USA Survives House of Horrors, Ties Mexico in WC Qualifier at Estadio Azteca
The United States men's national soccer team entered Mexico's Estadio Azteca, where they have been greeted in the past by urine bombs and bags full of vomit and feces, and got their second point ever at the Azteca by tying Mexico 0-0 in a crucial World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night in Mexico City, Mexico.
The American squad had been 0-13-1 at the Azteca. The only time any U.S. team has won at the stadium described as the citadel of soccer south of the border was when they won last August in a friendly. They are now third in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. The top three teams in the hexagonal will qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The fourth-place team will have to play in a play-in match against New Zealand.
American goaltender Brad Guzan, who plays overseas with Aston Villa, was phenomenal. He helped the Americans withstand 15 corner kicks, including four furious attempts in stoppage time. Guzan was playing for an injured Tim Howard and showed he may actually be the better option for the Americans in goal.
"We disrupted their rhythm to the game," Guzan said. "It's always going to be hectic. You're never going to come to a place like the Azteca and have it nice and easy."
Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler played tremendously on defense for the United States.
The U.S. showed that sometimes it is also better to be lucky than good, as they could have had two fouls called against them inside the box that would have given Mexico penalty kicks that were not called. Michael Bradley seemed to get away with a foul against Chicharito in the first half and a foul could have been called on Maurice Edu with about 15 minutes left in the game. The American squad was fortunate those calls did not go against them in hostile territory as they traditionally have.
Guzan made some spectacular saves in the first half and turned away a blast by Mexico's Angel Reyna in the game's final minutes.
DeMarcus Beasley struggled early for the United States, getting a yellow card and giving away corner kicks, but the U.S. defense bent but did not break. And he came through with some critical plays down the stretch in front of Guzan.
Giovanni Dos Santos and Chicharito could not score for a frustrated Mexican squad that was booed at halftime at the Azteca.
American coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who just a week ago was embattled, is now undefeated at the Azteca and has led the American squad to four points in the past week.
In a statement that encapsulates his ambition and mindset, when a Mexican journalist asked Klinsmann if the tie was like a win for the Americans, Klinsmann reportedly said, "No, it's a tie."