Jurgen Klinsmann can breathe a sigh of relief.
After a heavy onslaught of pressure from Mexico at Azteca Stadium, the U.S. were able to hold on for a hard-fought scoreless result on Tuesday night to earn a much-needed point in CONCACAF World Cup qualification.
Klinsmann, who reportedly was the recipient of criticism from some American players this week, has the U.S. looking more confident to advance to Brazil 2014. After defeating Costa Rica in the snow on Sunday, and the draw against Mexico, the U.S. has effectively rebounded from their loss at Honduras in February for a record of 1-1-1.
There were two non-calls by referee Walter Lopez that had the Mexican bench screaming. In the first half, Michael Bradley appeared to have pushed Javier Hernandez in the penalty box.
In the 76th minute, Javier Aquino received a pass in the box, only for Maurice Edu to challenge him from behind. While the non-call on Hernandez appeared to be somewhat innocuous, Edu appeared to clearly foul Aquino.
Mexico applied pressure on the U.S. goal for much of the match, particularly in the final minutes. But El Tri simply could not score despite multiple chances. Mexico have three consecutive draws in qualification, and are expected to receive a great deal of criticism from the press for not getting a win at home against their main rival.
The U.S. were able to overcome some avoidable mistakes. Late in the match, substitute Brad Davis received a yellow card when he made an unnecessary challenge on Andrés Guardado to set up a free kick near the penalty box.
But the Americans were able to thwart El Tri at every turn. Omar Gonzalez and the inexperienced Matt Besler were able to prevent Mexico from making through-ball passes into danger areas. Hernandez was neutralized, and often looked frustrated.
"The backline [was] outstanding," said Klinsmann. "It was a huge challenge in front of 100,000 people."
The U.S. also got an exceptional effort from goalkeeper Brad Guzan, who earned his second clean sheet this week in place of injured Tim Howard. The Aston Villa keeper was particularly cool under pressure when Mexico made a strong push in the final minutes with a plethora of corner kicks.
"It's always going to be a bit hectic and a bit crazy, especially late in the game," said Guzan. "We knew the pressure was going to come, and were able to deal with it."
The U.S. had previously defeated Mexico in an August friendly match. Klinsmann, who is undefeated at Azteca, may have silenced his critics with his success against a side that often seems unstoppable at home.
The point in qualification could be vital for the Yanks. The U.S. now have four points in three games, and did it against a Mexico squad that was desperate for a victory after surrendering a 2-0 lead to Honduras on Friday to finish 2-2.
Both clubs will travel to face Jamaica in June for their next qualification match.