The US national team and its observers will rightfully be all smiles after gaining just their second CONCACAF World Cup qualifying point in Mexico, but it says here that Tuesday's happy outcome was more about effort than excellence.
The visitors left the Azteca with a good whoop and holler despite being too hesitant to keep the ball and too eager to allow El Tri behind the defense. Even with a standout display from LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez, the dull-edged Mexico attack will be kicking itself for not taking advantage of a number of threatening postures.
US PLAYER RATINGS:
Brad Guzan (7) - Big Brad "Part Deux" keeps on handling business in goal, even if his distribution was below its usual level. Guzan's low stoppage-time save on Ángel Reyna sealed the point.
Geoff Cameron (5) - It was another shaky right back outing for the Stoke man, who was very fortunate to go unpunished when completely picked off his corner-kick mark. There was nothing doing up Cameron's flank and he was turned too easily a few times at the back.
Omar Gonzalez (7.5) - The one US player to truly distinguish himself in the match went Gonzo on nearly every cross, pass or player that came into his zone. Major League Soccer attackers across the continent probably hated watching this composed showing.
Matt Besler (5) - There were definitely some encouraging positives, such as the Sporting KC man's yeoman aerial work. However, Mexico star Javier Hernández twice let Besler off the hook, including on a late clearance whiff that allowed a lazy ball across the face of goal.
DaMarcus Beasley (5) - Like Besler, his defensive wingman came up with some quality plays to clear trouble. Beasley also matched his neighbor in experiencing several very hairy moments, but he bravely battled through some bruising to go the distance.
Maurice Edu (5) - The fast Bursaspor fan favorite also did a lot of nice things that went spoiled by sloppy mistakes on or near the ball. On another night, his best play of the game might have been called a Mexico penalty kick instead of a late saving tackle.
Michael Bradley (6) - When the US managed to hold a little possession or break effectively, the bald eagle was central to the moves. As the night went on, though, he was turning square or back a bit too often to set a favorable tempo in his usual manner.
Graham Zusi (6) - The right-sider again saw the ball too infrequently, but he made sure to contribute with a few excellent plays on the backtrack. One in particular, a mad hustle to disrupt a potential back post shooter in the waning moments, was big.
Clint Dempsey (5.5) - It was a decent opening frame from the Texas tornado, but he eventually vanished from the game. Dempsey's effectiveness waned as he saw the ball less, but in his defense, he spent too much time watching hoofed long balls fly well over his head.
Herculez Gomez (5) - It was not a great night for the attacker, but he battled hard in possession. At some point, though, Gomez needs to take better advantage of having a guy like Beasley creeping up the flank behind him.
Jozy Altidore (5.5) - Like with Bradley and Dempsey, most strong US rushes involved Altidore. The AZ striker definitely needs more than 31 touches in 55 minutes, but he still made the night's best US entry pass to Bradley.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (6) - Oh, the dilemma. The boss clearly had his charges motivated and organized to grab a draw at Azteca. Then again, there was more sloppiness at the back than one would hope for, zero impact from the subs and a grand total of one mis-hit long-distance shot for the entire game. It's a passing grade on the strength of intangibles this time, but position staffing decisions and level of attacking intent remain concerns.
Eddie Johnson (6) - The Seattle ace wasn't given much chance to shine.
Brad Davis (5.5) - See above, but dock for a late free kick allowed in the US end.
Brek Shea (-) - The winger did not see the ball in his short shift.
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