For only the second time ever, the US Men’s National Team went down to one of the biggest, baddest, toughest places in the world to play, and left with a point to show for it.
Azteca Stadium is the 5th largest stadium in the world, and home base to Mexico’s national squad. Until the US won a match last year, the Yanks hadn’t won at Azteca in over 75 years. So playing to a scoreless draw and walking away with one point is fantastic, and it puts the US into a tie for second in qualifying, one point back of group leader Panama.
Plus, a tandem of Sporting players got the start and both performed well.
Graham Zusi got the call on the wing, which was no surprise as he’s been steadily rising up Jurgen Klinsmann‘s depth chart. But relative newcomer to the national squad Matt Besler also got the nod.
KC center back Besler teamed up with LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez nicely to thwart Mexico’s crafty attack. Though Besler doesn’t have the speed to match Chicharito or Dos Santos, his positioning and intelligence paid off multiple times for the US. And DaMarcus Beasley on the left flank provided some cover, but the skinny veteran took a beating as Mexico repeatedly targeted him. Credit to Beasley, though, he hung tough and finished the game even after it looked like he might be carried off on several occasions.
That, and the stellar play of US keeper Brad Guzan – who made three saves and was easily man of the match for me – kept the sheet clean through 90.
The US did benefit from a no-call in the 76th minute after Maurice Edu barreled clumsily into Javier Aquino in the box. The replay looked more to be a foul than it did live though, and the ref wasn’t hearing the Mexican protestations.
The draw moved the Americans to 1-1-1 (4 points) in the Hexagonal and into a three-way tie for second place with Honduras and Costa Rica behind Panama (1-0-2, 5 points). Mexico (0-0-3, 3 points) is in fifth place, and Jamaica (0-1-2, 2 points) is in sixth. The top three finishers qualify directly to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The U.S. will resume World Cup Qualifying on June 7 when it faces Jamaica at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The USA’s next home game in World Cup qualifying will be June 11 against Panama at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington.