USMNT tactics worth questioning in 0-0 Mexico draw

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 24: Hirving Lozano of Mexico controls the ball during a match between Mexico and USMNT as part of Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Azteca Stadium on March 24, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 24: Hirving Lozano of Mexico controls the ball during a match between Mexico and USMNT as part of Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Azteca Stadium on March 24, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

Following a scoreless encounter with rivals Mexico, the USMNT’s journey to Qatar is not over yet. While the first half saw the USMNT creative some good opportunities, they were unable to capitalize on them.

Both halves were marred by a glaring miss: Christian Pulisic in the first and Pefok in the second. The other good chances were dealt with by longtime Mexican number 1 Guillermo Ochoa.

This is one of the rare instances where a scoreless result is unsatisfactory for USMNT and their fans. Part of it has to do with unfortunate circumstances. In another qualifier, Canada’s Mark-Anthony Kaye got a red card in the first half and Costa Rica’s Celso Borges scored the deciding goal shortly after.

That gave Costa Rica a crucial win to keep CONCACAF at a five-team race for three automatic bids and the fourth spot for Intercontinental Playoffs. This also meant that whoever out of USA and Mexico didn’t win tonight has less of a cushion from that Costa Rica and Panama chasing pack.

USMNT tactics could have been better in 0-0 draw with Mexico

Both traditional CONCACAF giants drew, so the standings are as follows with 12 games played across the board.

1st place Canada 25 pts

2nd place USA 22 pts

3rd place Mexico 22 pts

4th place Costa Rica 19 pts

5th place Panama 18 pts

It is one thing to finish a game scoreless when the full 90 minutes was a back-and-forth battle and both goalkeepers were at the top of their game. This was sort of true for the first half. In the second half, it was mostly Mexico piling on the pressure.

While a whole match of aggressive gameplay isn’t practical at the Azteca, one of the toughest places to play in the world, the context should’ve been taken into account: there is nowhere left to hide.

This is the final international window. If Italy can miss out on their second consecutive World Cup by losing to North Macedonia, what divine right does the United States have to return to the big tournament when they also missed out on Russia 2018? There is none. Therefore, play to win.

When Gregg Berhalter used his second substitution window to bring on Aaron Long and Erik Palmer-Brown, that signalled to Tata Martino and everyone else watching this game that USA was no longer interested in winning this game. We are content with a scoreless result. Give us your best shot.

Fortunately for the USMNT, Raúl Jiménez and Hirving Lozano couldn’t connect today, despite upcoming Houston Dynamo arrival Hector Herrera‘s best efforts from midfield. While these are quality players who play for Wolves and Napoli respectively among the top four leagues in Europe, imagine if the opponent was France or Brazil. The outcome could’ve easily been different. This is not sustainable. Gregg Berhalter gambled with his national team’s World Cup Qualifying life, and he didn’t get burned…yet.

Next up is a trip to Orlando to welcome Panama in what is effectively a must win game. If the USMNT wins this game (and Costa Rica does not beat El Salvador), they book their flight to Qatar in November. If not, they cede control as their final destination is Costa Rica where they’ve had very little success in qualifying.

If you thought the Twitter reaction to a scoreless draw against Mexico was bad, anything other than a win against Los Canaleros will be worse. With no DeAndre Yedlin or Timothy Weah due to suspension and no Sergiño Dest or Weston McKennie due to injury, it’s all remaining hands on deck to get the United States back to the World Cup.

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Match Report


Manager: Tata Martino

GK: Guillermo Ochoa (América)

RB: Jorge Sánchez (América)

CB: César Montes (Monterrey)

CB: Johan Vásquez (Genoa)

LB: Gerardo Arteaga (Genk)

CDM: Edson Álvarez (Ajax)

CM: Héctor Herrera (Atlético Madrid)

CM: Charly Rodríguez (Cruz Azul)

RW: Hirving Lozano (Napoli)

ST: Raúl Jiménez (Wolves)

LW: Jesús Corona (Sevilla)


79’ Alexis Vega (Chivas) for Jiménez and Érick Gutiérrez (PSV) for Rodríguez


Manager: Gregg Berhalter

GK: Zach Steffen (Man City)

RB: DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami)

CB: Walker Zimmerman (Nashville)

CB: Miles Robinson (Atlanta United)

LB: Antonee Robinson (Fulham)

CDM: Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) captain

CM: Kellyn Acosta (LAFC)

CM: Yunus Musah (Valencia)

RW: Timothy Weah (Lille)

ST: Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg)

LW: Christian Pulisic (Chelsea)


61’ Gio Reyna (Dortmund) for Weah, Pefok (Young Boys) for Pepi

79’ Aaron Long (RBNY) for Adams and Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes) for Yedlin

84’ Jordan Morris (Sounders) for Pulisic

Yellow Cards

9′ M. Robinson, 21′ Alvarez, 26′ Yedlin*, 39′ Weah*, 90′ Vega

*=Suspended for Sunday’s game against Panama in Orlando


Mexico had 14 fouls to USA’s 12

Mexico had 1 offside call to USA’s 0

USA led 4-1 in corner kicks

Ochoa made 4 saves to Steffen’s 2