My 3 Thoughts on Mexico-USMNT
A Hard-Earned U.S. Point Against Its Archrival Puts the U.S. in Position to Effectively Qualify for the World Cup At Home on Sunday Against Panama
MEXICO CITY — The USMNT tied Mexico 0-0 in the 12th game of the 14-match World Cup qualifying Octagonal on Thursday, leaving the U.S. and Mexico with 22 points. Here are my three thoughts on the game:
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• This was a solid result and a professional performance by the United States. For the third straight World Cup qualifying cycle, the U.S. got a well-earned point in the Estadio Azteca, which is no longer as intimidating a cauldron for the USMNT or, for that matter, any visiting opposition. The U.S. defending was tenacious all over the field, especially on a backline anchored by Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson, and Mexican attacking stars Raúl Jiménez, Chucky Lozano and Tecatito Corona weren’t able to threaten much. The visitors succeeded in being hard to play against—a hallmark of the best U.S. teams over the years. Gregg Berhalter’s team didn’t just shut up shop, though, choosing to counter and move forward when the opportunities arose. This was a smart performance by a young U.S. team playing beyond its years. There was no better symbol of that than captain Tyler Adams, the 23-year-old midfielder who didn’t put a foot wrong, defended well and avoided getting a yellow card that would have caused him to be suspended for Sunday’s huge game at home against Panama. This was a big point for the U.S., which would effectively clinch a World Cup berth with a win against the Panamanians. So far, so good in this qualifying window for Berhalter’s team.
• Christian Pulisic and Jordan Pefok had the game’s best scoring chances. Pulisic had a sitter in front of the Mexican goal late in the first half thanks to a terrific cross from Tim Weah, but Pulisic hit his left-footed, redirected shot right at Mexican goalkeeper Memo Ochoa, who made the save. The in-close misfire was reminiscent of the early chance that Pulisic had in the recent English League Cup final against Liverpool, which he also was unable to convert. Pulisic pounded the turf in frustration after the missed opportunity, knowing full well that it could have been the breakthrough the U.S. was looking for. Then in the 72nd minute, Pefok somehow missed a golden chance in front of the Mexican goal, meeting Gio Reyna’s excellent pass with a shot far wide to the right. When it comes down to it, the U.S. came closer to scoring in this game and will regret not having done so on the two best chances the Yanks had.
• This Mexico isn’t very good. That’s an opinion that applies not just to Thursday’s game, but also to most of this World Cup qualifying campaign. There’s a reason Coach Tata Martino was lustily booed and whistled by the home fans when his name was announced before the game. Mexico didn’t create many scoring chances against the U.S., its midfield was pedestrian and there wasn’t a player that appeared to strike real fear into the U.S. players. Look for the calls for the return of all-time leading scorer Chicharito Hernández to only grow louder, because it needs someone who can put the ball in the net. Yes, Mexico will probably still qualify for the World Cup, but this Mexico is an older team, and older teams don’t tend to do well at World Cups, which increasingly are better-suited for young teams like the U.S. and Canada.
What were your thoughts on the game? You can share them in the comments below.
A point there is almost always a good result; and it’s a good one tonight. But we should have won.
Extremely proud of the USMNT. Defenders were on point, even though the final 15 was a bit nerve wracking. For a team with injured stars, away at Azteca, I am happy with a point. We own our own destiny.