Seventeen times the United States had played soccer against Mexico in Mexico City. Seventeen times, the United States had lost.
That's why the Americans were ecstatic over Sunday's scoreless tie in a World Cup qualifier.
"We consider this a golden point," U.S. coach Steve Sampson said. "It's very important now that we maintain the discipline and unity that we displayed in this game."
America can earn a World Cup berth with a tie at Canada on Sunday. The Americans play their final game against El Salvador on Nov. 16 at Foxboro.
The tie put Mexico in the World Cup. But the outcome was humiliating, especially at home.
As the second half proceeded with no score, fans began chanting obscenely for the ouster of coach Bora Milutinovic.
"If we're going to play like this in the World Cup, we shouldn't even go," said Patricia Toris, a 24-year-old secretary who painted her face red, white and green _ the colors of the Mexican flag _ for the game.
The Americans played the final 58 minutes one man short. Defender Jeff Agoos was ejected for elbowing Pavel Pardo in the neck after Pardo hit him in the back.
After the ejection, the Americans played a defensive game, often clearing the ball past midfield to ease the pressure.
Mexico dominated play but many of its shots were off the mark.
"I think it was a tremendous result for us," forward Eric Wynalda said, "especially with 10 men."
In Sunday's only other qualifier, the United Arab Emirates may have cost itself a spot in the tournament with a scoreless tie against visiting Uzbekistan. Japan moved into second place in Asia Group B ahead of the UAE.
Japan would clinch a playoff spot if the UAE fails to beat South Korea on Friday. If the UAE wins that one, Japan needs a win against Kazakstan the next day.
TENNIS: Pete Sampras beat Jonas Bjorkman 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to win the Paris Open, virtually clinching the No. 1 ranking for the fifth consecutive year. Sampras could lose the ranking only if he doesn't win another match this year or if Pat Rafter wins the Stockholm tournament and the ATP Tour World Championships. The only other player to be ranked No. 1 for five consecutive years was Jimmy Connors from 1974-78. "The two things that will stand out in my career when I am old and gray will be the Grand Slams and the fact I'm able to stay on top for as long as I have," Sampras said. "It's not easy. The pressure you deal in week in and week out. It shows you are very consistent over the years." Jana Novotna, the top seed and world's No. 2 player, beat Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-4 to win the Kremlin Cup. Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Natasha Zvereva won the doubles final when Caroline Vis cursed the umpire, who then disqualified her and partner Yayuk Basuki. Emmanuelle Gagliardi beat Nana Miyagi 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 to win the Healthsouth USTA Women's Challenger of Austin. Sung-Hee Park and Miho Saeki captured the doubles title by defeating Debbie Graham and Meredith McGrath. Top-seeded Francisco Clavet defeated Nicolas Lapentti 6-3, 6-3 to win the Cerveza Club Colombia Open in Bogota. Last week, Clavet won the Mexican Open. Jimmy Connors beat Andres Gomez 6-3, 3-6, 10-8 to advance to the final of NTT Data Champions senior tournament in Tokyo. He faces Mel Purcell, who beat Bjorn Borg.
COLLEGES: Manufacturers of items that carry Duke's logo soon will be required to sign a pledge that they don't use sweatshop labor. "It's important for us, as an institution, to ensure that people who are manufacturing products bearing our (trade)marks are conducting themselves in an ethical manner," said Jim Wilkerson, the director of Duke Stores operations and trademark licensing. Duke and Collegiate Licensing Co., an Atlanta firm that negotiates trademark deals for 160 universities, are working on the pledge.
SKATING: Elvis Stojko delivered seven triple jumps and a clean quad toe loop to win the Nations Cup in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Mandy Woetzel and Ingo Steuer won pairs.
BOXING: David Izon knocked out hometown hero Lou Savarese in the fifth round, capping the first-ever card Saturday at Harlem's Apollo Theater. Savarese collapsed through the ring ropes, falling into a table beside the ring.
BOWLING: PBA Hall of Famer Amleto Monacelli averaged 244 over six games and led Tommy Delutz Jr. by 55 in the first round of the Ebonite Challenge at Chesapeake, Va.
JAI ALAI: Tampa's Lejardi and Iruta beat Mendieta and Carea 15-6 Saturday to advance to the Tournament of Champions XVII final against Miami's Arriaga and former Tampa star Daniel Saturday at the Tampa fronton.
HORSE RACING: Twice The Vice, considered one of the favorites in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Distaff, has been retired after a stress fracture in her left cannon bone was discovered. The discovery was made Saturday.
_ Compiled from Times wires.