The United States men’s national team made the dangerous trek to Mexico City for an important World Cup qualifying match up against the Mexican nationals at Estadio Azteca. It had been 41 years since the visiting team has won a World Cup qualifier between the two teams, and the Americans were looking to make history as El Tri was hoping to hold home court.
USA vs. Mexico is one of the greatest rivalries in sports and tonight’s game lived up to all of the expectations.
The two sides started out the game with your typical feeling out process, but Mexico was encouraged early as they were able to play wide and find plenty of open space on the pitch. El Tri wasn’t quite dialing in their crosses to start, but their tempo and ball movement was a positive sign in the opening minutes.
Mexico had the best opportunities to next a goal in the first half, but they were unable to capitalize. The Americans were able to control the spacing in the midfield and keep the Mexican attack off balance. They really began to settle down near the end of the first 45 minutes. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they weren’t able to mount much of an offense attack and their inexperience on defense was showing.
Neither team was stellar in the first half that ended with a nil-nil tie.
El Tri opened the second half very aggressive and spent plenty of time in the attacking half. If they would misplay the ball, the pressure would instantly get to the Americans as the Mexicans would retake possession of the ball and go back on the attack. The commitment for the Mexicans to come away with the win was evident, but they were struggling to find quality looks.
The big advantage for the Mexicans was DeMarcus Beasley’s ineffective defense. He was constantly struggling on the back line and getting torched by the Mexican attackers.
Team USA struggled to get the ball out of their half throughout the entire game as the Mexicans continued to put pressure on the USA defense. In the final minutes, the Americans were given a gift when they got away with an obvious foul that would have resulted in a penalty kick for the Mexicans. There was no one watching and no one calling the game that denied that was a clear penalty that the referees missed.
It was the second call inside the box that the refs had missed.
In the final few minutes, with the score still tied at zero, the Americans retreated all of their players back deep to prevent a late scoring opportunity for the Mexicans. A poor challenge led to a set piece for the Mexicans and a flurry of late cornerbacks gave El Tri numerous attempts to net the game-winning goal in stoppage time.
Unfortunately for the Mexicans, they were unable to capitalize and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
It was only the second time in history that the Americans escaped Estadio Azteca with a point in World Cup qualifying. Mexico remains unbeaten at home in 26 straight qualifiers.
Neither team was able to do enough to win and they will now continue the qualifying journey as they eye their next match up in September on American soil.