Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Match Recap: USA 2 - 2 Mexico

This was a very different match compared to the last two in the series between Mexico and the USA, I can tell you that. Unfortunately, I am not really sure as to how the differences came into play. Different players obviously and different venue have to be mentioned, but the match really had a different feel to it.

On the one hand, you have Mexico, whom has had a huge monkey on their back where it comes to playing the USA outside of Mexico. This match they came out like they did last February and started to push their weight around and put on a display of force. Maybe it is because the Mexican players are all in one way or another, in season; but they were much faster on the ball and quicker with their man marking than the USA.

A much bigger difference between this match and the one last February is that Mexico put away their chances on goal, something that hasn’t exactly been their MO when playing us in the last few years. Although they put away their chances, I do have to question on whether or not their goals were more a result of a better Mexico offensive performance or a result of a pretty poor performance by the USA?

That leads me to the other hand, the USA played a pretty poor match in my opinion. Yes, Onyewu’s goal and Altidore’s goal were great and I honestly think that Deuce was robbed of a goal in the first half (even though he was offsides); the USA didn’t look good pretty much over the whole field.

Our passing and set piece passes looked like they were taken by guys who were too scared to commit the kicks. Michael Bradley spent a lot of the first half making pretty weak passes, a lot of them being ones that lead directly to a Mexico attack.

Our defense, central defense (Gooch & Carlos) looked very uneasy, but then again, the main problem for them was that they were getting run at a little too much, as Bradley and Clark really failed to show that well in the central midfield. I really can’t blame them, they both play the same position and one was really needed to have stepped up to play the offensive midfield position that Benny Feilhaber stepped into once Michael came off the field.

Drew Moor didn’t show me that much, beyond his great pass on Altidore’s goal. He was directly responsible for the two Magallon goals. He failed to stay with Magallon on both set pieces; burn you once, shame on you… burn you twice, shame on Bradley.

Bobby Convey really didn’t show me anything on the left side of the field that should have DMB worried. Convey has a great cross, I know, I have seen him do it once or twice, but he didn’t do anything tonight. His pace was way, way off and he looked like he wasn’t sure what to do with the ball once he got it.

All in all, despite the fact that I think that the USA played poorly and looked at times completely out of sorts and out of sync with itself, I think that this result against Mexico, in the USA, is a very good thing for the USA. First off, it gets that idea that if we face Mexico outside of Mexico we will always win, out of our minds. This is a good thing, especially where it comes to the younger guys. Adu, Edu, Bradley, Feilhaber, Altidore, Moor, and the rest really need to have a different mindset that the other players. They need to know that they are in for a real fight every time they face Mexico. The fact that we didn’t beat them tonight, hopefully it will make a change in their minds.

I am also thinking that this is a good result for the coaching staff. Last season, we went 10-0-1 until the Copa America, which was essentially mailed in anyways (as I think it should have been, it was to give guys overseas experience). Hopefully the coaching staff will be much harder on their preparation for the next few matches, hopefully they will be able to iron out the kinks that we all saw with our defense and passing.

As this match is a perfect simulator for World Cup qualifying (short gathering time for the players and coaching staff) the coaching staff should have a huge amount of info to work on with the players. The result wasn’t great, but it is definitely something that the players and coaching staff can build on.

Let’s just hope that they do.

All in all, a poor performance by the USA and a pretty inspiring performance by Mexico. Mexico played much better tonight than they did 12 months ago. A 2-2 draw isn’t the end of the world. A loss wouldn’t have had Bob Bradley fired, but I wanted to see a much better performance by the USA. They have a few more matches to get their shit together before the matches really start to count.

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