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U.S. earns a point in Azteca

March 27, 2013 | 4:14 am No comments
By Shaun Schafer

Perhaps this was the reason for hiring Jurgen Klinsmann: The man is undefeated in leading the United States against Mexico.

Admittedly, it’s only two games, but Klinsmann’s 1-0-1 record now includes a critical point on the road to Brazil 2014 earned in Azteca Stadium on Tuesday night. By holding Mexico 0-0, the United States moved to 1-1-1 in World Cup qualifying and improved to 0-13-2 all time in qualifiers played in the Mexican capital.

Considering it had been 15 years since the U.S. had knicked its lone point against Mexico — in another 0-0 tie in 1997 — Tuesday’s result feels like a victory. The Yanks have looked better, but rarely gotten a result in the cauldron of altitude, El Tri supporters and smoggy air.

Gamers: Goalkeeper Brad Guzan kept his second clean sheet and earned plaudits for his three saves. Coach Klinsmann also has to get some of the credit for going with Matt Besler in the middle of defense in his second appearance for the national team. Besler and Omar Gonzalez looked raw at times, but showed promise in limiting Mexico’s chances.

All-in-all, this was the sort of result American soccer fans were hoping for in hiring the German coach. For an evening, the constantly shifting lineups, inefficient attacks and puzzling results could be put aside.

In the span of five days, the disjointed debacle of a 2-1 loss in Honduras to start qualifying has been replaced by the joy of a home win in a blizzard on Friday and a precious point in Mexico on Tuesday. For Klinsmann supporters, this was a realization of the promise in his hiring.

Next Up: After this brief international window, qualifying will resume for the U.S. on June 7 with a trip to “The Office” in Jamaica. The Yanks finally get a second home game on June 11 against Panama at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

Panama is atop the hexagonal in qualifying, with the U.S. tied for second with Honduras and Costa Rica. Mexico is languishing in fifth with Jamaica at the bottom of the table.

The U.S. will also get a test in a “Centennial Celebration” on June 2 against Germany at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Germany boasts a 5-0-1 record so far in World Cup qualifying and stands atop Europe’s Group C. Klinsmann’s former side has racked up 22 goals in qualifying, while his current side has mustered two strikes in three qualifiers.

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