New England Soccer Today

Historic Draw

The United States Men’s National Team earned a historic point on Tuesday night with a scoreless CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The draw leaves the USA (1-1-1, 4 points) in a three way tie for second in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying final round.

The draw improved the U.S. to 0-13-2 in World Cup Qualifiers in Mexico, with the previous draw coming in 1997. The U.S. had their only win ever at Azteca last summer in a friendly match.

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann made two changes – both forced by injury – to the line-up that won 1-0 over Costa Rica in Denver on Friday. Maurice Edu took over in center midfield for the injured Jermaine Jones, while Matt Besler made his World Cup Qualifying debut in place of Clarence Goodson at center back.

After Mexico piled on the pressure early, the U.S. came close to scoring against the run of play after earning a 15th minute corner kick. Herculez Gomez took the corner and Geoff Cameron, an Attleboro, Mass. native, headed it just wide of the post, though the referee called a phantom foul on the play.

The chances were all Mexico from there. The home side threatened in the 21st minute when a cross from the right flank found Javier Hernandez in the box. Hernandez attempted a header from about 15 yards, but sent his effort high of the net.

Then in the 27th minute Jesús Zavala got wide open on a Mexico free kick. Zavala headed a shot on frame, but a well-positioned Guzan made the save.

Two minutes later it was Mexico with another chance when Jorge Torres Nilo was played down the left flank. Torres Nilo sent a cross into the box, but Hernandez couldn’t put it on frame from close range.

The U.S. would go into halftime with the match still scoreless and tightened up their backline to start the second half. Still, Mexico came close to opening the scoring in the 69th minute after earning a corner kick. The ball found Zavala, who looked certain to score, but his blasted shot deflected off a defender and out for another corner which the U.S. cleared.

Mexico probably should’ve had a penalty kick in the 76th minute when Edu knocked down Javier Aquino from behind in the box, but referee Walter Lopez awarded a corner kick and waved away the protests.

Giovani dos Santos attempted to create something out of nothing in the 82nd minute with a fantastic curling shot in the 82nd minute from distance on the right flank. His effort beat Guzan, but landed just wide of the far post.

Mexico nearly scored twice deep into stoppage time. First, Ángel Reyna blasted a shot from just outside the box towards the near post that Guzan managed to tip just wide for a corner. Off the ensuing corner Zavala had another shot deflected wide.

The U.S. would hold on for the draw thanks to three saves by Guzan and admirable efforts by the center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler.

The U.S. returns to action on May 29 with a friendly against Belgium at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.

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