Michael Bradley, take a bow.
The U.S. men’s soccer team needed a boost in a hostile environment on Sunday, and they got one from their captain. Michael Bradley intercepted a pass in the midfield early against Mexico, and lobbed his shot from long range over Guillermo Ochoa for the first goal of the match. In a stadium they’ve never recorded a competitive victory, the Americans were ahead after six minutes.
It’s the fastest goal against Mexico in USMNT history. The strike came after a rough start for USA, after two early incidents in which players were inadvertently elbowed. The rivalry between countries is fierce, and during the pregame Alexi Lalas called it the biggest international matchup in the world.
Mexico has been cruising through World Cup qualifying, and Bradley’s goal is the first time they’ve trailed in this round. In fact, they had not previously trailed since their Copa America loss to Chile almost one year ago.
It’s a big match for the Americans, who have never won a qualifier at Estadio Azteca. A win would put them four points ahead of Panama for the final CONCACAF qualifying slot, helping them to avoid a potential playoff on the Road to Russia 2018.