Soccer: United States, Mexico battle to draw at the Azteca

MEXICO CITY — The United States earned a valuable point on the road on Tuesday after battling Mexico to a scoreless stalemate in 2014 World Cup qualifying at the Azteca Stadium.

Coming off an impressive 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in blizzard conditions last Friday in Colorado, manager Jurgen Klinsmann was forced to make a pair of changes to his starting squad on Tuesday.

Maurice Edu was inserted into the midfield for Jermaine Jones, who suffered a foot injury in Friday’s win, and Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler was given his second international appearance in place of Clarence Goodson, who missed the match with a hamstring problem.

Mexico was on the front foot all night long and had its first great chance just eight minutes into the match when Carlos Salcido was taken down just outside the box, but the ensuing free kick flew over U.S. goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s crossbar.

Mexico star striker Javier Hernandez had several chances in the first half to give his team the lead, with his best chance coming in the 26th minute when Jorge Torres raced down the left flank and whipped a cross into the box. Hernandez got his head to it, but again the chance went unfulfilled as the ball floated over the bar.

The sides went into the halftime interval scoreless, but Mexico kept its pressure up in the second 45 minutes and had several more chances.

In the 67th minute, El Tri had another fantastic opportunity when a loose ball fell to Jesus Zavala in the box following a corner kick, but he ripped it over the net.

Controversy arose in the 77th minute when Diego Reyes worked his way into the U.S. penalty area and laid the ball off to Javier Aquino. Aquino was taken down in the box from behind by Edu, but no penalty kick was given, despite protests from several Mexican players.

Mexico pushed numbers forward in the final minutes in search of a winning goal and had another glorious chance when Reyes ripped one on goal from just outside the area, but Guzan came up with a spectacular diving save to keep the sides on level terms.

El Tri ended the match with 15 corner kicks and had two in stoppage time, but were unable to find a winner as the U.S. defense held firm to claim just its second point in Mexico in World Cup qualifying. The U.S. entered the match with an 0-13-1 all-time mark in World Cup qualifiers in Mexico.

The result leaves the United States, which will resume qualifying on June 7 against Jamaica, in third place in the group with four points, while Mexico has three draws from three matches and sits in fifth place.