Watch: Christian Pulisic's goal gives USA draw with Venezuela in friendly
The U.S. men's national team has a pair of key World Cup qualifiers on the horizon, but before that, the Americans tuned-up against Venezuela with a 1-1 draw in a friendly at Real Salt Lake's Rio Tinto Stadium.
The U.S. conceded first, with Jose Velazquez scoring off a set piece for Venezuela in the 29th minute, but Christian Pulisic equalized in the 61st with his fifth international goal to secure the draw. The U.S. will play Trinidad & Tobago on June 8 prior to heading to the vaunted Estadio Azteca to face Mexico on June 11 in the next set of qualifiers.
Bruce Arena's side stabilized its World Cup qualifying campaign in March, taking four points off Honduras and Panama and leaping from last to fourth in the CONCACAF Hexagonal table. In the process, Clint Dempsey pulled within one of Landon Donovan's all-time record for USA goals, but the veteran was unable to catch Donovan Saturday night against La Vinotinto.
Dempsey attempted an audacious chance in trying to pull even with Donovan in the second minute, lining up a free kick from about 35 yards and having a go at goal, only to put his chance well high of the mark.
Fabian Johnson had a golden chance in the 14th minute after being played in behind the defense by DeAndre Yedlin, but instead of firing away, he took his time, held the ball up and tried to find a streaking Dempsey, who went down in the box but did not draw a penalty.
Pulisic wound up with his first chance in the 19th minute after a cutback cross from left back Jorge Villafaña, but his left-footed chance off the bounce whizzed high of the target.
Venezuela stunned the U.S. off a set piece to score the game's opening goal in the 29th minute. The U.S. failed to clear off a corner kick, and Velazquez, a center back, scored off the high-kick volley in front of goal on a second ball played in over the top to make it 1-0.
Tim Howard made sure it stayed 1-0 with two sensational saves in quick succession. His first came after the U.S. appeared to anticipate a foul call that never came. Yedlin then failed to fully clear, instead teeing up Jhon Murillo for a blast from distance, which Howard put out for a corner with a sprawling stop. On that set piece, Venezuela was gifted an open diving header from point-blank range, but Howard reacted in time to prevent it from crossing the line and sending the ball caroming off the post before it was cleared.
Arena wasn't too pleased with the first-half action.
The U.S. heeded Arena's call in the second half, and it was the 18-year-old Pulisic who did the honors of pulling the U.S. even. Johnson cut back a short cross for Pulisic at the top of the box, where he shook a defender with a touch to his left and hooked a low effort inside the far post to make it 1-1 in the 61st minute with the fifth international goal of his burgeoning career.
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), John Brooks (VfL Wolfsburg), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
GOALKEEPERS: Alain Baroja (Sud América), José Contreras (Deportivo Táchira)
DEFENDERS: Pablo Camacho (Deportivo Táchira), José Luis Marrufo (Mineros de Guayana), Yordan Osorio (Tondela), Rubert Quijada (Caracas F.C.), Jefre Vargas (Arouca), José Manuel Velázquez (Arouca), Mikel Villanueva (Málaga)
MIDFIELDERS: Francisco Flores (Mineros de Guayana), Francisco La Mantía (Deportivo La Guaira), Darwin Machís (CD Leganés), Júnior Moreno (Zulia F.C.), Jhon Murillo (Tondela), Aristóteles Romero (Mineros de Guayana), Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake)
FORWARDS: Salomón Rondón (West Bromwich Albion), Andrés Ponce (Lugano), Edder Farías (Caracas F.C.), Christian Santos (Deportivo Alavés)