WCQ: US battles impressively against Mexico for point at Azteca
The Americans’ somewhat historic 0-0 draw with Mexico at the vaunted Azteca Tuesday capped a week that began in turmoil and ended with the U.S. team showing a great amount of character.
Neither last Friday’s 1-0 “Snow Clasico” victory over Costa Rica or Tuesday’s scoreless deadlock In Mexico City were of the attractive style Jurgen Klinsmann said he’d bring to the U.S. side. They were effective however and that has been what’s missing since he took over.
What’s more, the players responded… Some of my thoughts:
Brad Guzan put in two brave performances for Tim Howard and earned two straight clean sheets. The U.S. goalkeeping spot has a strong starter and backup once again and with Sean Johnson, Nick Rimando and Bill Hamid waiting in the wings, it’s a position to worry a little bit less about.
DaMarcus Beasley returned to the side and put in two solid shifts at left back over the last week. Yes, he was beaten a few times Tuesday night but like a tested veteran, he battled through obvious injury to grind out that result. After a somewhat tumultuous time with the national team, Beasley now sits at 99 caps and has more than earned the right to collect his 100th.
Omar Gonzalez was solid in both games and his pairing with the even greener Matt Besler proved a pleasant surprise. Both showed that they’re capable of doing the job on the big stage and with some of the turnover at the back, it’s good to see.
While Clint Dempsey wore the armband, both he and Michael Bradley have proven to be leaders of this team. Two players from the old guard that are stepping up to right the ship is another positive.
Given all the turmoil of the past week, the U.S. performed exceedingly well. It’s also important to remember that Tuesday night’s result came against a Mexico side that might be on the edge of crisis of their own with just three points from their first three matches of the Hexagonal.
It’s also important to remember that this is just one camp. With two of their toughest final round qualifiers out of the way, I’m interested to see how the U.S. performs with three easier matches (two of which are at home) in June.
If they do well, will we look back on this past week as the point in which the U.S. side turned a corner under Jurgen Klinsmann?