Mexico remains in the driver's seat in North American qualifying for next year's World Cup. The altitude and fierce atmosphere in Mexico City has given the US fits over the years.
The US needed points to continue its quest to qualify for next year's World Cup in Russia. It may not have picked up all three, but one is better than none after a hard fought 1-1 tie at Estadio Azteca in the Mexican capital on Sunday.
The US struck first just six minutes into the match. Midfielder Michael Bradley noticed Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was out of position and chipped the ball into the back of the net from over 30 yards out. Carlos Vela tied the match up at 1-1 some 17 minutes later.
"It's a shame to give away the goal that we did," said Bradley. "Any time you can get a point here it's great ... Now we can move ourselves forward," he added.
Mexico still holds top spot in CONCACAF qualifying and look to be virtually guaranteed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia starting in June 2018. The top three CONCACAF teams automatically qualify for the World Cup. The fourth best North American side will take on the Asian confederation's (AFC) fifth best nation for one of the last spots in the World Cup.
No love lost
The US and Mexico share one of the most intense rivalries between countries in the world. Due to the swirling geopolitical climate and rebirth of the game in the US, the rivalry has risen to new heights in recent years.
On top of the politics of the rivalry, the atmosphere at the games has been notoriously harsh for fans and players. The Estadio Azteca is 7,820 feet (2,384 meters) above sea level, which obliged the US to train for the altitude.
"We've been training that way for the last week to ten days," said US head coach Bruce Arena on Friday after defeating Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday.
Fans sometimes turn violent during matches, pelting one another and players with whatever they can find. US fans entering the Estadio Azteca were escorted to the ground by riot police.
Police tightly contained US fans in their section during the match.
With US President Donald Trump's plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico during his campaign, the atmosphere in Mexico City on Sunday was that much more heated. Mexican fans booed the US national anthem, which is usual when the US plays in Estadio Azteca, and there were shirts disparaging Trump all over the stadium.
kbd/jm (AFP, AP)