Soccer: U.S. satisfied with tie, while Mexico is not

By Kevin Baxter
Los Angeles Times  • 
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MEXICO CITY — Officially, the game ended in a tie. But try telling that to the United States and Mexico, which fought to a scoreless draw in a World Cup qualifying match that left both teams heading in different directions.

For the United States, Tuesday’s result felt like a victory — especially because it came at a sold-out Estadio Azteca, a place where the Americans have never won a World Cup qualifier. Plus, it leaves the U.S. team in third place three games into the six-nation, 10-game qualifying tournament for the World Cup in 2014.

For Mexico, meanwhile, the tie was as humiliating as a loss. El Tri has played two World Cup qualifiers at Azteca in the past two months, and not only is it still looking for its first victory, it’s still looking for its first goal — despite the fact it outshot the United States 17-1.

So for the second time in as many months, Mexico’s fans booed their team off the field after it fell to fifth in a qualifying tournament in which only three teams are guaranteed a bid in Brazil.

“It’s a tie,” said U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann, who was in a celebratory mood nonetheless. “We came here, we wanted to win this game. But obviously, we’re very pleased with this result. Mexico gave us everything they had. Put us under a lot of pressure. It was an unbelievable team effort. But this group is ready for those challenges.”

And it truly was a team effort, especially on the back line, where Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler — playing in a World Cup qualifier for the first time — led a staunch defensive effort that bent several times but never broke.

The U.S. strategy was fairly simple: Make things difficult for Javier “Chichariot” Hernandez, Mexico’s high-scoring striker. And the Americans accomplished that in part by pushing Mexico’s wingers wide and by double-teaming Hernandez in the middle.

So while the U.S. team goes home with a tie that feels like a victory, Mexico is left to lick its wounds — and possibly begin searching for a new coach.

Although Mexico has yet to lose in nine games of World Cup qualifying, coach Jose Manuel de la Torre’s job is rumored to be in jeopardy.

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