For only the second time in their history, the United States have avoided defeat against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. While El Tri were on the front foot for most of the match, and had a couple of very questionable calls go against them, the American defense was impressive in earning a 0-0 draw. It's the USMNT's first point in qualifying away to Mexico since 1997.
Mexico started to attack American left back DaMarcus Beasley, who they perceived as the USMNT's weak point, early and often. Beasley, a career midfielder, was forced into the role due to a lack of fitness and form of other players. He looked to be up for the task in the early going, as he picked the ball off the feet of Javier Aquino in the 7th minute at the end of a long passing sequence, but that was the best he would look in the first half. He was shown a yellow card for a shove on Aquino just one minute later, and he looked a bit out of his depth from then on.
Any concerns American fans might have had about the referee being influenced by the raucous partisan crowd at Estadio Azteca were put to rest in the 13th minute, when Michael Bradley got away with a push on 'Chicharito' Javier Hernandez off the ball in his own penalty area. The linesman waved his flag to signal a foul, but the referee waved play on.
The United States' first good move came in the 15th minute on a counter down the left flank that led to a corner. Geoff Cameron looked like he had an excellent opportunity to score and pushed a dangerous header just wide of the far post, but the referee nullified the corner with a bit of a phantom whistle.
Matt Besler, who started the game in place of the injured Clarence Goodson, put himself in a bit of danger in the 20th minute when he picked up a yellow card for a foul on Giovani dos Santos. He didn't look in danger of picking up a card for the rest of the first half, but it was a concern for the U.S. throughout the match.
Mexico had a pair of chances around the 27th minute, with the first coming on a set piece from their left wing. Jesus Zavala completely lost Cameron at the back post and had a free header, but put it right into Guzan. A minute later, Andres Guardado and Jorge Torres Nilo worked a great move down the left wing, with Torres Nilo putting in a cross, but Hernandez wasn't able to capitalize and put his header over the bar.
That was the last real chance that Mexico had in the first half, as the United States defense settled in. The U.S. had a couple of promising looking counters, but their moves ultimately came to nothing, as both teams struggled to generate chances in the final 15 minutes of the first half.
El Tri came out looking much more lively and assertive to start the second half than they were at any point in the first half. Sensing that his team needed a little more pace and someone with a high work-rate up top, Jurgen Klinsmann brought on Eddie Johnson for Jozy Altidore in the 55th minute, attempting to ease the sustained pressure that Mexico were building by giving them something new to think about.
That substitution, combined with the United States getting used to the tempo that Mexico was trying to push, led to the U.S. settling in and stifling Mexico early in the second half. It took until the 69th minute for Mexico to create a dangerous chance, which came on a set piece. The USMNT failed to clear a corner that fell to Zavala, but he hit his shot off a defender when it looked like he would score, and it deflected wide of goal.
In the 71st minute, the two managers matched substitutions, attempting to achieve entirely different goals. Mexico went risky, substituting attacking winger Angel Reyna in for left back Jorge Torres Nilo. Klinsmann opted for a substitution to give his team a bit more composure on the ball, bringing on Brad Davis for Herculez Gomez.
For the second time in the game, in the 77th minute, the United States got away with a foul in the box. El Tri should have had a spot kick when Maurice Edu barged into the back of Reyna in the box, but the referee, despite having an excellent angle to see the foul, waved play on. Mexico was furious and protested loudly, but as is customary, the referee did not change his mind.
More substitutes entered in the 81st minute, as 'Chepo' Jose Manuel de la Torre continued to push for a winner while Klinsmann opted for an understandably more conservative approach. Omar Bravo, recalled to the team after a long spell away from El Tri, replaced Javier Aquino and moved up top for Mexico. Brek Shea, who said he was not completely fit coming in to national team camp, replaced Graham Zusi. That move shifted Davis, a veteran who has played multiple positions in his career, to the right wing.
Hernandez, who has still not scored against the United States, continued to have a rough go of it late in the second half. In the 87th minute, he once again failed to convert on an excellent chance. He lost his marker on a corner and looked to have a tap-in on the far post after an excellent delivery, but he appeared to trip over his own feet and send the ball wide.
The biggest bit of danger for the United States in stoppage time came in the 92nd minute, when Davis gave away a free kick on the edge of the box and picked up a yellow card in the process. However, the U.S. defense came up big again, clearing away the in-swinging cross. The ensuing corner was cleared as well, but Mexico continued to batter the Americans' goal.
Guzan came up with a huge save in the 93rd minute on a blistering shot by Angel Reyna, denying Mexico, preserving a point and, perhaps more importantly, denying two points to El Tri.
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