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USA 2, Mexico 0 (again)

Some thoughts...

-- ESPN should get high marks for production, camera angles, packaging, announcers, pregame, halftime, postgame. The only thing it lacked was high definition.

-- Mexican goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez showed no class in his foot swipe at Eddie Johnson during the USA celebration following the second goal. Let's see if CONCACAF or FIFA takes action. Like his teammates in front of the U.S. net most of the match, Sanchez missed -- so, sadly, don't expect anything to happen.

-- Keep in mind that the Mexican players were in game shape, from their domestic league schedule and European play. The U.S. team's MLS players won't be match fit for several weeks. Also keep in mind that Mexico was at full, or nearly full, strength. The Americans were without Onyewu, Beasley, Cherundolo...

-- Bland first half, dictated by the more seasoned Mexicans, but a competitive and entertaining second half. It became clear early on that the U.S. team was not going to create much in the run of play. A goal would have to come on a restart, and that's what happened. Nicely executed by Donovan and Conrad, but inexcusable for the Mexicans; the U.S. made it look easy.

-- Conrad unquestionably the man of the match. Confident, assertive play in the back, cleared dangerous balls, scored the goal. What more could you ask from a central defender?

-- What does it all mean? Not too much, really. It's just a friendly. However, the Americans certainly have maintained their psychological advantage over the Mexicans leading into Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying. Not a great effort by the U.S. team, but a good one. They got their act together after the break, scored off the dead ball, absorbed pressure, watched the Mexicans squander a few chances off U.S. mistakes, and put away the game in extra time.

Here's my quick player analysis:

HOWARD: positioning was excellent, few mistakes. proves he's ready to be the No. 1 keeper, but what if Keller is still interested in representing his country?

BORNSTEIN: got better as the match went on, bold decisions coming forward, held up defensively, FAST and confident on the ball

CONRAD: a rock in the middle, the natural leader of this team

BOCANEGRA: worked well with Conrad, although synchronization was a little off

ALBRIGHT: beaten too frequently

CLARK: great learning experience for a player who needs to prove he's more than just a quality MLS player

MASTROENI: settled down in the second half, distruptive in the middle of the park

CONVEY: better in the second half, but should've finished his grand scoring chance late

DEMPSEY: lively, inventive, disappeared at times, wore down in the second half

DONOVAN: disappointing in the first half, but set up Conrad for the first goal and calmly finished off the second one (with a little help from the referee, who launched the counterattack from midfield)

ROLFE: not a good night, still has a ways to go on international stage; might've been more effective playing off a true target forward

JOHNSON: worthy shot from distance, caused some problems, avoided Sanchez's cheap shot

GROS: not bad in brief appearance at right back; will we see him there for DCU?

CARROLL: foolish foul led to Mexican free kick, still finding his way for the national team

COACH BRADLEY: the result certainly helped his cause for the full-time job. Hello, Sunil?

NEXT U.S. MATCHES: March 25 vs. Ecuador in Tampa, March 28 vs. Guatemala in Dallas

Thanks to everyone who joined our in-game discussion...

Your thoughts on the match?

By Steve Goff  |  February 7, 2007; 11:29 PM ET
Categories:  U.S. men's national team  
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Comments

playing 2 defensive center mids like clark and mastroeni with no attacking midfielder in front is such a bad idea. there was no passing out of the center of the field to the forwards.

I don't think that's why rolfe looked so bad though, he just had nothing. I had been waiting to see him but was pretty disappointed.

also, I was pretty scared with bornstein for the first half but he was like a different player in the second. i continued to be scared with albright the whole time he was in though.

Posted by: pat | February 8, 2007 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Howard: Have to disagree completely. He was average at best on a night where he wasn't tested. Gave up an early cross after being barely bumped, let loose a rebound on a shot from distance . . . these are mistakes that get punished against a world class team. He is clearly not the solid netminder we've known in Friedel and Keller. Will he do? Sure.

Bornstein, Bocanegra and Conrad: Class of the defense, but still the occasional hiccup that allows teams to stay in the hunt.

Albright: Overmatched for the most part.

Convey and Dempsey: Flashes but it's time to step up to the plate. Ref makes a horrible call and doesn't play the advantage to Bobby.

Donovan and Rolfe: Too much quick one touch efforts to nothing. Over and over they played too quickly. Me thinks they are of the same mentality which doesn't help the other. Donovan gets lucky off the ref for a quick counter.

Subs:
Johnson: Nevermind, nowhere, nobody. Three goals against Panama as a sub 2 years ago and has had nothing since. BENCH HIM (on the bench at ARROWHEAD)

Carroll and Gros: Tough situation to come into with the Mexicans going full blast. Would like to get them both a start to see how they do. Not optimistic, but hopeful in their abilities.

Posted by: delantero | February 8, 2007 1:52 AM | Report abuse

I think the production was top notch but I do think they need to fire Dave O Brien or give him something else to do. I want to hear a match like this with passes being called by a soccer guy who knows the lingo and gets excited when there is a possibility someone may score.

Look for example, at ESPN's Champions League matches and contrast them to this. The commentary aside from Wynalda is horrible. Bruce Arena ads very little and Dave O'Brien has no emotion for the game.

A good announcer makes a friendly feel like the World Cup. Dave O Brien made the World Cup seem like a friendly.

Send Mr Baseball his walking papers please and hire someone competent. It wouldn't be a turn off if he happened to be British either, so long as he's good.

Fox Soccer Channel does it right.

Everything about the camera angles and production was perfect and has me excited about MLS this year, if only we can get rid of mickey mouse announcing that makes our league and game look amateur.

Posted by: negroyroja | February 8, 2007 2:09 AM | Report abuse

Howard - untested and was a bit shaky with possesion
Conrad - THE MAN!!
Boca - solid, a clear starter
Albright - The true underacheiver was beaten too much and might have gone forward a couple too many times instead of helping his defense.
Bornstein - I can't wait until he gets a bit more experience. I don't fault him for many of his mistakes, because I think he is showing that he learnes from them quickly and gets better even during the course of a game.
Dempsey - out of shape. Creative. I love how he noticed that we had no connectivity from the back midfield to the forwards so he came back for the ball a number of times. He recognized that early on and helped the offensive situation as much as possible
Mastroeni - solid. He needs to clean it up a bit and look for targets but it is offseason for him and I expect that to straighten out during the MLS season.
Clark - Maybe he's just young, but I didn't really like him in there. I didn't see him assert himself enough in the middle.
Convey - I think he's the future. But he needs to be playing everyday for Reading. He had some crosses off the mark and he slowed too much on the wing but I think thats from not playing enough day-to-day.
Rolfe - TERRIBLE! stop bringing him in Bradley! How could Twellman have been on the bench for this match?
Donovan - I'm going to say this regardless of his goal yesterday. He is the biggest underachiever on the team and he should stop being the focus. Ok, great he scored a goal. How about doing this in a World Cup game. Why is he so scared to take on defenders? Why can't he control the ball for longer than 2 seconds? Why can't he make the players around him a bit better (like Reyna, Dooley, McBride)? I'll tell you why, because he's not that good except for a couple of lucky games.
Gros - clearly outclassed. But he was running around like chicken with his head cut off. I think that was nerves and I'd like to see what he does when he gets through his nervous phase.
Carroll - Bad foul but we did need a little attitude so I'll give it to him (May be a homer call from me though). He needs to settle into his role and just get the ball to the playmakers. I think theonly thing that seperates him from some of the world class players in his position is his ball skills. I love at DC though and hope we never lose him!
Johnson - I know he didn't too much, but we needed a swagger out there and he gave it to us. He talked trash. I would have liked to see him make a bigger deal out of the Sanchez move, but thats fine. I like that he isnt afraid to shoot the ball when he doesn't have the support. Sadly, he may not up to the skill level anymore to help us out too much. I'd like to see what Twellman will do given a regular role with this team. How has he not earned the right to start? Amazing.

All in all, the attack was pretty pathetic for most of the game. That is a bad sign since that was Arena's achilles heel. That was the whole point of possibly bringing in a foreign coach. Bradley better fix that attack if he wants to make this a permanent position.
But, hey we won over the classless mexican national team. And make no mistake about it, they were pretty much at full strength and they wanted to win. It great to see the disappointment on their faces. I'm glad they don't shake hands, it gives me one more reason to think they are classless. After the "Osama" chant years ago, I pretty much wrote them off. So good riddens!

Posted by: gomez4prez | February 8, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I've been spoiled with outstanding keepers like Friedel and Keller, but I thought Howard looked awful. He misplayed several balls and was lucky that Mexico inexplicably couldn't seem to find the net. This could easily have been a 3-1 or 4-1 Mexican victory.
I also agree that the commentators left a lot to be desired, although Dave did seem to let up a bit on the inane canned player trivia that he relied on so much at the World Cup. And all the cheerleading for Bob Bradley is tiresome. He and everyone knew the deal when he took the job. I like Bradley, but if we still have a chance to get a Klinsman or a Hiddink we'd be crazy to stick with an unproven manager, especially since we're still 3 1/2 years away from the next World Cup.

Posted by: Touchliner | February 8, 2007 7:55 AM | Report abuse

I was pretty disappointed with our attack. Can anyone tell me where it was last night? If there is one thing for certain about American Soccer, we produce some high quality defenders and goalkeepers. I feel like there is a hole in the team without Claudio Reyna as the CMF. With his absence the US attack was none existent. We need to find his heir apparent ASAP. Why is Jiommy Conrad not playing in Europe? He clearly looked much more poised then Rafael Marquez of the esteemed Barcelona. I also can't wait to see how Clint Dempsey progresses after a year in the Premiership. To summarize, the defense looked good, our offense was nonexistent. I am still suspect on Bob Bradley. Of course, I am very pleased with the result of 2-0. Hopefully this game will be a springboard for the Gold Cup and Copa America.

Posted by: Todd | February 8, 2007 8:09 AM | Report abuse

It was really one-way traffic for Mexico but the USA organized their defense well and hung on for the win. It was disappointing that the US couldn't put together any offense, both goals came on fluke plays while Mexico created many chances that Conrad and Howard made big plays on.

Posted by: ronny | February 8, 2007 8:11 AM | Report abuse

It was nice to see Donovan actually moving around in the second half. Haven't seen that much action from him in a long time in national team play.

Howard has my vote for GK1. I wasn't sure, but he seemed to almost always be in position.

I agree with negroyroja, Arena has no business being on the broadcasting team. He adds nothing, and all of his comments are written previous to the match. It was blatantly obvious that he was reading off cue cards. He also has no emotion.

Other than that, another typical classless performance by the Mexico squad. Cheap shots, diving, and general unsportsmanlike behavior.

Posted by: brendan | February 8, 2007 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Disagree pretty strongly with applauding the match production by ESPN; there were several occasions where the "sky-cam" lost track of the play and in switching back to the conventional sideline camera the run of play was lost entirely.

It is so tiresome to watch Bristol try to make its sports productions look more like video games in an effort to attract young audiences. An international against Mexico is not Madden 2007, full stop.

As for the match itself, Bornstein did himself a world of good. He looked a little shaky at times against the Danes, but very confident and assured against two different, dangerous Mexican attackers in Medina and Fonseca. Moment of the match was Bornstein blowing by Osorio like he was standing still after giving him a three-step head start. Class.

Jimmy, stop it. You're hurting Jared's self-esteem...

Posted by: Bill Urban | February 8, 2007 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Disgusting display of sportsmanship by the Mexicans, the goalie tries to trip one of the Americans after the second goal and after they lose, they do a Detroit Pistons and slither off the pitch with their tails between their legs.

As for the actual game, the U.S. did a good job absorbing the Mexican offensive and would've liked to see some better, crisper passing, but they great considering a lot of the U.S. players are in their offseason.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Wow. I didn't see the US beating this Mexican lineup (as I indicated in the pre-game thread below).

One caveat: I really did expect Nery Castillo to turn Albright inside-out for 90 minutes. Apparently his father demanded some dough from the Mexican FA in exchange for being cap-tied to Mexico (instead of Greece), and that led to him being scratched. So Albright got to get torched by Guadado instead.

Bornstein shocked me. I knew he was quick, but I had no idea he had the pure speed he showed. The way he's developing is very, very exciting. If he continues at this rate he'll be one of our stars in another year.

I'll add my voice to those questioning why Rolfe was out there, but I'd blame tactics, not Chris, for his ineffectiveness. I'm not sure what Bob was thinking, putting two withdrawn-forward types as our front line - perhaps he had visions of us pulling off some jogo bonito? Rolfe only makes sense if you plan to have the ball in possession a bit, and if you plan to play it forward on the ground. The US obviously didn't plan to do either of those things, looking at their formation. So why was Chris in there?

Posted by: ionprovisioner | February 8, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

There was apparently only one US journalist at the match. It seems that every news outlet just used the AP report. Given that Danish radio sent seven people to the Superbowl, is it too much to ask that US news agencies actually write some stories on the MNT? Goff, I give you credit for your analysis here on the blog; why won't your editors let you write a story on this? Fortunately, I speak Spanish so I could read the Mexican coverage of the game. They were even whinier in Spanish than the AP reported in English. Grow up, you idiots. No one is saying you have to recognize the US as superior, but at least show some class and recognize that we are a valid opponent. I remember La Volpe saying that the US played like his grandmother, following a 2-0 loss. Apparently, he is so dense that he didn't realize that it would be more of a shame to lose so badly to a bad team than to a skilled one.

Posted by: Troy | February 8, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Troy: Good point on U.S. coverage. Few major papers sent reporters to last night's match and instead relied on AP. In the home delivery edition of the Post, USA-MEX received four paragraphs of coverage; the Notre Dame-Louisville women's basketball game attended by 5,600 got eight paragraphs.

You can share your thoughts with the editors at sports@washpost.com

SG

Posted by: Goff | February 8, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I would just like to say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE BEATING MEXICO.

Posted by: Rocko | February 8, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

The problem with our possession game was that we had two of our four midfielders holding the ball too long. Clark and Convey were dribbling fiends. Particularly when you're in the center of the park you've got to get the ball off your feet in two touches. The other factor was our forwards not dropping back to make themselves available for those quick outlets. Johnson was the only one I saw do it consistently when he was in. And Dempsey from the flank. Cycle back, take a quick ball to your feet and drop it back immediately. Takes defensive pressure off your midfielder and lets them survery the pitch for their next pass, while allowing you to make another run at the defensive line. Then if nothing develops you do it again. Simple enough.

Why yes thank you, Sunil. I will take the job. LOL

Posted by: Matt | February 8, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

No mention of the classless fans throwing cups at Bobby Convey before he took a first half corner? The lack of class doesn't stop on the field for the Mexicans, who again refused to shake the Americans' hands after the match, it extends to the stands.

Posted by: I-66 | February 8, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

We may need to get used to the 2-d-mid setup. Bradley paired Armas and Marsch in the middle in Chicago and did decently well so he may be tempted to try it for the U.S. I'm not convinced.

Posted by: Brampletown | February 8, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

According to the Mexican press, when told of complaints by U.S. players about his post-goal lunge at Eddie Johnson, Oswaldo "Dirty" Sanchez replied:

"Me vale madre lo que digan, que chinguen a su madre"

http://www.milenio.com/mexico/milenio/nota.asp?id=479997

I'll spare this family-friendly blog the translation, but suffice it to say that "madre" means mother...

Posted by: EdTheRed | February 8, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Question: what's with Gros and Carroll when we've got Namoff and Mapp on the bench? Seemed like odd subs to me, and both of them looked a little overmatched while they were in there.

Posted by: Matt | February 8, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Pros: ESPN Coverage - hell of a lot better than ever before. Still not perfect, but c'mon. Used to be the match was listed to start at 9 and kickoff literally started at 9. I actually liked the overhead camera angles, though some of the quick switches in camera angles were a bit dizzying.

Bornstein - He's good and he can go forward. Plus his one v. one defense was great.

Howard - those balls were hit right at him because he has learned positional sense. Plus, no rebounds.

The look on the Mexican coach's face as time ran down. Friggin beautiful.

Cons - Albright has had his chances; he needs to be dropped from the nats.

US's forwards - where were they? Too many lay-offs to the wrong team and they never worked together. Pretty sad.

Mexico post game - give me a break. These guys really are in a permanent state of denial and show absolutely no class. There must be someone in their group who can act like an adult.

Great win, though.

Posted by: Dave | February 8, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

What a bunch of losers . . 2-0 win and a 14-0 goal differential on U.S. soil . . .

From the AP report:

""Indeed, Marquez gave the Americans little credit for the victory. "They were a little opportunistic and stayed in their own end for the majority of the match, but they did beat us," Marquez said. "Considering the tactics that they utilized, I think that is the credit I would give them considering the fact that on the field, they were not superior to us.""

Posted by: delantero | February 8, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I hope the people that always argue that European-based players are better than American-based players watched that game last night. Both goals were scored by MLS players. Bornstein had a great game. Dempsey and Convey were middling at best, and before this game I kept hearing that the 'Deuce' is the best player on the US national team.

A central defender who starts for the Kansas City Wizards (Conrad) had a much greater impact on the game than a central defender that starts for FC Barcelona (Rafa Marquez).

I love Europe but the over-fascination with playing in Europe doesn't advance the game as much as the 'you have to play in Europe to be good' proponents would like us to believe

Posted by: Diego R. | February 8, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I see a lot of folks last night and today are taking shots at Bobby Convey, but I think we should remember that he is coming off a very long injury rehab. It was probably good strategy for Bradley to play him a lot just to help him play his way back in shape, which should help him get back into the regular rotation at Reading. I still think he handles the ball in traffic and handles pace much better than any of our other midfielders.

Posted by: Paul | February 8, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Okay, compeletly unrelated to the game, Sports Illustrated's soccer section is reporting a rumor that Zidane is seriously close to signing a huge deal with the New York Red Bull. Here is an excerpt:

International soccer legend Zinedine Zidane declined to address rumors that he may follow David Beckham's lead and continue his career in the United States. There have been whispers that the Red Bulls of the MLS would try to sign Zidane. Zidane, who attended last night's Knicks-Clippers game at the Garden, met briefly with long-time Knicks season-ticket holder Spike Lee and left at halftime.
-- New York Daily News


I think he is much more gifted and techinacal player, but after the headbutt incident at the World Cup, I would love nothing more then to root against him when he comes to play in DC.

Posted by: Todd | February 8, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I think people aren't giving Convey enough credit for his defensive work. He did a great job tracking back to take the ball away a few times and to help the inexperienced Bornstein, who shows a ton of promise going forward. Man he's got some speed.

I agree with people on Albright, he has got to be done. How many times can someone show he's not a defender and still get chances?

I've always liked Conrad but this is the first time where I got disappointed that he's already 30 and may be pushing it come 2010. God I love seeing Borgetti frustrated when he plays someone just as physical as he is. It's a little different when he's looking up at Conrad or Gooch (that look during the qualifier was priceless) than some shrimp in the Mexican league.

Posted by: G-Dub | February 8, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I know it was a friendly, but I feel like Tom Hanks in Big the morning after her got lucky for the first time. I just want to skip down the hall and high-five everyone. So nice to beat those classless thugs. One of these days, we're gonna get that win in the Azteca and they will have nothing to hang their hats on.

Posted by: Brian | February 8, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

As much as I love watching the mexican team cry like a bunch of little girls it's real obvious that the US needs a dominant figure in central midfield. Reyna's done, someone's got to step up if the US wants to compete on the offensive end.

Posted by: Chico | February 8, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Can somebody give me a loose translation of Sanchez's remarks? Just bleep out curse words or something. I'd love to know what that punk was saying.

Posted by: gomez4prez | February 8, 2007 1:26 PM | Report abuse

"they can go "dance" with their mothers"

Now substitute a dirty verb for dance and you've pretty much got it.

Posted by: Chico | February 8, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Steven, can you explain to me why Bob Bradley did not call up Jay Demeritt of Watford? Apparently he is having a sensational season in the English Premeirship, yet no call up. What gives? Also what ever happened to the American playing in Chile's top league. I heard he had a great season. This also brings me to another question which is why do Americans tend to stay away from South American clubs? Is it the language barrier or are they just not wanted?

Posted by: Kev | February 8, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

As a recently transplanted native Washingtonian, this blog is a great addition. It lets me keep up w/ DCU and soccer through the thoughts of Goff & Co., who I think are some of the most knowledgeable soccer folks around. So, thaks and keep up the great work.

As for the match, some thoughts:

1. I think most folks who watch on a more casual basis always thought "Reyna is good, but what does he bring to the match?" I guarantee you we wouldn't have looked half as disorganized in midfield as we did for large portions of the match last night. We couldn't even keep posession. Last night's game proved that many folks don't know what they've got until it's gone.

2. Howard is 27. That's like 19 or 20 in goalie years. They don't hit their peak until the early 30's and can be outstanding into thier late 30's. Timmy scares the bejesus out of me on every cross (it's pretty clear why, with his size and skill, he never persued American football), BUT his positioning has improved dramatically. He may not handle everything perfectly, but he makes it a lot easier on himself and his teammates when he's in the right place ant the right time.

3. Timmy's young and has at least 3 WC's left in him. I'd like to see KK have one last spin around the block. He's earned it and I still think he's superior to Timmy.

4. I love Bornstein. The kid has jets and loads of confidence. 1/2 of all defending is believing you can do it. Of course, the other 1/2 is positioning and picking your moments. That only comes with time and experience. He's like Frankie in that he can use his speed to cover for his own (and others') mistakes, except he never forgets he's a defender first.

5. Poor JOB. This should be his team. Every time Pablo and Ricardo couldn't handle the first touch or the pass to split the D, I just thought "man, if O'Brian were in there..."

6. Poor Rolfe. I don't get it. He must have had a heck of a camp, becuase he just looked like he had no business being out there (when we saw him at all).

7. Dear lord, I hope Stevie doesn't blow out a knee or something becuase Chris Albright is simply not an international-caliber defender.

8. I loved the fact that Jimmy Conrad described his goal as "a thing of beauty" in the post-game interview. Every time I see him defend, I just feel like he always rises to the occasion and gets better. The he opens his mouth and I realize he's got to be awesome in the locker room too. Central D is looking so strong right now.

Big win. Tons o' confidence. Bobby deserves to be the permanent head coach. I do so love beating Mexico.

Posted by: ABitOffsides | February 8, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Demeritt would have been good, but how about Jonathon Spector? Would have been a heckuvan upgrade over Chris Albright at right back. But then again, maybe Bradly approached this in the true "friendly" spirit, i.e., as a chance for new players to take the pitch, like Gros and Carroll. He'd probably rather see players established on Euro clubs keep up with their work over there.

Posted by: Paul | February 8, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Bottom line: Mexico was the better team on the field but was completely incompetent in front of the net. Other than Conrad's breakout performance, the US MNT showed little. They got a lucky win in a meaningless match.

As to the Mexican team's attitude, it's not very different that the pitiful whining of Landon "IhateGermanyandwannagobacktomymommy" Donovan and others whenever they lose to Mexico at the Azteca stadium, so just deal with it.

We'll see how the Gold Cup goes once Hugo Sanchez has been the coach for a bit longer and the MLS-based players in the US MNT are in better shape.

Gotta love rivalries, and while the US has had the upper hand recently (well, 7+ years), the pendulum tends to swing the other way after a while.

Posted by: ElmoL | February 8, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I watched the match at a Mexican restaurant down here. Definitely a different experience being the only gringo in the place cursing Landon in Spanish. I'll admit he had a decent game, that was a great corner he sent in to Conrad, and he took advantage of the few opportunities the US had. That said, I still think he could benefit from spine and lower extremity transplant...
Most of the good points have already been made about the performance of players, but I've yet to see an explanation of "Why Gros, and Carrol were subbed in?"
I believe having Nowak on the bench had a LOT to do with those moves, and he's still got some feelings for his former players that really worked their butts off for him. Soehn might have also asked that he get Gros some work in on the backline in preparation for a possible switch to a 4-4-2 at United. Pure speculation on my part, but not completely unfounded.

Posted by: AlecW81 | February 8, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Elmol, but it is silly to compare off-the-field whining about your team, which, if you haven't noticed, seems to be the norm with most clubs (cf. Riquelme in Villareal), and on-the-field behavior. I don't know, maybe it's being Eurocentric or racist to think that the proper way to handle a defeat is to shake your opponent's hand and move on. Sorry, gotta go because I'm being bombarded by water bottles.

Posted by: Paul | February 8, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

These kind of rivalries go beyond the rational and thus the lack of huggin'n'kissin' at the end of the game. I don't recall much love between Celtic and Rangers (and US/Mex is that kind of rivalry) at the end of matches either.

The US MNT players dislike the Mexican MNT players as much as the Mexican MNT players dislike the US MNT players. Play on the field was clean from both sides, and that is already progress.

Oswaldo Sanchez's idiotic lunge At EJ and his childish post-game comments were the only real blotches for a match that otherwise fulfilled the "friendly" spirit. Not shaking hands may offend soccer moms in Exurbia, but just let it go...

Posted by: ElmoL | February 8, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I truly hope this doesn't lead to Bob Bradley's hiring. "Bruce Lite" is not the answer. Nevertheless maybe it's time for the Mexicans to realize they just can't win here, no matter if you throw out the A team or the Lake Braddock HS team.

Howard: Still young. Too many drops and not too good in the air. Rather see him get the experience though than have them keep wheeling Keller out there, that doesn't do us any good at all. I'm still holding out hope they'll give Adin Brown a shot at some point, and I still like Joe Cannon.
Albright: Please leave, now.
Boca: Quality but there are better options.
Conrad: Solid in these games, but when it counts I'm not sold. I guess he's a good friendly stand-in. But I'd still love to see people like DeMerit get a chance, we've seen plenty of Conrad already.
Bornstein: He plays bad defense. He's fast enough to recover from mistakes and that's good, but it won't hold up against better teams. Still young though, so I don't have a problem with him getting chances. Don't get why Heath Pearce got sent home though.
Dempsey/Convey: Both quality, just tired. Not in game shape yet. Good match for Bobby to come back to. I like him much better there than DMB but maybe DaMarcus will recover at some point.
Mastroeni: The guy's getting pretty old and we know what he can do (and do to other people). Isn't there anyone else we can look at?
Clark: I like him, would like to see him get a few more opportunities.
Carroll: Either looks lost, our you can't find him. Regardless, I'm not sure why people think he can play at this level.
Donovan: I'm the manager, Donovan doesn't see USMNT again until he starts playing in a league more commensurate with his supposed talent. He's clearly regressing and someone needs to let him know that his place isn't guaranteed. I was hoping a new manager would do that, but then they hired Bob Bradley. Too bad he scored, as people will think he's fine, but he's not.
Johnson/Rolfe: Our current set of forwards are simply not very good. That's all there is to it. I would really like to see some people like Jemal Johnson and Kenny Cooper get some quality chances.
Gros: Love him at DCU, limited ceiling though. Nice gesture, now go back to camp.

I really hope Bradley stops the "Arena policy" and brings in the likes of Frankie Simek, Spector, DeMerit, and some of the Scandinavia-based players. We have a ton of talent out there, but looking at MLS has-beens and clearly-are-nots (Namoff? Give me a break. Love the guy at DCU, but like Gros, not at Nat) is not moving us forward in any way.

The rationale that BB was taking this game seriously is empty, since he brought in two out-of-shape foreigners, a goalkeeper, and Boca (not sure why) to complement a full slate of MLS "talent" of varying degrees and upsides. I don't understand this.

Posted by: C-hawk | February 8, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I used to think Albright blackmailed Bruce to get his spot but Bruce is now gone and the bum's still there...the only thing that's consistent is how bad he is and the fact that he still has nothing to deserve a place on the U.S. bench much less the starting XI. Albright must go!

Posted by: J.Cooks | February 8, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Bradley was not in position to call in all his best Euro players. You've got to be selective because down the road, when the games truly mean something, you want to be able to get a player without much resistence from his club coach. That's why many capable Euros were not requested for the Mex match. You've got to pick your spots when dealing with transatlantic travel for players deeply entrenched with their Euro clubs.

In the coming months, especially as the Euro seasons wind down, you'll see everyone: Onyewu, Spector, DeMerit, Beasley, etc. For one game in February, you call in a few guys and that's it. The MLS players, meantime, were readily available because they are in preseason.

Bradley made the right choices for this game. We'll see how he handles the March friendlies and, if he's still in charge, the summer tournaments.

Posted by: Goff | February 8, 2007 6:40 PM | Report abuse

When the Mexicans lost that bitterly disappointing match with Argentina at the WC, did they not shake hands after their loss? When the Argentinians lost to the Germans, in turn, did they not offer their hands in congratulations? When the French lost in the final, did they not congratulate the winners? For chrissakes, the Dutch and Portuguese even shook hands after their infamous cardfest. The aftergame handshake is a well recognized ritual in competitive sports, that predates the "Soccer mom" epithet. One reason the great Detroit Piston teams ca. 1990 get left out of discussions of all-time great teams is all the bad will they left by stomping off the court before the end of the game to avoid congratulating the Chicago Bulls when finally dethroned. That well known pantywaist Michael Jordan certainly never forgot that one. Perhaps you think the Mexicans should be held to a lower standard, Elmol, but you shouldn't sneer at the idea of sportsmanship.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 6:43 PM | Report abuse

The Mexicans have about as much class the University of Miami stomping on another team's logo, then getting their butts kicked on the field and trying to start fights. What a joke. When Mexico wins in Azteca the US players shake hands and don't storm off like a disappointed 10 year old girl. At this point Mexico knows in their hearts, even if they'll never admit it, that they are officially owned in the USA and they can't stand it. Remember when Detroit and Colorado had those nasty playoff hockey games and Claude Lemieux gave a dirty hit and injured Kris Draper, and everyone still shook his hand at the end of the series even if they felt disgusting doing so.

Posted by: G-Dub | February 8, 2007 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Steven,

Sorry to complain here, but if its possible not to include the score like that in the title next time it would really benefit folks like me that record the game. Like most loyal readers, I bookmark the RSS feed on my browsers toolbar. Scanning through news/bog/blog feeds I bookmarked, I know to avoid the soccer ones after the match, but happened to glance at yours before watching the game. Yes, clearly my own damn fault, but I hope it doesnt happen for a DCU match. If you could help errant clickers like myself by having a different less revealing title (perhaps indicating results/discussion post-match), it would be much appreciated.

Posted by: NW FC | February 8, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

They say that one way to learn a language is to repeat phrases.

Mexico has helped me learn a useful phrase through repetition:

dos a cero

Posted by: seahawkdad | February 9, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Read an interesting analysis of this game wherein a pretty sharp dude noted that Mexico just doesn't want to change its attacking strategy despite the fact that all the quality teams that beat the US simply sit back and counterattack, taking advantage of the US's obvious inability to build out of the back and/or mount a cohesive attacking strategy.

Highlights: Bornstien has lots of promise,
Howard will be fine, Conrad will only get better, Donovan needs to think "attack" before pass and should be subbed if he doesn't get it, Convey and Dempsey have the right "tude", everything else is up for grabs

Posted by: Crowbar | February 9, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Bottom line: ElmoL is in denial. Like Hugo Sanchez, Marquez, Oswaldo Sanchez...the whole lot of 'em.

Last I checked, finishing opportunities is an integral part of the game. Since we could finish and Mexico simply couldn't, it's simply astonishing to see so many bitter Mexico fans still saying that they were superior. It's the same pathetic refrain, again and again.

I just can't wait to punk those fools in the Azteca...maybe then El Tri will disband and spend the rest of their lives spinning new excuses from a hole in the ground.

2-0.

Posted by: Mexi-can't | February 9, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

The mexican team, although the losers, played with much more style than the US side and it seemed like they were more of a club team than a national one. The game could've easily have gone to mexico had they taken advantage of their multitude of chances and yes, US commentators really need to improve both in their objectivity to the sides and comments. Arenas, to his credit, frequently had to interrupt the Mexico bashing.

Posted by: Joel Rosado | February 9, 2007 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Many times you don't win on style but on tenacity with a bit of luck. That is what the US did on Wednesday. This game was much more like a first-round WC qualifier than a friendly: scrappy, emotional, hard-fought and more missed chances than well-taken ones. But I would much rather beat Mexico than look pretty losing.

Steve, thanks for setting the record straight about why DeMerit, Spector et al. were not called into camp. I would add that those two in particular are starters on teams facing relegation, so leaving during their teams' last pushes for survival would be poor form. But I would hope that people who should have gotten looks under Arena will now get their chance.

Quick feelings about the squad:

STILL NEEDS PUSHING: I think the competition between Keller and Friedel made both better keepers. I worry about Howard becoming the heir apparent too early, especially when he still shows an alarming tendency to misplay high balls and crosses. It was great to see Joe Cannon finally on a roster, and I hope he'll get the starts in the next couple friendlies. Hahnemann will probably not be a realistic choice for 2010, but could be VERY useful in qualifying.

NEEDS MORE TIME: Convey's whiffed corner and horrible finish after being gifted a one-on-one show that he needs to start getting time again at Reading before being called back to camp. As the baby DCU birthed into the professional world, I want all the best for him but I don't understand defending him on the grounds he's recovering from injury: then what is he doing on the field facing our most bitter rival--even if it is a "friendly"! If he's still not healthy enough for Steve Coppell then I don't get why should be OK for us.

Dempsey needs to get in shape and see if he can hold down a starting spot at Fulham. We tend to forget that his performance at the WC looked especially brilliant because he was surrounded by such lackluster teammates. He's got people excited for good reason, but I'm not ready to pass him the next big thing hat just yet.

NEEDS A FRIEND: Oh Landon... you put the game away and we still have to strain to say nice things about you. I guess it's the way you frantically looked over your shoulder for someone to pass to--twice--as you bore down on Sanchez that made me see a guy who is desperate to hide from the expectations of leadership.

NEEDS THIS CAP but not one more: love Gros and Carroll for our DCU, and it's certainly hard to come into a game like this as a late sub, but I'm just not sure I'll ever be sure about these guys suiting up for the National Team.

NEEDS TO GO: Eddie Johnson has one foot across the border in Clint Mathis-land. Chris Albright has made big strides as a defender and matured into a great MLS player, but he is not international quality. Rolfe is the sort of guy you never want to draw the curtain on so early, but it's not even a close call. These guys should be cut loose. The only proof I would accept that they belong in the squad is if they can fight their way back in.

NEEDS MORE CAPS: Conrad, obviously, whom I've been a huge fan of since seeing him play in the gold cup in 2005. He is way more solid, in my mind, than Boca. Bornstien, whom I hadn't seen for Chivas so was a nice surprise. I actually liked what I saw from Ricardo Clark, just need to see a lot more of it over 90 minutes.

REALLY GOOD NEWS: This was a B or B- team yet still held up well over the full 90 despite being outplayed for most of the game. The national team pool is broader and deeper than it ever has been (we could field an all-EPL back line) and I can't wait to see more of the breakout MLS players get their chance over the next three years.

steve, thanks for doing the blog, I love to have an outlet where we can read more of your great copy!

Posted by: unitedunited | February 10, 2007 12:23 AM | Report abuse

like always many things are now show by the american media.
in a national team level the u.s. is as good as mexico is,but in a club level if you see the campeones de concacaf tournamente the mexican teams always won to the mls teams and by many goals.
plus the u.s. had won more game to mexico in the last years because the games are in the u.s.a.,when the games are in mexico the u.s. team never wins and never will win a single game in mexico.
well amigos is just a game at the end.
see you all
bye
g

Posted by: gerard flores | February 10, 2007 6:00 PM | Report abuse

When USA Plays Mexico. They feel they are playing Brazil or Argentina. They give their best. They know how to beat Mexico that's for sure. I hope someday they learn how to beat other teams, not just Mexico. The way they played on the WC and got beaten by Ghana. And end up as one of the worst teams of the WC. Proved that USA still has alot to learn. USA Might win the Gold Cup. But, you'll see that they will be humiliated in the Copa America.

Posted by: Richard | February 16, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I think there is certainly truth to the idea that the US plays up to Mexico. It happens again and again that the US plays well against big name opponents (like Italy) only to squander games they should win (Ghana) or get blown out when the opponent is top notch but not as well regarded (Czechs). Certainly though, the Mexican team needs to come to the realization that they are not the best team in CONCACAF anymore. Results are ultimately what it comes down to and despite their individual technical abilities, they are lacking more than Landon Donovan when it comes to production. The only place they can consistently beat anyone is in Mexico City, which is far more than simply a home field advantage. The US team has beat them all over the United States infront of crowds that are nearly always rooting for Mexico as the home team! The excuses need to stop if they hope to regain their title. 1-0 is bad luck, but 2-0 is a tactical failure ESPECIALLY against what was a clearly technically inferior side. This Mexican team was far closer to being a full strength team with more in season healthy players than the side the US put out. If I were a Mexican fan I would be disappointed to have lost, but downright ashamed of the response(I mean in regards to the soccer, not the sportmanship) which was to bury their collective heads in the sand to ignore a glaring ineptitude to seal the deal.

Posted by: batigol47 | February 16, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

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