The United States men's national soccer team emerged from Estadio Azteca with a point after a 0-0 draw with Mexico, which was the more dangerous side throughout the Tuesday night CONCACAF World Cup qualifier. It wasn't always pretty and there were some very tense moments at the end, but the USMNT got the point it needed.
It's just the second time the U.S. was able to return from Mexico with a qualifying point. Given the extreme parity in the hexagonal group through three matches, it certainly appears every point is going to be crucial when crunch time arrives later in the year.
The draw wasn't without controversy. Mexico made vigorous claims for two penalties, one when Michael Bradley shoved Javier Hernandez and another late in the second half when Javier Aquino was tackled from behind by Maurice Edu.
Neither were granted, and El Tri's efforts to secure a winner in the dying moments came up short. It was a prototypical, hard-nosed performance by the Americans that leaves them above the World Cup cut line with seven matches to go.
Although the match turned into a test of defensive and mental strength for Team USA, especially as the match got deeper into the second half, there were some positives to take away from the match.
The biggest one being the play along the back line. Mexico held possession for nearly 60 percent of the clash, including some extended stretches in the final third, but the unproven American defenders were up to the task every step of the way.
Omar Gonzalez was the most impressive player on the pitch for the United States. The 6'5'' defender was in command of the box all night, clearing away multiple dangerous opportunities and showing the level of aggressiveness needed to survive at center-back at the international level.
How would you grade the U.S.' performance vs. Mexico?
He was joined in the middle by Matt Besler. The Sporting Kansas City star was making just his second appearance for the national team and exceeded all expectations. He helped keep tabs on the always dangerous Chicharito and didn't look the least bit out of place.
DaMarcus Beasley also continued his strong play on the outside. Even in the late stages of the match, when he was clearly playing well below 100 percent, he kept Mexico from gaining the edge with any consistency.
All told, it was a memorable performance for a group that was missing stalwarts like Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo. Brad Guzan also picked up another clean sheet filling in for Tim Howard. He made a highlight-reel save late to preserve the point.
Jurgen Klinsmann would have liked to see more time on the attack, and his three offensive-minded subs illustrated that. But the lack of secondary runs due to players not wanting to get caught upfield made it difficult to break through on the attack.
Still, it's impossible for the United States to complain about earning a point in Mexico. The qualifying campaign is back on track after an opening loss to Honduras and some young players received valuable experience at Estadio Azteca.