Regardless of your opinion of the officiating in Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier between Mexico and the United States, the Americans certainly showed they have the talent to lead their CONCACAF qualifying group and qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
The U.S. team earned a 0-0 draw against its rivals, despite Mexico winning the possession battle, 58 to 42 percent. Not only is the draw a confidence booster for the Americans, but it significantly raises their chances of qualifying for the World Cup, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
USA now has a 77.5% to qualify for the World Cup after tonight's draw with Mexico, according SPI3/27/2013, 4:31:28 AM
El Tri had owned one of the most impressive home records at the Azteca. As Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated points out, Mexico was an astonishing 68-1-6 in World Cup qualifiers at their home venue. According to ESPN, it was just the second time the U.S. earned an away point vs. Mexico in World Cup qualifying history.
The biggest question surrounding the USA entering this matchup was its defense and goalkeeping, as the Americans were working with backup goalie Brad Guzan instead of Tim Howard, who broke two bones in his back, according to The Guardian.
The U.S. saw Omar Gonzalez emerge as a top center-back in the match against Mexico, as the former MLS Defender of the Year was crucial in shutting down Javier Hernandez. Matt Besler also deserves a ton of credit for limiting Hernandez, Javier Aquino and Jesus Zavala.
Mexico was USA's biggest test so far, and against an opponent with the magnitude of El Tri this is a win in America's book, which bolsters their case as World Cup qualifiers.
Following all of Tuesday's action, here's a look at the updated CONCACAF table.
The draw with Mexico has the United States in prime position to qualify for the 2014 games, especially following the controversial 1-0 victory over Costa Rica.
Guzan and the USA defense faced a lot of pressure on Tuesday—particularly in the first half—but they held tight and proved their worth against a solid opponent by limiting Hernandez and his teammates' opportunities on the attack.
It's very rare that you'll hear this rationalization in sports, but a draw was really a win for the U.S. on Tuesday night.
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