United States draws with Mexico in World Cup qualifier

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A week ago the United States national team found itself injury depleted, dealing with some internal turmoil and not so far from a full-blown crisis.

These things do change quickly, though, and tonight finds the United States with four big points from a pair of matches over five nights, striding away from a memorable few days, comfortably positioned in final round World Cup qualifying.

The Americans were hardly overwhelming in a 0-0 draw with Mexico, but Jurgen Klinsmann and his patchwork back line will be far more pleased with Tuesday’s result than the hapless Mexicans, who have (Shockingly!) zero wins after three matches in the final stage of CONCACAF regional qualifying.

The United States never put a shot on goal Tuesday. But neither did they allow much bother for goalkeeper Brad Guzan as quality center back play and a first-half defensive adjustment reduced Mexico and high-scoring Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez – who remains on the hunt for his first goal against the United States – to a series of half-chances and a couple of unlucky, close-in ricochets.

Guzan handled a few routine balls and needed to make one late, quality save. But Tim Howard’s replacement was hardly tested otherwise by a rather stale and uncreative Mexican attack. Including last August’s 1-0 win for the United States, El Tri has not scored on the Americans at Azteca Stadium in more than 180 minutes.

(MORE: United States Man of the Match, Omar Gonzalez)

The United States is tied for second with Costa Rica and Honduras in the six-team group (from which three teams automatically qualify for Brazil 2014). But with the toughest match (away to Mexico) behind them, and with four of seven remaining matches on home soil, the Americans have reason to like their positioning tonight.

“I think when many people doubted us, when many people said it couldn’t be done, that it was over, we came together as a group,” Herculez Gomez told ESPN after the match. “We showed tremendous attitude, tremendous willingness to sacrifice for one another … I’ve got to applaud my teammates. It’s a great group of guys, and we couldn’t have asked for any better.”

This was just the second time the United States earned a point in 15 World Cup qualifiers in Mexico; the U.S. record there now is 0-13-2.

U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann made just two changes form the team that stamped “mission accomplished” across last Friday’s snowy proceedings outside Denver. Maurice Edu was in for the injured Jermaine Jones at the holding midfield spot. And Matt Besler got his first World Cup qualifier start for Clarence Goodson, who picked up a minor injury in Friday’s 1-0 win over Costa Rica.

Mexico’s plan was clear – and it was causing some U.S. defensive headaches early. El Tri looked for Gio Dos Santos or Javier Aquino on the right or Andrés Guardado on the left with diagonal balls, repeatedly catching the U.S. fullbacks a little too far forward.

(MORE: Mexico left to deal with their own crisis)

DaMarcus Beasley looked particularly bothered, reinforcing the worry that the veteran midfielder, pulling emergency left back duty, would be stretched in a match that demanded more defending. Indeed, Mexico at Azteca is a wholly different beast than what Beasley saw Friday at home against Costa Rica.

Two U.S. men had yellow cards in the first 20 minutes. In fact, Beasley needed just eight minutes to get his booking for an unwise push in the back on Aquino.

Those weren’t the only defensive issues early. Jesus Zavala was allowed a wide open header off a free kick, as Geoff Cameron appeared to lose his man. And the United States’ midfield was allowing too much service from 35-40 yards out, begging for trouble with a goal-scorer of supreme instinct like Hernandez is around.

But a defensive tweak helped as what looked like a 4-2-3-1 to begin Tuesday’s contest evolved necessarily into more of a 4-4-2. When Graham Zusi and Herculez Gomez moved their starting positions along the flanks about 10-15 yards back, providing more assistance to their fullbacks, the Mexicans looked slightly less dangerous.

(MORE:  A big point in Mexico City took a bit of  luck, too)

Mexico, running out of ideas, became predictable. They remained dangerous on the flanks, but Besler and especially Omar Gonzalez remained faithfully in the center, refusing to be drawn out, and were so dominant in there. Cameron also did solid work in his second consecutive start at right back.

“‘The back line was outstanding,” Klinsmann said. “It’s really wonderful to see these guys take on these challenges. And it’s a huge challenge in front of 100,000 people, and it seemed like it didn’t bother them.”

Mexican fans will surely be upset about the most dangerous moment for their team, which has not scored at home so far in two final round qualifiers. El Tri was unlucky to be denied a 75th minute penalty appeal when Edu bundled into Aquino from behind 10 yards from goal.

Potter, Trossard lament latest bit of Brighton misfortune

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Less than 18 hours after ProSoccerTalk posited that positive Brighton and Hove Albion’s lack of luck must be coming to an end, Graham Potter’s hosts smashed the post five times and had VAR award a penalty after the final whistle had blown.

Sorry, Seagulls supporters.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The match ended when Neal Maupay’s handball was spotted after the Seagulls had leveled the match at 2 deep in stoppage time, Bruno Fernandes scoring the decisive penalty in a 3-2 for the visitors to the Amex Stadium.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side was lucky on a day they were out-attempted 18-7, while Potter could simply muster, “That’s football” regarding the posts and extremely late VAR drama.

That said, he does wonder how the match got to the eighth-minute in the first place. Hashtag Fergie Time.

Here’s Potter via the Brighton and Hove Independent:

“I’d say we deserved something from the game,” Potter sad. “I would say that’s an understatement.”

Potter said he “didn’t know where the extra time came from,” adding: “I thought we scored with the last kick of the game. … We are bitterly disappointed to concede the way we have, at the time we have.”

Expected goals site Understat says Brighton won the xG battle 2.98-1.58.

Brighton winger Leandro Trossard was responsible for three of the five posts struck by the losing side.

“Unbelievable, the feeling I can’t describe, we were the better team today,” he said. “We deserved at least a point, it’s a shame. There were five minutes added on and we played at least seven. Sometimes it’s just not your day.”

Even for a side as snakebit as the Seagulls, Saturday’s loss is a sick one.

Man United ‘got away with one’ after dramatic late win at Brighton

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Manchester United reaction from Brighton was honest as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players looked somewhat sheepish as they snuck out of the Amex Stadium with a dramatic 3-2 win.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

After being dominated for most of the game, Man United went behind then equalized via an own goal and took the lead after a piece of solo brilliance from Marcus Rashford.

Brighton saw a penalty kick decision overturned, hit the woodwork five times and then scored a 95th minute equalizer, only for Man United to be awarded a penalty kick after the final whistle blew as VAR was used and Bruno Fernandes won it in the 100th minute.

Speaking to BT Sport in the UK after the game, Solskjaer couldn’t help but laugh when trying to sum it all up and he admitted Man United secured an undeserved win.

“You can’t sum it up. We got away with one, to be fair. Maybe one point was what we deserved. I don’t think we deserved more,” Solskjaer admitted with his Manchester United reaction. “The character deserved more. That’s a big thing for us, compared to last season. We had too many draws last season. They [Brighton] created too much for my liking. They are a difficult team to play against and they have really good ball players at the back.

“We don’t really have the legs and sharpness still, but we will get there. We have plenty of work to do, we know that, and the players know that. The players know we got away with one. We have to take the points and know we have to improve a lot. Last week was disappointing, today at least we showed the character and showed a response and the lads showed their quality a few times. Strikers and forward making chances and David de Gea making saves.”

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]    

Bruno Fernandes had a mixed outing and his Manchester United reaction showcased that. The Portuguese superstar set up the first goal via a free kick, set up Rashford’s superb strike and scored the late penalty kick winner, but he also gave away a penalty kick and lost Solly March for Brighton’s late equalizer.

“It is a difficult game. In the first half we left so many spaces for them to play. We were not as aggressive as I want. Big teams need to believe until the end. We created the chance, and at this point we need to look forward and do much better than we did today,” Fernandes said. “The point is to score goals, not hitting the crossbar and the post. Sometimes you have to have luck and the goalkeeper playing well and David de Gea did really well.”

Manchester United have now lost to Crystal Palace and snuck by Brighton in their first two games of the Premier League season and it is clear that Solskjaer’s side are yet to hit full fitness after a brief offseason due to reaching the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League.

Brighton were unlucky. Man United were unlucky. Solskjaer admitted it, and that’s fair enough. But sooner rather than later they have to get back up to speed as the Red Devils will be left behind.

They now face Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal within their next four Premier League games and they won’t let them off the hook like Brighton did.

Instant classic: Manchester United beat unlucky Brighton amid late drama

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Brighton – Manchester United: This was an instant classic, as Brighton hit the woodwork five times and Graham Potter’s side coughed up a lead but fought back to make it 2-2 in the 94th minute, only for Man United to win it in the 100th minute via a penalty kick.

[ REACTION: Man United – ‘We got away with one’ ]

Neal Maupay’s Panenka penalty gave Brighton a deserved lead but an own goal from Lewis Dunk and a sublime solo effort from Marcus Rashford saw Man United fight back in a dramatic game which saw VAR heavily used, penalty kicks overturned and a late equalizer in the 95th minute from Solly March.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

But with the final act of the game Harry Maguire’s header was handled by Maupay and after the referee blew the final whistle, VAR was used to award a penalty which Bruno Fernandes fired home to win it.

Man United have now picked up three points from their first two games of the season against Crystal Palace and Brighton, but it has been far from straightforward. Here’s a look at everything from a wild Brighton – Manchester United clash.


3 things we learned: Brighton – Manchester United

1. Rashford and Fernandes ooze class: Sure, Fernandes gave away a penalty kick and could have done better on Brighton’s goal but he oozed class when they needed him most. His free kick set up the first, he set Rashford away for his brilliant goal and then he smashed home the penalty late on to win it. Rashford’s solo goal was brilliant and his direct running on the break was always a threat. United’s two superstars stood tall on a day when many others struggled. That was the difference.

2. Silky Brighton unlucky: They didn’t deserve to lose this game. They just didn’t. Leandro Trossard hit the woodwork three times on his own (post, post and crossbar hat trick) and Brighton hit it five times total. Graham Potter’s side were silky on the ball and created so many chances. They had 18 shots, had a penalty overturned and found David de Gea in good form. If only they could finish. Based on their early season showings there is no way Brighton will be in relegation trouble and they will instead by pushing for the top 10.

3. Man United struggling to shake off rust: This was by no means a deserved win for Man United, but they will take it. Solskjaer’s side are struggling to shake off the rust after their European exploits this summer and even though they had glimpses of brilliance, overall they struggled to control this game. They look like a team playing a preseason game and that’s because, well, they are, given the schedule they’ve had. Things will improve, and they have to. Fast. Big games against fellow top six teams are coming up in the next few weeks.

Man of the Match: Marcus Rashford – His brilliant solo goal was stunning and he carried United’s threat. Trossard was a very, very close second.


Brighton started well and Leandro Trossard went so close to opening the scoring as his lovely left-footed shot smashed off the post and out. Man United barely woke up and their first chance of the game fell to Greenwood but he dragged his effort wide, then Bruno Fernandes’ cross just evaded Anthony Martial and skipped wide.

Trossard then hit the other post with a low shot as Brighton’s fluid play caused Man United plenty of problems. Brighton then hit the bar as Adam Webster’s looping header flicked off the bar with De Gea again trying to claw it away.

Before half time Man United’s star attacking trio combined as Martial found Rashford who played in Greenwood to finish, but Rashford was just offside. Brighton then took the lead as Bruno Fernandes clipped Tariq Lamptey’s heels in the box and a penalty was given, which Maupay scored with a Panenka.

Right on half time Man United equalized as Fernandes’ free kick to the back post was flicked back in by Nemanja Matic and a combination of Maguire and Lewis Dunk bundled it home.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The start of the second half started in frantic fashion as Aaron Connolly won a penalty kick after contact from Paul Pogba, but the referee overturned the penalty kick decision after looking at the pitch-side monitor and realizing that Connolly initiated the contact.

Rashford then had a one goal disallowed and scored another soon after as his superb solo effort was deflected into the top corner to give Man United the lead. Brighton kept pouring forward and after a lovely flowing move, Solly March hit the inside of the post as the Seagulls were denied by the woodwork for a fourth time in the game.

There was time for Trossard to hit the crossbar to complete his unwanted hat trick as the Seagulls hit the woodwork for a fifth time, then David de Gea denied Trossard as he stood tall in stoppage time.

Brighton’s equalizer did arrive as March headed home in the 95th minute but the drama wasn’t over. With the final act of the game Harry Maguire’s header in the 97th minute but headed off the line, but after the referee blew the final whistle VAR was used and Maupay had clearly handled the ball.

A penalty kick was given and Fernandes smashed home to seal a dramatic 3-2 for Man United with the final kick of the game.

VIDEO: Rashford scores stunning goal v. Brighton

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Marcus Rashford goal v Brighton will be trending very soon.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

Rashford scored a simply superb solo goal in the second half to put Manchester United 2-1 up against Brighton.

The England forward was set free by Bruno Fernandes and ran towards goal but still had four Brighton defenders and a goalkeeper to beat.

He did that, beating one defender twice, as he cut past Ben White easily, turned Brighton’s defense inside out and his shot found the top corner as Man United’s players celebrated wildly and Brighton’s players were left on the floor in a heap.

Rashford had a goal disallowed in the second half as the England star was a real threat on the break and even though Brighton dominated the game and hit the woodwork five times, Man United’s extra clinical edge shone through.

Their academy product led the way as Rashford added another fine strike to his collection as he stands tall for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side early in the season.

Check out the Rashford stunner in the video above, as the England and Man United was at his very best to lead his team at Brighton.