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Mexico vs. USMNT score: USA earn hard fought scoreless draw against El Tri at Estadio Azteca

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The United States men's national team went to Mexico on Thursday in World Cup qualifying and came away with a 0-0 draw and a valuable point, putting the team on the brink of qualification. With Panama drawing at home to Honduras, the Americans are on the verge of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and can do so on Sunday when they host the Panamanians in Orlando. A win will all but punch their ticket, with only a catastrophic, severely lop-sided loss at Costa Rica to follow on the final matchday being the only way they miss out.

It was a sloppy, tense and physical match, one where both teams had quality chances. The two best chances, however, were for the USMNT, with Christian Pulisic being denied by Guillermo Ochoa in the first half and Jordan Pefok shockingly missing the frame from eight yards out in the second. 

Gregg Berhalter was aggressive all game long, but he needed some strong saves from Zack Steffen and a united performance from the defense to the point, extending the unbeaten streak against El Tri to four games.

Mexico had 63 percent of the ball but recorded an xG of just 0.40 on 11 shots. The U.S. had nine shots but an xG of 1.26. 

Here are three takeaways from the match:

Zimmerman deserves a ton of praise

While there are other centerbacks in the system with more talent, none are better right now than Walker Zimmerman. The Nashville SC man put on a show at the Azteca, though it wasn't all that flashy. It was a smart performance, one with no mistakes from the veteran. He didn't have to record a tackle, but he won every single one of his duels and aerials. His positioning was superb, often applying pressure at the top of the box when Mexico were overly patient. It was a confidence-building result for this defense, and Zimmerman continues to make his case to be a starter at the World Cup.

Listen below and follow In Soccer We Trust: A CBS Sports Soccer Podcast where three times a week your three favorite former USMNT players cover everything you could possibly want to know about the beautiful game in the United States.

The misses were inexplicable

It's quite shocking that the U.S. couldn't manage to score. They had two chances that weren't just great, they were golden. Pulisic's miss in the first half on a ball from Tim Weah saw the Chelsea man kind of stumble a bit and fail to make clean contact, giving Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa a chance to get in front of it, and he knows he should have put it away. But the miss by Jordan Pefok is the thing of nightmares. Off a brilliant pass from Gio Reyna, all he had to do was tap it in. There was so much room to just place the ball in the back of the net, yet the ball seemed to have ended up closer to the corner flag than the goal. 

Happy Gilmore would be very upset to see that.

Here's the video. Try not to cringe:

Gio Reyna made them look silly

Reyna came off the bench and dazzled. He was the team's best player in attack despite just playing 30 minutes. He made the Mexican defenders look silly, broke ankles along the way and produced a highlight USMNT fans will watch for years to come. Here is that moment:

On top of that, he should have had an assist for that smart pass to Pefok that was just butchered. But Reyna showed once again why nobody on this team can match his talent, and he may have just earned the start against Panama with that display.

Live updates
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How to watch and odds

Date: Thursday, March 24 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
Location: Estadio Azteca -- Mexico City, Mexico
TV: CBS Sports Network Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Mexico -105; Draw +210; USA +305 (via Caesars Sportsbook) 

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More subs and this lineup is now hard to make out

Musah and Acosta will need to protect a back five that has Erik Palmer-Brown deputizing as a right back to close the match out. Feels like Berhalter is fine leaving Azteca with a draw tonight but this could invite pressure.

March 25, 2022, 3:48 AM
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Gio Reyna is back and having fun

You would've thought that he had the entire Mexico team on skates as he made them miss slaloming through midfield. While no one on the team could catch up to relieve pressure, it was one of the most fun possessions of the entire match.

March 25, 2022, 3:40 AM
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72' That was the chance for Jordan Pefok!

One of the best passing plays for the United States all night sees Gio Reyna play a cross across the face of goal for Pefok but he can't put it on target. That should've put the US up 1-0 as Ochoa didn't have a chance.

March 25, 2022, 3:35 AM
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70' Raul wants a penalty but it isn't given

After a giveaway from Yunus Musah, Walker Zimmerman goes in for tackle but it's deemed to be clean as they will play on.

March 25, 2022, 3:33 AM
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Mexico are getting better on the ball

Tired legs are creeping in and Musah could need medical attention for his ankle after a coming together. As long as he's okay, the United States will be okay with a slight break as Mexico are finding too much space behind the fullbacks.

March 25, 2022, 3:29 AM
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Here come the subs!

Welcome back Gio Reyna and Jordan Pefok as the United States goes for the win here. Weah and Pepi make way in like for like changes to get fresh legs out there.

March 25, 2022, 3:22 AM
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Love the call for Pefok here

Pefok comes on for Pepi, and that's the right call here...but wasn't the right call to not start him. He's the most in-form striker in Europe, has looked much sharper than Pepi, who hasn't scored since October. Let's see if  Pefok can make a difference.

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57' Lozano goes at it alone

Yedlin pushes Lozano centrally but he isn't able to get the shot on target. Will be interesting to see if he gets frustrated and tries more things as the match goes on.

March 25, 2022, 3:19 AM
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Musah not effective at all

It hasn't been a great game for the Valencia winger. He had one good chance early but hasn't been involved much at all. Rarely on the ball, not getting into space, it's just an off night. A change is needed.

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Mexico creates another dangerous chance

No one has found Lozano yet on the night but it feels like one of these crosses will find their man sooner than later.

March 25, 2022, 3:13 AM
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48' Pulisic is stopped by Ochoa again

A neat ball from Acosta plays Pulisic into space and if Ochoa wasn't there, that's a ball that was headed for the top corner. Better from the US so far.

March 25, 2022, 3:10 AM
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First half recap

Four shots for both, with the U.S. leading on xG 0.60-0.26. The best chance of the game, without a doubt, was Pulisic's in front of goal that he didn't hit well, with Ochoa making a strong save. Still so much to play for, but the U.S. has to be fine with how this has gone.

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In a good ole Concacaf coming together, Tim Weah and Tata Martino have also picked up yellows.

This puts two US starters on the night out of the Panama match but with Gio Reyna in the wings, it hurts a little less than Yedlin's suspension. 

March 25, 2022, 2:42 AM
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More on that Pulisic miss

Great flick from Ricardo Pepi to get Weah into space to provide a good cross into the box. While you still want more from Pepi in the goal scoring department, his awareness of others is still next level.

March 25, 2022, 2:39 AM
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How did that not go in?!

Weah with a stellar ball to Pulisic in the middle of the box, and that looked like the 1-0, but Ochoa makes the big save!!!!

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Update from Panama

Honduras have equalized with just under a half an hour to go against Panama, making it 1-1. If that result holds, the U.S. will be in a great spot regardless of what happens against El Tri.

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25' Not great from Yedlin and he'll be suspended for the Panama match after receiving a yellow card

With Reggie Cannon missing from the squad too, Berhalter will likely need to call a right back into the squad asap.

March 25, 2022, 2:31 AM
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A waste from Mexico!

Oh man...that was the chance for El Tri as Corona is sent through into the box, but his heavy touch negates any danger. What a blown opportunity.

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21' Edson Alvarez thought he was playing the other kind of football there...

He was beaten and picked up a yellow card for a horsecollar tackle of Christian Pulisic. Acosta takes the free kick and stings Ochoa's palms but again nothing too dangerous.

March 25, 2022, 2:23 AM
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14' So, so close from Musah!

Antonee Robinson played a cross into the box that drifted past Tim Weah. With McKennie out, Musah was there for the late run forcing a fingertip save out of Ochoa. Also of note, Kellyn Acosta delivered the first corner of the night.

March 25, 2022, 2:16 AM
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11' That's better from Miles Robinson

Stopping a good bit of team play as Mexico pushed up the pitch through Hector Herrera, Robinson was able to step forward to break up things in time. Mexico is getting too much space as Corona played in a cross that leads to a shot on target but nothing too dangerous so far.

March 25, 2022, 2:15 AM
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8' Mexico has their first spell of possession in the US box and it just misses Lozano

As Roger said, the start has been less than ideal for both teams as it seems like they'll grow out of it soon. After getting megged by Raul Jimenez, Miles Robinson also sees a yellow card.

March 25, 2022, 2:11 AM
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Uhh...

Well, it's been a rocky, sloppy start. No cohesion for either team, too aggressive and nobody can really get into the match and settle the ball. 

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1' Early on a US chance!

More of that please as Antonee Robinson's cross almost made it to Tim Weah's head. While Ochoa caught the cross, the United States are coming out the gate with energy tonight.

March 25, 2022, 2:03 AM
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Gregg Berhalter is doubling down on doing as much as possible to make this window a nine point sweep

March 25, 2022, 1:52 AM
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Elsewhere in Concacaf

El Salvador were officially eliminated from World Cup qualifying with a 1-1 draw with Jamacia but the match that US fans will have their eyes on is Panama vs. Honduras. Currently, Rolando Blackburn has Panama ahead 1-0 only 30 minutes in but if Panama wins, neither the United States or Mexico can qualify directly for the World Cup tonight.

March 25, 2022, 1:41 AM
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