Jose Manuel Velazquez

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

USMNT 1-1 Venezuela: Pulisic saves face for Yanks

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  • Yanks go behind
  • Pulisic levels it up
  • Brooks injured
  • U.S. faces T&T in World Cup qualifier on Thurs.

Christian Pulisic has the ability to gloss over plenty of team bad with one sterling individual moment.

The 18-year-old Pulisic’s second half goal  after José Manuel Velázquez gave Venezuela an early lead led the USMNT to a 1-1 draw at Rio Tinto in Sandy, Utah.

The Yanks have five days before Thursday’s World Cup qualifier at home versus Trinidad and Tobago, and eight before a visit to Azteca to face Mexico.

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An early foul had Clint Dempsey teeing up a free kick from 30 yards away, but his shot carried over the bar.

Dempsey had penalty shouts denied when Fabian Johnson deferred on a 14th minute chance and contact had him on the turf.

Darwin Machís of Leganes was an early menace for Venezuela, though he was missing the final ball.

Christian Pulisic tried to sneak a half-volley into the upper 90 in the 19th minute, but missed the mark.

Yet Venezuela hit the scoreboard first, with Velázquez rising to nod home after a corner kick ping-ponged in the 18 to help him lose Fabian Johnson.

Howard made an outstanding save to keep it 1-0, and then another on the corner as he pushed a ball off the post. Set pieces are a major concern heading into next week’s qualifiers.

Venezuela was lively to start the second half, and the Yanks had a new center back pairing within 10 minutes. Omar Gonzalez came on for Geoff Cameron at the break, and Brooks hit the deck with what turned out to be a cramp in the 52nd minute. Brooks returned for a few minutes before Matt Hedges replaced him.

Johnson whiffed on a solid chance in the 57th minute, and a Michael Bradley turnover nearly sprung Venezuela the other way.

Pulisic leveled it up after Nagbe, Villafana, and Johnson teamed up to work on the left. Pulisic worked a pair of defenders before hitting a low shot across the keeper and home.

Subs invigorated the Americans, and Kellyn Acosta’s sweeping free kick was missed by Bobby Wood near the penalty spot and Tim Ream off the back post.

WATCH: Corona’s magical dribble, finish hand Mexico group title over Venezuela

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Your first three Copa America group winners are the United States, Peru and Mexico.

You had that in your predictions, right?

If anything, you may’ve had Mexico tipping Uruguay for Group C, but it’s El Tri and Venezuela moving onto the knockout rounds after a 1-1 draw between Mexico and Venezuela on Monday in Houston.

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HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 13: Jose Manuel Velazquez #6 of Venezuela celebrates after scoring a first half goal during the 2016 Copa America Centenario Group match between Mexico and Venezuela at NRG Stadium on June 13, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Velazquez had Venezuela in front for most of the contest with a scissor-y goal (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Jesus Corona nabbed an 80th minute equalizer for Mexico, and the draw snaps Mexico’s 11-game win streak. Jose Manuel Velazquez scored in the 10th minute to give Venezuela a look at the group title.

Both sides finishes 2W-1D in group play. Mexico will get the runner-up of Group D, while Venezuela will get the winner (probably Argentina).

Both sides came into the group finale with wins over Uruguay and Jamaica, but Mexico had been more impressive. Throw in the fact that Houston was basically a home match, and that makes Monday’s result even more of a surprise.

As a consolation for Venezuela, how about this outstanding save from Tenerife goalkeeper Dani Hernandez? (Their goal was pretty classy, too).

Velazquez scissors early strike, Venezuela surprising Mexico (video)

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Raise your hand if you had Venezuela winning its group at the Copa America Centenario.

Now put it down, those of you outside of Venezuela.

There’s still more than an hour to play in Houston, but Jose Manuel Velazquez of FC Arouca has put Venezuela in front of Mexico.

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And his first international goal in seven years sure was worth the wait, and not just because of the occasion. Watch as Velazquez adjusts to hammer a scissor kick (of sorts) into the Mexico goal.

As it stands, Venezuela would win the group and Mexico would finish second. Uruguay and Jamaica battle for third later tonight.