Jozy Altidore, pictured playing with Toronto FC, tallied against Mexico in a 2-2 tie at Reliant Stadium nine years ago. (Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)
With the United States and Mexico preparing for their World Cup qualifying encounter in Mexico City June 11, FrontRowSoccer.com is looking back at some of the most memorable matches between these two archrivals. Today, the website write about a draw in Texas.
HOUSTON — Red Bulls forward Jozy Altidore scored a goal in his first start for the United States and defender Oguchi Onyewu added a rare score, but those goals weren’t enough to win for the U.S. in a 2-2 tie against Mexico at Reliant Stadium Wednesday night, Feb. 6, 2008.
The nine-year undefeated string for the USA on home soil against El Tri wasn’t snapped in front of a sell-out crowd of 70,103 heavily tipped in favor of Mexico. But the tie was enough to give Mexico a bit of an emotional win and some confidence after suffering a number of offensive no-shows in recent matches north of the border.
The U.S. took the lead twice, only to see Mexico rally for an equalizer each time. Both goals came from defender Jonny Magallon, who twice caught Drew Moor (FC Dallas) on the wrong side of the ball.
But Moor also made Altidore’s goal possible with a perfect cross from the right wing to the head of the 18-year-old forward. Altidore played the full 90 minutes and rewarded coach Bob Bradley with the score in the 40th minute to put the U.S. back in the lead, 2-1.
Onyewu put the Americans in the lead in the 29th minute on a powerful header that banked off the far post just under the crossbar. He started the play on a throw-in from the left side that Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa didn’t clear out efficiently. He fisted the ball to his left and the U.S’.s Landon Donovan trapped the ball just inside the 18-yard box and sent it back in front of the net. Onyewu had stepped up and was in position to head the ball back toward the net, just under the upper 90’s corner.
It was a typical, physical and emotional match between the border countries, with each side utilizing more youth in the lineup than usual.
The first equalizer by Mexico started with a free kick by Pavel Pardo on the right side, 30 yards out. He placed the ball directly in front of the net, just over Moor, who was outraced to the ball by Magallon, who right-footed a volley into the net.
Dempsey seemed to put the U.S. ahead in the 42nd minute, taking a throw in from Onyewu and dribbling through three defenders along penalty line, then cranking a right-footed blast into the net. Celebrations ensued until the referee called the play offside.
The final goal, in the 47th minute, came on a corner kick from Fernando Arce at U.S.’s left flag. The looping ball was flicked on a header by Carlos Salcido, a touch that caught all of the U.S. looking. Again, it was Magallon, moving into the play from the back that barely beat a stretched-out Moor. Magallon’s right foot was just ahead of Moor’s left foot.
Twelve minutes later, Moor made just the right move, moving back quickly to his left deflecting a powerful shot by Carlos Vela. Vela challenged Moor all game, but the Mexico attack found more space on the left side of the Americans, where midfielders Bobby Convey and with former MetroStar Ricardo Clark roamed, along with ex-Metro Ramiro Corrales and Carlos Bocanegra.
Communication on the field was a problem all night, as the roaring crowd gave the game a World Cup-qualifying feel. In the 17th minute, U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard slammed into Bocanegra as the defender drifted back on a high ball. Bocanegra almost came out of the game, but shook it off to play 90 minutes.