MEXICO CITY — The United States held on for a 0-0 draw with Mexico on Tuesday, earning only its second point in a World Cup qualifier at Azteca Stadium.
The draw moves the U.S. into third place in World Cup qualifying for the North and Central American and Caribbean region, one point behind Panama and behind Costa Rica on goal difference, which also has four points.
“We wanted to win, but we are pleased with the result,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “They gave us everything they have.”
Mexico coach Manuel de la Torre is sure to come under fire after a third straight draw. El Tri had plenty of chances, but couldn’t finish and were dismal on set pieces. Mexico had 15 corners, including three in the last two minutes of stoppage time as, and U.S. keeper Brad Guzan used his body to block the most dangerous one, by Angel Reyna.
Azteca is one of the world’s most imposing venues, and the Americans have a miserable track record there. They are 0-13-2 in World Cup qualifiers in Mexico, with their only other point — also from a 0-0 draw — coming in 1997.
Mexico dominated possession, and Javier Aquino, Javier Hernandez and Jesus Zavala repeatedly tested the inexperienced American defense, picking on DaMarcus Beasley in particular after he was shown a yellow card in the eighth minute. But defender Omar Gonzalez came up with one big play after another, and Matt Besler looked quite comfortable in the Azteca pressure-cooker.
“The guys were outstanding,” Klinsmann said. “Our back line, you know, many said they were inexperienced. They deserve a huge compliment. …If one guy is not here, that’s a huge opportunity to the next one stepping in, and I think the guys that stepped in here, they took their chance.”
Mexico blew numerous chances, including what should have been a couple of easy goals for Hernandez.
The Manchester United striker misplayed a bouncing corner kick in the 87th, getting only the back of his right foot on it. He pitched forward and into the net, but the ball popped skyward and over the goal. In the 28th minute, Jorge Torres Nilo sent a perfect cross in to Chicharito, who was right in front of the goal, just a few feet from Guzan. But Hernandez skied that one, too.
The United States never really challenged Mexican goalkeeper Guilermo Ochoa. But their defense was strong enough.