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US Withstands Mexico in World Cup Qualifier

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You would think that a surging Dallas Mavericks trying to challenge the Lakers for a playoff spot would hold my attention given they were hosting the Clippers on TNT. But no. A little game involving kicking a ball that was played to a scoreless draw in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City was the game of the day.

What made a 0-0 game so remarkable was how improbable it was. The only win the United States men's soccer team has ever had in Mexico City came in a friendly last year, a 1-0 win. They are 0-13-1 in FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Mexico City, the only draw occuring 16 years ago.

With all the infighting between U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and some of the players, with the match they played against Costa Rica in Denver in a blizzard, with Mexico being a far superior team, with a patchwork lineup thanks to injuries among the defensemen, the 100,000-plus in the pro-Mexico stadium, there was no expectation that the U.S. could pull out the match.

Things weren't looking good for the Americans. In the first 20 minutes, defensemen DaMarcus Beasley and Matt Besler, making his second cap for the men's national team, were yellow carded. Against the speedy forwards such as Chicharito and Giovani Dos Santos, that could have been a big problem.

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But the U.S. withstood everything El Tri threw at them. The big story of the game was defenseman Omar Gonzalez, who missed a meeting with President Obama with the Galaxy and making his sixth cap for the team, and Besler. Along with goaltender Brad Guzan, they were able to dodge the kitchen sink, the 15 corner kicks and all the desperation Mexico mustered in the final minutes.

Sure there were two missed calls by the referees that should have resulted in penalty kicks for Mexico. But a little luck never hurt anyone, right?

The win gives the U.S. a 1-1-1 record good for four points while Mexico goes to 0-0-3. While the results have been disappointing so far for Mexico, the good news for them is that there are seven more matches to go in the final qualifying round in CONCACAF for all sides. Only three points separate first place Panama from last place Jamaica, so the CONCACAF region is still wide open.

Besides the top three teams after qualifying go to the 2014 World Cup while the fourth place team will face a play-off game against New Zealand in this six-team table.

Up next for the U.S. is a match against Jamaica in Kingston on June 7.

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Speaking of disappointing, look at the Clippers. They lost to the surging Dallas Mavericks 109-102.