COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With the majority of the 23,677 fans at Crew Stadium rooting him and his United States teammates on, Michael Bradley scored two opportunistic goals to give his American squad another 2-0 victory against Mexico. The match was played in windy conditions and the pitch was soaked from an afternoon of heavy rain, but Bob Bradley's team prevailed in the first game of the final round of CONCACAF 2010 World Cup qualifying. The job was made easier by Rafael Marquez being sent off after seeing a straight red for kicking Tim Howard in the 65th minute during a scramble in front of the American net.
The U.S. adjusted to the 50 mile-per-hour winds quicker in the first half, but Mexico had the first chance of the night. In the 6th minute, El Tri had a dangerous free kick from left of the 18, but Pavel Pardo's attempt went just over the crossbar.
Good hustle by Clint Dempsey in the 12th minute led to a wide ball that DaMarcus Beasley knocked back into the middle of the goal box. Brian Ching jumped to meet the ball, but Mexico's defender just beat him to it.
The U.S. began to assert itself, although the attack had trouble connecting enough passes to make a dangerous run at Oswaldo Sanchez's net. The team's best chance of the first half hour came in the 21st when after Carlos Salcido shoved Ching down just outside the box. Donovan's ensuing shot from near the left arch found its way through the wall but missed the right post by inches.
Dempsey almost put the Americans ahead by one in the 31st when Landon Donovan got on the end of a Beasley cross and dropped it back to the Texan just outside the six-yard box. Dempsey struck it well, but Sanchez was up to the task.
Nery Castillo came out with an injury in the 34th minute and was replaced by San Luis midfielder Israel Martinez. El Tri immediately started gaining its fair share of play, forcing and excellent save from Tim Howard in the 37th minute.
Michael Bradley showed off his offensive prowess seconds later, unleashing a rocket from 30 yards that drifted just wide left of the cage.
Martinez wasted an effort in the 40th minute, barely making Howard work to save his free kick.
Three minutes before halftime, Bradley made it 1-0 on a bouncing ball in the six-yard box. Donovan headed a Beasley corner back across the net, which found Oguchi Onyewu's head. Sanchez made the initial save, diving to his left, but the coach's son was standing in the right place and slammed a half-volley into the net.
Beasley almost made it 2-0 just before the whistle, but he tripped as he made a move on Sanchez.
The first semi-chance of the second half came seven minutes in when Dempsey stole a pass from Aaron Galindo. He raced down the right flank, cut inside, and left the ball for Sacha Kljestan. The center midfielder tried a low centering return pass but it was behind his intended target.
Antonio "Sinha" Naelson came on for Alberto Medina in the 60th minute.
In the 65th minute, Mexico should have scored after Giovanni Dos Santos missed at the near post and the ball flew up into the air. Marquez was shown a straight red after he maliciously crashed into Howard studs-up, making no effort for the ball Howard would clearly claim. The American goalkeeper was given a yellow on the play for stalling.
Even a man-down, Mexico had the majority of possession, but couldn't crack the U.S. backline. El Tri brought on Omar Bravo for the young Dos Santos in the 72nd minute.
Mexico gained a corner in 79th minute after some shoddy defending by Gooch forced Howard off his line to clear the ball behind the touchline. Ricardo Osorio's glancing header off the Pardo corner was cleared from danger by a flying Bocanegra.
Jozy Altidore got his first World Cup qualifying experience in the storied rivalry when he came on for Ching in the 83rd minute, and Ricardo Clark got another taste, taking Kljestan's spot in the 86th.
Altidore made his presence felt with a long run in stoppage time. He was taken down by a Mexican slide tackle just as he dished to Donovan who then crossed to Bradley. The youngster's aim was true, blasting the ball through Sanchez's hands from just outside the 18-yard box. From there, it was just formalities as the U.S. had another 2-0 victory.
Hedjuk -- Bocanegra -- Onyewu -- Pearce
Beasley -- Bradley -- Kljestan -- (Clark 86') -- Dempsey
Ching (Altidore 83')
Galindo -- Marquez -- Salcido -- Ororio
Augusto -- Medina (Naelson 60') -- Pardo -- Dos Santos (Pardo 72')
Castillo (Martinez 34')
Noah Davis covers the Untied States Men's National Team for Goal.com.