Being blocked all week has not been fun but today’s match has unblocked me and I actually had to wait a bit before writing this so it would be readable for any and all ages who may be reading. So first off I have to say I was disappointed but not totally disappointed at the same time. Does not make much sense I know, but going into this how much were we the USMNT fans actually expecting? I know I expected to see a tough match that would produce some great moments, and I think for the most part we got that out of this match. I would also say I expected much more than I got in the form of entertainment from the TV broadcast of this match. But let us get into it now as there is no need to delay the inevitable story on how the USMNT has yet again failed to produce in Mexico. Well the score line was 2-1, so right off, Guardado was wrong and we did not lose 3-0. The match gave all USMNT fans hope early as they did not look to be affected by the altitude, smog, or stage they were playing on. Charlie Davies did not disappoint but did not come on as a sub as most fans would have expected either, netting from a one on one with the Mexican keeper Ochoa on a ball played into space by Donovan in the 9th minute, putting the USMNT up 1 and taking the crowd out of the match for the moment. Now this goal should have been a great thing since Davies is only the 4th player to net for the USMNT in a match in Mexico, but it would prove to not be any more important than a future stat or trivia question as the match went on. I can see it now, “Who was the 4th American to score a goal on Mexican soil?” It will be a question we will all know the answer to but one we would rather not think about.
With fans thinking the USMNT might finally be in the driver’s seat during a match in Mexico, we all sat back and breathed a sigh of relief to see the side score. Not a good thing at all since the team decided to do that as well for the majority of the rest of the match. All I have to say is one goal is not enough and if the players thought that they accomplished something by scoring in Mexico then they are wrong. I did not go into this expecting us to win but after scoring early there is no need to pack it in and play 9 and 10 behind the ball, basically closing up shop. The boys basically gave the Mexicans the ball and said, “Here if you can penetrate the defense then you can have the match!” Now I know many of you think this is not true and that the boys played hard and all that but I tell you to, “Wake up!” After scoring the boys played horribly and put on possibly one of the worst performances I have seen out of them to date. The most unlikely person to net would manage a shot from around 25-30 yards out that would stay up just long enough to beat Howard, but there was no pressure at all. The goal was a beauty and one that I am sure Mexican fans will remember for awhile, since barely ten minutes had past from the opening goal by the USMNT. The boys would continue to pack it in and try to counter on into the second half to their demise again as poor defense and lack of pressure left Aguirre’s super sub Miguel Sabah open in the box to poke a shot over Howard that would propel the Mexicans to a much needed victory.
Now aside from the poor performance by the USMNT, the officiating was atrocious! Having complained enough to have the referee who had previously tossed Aguirre from the Gold Cup, the Mexicans would find a new sucker in Roberto Moreno Salazar from Panama. Now a ref missing a call here and there is one thing, but the amount of calls this ref missed, his crew got wrong, or he just decided not to call was appalling. I am not saying the ref and his crew are cheats or anything but in a match that was physical from the start it is questionable that the only cards given in the first half were to the Americans, and not just any Americans but 3 of the starting back 4 for the USMNT. This is no excuse for the poor performance but you would think after Donovan being pulled down after beating a defender twice would result in something, and tripping Steve Cherundolo, who is not the fastest, would lead to something. As it happened though the Mexicans would not receive any cards until a scuffle in the 75th minute when Davies was down on the pitch with cramps and Nery Castillo decided to drag Davies up off the pitch by his head along with 2 other Mexicans in order to get in a quick corner. The ensuing scuffle would earn the USMNT’s Benny Feilhaber and Mexico’s Gerardo Torrado yellows for an altercation that took place after Feilhaber stepped in to protect his teammate and Torrado went for Benny’s throat. Not class by either side, but honestly with all of Mexico’s posturing and flopping about on the turf they of all sides have no right to touch a downed opponent. All in all it was a poor performance by the Panamanian crew and I would hope not to see them in an officiating capacity for a USMNT match anywhere in the near future, though I am sure the Mexicans will be saying a few prayers that Salazar and crew are at every match of theirs throughout the rest of qualifying.
As an American I know some people see us as racist or closed minded when it comes to cultural aspects of other countries and all but I honestly do not want to ever have to watch another match put on by mun2 or any other related channel when watching the USMNT. After all the hype and press that this match garnered leading up to the English language broadcast, the best the channel could do was bring in Tom Schoen and Marcelo Balboa to commentate. The broadcast was one of the worst I have watched as they obviously did not know their details and could not even correctly pronounce half the names right that they were talking about. I hate to admit it but I was actually thinking that it would not have been such a bad thing to have to listen to Alexi announces the match. I know that bad right? After listening to that I am actually looking forward to MLS announcers as well as some of the others who I normally do not prefer to listen to.
It was a poor match but one in which the USMNT did not get a fair shake in my opinion. The Mexican fans proved their worth again as they tossed cups of beer and other things at Donovan when he was taking a corner to try and tie the match up. Come on people can you not have any class when leading a match? Do you have to go out and make yourselves and your country look classless at every opportunity? In the end I can console myself with the fact that no matter what happens the rest of the day, the USMNT is still above Mexico and in no imminent danger of missing out on the World Cup. The road will be a bit tougher but we will be stronger for it and managed a better result than most were expecting, so El Salvador lookout as the USMNT will be out to recapture those points in the next match.
And here is a brief performance grade on the USMNT players who graced the pitch today.
Howard – Not a bad match for Howard but it was his first loss to Mexico and his defense did him no favors in the end.
Cherundolo – Gave a concerted effort on both ends. Not spectacular but I do not think anyone can argue that Spector would have done a much better job in this match.
Onyewu – An early yellow hampered Gooch’s play but he played hard throughout and saved the US on many occasions.
DeMerit – Still showing as a good option in the back, though an early yellow hampered how aggressive he could be for much of the match.
Bocanegra – Looks to have wrapped up the LB spot at the moment but was caught out on both goals and looked to be struggling at times.
Donovan – Played a decent first half but disappeared in the second half. Needs to step up his play and give a full 90 if this team is going to be successful.
Clark – Did not hear much about Clark until his exit, but not hearing a holding midfielders name means he was not screwing up. I was surprised to see him on the pitch after his recent club schedule but he did his job in the middle as always.
Bradley – Supposed to be the second holding midfielder but everyone thinks he needs to get involved in the attack. He played solid in the middle but never looked dangerous going forward.
Dempsey – I was completely unimpressed with Dempsey’s effort and performance on the day. He looked tired and disinterested until he moved up top, and honestly if he is not going to produce unless he is up top, then bring him off the bench as a forward.
Ching – I cannot say anything bad about Ching as the front men did not receive much service throughout the match, but he did not look to be too dangerous on the day, minus one header over the crossbar.
Davies – He scored a goal and tried to be involved until he exited the match. I am still not convinced he should be starting though as his pace would be more helpful after the other side are tired.
Feilhaber – Aside from his yellow card the match, Benny was a non factor during his time on the pitch today.
Holden – Holden had his moments on the day and would be a good replacement if Dempsey cannot get it together sometime soon. He managed to find spots when everyone else looked defeated and made an impact on the right side after he entered the match.
Altidore – Not much to say about Jozy as he did not get much time or service, but he will be an asset going forward to the World Cup.
And to close it all out, “Who is going to learn to clear the ball out of the back without sending it right back to the opponent?” The play from the back was awful all match long and there is no excuse for it at all. Cards and poor officiating have nothing to do with being able to find a mate on the pitch to dish the ball to. The boys looked like a bunch of school kids out there seeing how far they could boot the ball down the pitch at points, not impressive at all, and it did not help get the Mexicans out of the final third all match. So now it is time to write this one off and look forward, good to see my block is now gone and I have something to say again.