Christian Pulisic celebrates his goal with his USMNT teammates. (Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports)
HOUSTON – The United States used a fourth-minute goal from Christian Pulisic and a strong defensive performance in the second half to earn a 1-1 draw with defending Copa América champion Chile in front of 18,033 fans at BBVA Compass Stadium Tuesday night.
At 20 years, 189 days, Pulisic’s strike made him the fastest USMNT player to reach 10 goals all-time, while helping the U.S. extend its unbeaten run to four matches (3-0-1) under new head coach Gregg Berhalter.
The game got off to a furious pace, with the USA jumping ahead through Pulisic in the fourth minute. Under pressure, goalkeeper Ethan Horvath came outside of his box to clear a ball up field, playing a perfect pass to Gyasi Zardes just outside the center circle. Zardes took a touch to bring the ball down before his second put Pulisic through on goal where he chipped Gabriel Arias to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
With Chile spurred on by the early goal, the U.S. lead lasted just five minutes. After a spell of possession at the top of the penalty area, Charles Aránguiz’s shot was deflected into the path of Oscar Opazo, who weighted his effort inside the back right post in the ninth minute. The goal was the first conceded by the U.S. under Berhalter, ending its shutout streak at 279 minutes.
Shortly after the half-hour mark, Pulisic went down at midfield with a right quad injury and as an injury precaution, the attacker made way for Sebastian Lletget in the 36th minute.
Things remained open on the other side of halftime with the U.S. nearly restoring the lead in the 54th minute. After Zardes pushed the ball forward, it got tied up in the Chile back line where Lletget won it back. Zardes ran onto it in the box but pushed his shot just over the bar.
A lively second half provided plenty of action at both ends but resulted in the teams ultimately settling for a 1-1 draw.
The USMNT next sets its sights on the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup to be held across the United States this summer. Set to open training camp in late May, the MNT will play two warm-up friendlies prior to the tournament, before its group stage matches in Saint Paul, Minn. (June 18), Cleveland, Ohio (June 22) and Kansas City, Kan. (June 26).
Concacaf will unveil the USMNT’s group stage opponents in Los Angeles April 10.