NASHVILLE — The United States men’s national team took advantage of a second-half red card to Angel Zaldivar to take down rival Mexico 1-0 Tuesday night at Nissan Stadium.
The quiet contest sprung to life in the 67th minute, when Zaldivar went in hard on Wil Trapp at the center circle, earning the Mexican midfielder a straight red card. The flashpoint moment came minutes after Matt Miazga mocked 5-foot-6 Diego Lainez’s height following a one-on-one battle on Mexico’s right wing.
— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) September 12, 2018
“What you guys see is normal,” Miazga said. “We talked a little smack. It’s part of the game. It’s mental warfare. We got in their heads and they got a red card right after.”
Four minutes after the red card, a late-arriving Tyler Adams connected with Antonee Robinson’s cross from the left wing and struck the back of the net for his first international goal.
“I feel like after the 60th minute, when I start to make those runs, that midfielders can’t really track me. It was good timing and the ball just trickled right to me,” Adams said. “It was one of the weirdest things. Watching it was like in slo-mo and I was able to finish it.”
Welcome to the rivalry, @tyler_adams14.
— U.S. Soccer MNT (@ussoccer_mnt) September 12, 2018
Adams’ tally was one of the few significant chances the USMNT created in the final third. A creative presence in the middle of the park was lacking for long stretches.
The best scoring opportunity for either side in the first 70 minutes came from Mexico’s Edson Alvarez in the 16th minute, when he powered a header on goal that was denied by a leaping U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
The USMNT started out in a 4-1-4-1 formation, but once Weston McKennie left the game with a left knee sprain, interim manager Dave Sarachan inserted Julian Green in a central position and switched to a 4-2-3-1.
Sarachan’s formation change allowed for some creativity moving forward, especially out of Green, but the home side didn’t take over until after the red card.
The USMNT returns to action Oct. 11 in Tampa, Fla., against Colombia, which will be followed by a match in East Hartford, Conn., versus Peru.