HOUSTON -- "All right," was the assessment of legendary Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos as he left his luxury box following Mexico's 2-2 tie with the U.S. on Wednesday. "Next time we'll win," he said, before cracking a smile and sticking his tongue out to reveal he wasn't so sure.
El Tri failed for the 10th straight time to beat the U.S. on American soil, but this time the dominating contingent of Mexican supporters in the Houston crowd of 70,103 wasn't left as disappointed as usual.
In the previous nine U.S.-hosted Mexico games, the U.S. won eight and tied once while outscoring the Mexicans, 15-1.
"It was OK," said U.S. defender Carlos Bocanegra. "But disappointing that we gave up the lead twice."
In fact, it was better than "OK." More exciting than "all right."
It was the highest scoring U.S.-Mexico game since a 2-2 tie in 1997 in Foxboro, Mass. That was back when Campos was on the field.
On Wednesday, after an opening 20 minutes on Wednesday that could have had fans regretting the chunk of change they spent on an exhibition -- ticket prices averaged more than $50; parking cost $25 -- the game came alive with three Mexican scoring chances.
But as has become the trend in this rivalry, the U.S., despite fewer chances and less possession, scored first -- a 30th-minute Oguchi Onyewu header cleverly set up when Landon Donovan volleyed the ball over his shoulder across the penalty area.
Jonny Magallón equalized five minutes later in the same fashion that he would scored the goal that made it 2-2 -- by evading right back Drew Moor and poking home from close range. Each came on a set play -- a Pavel Pardo free kick and a Carlos Salcido corner kick.
Moor, who would not have been the starting right back had Steve Cherundolo been healthy, atoned somewhat by serving a pinpoint cross that Jozy Altidore headed past Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa from seven yards.
It was the first U.S. goal for the 18-year-old Altidore, who was making his first start and third appearance.
Altidore partnered in the attack with Clint Dempsey, whose low, long-range strike that seemed to make it 3-1 but was called back for offside on the long ball Moor played from 50 yards.
Donovan played wide right in the midfield. Besides the assist, he rarely troubled the Mexicans. Bobby Convey on the opposite made no impact.
With a central midfield duo Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark, the Americans generally conceded that part of the field to the Mexicans.
"They did a better job of keeping possession than we did," said Dempsey. "But we've always been good at making the most of our chances and putting the ball in the net against them."
Although the outside backs struggled -- shaky left back Ramiro Corrales committed the foul for the free kick on Mexico's first goal -- central defenders Onyewu and Bocanegra limited Mexican forwards Adolfo Bautista and Antoniode Nigris mainly to long-range efforts.
"[Mexico's] ability to play under pressure is very good," said U.S. coach BobBradley. "They have some skillful players and when we play Mexico, that's always a challenge. We have to continue to work on playing and connecting faster when they put us under pressure."