(Reuters) – The United States were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday but the point was enough to keep them top of their World Cup group and on course for a place in the final round of regional qualification.
Gyasi Zardes hit the bar with a header shortly after the break and Jermaine Jones saw his shot parried onto the woodwork by keeper Jan-Michael Williams late in the second half as the U.S. dominated possession and created the best chances.
“All in all, a draw on the road is okay,” U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann told reporters. “It keeps us at the top of the group as we move towards Guatemala in March.
“As expected, it was a tricky game. There were chances on both sides, I think we had the better of them… We should have put one away.”
The U.S. went into the game in Port of Spain on the back of a 6-1 home demolition of St Vincent and although the draw kept them level on four points with Trinidad and Tobago at the top of Group C, they have a vastly superior goal difference.
Guatemala continued to pile on the misery for St Vincent with a 4-0 win, a result that leaves the tiny island rooted to the bottom of the four-team group, from which the top two will advance to a final six-nation ‘Hexagonal’ pool.
The U.S. are considered one of the giants of the North, Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) region along with Costa Rica and Mexico, and will look to seal a berth in the next round with matches against Guatemala and St Vincent in March.
Mexico are also sitting pretty after they beat Honduras 2-0 to record their second win from as many matches under new coach Juan Carlos Osorio.
Substitutes Jesus Corona and Jurgen Damm scored second-half goals to lift El Tri clear at the top of Group A.
The result was a major setback for Honduras, who qualified as one of the four teams from the region for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but are still pointless after losing their opening fixture to Canada.
Canada drew 0-0 with El Salvador in the other Group A game on Tuesday to sit second in the table on four points, three ahead of their opponents with Honduras rooted to the bottom.
“It was tough out there,” Canada’s Marcel de Jong said. “It wasn’t our best match but we showed we can fight as a team.
“We are happy with a point in an away game, an undefeated streak. Keep this up (and) we can make it a tough game for Mexico.”
The only other team to have won their opening two games is Costa Rica, who scored two goals inside three minutes midway through a rain-drenched second half in Panama on the way to a 2-1 victory.
The home side halved the deficit moments later but were unable to find an equaliser in a bad tempered match that had six minutes of injury time thanks to repeated stoppages.
Costa Rica are top of Group B, with Panama and Jamaica, who beat Haiti 1-0 in Port-au-Prince, equal second on three points each.
(Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by John O’Brien)