The U.S. men's national team earned a draw in its toughest test of the Gregg Berhalter era so far, tying Chile 1-1 at the Houston Dynamo's BBVA Compass Stadium Tuesday night.
Christian Pulisic scored in the fourth minute, but Chile answered five minutes later through Oscar Opazo. Despite flipping the script on the USA under Berhalter and bossing two-thirds of the possession, Chile couldn't find the go-ahead strike, and the teams played to the draw as they continue preparations for their respective summer competitions. The match left plenty for the U.S. to work on, but the big worry came just after the half-hour mark, when Pulisic was forced out of the match with a quad injury. U.S. Soccer called his substitution precautionary, but it marked the second time in two matches that the U.S. lost a key player after Weston McKennie was injured in the 1-0 win over Ecuador last week.
Berhalter promised changes for the U.S. lineup between games, and he delivered them, making seven in total. Pulisic, Tim Ream, Gyasi Zardes and Paul Arriola also started vs. Ecuador, while Tyler Adams returned to RB Leipzig and McKennie was unavailable for selection.
The USA wasted little time in taking the lead. It came off Route 1 play down the middle, with Ethan Horvath booting the ball down the center of the field. Zardes exhibited a lovely first touch, turn and flick ahead, playing Pulisic in on goal. The Chelsea-bound playmaker dinked the ball over Gabriel Arias and it trickled into the goal, giving the USA a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.
Chile responded well and pulled even five minutes later. Off a sequence that had the USA on its heels in its own half of the field, Charles Aranguiz had a chance blocked, with the ball falling into the path of Opazo. He delivered from a tight, left-sided angle, beating Horvath to make it 1-1.
Pulisic looked to strike back in what wound up being a wide open first quarter hour, linking up with Zardes again. The Columbus Crew forward played Pulisic down the left, where he burned Gonzalo Jara for pace, but Arias came off his line to cut off the angle and claim the ball off Pulisic's foot before he could turn a chance on frame.
The USA conceded way more of the ball than it had in the previous three games under Berhalter, with Chile carrying two-thirds of the possession through the opening half hour, but the Americans came up with a bright sequence to relieve some of that pressure. Playing out of the back, Omar Gonzalez found Cristian Roldan, who pushed forward and fed Pulisic. The goalscorer sprayed it wide left for Arriola, whose dangerous cross was nearly turned home but was instead put out for a corner.
That good work was nearly undone on the other half a couple minutes later. Without looking, Ream hit a backpass toward goal, but Horvath wasn't looking for it, and he inadvertently almost played Nicolas Castillo in on goal only for the goalkeeper to recover and end the threat.
The news got worse for the USA in the 35th minute, when Pulisic was forced to exit the match. He sat on the ground as medics looked at his right thigh area and ultimately wasn't able to continue, coming off for Sebastian Lletget.
After recovering from a number of shaky minutes, the U.S. nearly went ahead just before halftime. Michael Bradley, for a second time, found right winger Corey Baird with a pinpoint long pass, but the RSL star's volley wasn't hit with full precision and was saved by a diving Arias.
There was more of the same to start the second half, with Chile putting the U.S. on its heels, but the Americans had a chance to go ahead in the 55th minute. It came on a broken play, with Baird's ball in for Lletget trickling into the edge of the area. Zardes pounced, but he overhit his chance, putting it over the bar.
Berhalter introduced a tactical change moments later, taking Baird off for left back Daniel Lovitz. That effectively put the U.S. in a 5-4-1/3-6-1, with Lovitz and Yedlin as wingbacks and Ream, Gonzalez and Matt Miazga the three center backs. About minutes later, Berhalter made another tweak, bringing Wil Trapp in for Arriola to help the U.S. close down the center of the park, where Chile was having its way.
That helped slow the Chileans and get the U.S. a stronger foothold, with the air coming out of the ball as the game wound down. Chile did wind up with a decent chance to go ahead in the final minutes, with Sebastian Vegas flicking a header on goal off a free kick, but Horvath made the clean catch on the save to preserve the draw.
Here were the lineups for both sides:
Here were the rosters for both teams:
Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Sean Johnson (New York City FC)
Defenders: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Omar Gonzalez (Atlas), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Reading), Tim Ream (Fulham), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)
Midfielders: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)
Forwards: Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Jonathan Lewis (New York City FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Ramirez (Los Angeles FC), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)
Goalkeepers: Gabriel Arias (Racing), Brayan Cortés (Colo Colo), Lawrence Vigouroux (Swindon Town)
Defenders: Paulo Díaz (Al-Ahli), Gonzalo Jara (Estudiantes de La Plata), Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahce), Eugenio Mena (Racing), Sebastián Vegas (Monarcas Morelia), Guillermo Maripán (Deportivo Alavés), Igor Lichnovsky (Cruz Azul), Óscar Opazo (Colo Colo)
Midfielders: Charles Aránguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Pedro Pablo Hernández (Independiente), Jimmy Martínez (Universidad de Chile), Gary Medel (Besiktas), Arturo Vidal (Barcelona), Erick Pulgar (Bologna), Esteban Pavez (Colo Colo), Diego Valdés (Santos Laguna)
Forwards: Nicolas Castillo (América), Jean Meneses (León), Felipe Mora (Pumas UNAM), Iván Morales (Colo Colo), Diego Rubio (Colorado Rapids)