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U.S. National Soccer Team Defies History with 0-0 World Cup Qualifying Shutout in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (Sunday, Nov. 2, 1997) – A hobbled U.S. National Soccer Team played the final 58 minutes with just 10 players, and valiantly grabbed a point away form home, shutting out Mexico 0-0 in a World Cup qualifying final-round match played in front of a sold out crowd of 114,600 at Guillermo Cañedo Stadium (formerly Azteca Stadium).

It marks the first time in the 63-year history of the USA-Mexico series that the Americans have earned, at most, a tie in the smog-veiled Mexico City. Coming into today’s game, the USA’s overall record vs. Mexico in Mexico City was 0-17-0, dating back to 1937.

The game’s turning moment came in the 32nd minute when U.S. defender Jeff Agoos was ejected after a brief altercation with Mexican defender Pavel Pardo.

“Pardo came in from behind and clipped me in my calf,” Agoos said. “I put my elbows up to protect me and the next thing I know I’m looking at a red card.”

Pardo received a yellow card on the play.

In the final 45 minutes, Mexico came with for of its most lethal goal-scoring forwards, only to be stymied by the cohesive 10-man unit. U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel, flawless for virtually the entire 90 minutes, earned his first shutout in World Cup Qualifying.

The USA played without three of its most dominant players, goalkeeper Kasey Keller (dislocated right thumb), midfielder Tab Ramos (torn left anterior cruciate ligament) and midfielder Earnie Stewart (strained left calf muscle). Keller and Stewart are expected to be healed before qualifying ends Nov. 16. Ramos is expected to have surgery tomorrow at Duke University Medical Center.

The tie served as a redemption for eight of the U.S. field players who all played in the last USA-Mexico match in Mexico City, a 4-0 Mexican victory in the final of the 1993 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The USA’s next World Cup qualifying match is Nov. 9 vs. Canada at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, British Columbia. The team will travel to Portland, Ore., tomorrow to prepare for the Canada match. A U.S. victory over Canada and a Jamaican win in El Salvador next weekend will all but clinch the Americans’ sixth World Cup finals appearance.

The United States, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Jamaica and Mexico make up the final six teams left in the CONCACAF (North, Central America and Caribbean nations) region to qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France. All six teams will play each other home and away, receiving three points for a win, one for a tie and zero for a loss. The top three teams will advance to the finals.

Other Notes – The U.S. team has lost just once to Mexico in the last eight contests since 1993, the one loss coming at the hands of a shorthanded U.S. team during U.S. Cup ’97 … Before today, the U.S. had been outscored 63-13 in Mexico City … The U.S. had never held the Mexicans to fewer than two goals in a game in Mexico City … The USA has played Mexico (47 times) more than any other team in the world … In the past five USA-Mexico encounters there have been a whopping 163 fouls (USA 67, MEX 96), 30 cautions (USA 14, MEX 16), and two ejections (USA 1, MEX 1) … Captain John Harkes received his second yellow card and will be forced to sit out the Nov. 9 match. 

-U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Mexico National Team
Date: Nov. 2, 1997
Competition: World Cup Qualifying
Venue: Guillermo Cañedo Stadium, Mexico City (7,300 feet above sea level)
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET
Attendance: 114,400 (sold out)
Weather: 68 degrees, partly cloudy

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                         0 0 0
MRK                         0 0 0

USA: Brad Friedel; Eddie Pope, Marcelo Balboa, Alexi Lalas, Jeff Agoos; Eric Wynalda (Mike Burns, 72), Thomas Dooley, John Harkes, Cobi Jones (Chris Henderson, 56); Joe-Max Moore, Roy Wegerle (Martin Vasquez)

MEX: Jorge Campos; Claudio Suarez, Duilo Davino, Ramon Ramirez, Alberto Garcia Aspe (Luis Garcia, 46); Luis Roberto Alves (Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 66), Pavel Pardo, Alberto Coyote, Benjamin Galindo (Marcelino Bernal, 73); Carlos Hermosillo, Luis Hernandez

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 9 / 12
Shots on Goal: 2 / 3
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 9
Fouls: 8 /12
Offside: 4 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Harkes (caution) 17th minute
MEX – Garcia Aspe (caution) 30
USA – Agoos (sent off) 32
MEX – Pardo (caution) 32
MEX – Garcia (caution) 53
USA – Henderson (caution) 61

Referee: Javier Castrilli (Argentina)
Assistant Referee: Claudio Rossi (Argentina)
Assistant Referee: Alberto Barrientos (Argentina)
Fourth Official: Oscar Sequeira (Argentina)