AmaZulu missed the chance to climb into the top four after they were held to a goalless draw by TS Galaxy in DStv Premiership action on Tuesday evening.
Usuthu made three changes from their CAF Champions League win over Horoya, as Abbubaker Mobara, Thembela Sikhakhane and Samkelo Mgwazela were recalled while the Rockets were bolstered by the return of Mlungisi Mbunjana and Mcbeth Mahlangu.
Augustine Mulenga came close to giving Usuthu the lead in the fifth minute with a free header at the back post that was saved by goalkeeper Melusi Buthelezi from point-blank range after a cross by Sikhakhane.
AmaZulu were pressing Galaxy high and were nearly rewarded on the half-hour mark after Xolani Mlambo went clear on goal from Luvuyo Memela's through ball but his toe-poked effort missed the bottom corner by a whisker.
However, Usuthu almost paid the price for holding the Rockets in their own half, as a mistake at the back in the closing stages of the second stanza led to Orebotse Mongae breaking away clear on goa but he fired his low shot just wide with only Veli Mothwa to beat.
Sead Ramovic made an attacking change at halftime, as Shane Roberts replaced Mbunjana and Galaxy were more adventurous in the early exchanges of the second stanza but not clinical enough in front of goal.
There were spaces to exploit for either side as the game opened up and Mulenga had a great chance for Usuthu in the 68th minute after cutting inside on the edge of the box but his curled effort missed wide of the top corner.
McCarthy made a double attacking change just after that, as Mulenga was withdrawn in favour of the fresh legs of Thabo Qalinge while Hendrick Ekstein replaced Keagan Buchanan.
AmaZulu threw everything forward in search of a late winner that could have seen the overtake Kaizer Chiefs, but Galaxy remained resolute in the latter stage to claim a point and move up to 12th spot.
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Zulu, Mgwazela, Xoki, Mobara, Buchanan, Mlambo, Majok, Mulenga, Memela.
Subs: Amonome, Khumalo, Gumede, Ceesay, Makhaula, Ekstein, Qalinge, Mthembu, Ntuli.
Galaxy: Buthelezi, Sanoka, Mahlangu, Msimango, Munyai, Mbunjana, Aubaas, Brooks, Mongae, Mbatha, Kwem.
Subs: Kolak, Lekay, Mere, Nyama, Fakude, Mahlangu, Nduli, Roberts, Mahashe.