U.S. national team holds on for rare draw in Mexico
The Americans weathered 15 corner kicks to earn their second tie in a World Cup qualifying match in Mexico, where they have never won.
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MEXICO CITY — It is one thing to beat Mexico at Estadio Azteca in a friendly match, as the United States did last summer. It is something much more rewarding to forge a tie in a World Cup qualifying match, as the Americans did, 0-0, on Tuesday night.
A U.S. team that endured criticism of its coach both internally and externally only a week ago is now 1-1-1 in the final round of regional qualifying and in an inviting position with four of its final seven matches to be played at home.
"Many people said it couldn't be done," said Herculez Gomez, who plays professionally in Mexico. "We showed just a tremendous attitude, a tremendous willingness to sacrifice for one another."
With Costa Rica defeating Jamaica, 2-0, on Tuesday and Panama winning by the same score over Honduras, the United States is now in third place — on goal differential — in the CONCACAF region.
The top three teams in Concacaf will automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, while the fourth-place team will enter a playoff against New Zealand.
The Americans will take heart from a composed and gutsy performance with yet another makeshift lineup, this one including Matt Besler — making his second international appearance, his first in a qualifier — in central defense after Clarence Goodson was scratched with a strained hamstring.
Besler and Omar Gonzalez settled in with calm professionalism, impeccable communication and timely interventions as Mexico (0-0-3) failed to win for a third consecutive match in this qualifying round before an impatient crowd of more than 100,000 at the Azteca.
"The guys were outstanding," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "Our back line, you know, many said they were inexperienced. They deserve a huge compliment."
Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson came on in the 55th minute, replacing Jozy Altidore.
The Americans have played 15 qualifying matches in Mexico, losing 13 and drawing twice.
Costa Rica protest
ZURICH — FIFA upheld the United States' 1-0 win over Costa Rica in a World CuP qualifier last week, saying the protest was not filed correctly.
The Ticos were angered by referee Joel Aguilar's decision to allow the game in Commerce City, Colo., to be played on a snowy field.
World Cup regulations required Ticos captain Bryan Ruiz to "immediately lodge a protest" with the referee if he believed the field became unplayable, FIFA said.
Pedro Rodriguez scored in Spain's 1-0 victory at France, lifting the reigning champions out of a slump following back-to-back draws.
• England stumbled again, drawing 1-1 at Group H leader Montenegro to remain two points back.
• Egypt moved closer to its first World Cup in 20 years with a 2-1 victory over Zimbabwe. It was the first time fans had been allowed into the stadium for an Egyptian home game in more than a year.