A hostile crowd, smog and sometimes heat help create among soccer's bigger homefield advantages at Azteca, which has been reduced from 120,000 capacity to 87,000 during several renovations. Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream and DaMarcus Beasley joined the five-man back line, with Beasley, 35, becoming the first USA player to appear in five World Cup qualifying cycles.
The second half was a much more cagey affair, until Herrera and Bradley livened up the contest.
Three minutes later, Bradley almost scored a wonderful second goal, only to be denied by the woodwork.
Mexico leads the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region with 14 points, followed by Costa Rica (eight), the USA (seven), Panama (six), Honduras (four) and Trinidad and Tobago (three). Panama (six), Honduras (four) and Trinidad and Tobago (three) trail. The top three teams in the six-nation tournament advance automatically to next summer's World Cup in Russian Federation.
Sporting an unexpected 5-4-1/3-4-3 formation with seven changes from the lineup that beat Trinidad & Tobago in Colorado on Thursday, the Yanks gritted out a draw vs. Mexico at Estadio Azteca on Sunday night.
Panama hosts Honduras on Tuesday, when Costa Rica is home against T&T.
Guzan had not started since last November's 4-0 defeat at Costa Rica, the last game before the U.S. Soccer Federation fired coach Jurgen Kinsmann and brought back Arena, the Americans' coach from 1998-2006.More news: Rafael Nadal By The Numbers: his season so far
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"It's going to be very challenging right to end, but I feel good about where we are", Arena said. "I felt like I was able to read what he wanted to do and step in and it led to a good goal for us".
"We've been training that way for the last week to ten days", said United States head coach Bruce Arena on Friday after defeating Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday. Hector Herrera rocked the crossbar with a thundering free kick midway through the second half before Bradley hit the post with a lovely effort from range moments later.
With its second draw in three road qualifiers, the US continued to recover from its very bad 0-2 start last fall and prompted chants of "U-S-A!" from the American Outlaws section in the upper deck.
"Last time we did this in Columbus, it was a maybe", Gonzalez said. The commitment and the mentality from every guy was really, really good and hopefully we can keep moving this team forward'. Mexican fans booed the United States national anthem, which is usual when the USA plays in Estadio Azteca, and there were shirts disparaging Trump all over the stadium.
Beasley at 35 became the first American to appear in qualifiers of five World Cup cycles. On Saturday, he thought about making as many as nine changes. Still, the US 11 was solid, if conservative, with a five-man back line.
"This is critical because you meet even fewer times a year now", Arena said.
And then there was Bradley's highlight reel strike to open the scoring in the sixth minute of Sunday's 1-1 draw.
"I tossed it around in our office with the [assistant] coaches", Arena said.