also has the team on target to reach Russia next year, the whole point in bringing back Bruce Arena last fall.
Sunday's goal was Bradley's fifth in 11 matches against El Tri, the first coming in a 2-2 draw in Houston back in February 2008. Scoring isn't the central midfielder's chief role, of course, but he's sure been hot against the most hated archrival: two goals, three assists in the last five meetings.
Michael Bradley's greatest moments against Mexico? Here are the top three:
3. Gold Cup final, Pasadena, June 25, 2011
Maybe the most memorable CONCACAF Gold Cup championship game was contested in front of 93,420 at the Rose Bowl a half-dozen years ago, and, like Sunday, Bradley lifted the U.S. to an early lead. Shaking Israel Castro's mark on an eighth-minute corner kick, Bradley’s near-post run ended with a nod of Freddy Adu's service across the goalmouth and off Alfredo Talavera's hands en route to the far-post netting.
Landon Donovan doubled the lead just 15 minutes later, but Mexico had pulled even by halftime, went ahead five minutes into the second half, and secured the trophy with Giovani Dos Santos' jaw-dropping blast to the upper-left corner with about 15 minutes to go. It was El Tri's third straight win over the U.S. -- its first such streak since the 1990s -- and marked the last game Bradley played for his father, Bob, who was dismissed as U.S. head coach in the aftermath of the 4-2 defeat. Jurgen Klinsmann would debut in a 1-1 draw with Mexico in Philadelphia six and a half weeks later.
2. World Cup Qualifier, Mexico City, June 11, 2017
The Americans stunned the 81,000 at Azteca, and all of us watching from afar, before even taking the field Sunday night when Bruce Arena unveiled a 3-4-3 formation with seven lineup changes from Thursday's triumph over Trinidad and Tobago. No Tim Howard, no Fabian Johnson, no Jozy Altidore, and no John Brooks. Bradley, one of the holdovers, provided a bigger shock just six minutes in, picking off a ball at midfield from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, surging forward and -- as casual as can be -- deftly chipping a line drive from 40 yards that soared over Guillermo Ochoa and into the net.
Bradley became the sixth Yank to tally at Azteca, but the advantage held for only 17 minutes, when Carlos Vela equalized off a perfectly engineered counterattack. Both teams had their chances to net a winner, and Bradley came so close to playing hero; his 74th-minute drive, also from outside the box, sailed past a diving Ochoa and caromed off the outside of the right post.
1. World Cup Qualifier, Columbus, Feb. 11, 2009
The Yanks' “Dos-a-Cero” mastery of Mexico in Columbus lasted four World Cup cycles -- 2002 through 2014 -- before El Tri's victory last November, and Bradley was sensational is his first qualifying showdown with the archrivals.
He netted both goals in the 2-0 win, becoming the first American with a brace in the series since Steve Moyers' pair in a 2-1 stunner in 1980. Bradley, then 21, finished a loose ball in the goalmouth to provide the lead just before halftime after Oswaldo Sanchez parried an Oguchi Onyewu header. He then finished off the triumph from Donovan's feed on a counter in second-half stoppage, a dipping 25-yarder that sneaked under Sanchez and into the net.
Scott French is a reporter for FourFourTwo. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJFrench.