CONCACAF: USA take a step closer to the World Cup with a goalless draw against Mexico in qualifiers


USA take a step closer to Qatar with a goalless draw against Mexico in CONCACAF qualifiers… and victory against Panama on Sunday could see them clinch a World Cup return after missing out in 2018

  • The USA were left frustrated with a gritty 0-0 draw against Mexico on Thursday
  • Christian Pulisic was twice denied by Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa 
  • But the stalemate put them in a good position to clinch World Cup qualification 
  • They remain second and victory against Panama on Sunday could seal their spot

The United States were frustrated yet pleased with a gritty 0-0 draw on Thursday night in the thin air of a half-full Estadio Azteca. 

The point earned put the Americans in position to all-but clinch a World Cup berth for the first time since 2014 with a victory against Panama on Sunday night in Orlando, Florida. 

Christian Pulisic had the best chances of the game for the visitors but was twice denied by goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

The US earned a point against Mexico to take a step closer to World Cup qualification 

‘We put ourselves in a position to play on Sunday and win and go to the World Cup,’ the Chelsea star said. 

‘But of course I’m disappointed I missed a chance, and I would have loved to have won the game.’ 

Pulisic was alone in front of goal in the 36th minute after Weah got around two defenders. Sprinting toward goal with a defender giving chase, Pulisic redirected the ball with his left foot from seven yards, only for Ochoa to react quickly enough to block the shot off his ribcage.

The winger had another close call with an angled left-foot shot that Ochoa parried in the 49th minute for a corner kick.

The US's Christian Pulisic was twice denied by Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa (pictured)

The US’s Christian Pulisic was twice denied by Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa (pictured)

The Chelsea winger (left) angled a left-footed shot just after the break but saw it parried away

The Chelsea winger (left) angled a left-footed shot just after the break but saw it parried away

Raul Jimenez unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty kick from Guatemalan referee Mario Escobar late in the second half after falling over a leg of defender Walker Zimmerman.

The draw saw the US maintain second place in CONCACAF with 22 points, four behind Canada, and ahead of Mexico on goal difference.

With a victory on Sunday, the US would ensure that fourth-place Costa Rica could only pull even by winning their final two games. The US have a stronger goal difference than the Ticos by seven. 

The US wraps up qualification on March 30 against Costa Rica, where the Americans have never won in qualifying. The top three nations will qualify for Qatar, and the fourth side will advance to a playoff, likely against New Zealand.  

‘We’re getting close,’ US coach Gregg Berhalter said. ‘Positive disappointment, that’s how I would characterise it. The group is jazzed up. They’re psyched.’  

US coach Gregg Berhalter claimed the game was a 'positive disappointment' and insisted his side were 'psyched'

US coach Gregg Berhalter claimed the game was a ‘positive disappointment’ and insisted his side were ‘psyched’

The draw, the third straight in qualifying for the US in the thin air of 7,200-foot elevation Azteca, was costly for Berhalter’s side.

The US coach will be without defender DeAndre Yedlin and winger Tim Weah for Sunday’s clash with Panama, as both were given their second yellow cards of qualifying and are suspended for the game.

Yedlin received his second yellow for an unnecessary slide tackle in midfield in the 26th minute, leaving the US short at right back for Sunday, while Weah got his yellow card in the 39th. 

The US will be without DeAndre Yedlin (right) and Tim Weah for Sunday's game with Panama

The US will be without DeAndre Yedlin (right) and Tim Weah for Sunday’s game with Panama

Sergino Dest is also out with a hamstring injury and Reggie Cannon tested positive for Covid-19.  

FIFA had ordered Mexico to play a pair of home qualifiers without fans as punishment for homophobic chants during October qualifiers against Honduras and Canada.

On Thursday, the Mexican Football Federation limited the crowd to about 30,000 to 40,000 in the 87,000-seat stadium and mandated spectators present a QR Code and identification for entry. 



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