The United States passed another huge test with an important 0-0 draw against Mexico in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
It was only the second away point the USA has taken in Mexico in World Cup qualifying history.
Mexico failed to score at home at the Azteca Stadium for the second time in a pair of Hexagonal matches in Mexico City this year. El Tri played to a scoreless draw against Jamaica in last month’s opener followed by a 2-2 tie in Honduras over the weekend. It now has three points in three games.
The USA lost their opener on the road against Honduras but bounced back with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in snowy Colorado on Friday. The nation’s draw against Mexico puts the Americans in a very good position moving forward in qualifying.
They sit in third place in the standings and Mexico is fifth. The top-three finishers after the 10-game schedule will advance to the World Cup while the fourth-placed team will play a one-game playoff against New Zealand for the final spot.
On Tuesday, Mexico had 18 shots (two on target), while the USA had one all night (zero on target).
Mexico had the first real opportunity eight minutes into the match when DaMarcus Beasley pushed Javier Aquino just outside the box, earning the USA left back a yellow card. Gio Dos Santos took the free-kick just to the left of the goal, but his cross sailed across goalkeeper Brad Guzan and out of bounds.
It was just the beginning of a tough night for the makeshift American back line, which was missing Edgar Castillo (facial fractures), Timmy Chandler (hamstring), Steve Cherundolo (knee), Fabian Johnson (hip), Jonathan Spector (ankle), and Danny Williams (illness). Starting keeper Tim Howard (back) was also out.
Mexico dominated scoring opportunities in the first half, although only two of their four attempts in the first 45 minutes caused real panic.
The USA was only able to create one chance before half-time. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore worked a give-and-go in the midfield resulting in Bradley sneaking his way into Mexico’s box, but the midfielder was taken off the ball without a penalty called.
Things for the Americans didn’t get much better to start the second half, and coach Jurgen Klinsmann looked to give his team a spark by taking out Altidore in favour of Eddie Johnson in the 55th minute.
Mexico, meanwhile, continued to dig away at the USA back four and nearly found the back of the net when Jesús Zavala overpowered Bradley off a corner kick in the 68th minute only to see another Mexico attempt fly above the United States’ goal. Seconds later, Graham Zusi hustled back to break up a delivery in what would have been an open Angel Reyna at the six-yard box.
For the second time in the game, the referee kept his whistle away for what appeared to be a clear penalty. In the 76th minute, Maurice Edu took down Javier Aquino from behind, causing a stop in play for the players to protest the call with no success.
Mexico closed the game with a flurry of corner kicks and held possession through added time, but were unable to find the winner.