USA Escape Qualifier vs. Mexico with Draw After Penalty Kick Controversy

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2013

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 26:  Javier Aquino (#11) of Mexico fights for the ball with DaMarcus Beasley (#10) of the United States during a match between Mexico and US as part of FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier at The Azteca stadium on March 26, 2013 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images)
Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

All it has taken for the United States to earn four key points in World Cup qualifying over this international break was a snowstorm and a missed call against Mexico in the always intimidating Estadio Azteca.

Hey, we'll take the points any way we can get them, right?

The United States earned a vital scoreless draw in Mexico City on Tuesday night, though Mexico will argue at least two missed calls that would have led to penalty kicks affected the outcome. And they would be justified in making that argument.

Here are the game's highlights, in case you missed it.

I think Michael Bradley's push on Javier Hernandez was a good non-call, though it could have been called a penalty. I didn't think the contact was that great and the ball was never even played through to Hernandez. 

I understand why Mexico feel it should have been called, but I think it would have been a weak penalty in a game where the stakes were way too high for weak penalties. 

Maurice Edu's second-half takedown of Javier Aquino was definitely a missed call, however. There, Mexico had a legitimate gripe. The United States was lucky that wasn't called, plain and simple.

Still, Mexico has only itself to blame. The team created plenty of opportunities and was clearly the more threatening team throughout, but El Tri simply couldn't finish its opportunities. Chicharito in particular will lament his inability to put the ball in the net.

What is even more surprising is that Mexico couldn't score in its Azteca fortress against a weakened United States squad that was without key contributors like Jermaine Jones, Clarence Goodson and Tim Howard. 

The men of the match were undoubtedly Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez, the United States' pair of central defenders that have combined for just six international caps but played like wily old veterans. Mexico didn't finish its many chances, but Besler and Gonzalez didn't make it easy on them, either.

Goalie Brad Guzan was also excellent, showing no fear in leaving his line to swat away threatening balls in the box. 

In the end, the United States can take away positives from this game. Sure, the team was probably lucky a late-game penalty wasn't called, but the United States played excellent defense throughout, remained composed in a tough environment and showed improved possession and poise on the ball as the game wore on.

Mexico can complain about a call all it wants, but El Tri blew its opportunities. That was the real story of this game, not a missed penalty call. 

But the United States did what it needed to do to earn a draw and put itself in a wonderful position to qualify for the World Cup with seven hexagonal games remaining. 

And sure, a little snow and a missed call didn't hurt. 

 

Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets didn't see no stinkin' foul! (Okay, yes they did, but they ignored it and you should too.)

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