The United States sent out a strong lineup against a rebuilding Venezeula team in a friendly designed to prepare the USMNT for the rigors of Estadio Azteca next week.
What likely should have been a comprehensive result was undone by an organized and solid Venezuela team who out played the US early in a 1-1 draw from Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah
It was a forgettable first half for the United States, who despite having an edge in possession, did little with it. Eventually they were punished for their slow start, with Velezuela capitalizing on a failed clearance at the half hour mark.
Junior Moreno started the sequence by taking a corner kick, but eventually the ball fell to him again and he put in another centering cross. On the second time, he found Jose Manuel Velazquez, who lost markers John Brooks and Fabian Johnson in the middle of the box, who headed home the opener.
Right away Venezuela nearly found another goal, forcing Tim Howard into two great saves in the 33rd and 34th minutes. Howard parried wide Moreno’s effort to concede a corner and then gathered Rubert Quijada’s header on the ensuing set piece.
It wouldn’t be until the 61st minute that the USMNT would put a shot on target and also level the match. Fabian Johnson played a square ball to Christian Pulisic at the top of the box, and the teenager fired a shot across goal past keeper Jose Contreras to tie the game 1-1.
The US continued to pressure and search for a winner, with substitutes Jordan Morris and Kellyn Acosta joining the US attacking group. An Acosta free kick could’ve found Bobby Wood late in the second half but instead Tim Ream could only awkwardly get a head on it to redirect the ball well wide. In the 81st minute, Jordan Morris was played in but a hard charging Contreras came off his line to clear the danger. A few minutes later, a DeAndre Yedlin cross found Morris inside the box but his header was straight at Contreras.
Overall, it was a very gutty and inspired performance from Venezuela in particular, who looked lively throughout the match and deserved the result. La Vinotinto were also without several key up and coming players away at the U20 World Cup ahead of a quarterfinal match with the USA U20 team.
Bruce Arena will likely take away a few positives from this match, Kellyn Acosta’s influence in the game in the final half hour as well as the USMNT’s second half overall.