Thursday, August 13, 2009

USA vs. Mexico: What we learned

The 2-1 result at Azteca in favor of El Tri was less than pleasant for most U.S. supporters. Yet, with every loss there is information that can be gleamed and lessons that can be learned. With that in mind here are the things I took away from yesterdays match:

1.) Soft first touches are important: There is nothing more frustrating than watching 45 seconds of offensive build-up become pointless due to the inability of U.S. players to trap the ball in front of them. I don’t know how many times I watched ball after ball bounce yards away from an American player right at the key moment of attack.

2.) Boca has got to go: I understand Carlos Bocanegra is the team’s captain and supposed experienced defensive rock which the U.S. squad leans on; but the rock is getting a bit to worn and it looks as though Carlos needs to be replaced by younger blood who won’t get burnt down the line and will have the balls to close in on open players without fear of bodily harm.

3.) Outlet passes (like soft touches) are IMPORTANT!: There is a world of difference between making a good defensive stop and starting a strong counter attack, and making a good defensive stop and handing the ball right back. Unfortunately the U.S. squad exemplified the later of these two and made much of the game mimic defensive practice drills.

4.) Charlie Davies is quickly becoming a stud: Not only did he provide the loan U.S. goal, but he also exhibited the only real pace of the game and nearly connected on a second-half header that would have sent shockwaves through the soccer world. Davies continues to impress on all levels and is slowly becoming a legitimate star

5.) Bob Bradley is crazy… like a fox: My confidence in Bob Bradley took a swing back upward as he fielded a balanced starting line up and made adequate and well timed substitutions.

6.) Steve Cherundolo is back: I really thought that Dolo provided a bright spot in this match. After being unavailable due to injury over the past months (excluding a short gold-cup appearance), he made a strong return and provided solid defense, strong crosses, good counter attacking speed and overall stability. I know some are calling for Jonathan Spector to take his eventual place in the starting 11 now, but I really hope Cherundolo continues to have a place on this squad.

7.) Our big time players aren’t always big time players: Donovan, Dempsey, Ching, Howard and Bradley were overshadowed by Davies, Cherundolo and late substitutes Holden and Feilhaber. Though the U.S. squad is continuing to develop depth, it would be nice to have a core group of players that you can count on for every game.

8.) Play-by-play and color commentary continue down the slippery slope to oblivion: Listening to the Mundos broadcast felt very similar to listening to sports radio. Sure I’d like to know about the players background and strategy for the game and what might happen after the game, but I’d also like to know WHO IS ON THE FREAKING BALL!!!! I seriously think there was about 15 total mintues of actual play-by-play. The rest of the time was spent listing to Balboa tell me the same simple facts about playing at high altitude.

9.) Home field entitlement and blatant hypocrisy will never die in this sport: No surprise that the officiating was a bit one-sided and the Mexican players believed that they could force players off the ground, grab at players during stoppage in play, strangle people, etc. And even less of a surprise that when you're tied you bitch and moan about slow play and then 20 seconds later when you’re up by 1 you literally use every opportunity to stall… ahh the beautiful game!

10.) Nothing has changed: Bad officiating, early U.S. goal, choke holds, blown lead, 2-1 result… just another game in Azteca for a state-side squad… always fun, always exciting and always frustrating.

1 comment:

  1. The whole game I kept thinking about that scene in Hoosiers where Norman Dale gets in the opposing teams coaches face and goes "Its bad enough we have to play in this cage you call a gym,your player are playing like a bunch of gorillas". Just substitute stadium for gym and for gorillas, much smaller more annoying animals.


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