Look, Mexico was the better team and deserved to win. However, that does not mean it was any less painful to watch the Americans take a 2-0 lead and then squander it away effortlessly. The opening goal off the Adu corner (more on him later) was well-made by Bradley, and the Donovan goal was brilliantly created by Dempsey on the attack, but that just masked that for about 75% of the first half, Mexico dominated the proceedings and at the point of the goals, they had been threatening almost continuously. They had a few near misses, were dominating. Suddenly they were down 1-0, and then they were down 2-0, but they didn’t panic. They were still the more talented, and better team and it was really just a matter of time before they proved it. Let’s walk through it a little bit.
So the US traditionally gets off to slow stars and today was no exception. They were on the back foot for the first 5 or 6 minutes of the game. Suddenly Adu and Cherundolo work some space on the right side and grab a corner. Goal. It was literally as random as I am making it sound. The US looked very good in possession, but they barely had the ball and Mexico was just pouring the pressure on up until that goal. However, Cherundolo, who was looking good so far, picked up an injury on a tackle in the lead up to that goal-creating corner and had to get subbed for… wait for it… Jonathan Bornstein, who had no business being on the pitch. The US did not have too many better options frankly, but I was not looking forward to my daily dose of Bornstein when he came on. But then the US did it again, this time with a nice move, going wide, back to the middle and ending with Dempsey springing Donovan free in the box before he slotted home. The US was up 2-0 and had completely broken Mexico’s will. Except for one thing. They didn’t actually break Mexico, they just seemed to think they did. Just 6 minutes later, Pablo Barrera got Mexico back into it at 2-1 on a shot Tim Howard will probably say he should have had and I got a bad feeling.
Seven minutes later, my bad feeling was confirmed/affirmed and it was 2-2. Mexico had dominated the majority of the half and I felt glad to be tied considering how the US played. It’s an awful feeling to get a couple goals, and finish the half happy to be tied. Of course, you know how the rest of it went. Mexico continued dominating the second half, but this time without giving up a couple goals. They were just flat out better and were showing it. Barrera got another goal, and then Gio Dos Santos put the nail in the coffin with a sneaky-spectacular flick into the upper 90 just avoiding the jumping Lichaj (Howard had come off his line). Mexico won and they deserved it, let’s move on, get Holden healthy and get better, especially in the back, where we were solid for most of the Gold Cup.
That’s really all there was to it, but I will leave you with a few more thoughts on the game:
- Freddy Adu was awesome in the first half and I fully support his continued inclusion in the team. He was a nice change of pace as far as a guy who could make runs on his own, and was influential right away.
- This is a completely different game if Cherundolo stays on. Mexico might still win, but it would have been a dogfight. Bornstein just got skinned over and over out there.
- The back line was bad (see Bornstein note above), but I think Bradley should have pulled back on the reins more after the second goal. The defense just was not going to hold up with that personnel and how they were pushing forward.
- The US missed a few pretty good chances at the end, but it was too little too late.
- Watched the U-17 team vs New Zealand. It is a team I have seen before and there is hope not so far away. Kellen Acosta will be a guy who plays for us for a long time, and Mario Rodriguez and Alexando Guido are guys who have a chance to be stars for the US in the future. I am excited.
- We are the 2nd best team in CONCACAF and that isn’t so bad. This is a young team that should keep getting better, and as we get healthy, we should be a pretty solid team for the next 5 years at least.
- Missing the Confederations Cup isn’t that big a deal. It would have been nice but it is not a serious barrier to our progress going forward.
- It didn’t help that the Rose Bowl was 75% Mexico supporters. You know, our best shot at getting people interested in soccer here would be so we can beat Mexico at something.
- Congratulations, Mexico. We are going to kill you next time.