World Cup Qualifying

USMNT battles Mexico to scoreless draw in qualifier at Azteca

Bradley (Getty)


Embattled and undermanned, the U.S. Men’s National Team traveled to the daunting grounds of Estadio Azteca on Tuesday night and secured a valuable road point, fending off wave after wave of Mexican attack en route to the scoreless draw.

The match marked just the second time the U.S. has earned a result in Mexico during World Cup qualifying, after the first came via a similar 0-0 contest in 1997. With the tie, the U.S. improved to 1-22-2 all-time on Mexico soil — and the team is 1-0-1 at Azteca under coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Through three matches in the hexagonal, the Americans sit in third place at 1-1-1, while Mexico is in fifth at 0-0-3.

For the U.S., the heroes were many. The raw center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler more than held its own. Backup goalkeeper Brad Guzan delivered a commanding performance. In midfield, veterans Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey held the ball when the Americans desperately needed to relieve the pressure.

Mexico seized control from the start. By 20 minutes in, El Tri had already drawn yellow cards on half of the American back line, with Besler — earning just his second cap — and DaMarcus Beasley going in the book.

But Mexico couldn’t cash in on its chances. When the referee’s assistant signaled for a penalty kick as Bradley’s challenge sent Javier Hernandez tumbling in the box, the man in the middle waved play on. Later, Hernandez’s header off a goal-crashing run went over the bar.

After halftime, it was more of the same. As Mexico created chance after chance, it was the physicality of Gonzalez and the anticipation of Besler that snuffed the opportunities, keeping the home side off the board despite the defensive duo’s inexperience.

In the 76th minute, Mexico again appealed for a penalty as Maurice Edu appeared to take down Javier Aquino from behind. The referee ignored penalty appeals a corner kick, and U.S. breathed a sigh of relief once more.

When the U.S. in the fourth minute of stoppage time steered away Mexico’s 15th corner kick of the match, the result was secure.

  • espada

    I don’t know if we can really say much on how the US team can create scoring opportunities at this point because well… the squad wasn’t at full strength imo. Just imagine if Donovan, Dolo, Torres, Castillo, Chandler, F. Johnson, Jones, Williams, Howard, and yes even Shea were all match fit, they could’ve made a huge difference. It’s gonna pretty interesting seeing the June WCQ squad if all these guys are ready.


  • Frank

    Why the hell is Herc the designated set piece taker?? Because he had one lucky set piece goal in the last round? Bradley or Zusi should’ve been taking the kicks.


  • markwriter

    Seems like the players play better for their clubs than for the national team. I do wonder if Klinsmann’s practices are preventing cohesion. Altidore is definitely impacted by the overall team play, but Dempsey as well, and many of the others.

    Or perhaps a less negative way of putting it is there is definitely further opportunity to grow as a unit and play better. The player selection should settle down some and that will help.


  • OB Rick

    Gonzo and Zusi were great and Beasler was a revelation. Really happy for him and he gives me a lot of confidence.

    That tie sure felt like a win!

    I love taking points from Mexico.


  • Gary Page

    With a total makeshift lineup over the last two games the US did well. Consider this–the US had the toughest schedule of any of the teams over the first 3 games, probably had the most injuries, and are only a point behind the leaders. I have been making this point for some time and it has clearly shown through now. This is the deepest and most talented squad in US history. Basically Besler and Beasley were third stringers on defense and Cameron was out of position and yet we achieved the draw for only the second time in qualifying history. Imagine if we had gone to Azteca in years past playing a back line as inexperienced as the one we used tonight. We probably would have lost 3 to 0. You know if we could get everyone back and healthy (including Holden), this could turn out to be a darn good team, maybe good enough to make the quarter finals in the WC, depending on the draw, of course.


    • biff

      pretty much agree, but want to note that Cameron was NOT out of position. He has been playing mostly right back for Stoke since last September and I much prefer Cameron at RB playing with full heart and spirit than the prima donna Timothy Chandler.


    • Old School


      This post stinks of someone that simply does not like Jones instead of trying to look at it objectively.

      Jones > Edu

      To say otherwise, is to admit to being visually impaired.


      • baropbop

        That’s true. I don’t like him. His liabilities far exceed his benefits. Clean sheets are extremely rare when he is on the field, especially with Bradley. Glad to see a match without constant stoppage and endless retaliation, which is all his “edge” brings to the game. A game in azteca that never really gotbtesty nevwr haopena if he starts. Edu is a better optiin in the bucket because he can recover all the way back with comfort. Bradley is far better at attacking and several players are better at possession.


    • Peter

      Agreed!!! Not saying Jones is not better than Edu but Bradley/Jones is not better than Bradley/Edu or Jones/Edu. He allows them both to be creative. You could go Bradley/Jones/Edu and let Bradley and Jones roam.


    • beachbum

      No, but maybe better without Chandler. I’ll take Gonzo-Besler with Cameron on the right all day and Chandler can stay away


      • White Kix

        His injury got us 4 points and saved Klinsmann’s job.


  • Benjamin

    Excellent performance from the US, they got lucky, but they earned their luck… Gonzo and Besler proved that the CB postion is a little deeper than everyone thought. Need to get Morrow some experience; athletic, strong, fast, and most importantly of all he plays the position that was being exploited by the Mexicans all night long. Beasly’s experience got him the start, justly, but if Morrow had any caps at all, you got to think he would have been in the lineup (Get him in there for the Gold Cup). Great game, and probably the best we could’ve hoped for given all the injuries we suffered.


  • DC Josh

    A back 5 that never played together before, played in Beast Mode. Unbelievable result. It reminded me of Spain in 2009. Pure heart and guts.


    • DC Josh

      And hypothetically speaking, with a full strength squad we would have won that game last night.


  • THomas

    Besler/Gonzo tandem is the truth. Gonzo cuts out everything in the air and Besler intercepted final pass after final pass all night.


  • Troy

    Everyone talks up Omar – who was definitely on fire last night. But Bradley was really the backbone of our possession. He even had that run into the box that came oh so close. Without Bradley last night, Mexico would have had a lot more momentum and many more chances.


  • primoone

    Beasley at LB is dodging some bullets for suspect defending…He had some good plays and he had some head-scratchers. You can mess up on the other side of the field all day…one mess up in defense and you could be in a world of hurt.


  • Kevin H

    One goal in two games. Granted, one game was in inches of snow and the other at Azteca, but I’d still like to see more chances created from the team.

    But hats off to the defensive work, which gave us four points. Gonzalez made some impeccable tackles and blocks, and Beasley was outstanding (especially considering he was our 2nd or 3rd backup!), despite getting beat up, stomped on, pulling his hamstring, etc.


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