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USA-Mexico Rewind

Read my USA-Mexico match report with quotes. This one from Tim Howard stands out: "It seems like when we come to a place like this, the most intimidated person in the stadium is the referee. The bar was probably tilted in their favor, and that's unfortunate because it was a hard-fought game. We went in hard, they went in hard, and for some reason, we keep coming out with the foul."

In the end, however, the Mexicans were the better side: They had superior possession, better scoring chances and played with more intensity in a match more important to them than the Americans. Nonetheless, it was a bitterly disappointing result for the USA after taking its first lead ever at Azteca.

Oguchi Onyewu's yellow card means he will miss the Sept. 5 qualifier against El Salvador in Salt Lake City. He'll return four days later for the road game against Trinidad and Tobago.

Howard 6; Cherundolo 5, DeMerit 4, Onyewu 7, Bocanegra 4; Dempsey 4, Bradley 4.5, Clark 4, Donovan 4.5; Ching 4, Davies 6.5. Subs: Feilhaber 5, Holden 6, Altidore 5.

The winning goal:

By Steve Goff  |  August 12, 2009; 9:03 PM ET
Categories:  Mexico , U.S. men's national team  
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Next: Thursday Open House


Tim Howard is my favorite player on the US team, but the most intimidated person in Azteca was not the referee, it was his coach, Bob Bradley.

For all of the people complaining about the ref, did he really influence the final result? If it weren't for him, would the US have won 2-0? Was Clint Dempsey's performance that dominating?

No way. You try to defend deeply for 80 minutes, you are going to give in at least one more goal if not more. Bradley could have at least tried to defend aggressively and maintained a high defensive line. But instead, the Mexicans were allowed to control at least 2/3 of the field for most of the game.

Position by position the US squad has improved from four years ago. Where we have regressed is in coaching. Bob Bradley is incapable of making the decisive calls and the proper adjustments to lead the United States. For the good of the US national team, Bob Bradley should resign now.

Posted by: diego_r | August 12, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Steve: no disrespet but I completely disagree with our ratings.....Cherundolo and Bocanegra were by far the worst players on the pitch for the US.Closely followed by Mike Bradey(only present because of his dad) and Clint Dempsey (played out of position). El Vasco completely exploited our outside marking backs which were both an open highway for the Mexican attackers (see winning goal). What we also need is a coach with more strategic experience. Im sorry, Bradly is learning on the fly. We need a master chess player : Carlos Bianchi, Bielsa, Hiddink, I could go on and on.
Lets face it we also do not have the player deptth we all claim to have.

How can you go into the azteca stadium and play the way we did? You need to press the Mexicans - like we did with Davis' goal. But therafter we laid back and prayed. the US team had absolutely no build up of play and we did not have any form of ball possesion.

Posted by: mikeverga | August 12, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

let's be honest, sometimes good players can make a bad coach look good (USA v. Spain). More often than not, a bad coach can make good players look awful (USA Italy, USA Brazil, USA Costa Rica, etc.). Sometimes good players and a bad coach can grind out reasonable results (USA Honduras).

But if we want to get past the first round of the World Cup, and we don't want to bank solely on being in a group with North Korea AND getting an extremely fortuitous break than we need a change at the top. Bob Bradley is incapable of being the US manager.

Posted by: diego_r | August 12, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

who's intimidated by Azteca? how about the person that said: "It's a game we all have been thinking about for a long time. We've tried not to think about it."

Hello, I'm the coach of the US national team. We have this big qualifying game against Mexico in Mexico. I'm trying not to think about it. That might be why my starting XI, my subs, my adjustments, my strategy - none of that worked very well. Kudos to Charlie Davies and Tim Howard for their individual performances - I can't claim any credit for them - I was trying not to think about the game.

sincerely, Bob "I'm way out of my league - my son would tell me so, but he's a dutiful son" Bradley

Posted by: diego_r | August 12, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Onyewu was caught watching at the top of the box on that second goal. He should have been in position to stop Sabah.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | August 12, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Did our lack of fitness and inability to play 90 minutes at altitude do us in?

At the beginning of the game Charlie Davies seemed significantly faster than Efrain Juarez when he got behind him to dribble in and give the US the lead. Then in the 82nd minute Juarez blew by Landon Donovan, maybe the fastest player on the US team, to set up Miguel Sabah for Mexico’s winning goal.

After a brief and surprising opening period of domination, the US was outplayed for almost the entire game. That was OK while Mexico was behind but by the end of the half it was clear that the US would not have the energy or confidence to put together a stretch remotely resembling their play in first 10 minutes. We almost pulled off an epic result, but the odds were always against us with the one-way direction of play.

Too bad. Far more important than a US win was the chance to seriously endanger Mexico’s World Cup campaign.

Best player for the US was Onyewu while the worst was probably Bocanegra.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | August 12, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Onyewu was caught watching at the top of the box on that second goal. He should have been in position to stop Sabah.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | August 12, 2009 9:59 PM


Looked to me like Demerit left his mark to help Donovan who was beaten. That left Sabah open at the near post and Gooch not enough time to recover. Bocanegra was even with Juarez and Donovan as the Mexican approached the penalty area and then completely vanished from the play.

Efrain Juarez made a great play. Demerit left his mark to help Donovan deal with the greater danger of Juarez. Demerit missed making a great play by inches as he deflected Juarez cutback near post cross but it wasn't redirected enough to keep Sabah from it.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | August 12, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Cherundolo made several nice passes and assisted in the rare offensive possession down the right side.

Bocanegra played poorly. Spector is better.

Enough with Brian Ching, please.

Kudos to Davies ... good to see the kid finish the scoring chance during the run of play.

Posted by: Cerealman | August 12, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I was certainly disappointed with the tactics to sit back and defend after going up 1-0 after 9 minutes. I just don't understand how the US didn't just lay the pressure on after that. When Mexico equalized, then the US started pressing again. Why did it take so long for that to happen? Doesn't defending tire you out more? I just don't see the logic.

Posted by: TCompton | August 12, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I think you've got it right Joel. That was a situation where the breakdown started higher up and then led to the backline having to slide across. Maybe a tighter squad gets across more quickly, but the much simpler solution is to not play defense facing your own goal and/or while running parallel to your goal line. If you're having to do that, then something has probably gone wrong already.

I'm going to sound like a Mexican fan here, but that looked like a bit of a lucky bounce.

Posted by: mason08 | August 12, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree with EL Pibe Valderrama on this one...

You know its all about the money..thats why the OC's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Danny Jordaan for SA 2010 was there to make sure that the cash crop that is Mexico will be able to qualify.



whatever whats done is done, lets move on, patch up and start new.

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | August 12, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Not to say that they didn't deserve the goal. Mexico had had far too much possession, or rather, the US had far to little to be all that credible.

Posted by: mason08 | August 12, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I think Boca and Dolo showed poorly today. Despite the fact that Dolo showed good bursts of speed at times, Guardado destroyed him again and again in a way I know Spector would not have been.

Can we now talk about Torres starting in the middle next to Bradley? If you list all the things that we were missing today on the field, you will find that all of them are Torres' strengths. I firmly believe that a destroyer works best when he has a defined role, not paired with another one in a straight line. Bradley scores nail in the coffin goals, when the other team is in flux. We need passing.

That worked against Spain, but that was because Xavi was working by his lonesome.

We need to get Feilhaber, Torres, and Holden more involved. (I'm really starting to wonder if Dempsey needs to be either benched or permanently listed at forward).

Ching is awful. Send him back to where he actually scores. Davies and Altidore are our guys right now.

As for Bob. Learn from him. Don't say, "what we need right now is Kinnear. He'd fix this mess." That's irony.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | August 12, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, by "that" I mean two defensive mids.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | August 12, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Lets face it we also do not have the player deptth we all claim to have.... You need to press the Mexicans - like we did with Davis' goal.

Posted by: mikeverga | August 12, 2009 9:27 PM

There's that Davis guy again. The mun2 announcers (Schoen and Balboa) kept referring to him. Who is he? Rick Davis' progeny? The guy I saw scoring for the USA was Davies. Anyone who doesn't even know the name of the team's top striker probably has little foundation for criticizing the team's depth.

As for the haters: SYPH. Gooch played a very strong game. Dolo didn't have the best touch on his dribble, but he did OK in the back. The weakest link was Bocanegra -- not sure what he was doing on Juarez' run, but he definitely moved too late to help Donovan close it down. I agree with Joel's best and worst in this game, though Davies was awfully good, too. I might hate on Boca, but I don't know that the team has a better option right now. I look forward to seeing if Castillo can fill the role, but I expect that he's not at Boca's level right now.

I'll agree that Bradley's clearances were weak, but he played a good game positionally, and the USA's best attacks all began with his foot.

All-in-all, I think the result was disappointing, but the play was pretty good given the circumstances. One great counter-attack goal. One near miss as Davies left just a fraction of a second too soon, and another near miss, as Davies just couldn't reach Holden's cross. Either one of those plays could have and would have been game-winners.

Contrast that with Mexico's two goals: The first should never have been allowed because Donovan was fouled, but with no call. The loose ball came to Blanco, who set up Castro. Should Boca have closed that down? Yes, but the USA defense was shorthanded on the play because Donovan was left sprawling waiting for the whistle that should have come. The second goal came on a lucky bounced deflection off the sliding DeMerit. Perhaps the defense could have shut down Juarez' run before, but DeMerit reacted and closed the danger. It was only bad luck that the ball came right to Sabah.

A disappointing scoreline, but a lot of positives to take away from this game against a talented opponent in a place where they have only lost once in qualifiers...ever.

Posted by: fischy | August 12, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Dead on, Fischy.

Posted by: mason08 | August 12, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Hear, hear, fischy.

We had poor linking play after the first 15 minutes which put undue pressure on the back 4. Focusing on individual plays misses the macro point: we couldn't keep the ball going forward at all, which means Mex never had to chase. This wasn't a coaching strategy, it was poor midfield play and some poor passes out of the back to be sure, and even poor runs from the front that never opened passing channels. IMHO.

Had Davies connected on that header or had he gotten that marginal (but correct) offside call on the breakaway to go our way...

That said, the ref was an inconsistent wanker, which increased the pressure on our overworked defenders.

Posted by: JkR- | August 12, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Ricardo Clark looked gassed after about five minutes and his inability to contribute as a destroyer really hurt the US efforts to gain possession. There has to be a better option to pair with Bradley.

Posted by: noptov | August 12, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Both Edu and Jones could contribute in that role. The former is injured (correct?) and the latter is not eligible yet.

Posted by: mason08 | August 12, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Had Davies connected on that header or had he gotten that marginal (but correct) offside call on the breakaway to go our way...


On tight calls like that, it's nearly always the head that gets just behind the defenders back heel.

(If I had a dime for every time I've explained that to a player/coach/fellow spectator...)

Posted by: mason08 | August 12, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

That said, the ref was an inconsistent wanker, which increased the pressure on our overworked defenders.

Posted by: JkR- | August 12, 2009 10:43 PM

Inconsistent? Man he was terrible, I dont know why CONCACAF would allow him to ref again after his weak performance in the GC semi-final with CR and OMG..MEXICO...

anyone see a pattern...

he probably be at the other mexico qualifier..

NERY CASTILLO is by far the worst in the MexNT..
Some one needs to put a soccer ball across his forehead see if the unibrown will become normal...

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | August 12, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Just finished watching the game. I knew the scoreline, but nothing else. So, I could watch sans emotion, and more clinically.

The US deserved no less than a tie. While Mexico had better possession -- they always will, even when we beat them 4-0 -- their opportunities were few, the game was generally played in the middle-third of the field. Mexico did not penetrate the 18 as often as they typically do; they scored on a brilliant finish early, and on a poor tackle (DeMerit?) and horrible 1 v 1 defending by Donovan.

Our boys played much better than I expected. I'm disappointed in the loss, but not in the performance. Even with the loss, I feel much better about our chances to qualify.

Posted by: joedoc1 | August 12, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Inconsistent? Man he was terrible....

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88

It's not that he called anything we haven't seen before, it's that he wasn't consistent in his calls, or his cards.

Posted by: JkR- | August 12, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Ricardo Clark was gassed. He played a full 90 in the Houston heat less than 72 hours earlier.

As for Edu, he had torn knee ligaments repaired not even 4 months ago. For some reason, he's supposed to return to action next month. That would be the quickest recovery I've ever heard of, unless the injury was not as severe as the sketchy descriptions make it sound.

Jones is also injured, but not eligible yet, either. I'm sure we'll see some of him at RFK in October, as the USA plays for top spot in the region. However, the USA doesn't lack for talent in the central midfield. Except for Jones, they may be young, but they're a talented bunch.

Our problem areas are finding someone to link with Davies up top, and finding a left back that is the equal of the rest of our defense. There is the question of Donovan and Dempsey -- how to get the most out of them. Both may be best up top (Dempsey seems especially useless in midfeld), but playing one or the other up top opens up a hole on the wing. Perhaps, Holden can fill that hole.

Posted by: fischy | August 12, 2009 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Agreed again, fischy, the problem to me was the central MF. Clark is an energy guy, and that's it. Without it, he offers little at this level. And Bradley isn't Roy Keane yet. I thought he was poor today as well. He wasn't as feisty as he has been in defending, and didn't make himself available for the ball as well as he needed to, given Clark's 'absence'.

Posted by: JkR- | August 12, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Donovan linked up pretty well with Davies on a couple of other occasions and on the US goal. Unfortunately, US possession tailed off badly after the goal, so there weren't that many chances for the two to connect.

And I agree about Dempsey being ill-suited to playing wing for the US team. He doesn't do enough defensively and honestly he doesn't contribute a whole lot offensively in that role.

Posted by: noptov | August 12, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Galls me to say it, but El Tri was the better team today. We just couldn't maintain enough possession to slow the Mexican attack. Think I would give DeMerit a 5 rather than a 4. Bradley made the right subs at the right time, but they had little impact, other than Holden's sweet cross that Davies just missed. If he had scored on that we probably would have gotten at least a point. Time to look ahead to the El Salvador match in Utah and that's a must win for us after Honduras beat Costa Rica tonight.

Posted by: popoki08 | August 12, 2009 11:31 PM | Report abuse

joel was correct.

altidore for ching.

spector for dolo.

boca horrible game.

clark worst game.

2 nice goals
1 scrap goal
1 nice save

pretty boring overall.

i saw no messis on the field today.

Posted by: castroviejo | August 12, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

I may be a lone dissenter here, but I'm not sold on Altidore as a starter yet. He did next to nothing when he came in today, and as a sub, your workrate has to be a lot higher than his has been, even during the Confed Cup. He's nowhere near the point in his career - in talent or in reputation - where he can take most of the game off, save for a moment of brilliance. But that's what he seems to want to do, and it may be part of why he didn't see minutes with Xeres last year.

All that said, Ching had a bit of a howler today, but as far as running the game, he's still the better option to link with Davies up top. I'm not happy about that, but I've come to terms with it - for now. Ching might not get on the score sheet often for the Nats, but we score more as a team when he's on the field than when he's off it. That's priority #1. Let's see Jozy get some minutes at Hull and learn how to rely on more than his physical gifts alone, then he can claim the spot Ching is keeping warm for him in the Top XI.

Final note: harp on BB all you want, but he's ours through the end of June next year. After that, I foresee a long vacation followed by a move to Jersey, Portland, or Vancouver. He's got Gulati's confidence through the World Cup, so arguing about it is academic at this point.

Posted by: TheAMT | August 12, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

""Bradley could have at least tried to defend aggressively and maintained a high defensive line""

Huh? We got to the Confed Cup Final because we scored early and played right in front of Howard's grill.

Today we were at least playing higher up than the Confed Cup Final. And we can clearly take it to Mexico when we want (AT SEA LEVEL!!!). To think that we could have played higher pressure way up at midfield is just ignorant!!!!

This is the best game I've seen us play at Azteca, really. (IMO, the tie doesn't count, really as we were forced to play defense due to the it early red.)

A few breaks in our direction . . the offside call on Davies, the through ball to Davies that got caught up underneath a Mexican's legs . . and the game is in our favor.

Posted by: delantero | August 12, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

I wonder why Torres wasnt played in the game. I mean he knows the Azteca better than most of the squad. Could have been more fit for the match.

I dont think Dempsey was ill-suited. I think they need more help on the wings. Donovan was playing wing as well. He should be in the middle. Both of them were in and out of the center. And the just creates problems in terms of coverage. Look how Mexico played it..They had their wings covered by Dos Santos and Castillo and left Blanco to play a free creative role. Worked for them.

I just know an overhaul will happen. Some players just have to go. Ching is losing his starting spot after this game. Davies is the new targetman. Either Jozy or Cooper will need to step up their game to get that starting spot.

The RB and LB will be overhauled as well.

Both Clark and Bradley played CDM roles im my opinion. Too much defending not enough attacking.

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | August 12, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Ultimately, the loss comes from poor midfield play and an inability to hold possession and make Mexico chase . . even just a little .. . at crucial times. Most of our key players are just off break, have just restarted training and aren't at peak fitness. Too bad this game wasn't in Sept or October.

Posted by: delantero | August 12, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

from Bob Ley on ESPN . . "11 times teams have taken the lead against Mexico at Azteca and NONE have come away with points."

Posted by: delantero | August 12, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the just-missed Holden to Davies connection.

Posted by: mason08 | August 13, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

from Bob Ley on ESPN . . "11 times teams have taken the lead against Mexico at Azteca and NONE have come away with points."

Posted by: delantero | August 12, 2009 11:59 PM
He forgets...
Mexico also plays away games...which they have done poorly against...

in other news Honduras trashed Costa Rica...

Mexico is still in fourth place..

they play in CR next...

Posted by: TheWashDipsSince88 | August 13, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

While there are certainly many reasons we lost this game, for me the two biggest are that our forwards and midfield let Mexico move forward without being well contested and nearly even chance ball was won by Mexico.

Mexico began on our side of the field throughout the match. And retained possession within our side of the field.

Also, the vast majority of contested balls were gathered by Mexico.

This is a losing recipe.

In addition, our clearances were to no one by and large.

While I certainly agree the officiating was lacking, only a fool leaves it up to the referees.

We were beaten by a team that played significantly better than us. Personally, I blame it on the players, I don't think coach Bradley was the problem here.

Posted by: KireDCU | August 13, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Yup, Mexico still in 4th! It'd be great if they had to travel to South America in November and face Argentina or Ecuador.

Here's hoping that Costa Rica trashes them at Saprissa, putting Mexico on the ropes again.

Our toughest remaining game is at Honduras. We should take 3 points at home against El Salvador and away at Trinidad . . . leaving the RFK faithful with nothing more than a glorified exhibition against Costa Rica.

Posted by: delantero | August 13, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget the just-missed Holden to
Davies connection."

I didn't forget, but Davies is what 5' 5"? That would have been a spectacular play given that he laid full out for it. Ching might have gotten it.

Posted by: delantero | August 13, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

5'10" according to the Internet tome of all that is consensually written, edited, expanded, and reorganized.

It looked to me like he laid out too early... Almost as if he expected the ball to curl back a hair. Did that cross come from the shadow on that side of the field or was it in sun the whole way? Another step before leaping might have served...

Eh. Oh, well.

Posted by: mason08 | August 13, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Since when were we ever a possession team? Last time I checked a guy named Bora taught us how to hold and pass. Gansler, Sampson, Arena, and now BB play soccer as it was never meant to be played. Remember what Guimares (ex-Costa Rican coach) said about how we played the game; like it was basketball since we wait and counter, and then just pass the ball around the perimeter until a hole opens up. Similar to what Aguirre says that we just wait for the other team to make mistakes and pounce. Do you understand this is not how soccer is to be played? Probably not as most of you probably learned soccer from soccer dad types. BB being the coach is not going to change/improve how we play, and we've reached the plateau of our development. Is it obvious what needs to happen to get to the next level?

Posted by: Charisma_Man | August 13, 2009 12:42 AM | Report abuse

US' best players need not the best US coach, but the world's best coaches.

Posted by: Charisma_Man | August 13, 2009 12:53 AM | Report abuse

That was one of the worst attempts at a knee slide i have ever seen. He took a huge chunk out of the ground.

Posted by: spikeman | August 13, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

this one's on BB. every time we take a lead we just "hunker down". we were lucky against spain that they never scored the equaliser (they clearly would have won had they tied). we got a counter goal against brazil, but we couldn't kill off 45 mins. here we couldn't kill off 80 mins (shocker). if we would just continue to play our game, regardless of score, we would be ok. instead we let our opponents dominate possession and gain confidence, and then it just comes down to whether they capitalize on one of the (many) chances that they will inevitably create. it is a recipe for disaster.

Posted by: PVGtownAz | August 13, 2009 2:13 AM | Report abuse

and it is so much more difficult to score goal #2 when you have gone into a shell than if you have continued to press for it but the other team just happens to get goal #1 first.

i.e. the way we play under BB, if we tie we lose, whereas if we continued to stay aggressive, if (e.g.) mexico tied us up we'd still have a chance to win.

Posted by: PVGtownAz | August 13, 2009 2:18 AM | Report abuse

We won't win or tie at Azteca again until we figure out how to train properly for the altitude. Training in Miami and flying in the day before makes no sense.

Posted by: FrancoNiell | August 13, 2009 2:21 AM | Report abuse

I too have wondered whether we should go in 10 days early to acclimate for our next Azteca qualifier. That is how Venezuela managed to beat Bolivia. But is 10 days even possible with all of the club commitments our players have these days? (I'm asking, I don't know the answer)

Posted by: Pedalada | August 13, 2009 5:50 AM | Report abuse

With club comitments there is no way the US team could train in Mexico City for 10 days. Even if we did we would probably still lose. But training in Miami and then flying in with less than 24 hours before the match doesn't work, either. When you can't breathe, you can't win a soccer game. No one else wins in Azteca, either, even Brazil. I say let Mexico be a big fish in their little Azteca pond. They can't beat us in a neutral venue, and they can't beat us on US soil (I don't count the gold cup). Of course the main way we beat Mexico is with our athleticism. It sure ain't by superior individual skills and tactics. But it is a physical fact that the altitude takes away that advantage of superior athleticism. Hence year in and year out you can write Azteca off as a loss, with maybe a tie every 20 years or so.

In this qualifying process it has always been pretty much a foregone conclusion the US would qualify, and Mexico would qualify. And that is how it is panning out.

Posted by: Ron16 | August 13, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

...i think people in the past five years or decade or so have bought too much into the "holding midfielder" role. We should be starting our best players, not someone (CLARK) just because they play the position of the formation you want to play. You make the best formation out of the best players you have.

Posted by: wordup1 | August 13, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Steve after reading your ratings I think the smog clouded your vision. Cherundolo was awful, Donovan looked slow in the second half, and Bradley did not even complete three consecutive passes without a turnover. Here is what I would have rated them: Howard 6, Cherundolo 3, DeMerit 3, Onyewu 6.5, Bocanegra 3, Dempsey 3, Donovan 4, Bradley 3, Clark 3, Ching 3, Davies 6 (Feilhaber 4, Holden 4.5, Altidore NR). That was a pathetic effort no matter who or where we were playing and now our backs are against the wall. I really think if Altidore and Spector would have started the result would have been different. Also I think Dempsey and Donovan on the wings cause a severe liability in defense. I think if Dempsey starts it should be as a forward. The game changed a little when Feilhaber and Holden came on as subs.

Posted by: no_recess | August 13, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

From the ESPN game summary:

Added forward Landon Donovan: "This wasn't a live-or-die game for us. It was for them."


That's all you need to know about Landon Donovan. In one simple quote he was able to sum up why he will most likely be remembered as a decent player who's accomplishments never lived up to his talent.

Posted by: DCNationals | August 13, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse


"a decent player who's accomplishments never lived up to his talent."

That is the over statement of the year. Landon is the all time leading scorer in US Men's soccer. I know he had a bad performance in a difficult environment again, but he is still an excellent soccer player.

Posted by: no_recess | August 13, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Wait so donovan is telling it like it is and he is getting called out on it??

why do you go run a lap at 7,200 feet and come talk some more smack?

Posted by: Norteno4life | August 13, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Donovan's quote referred to Mexico's dire need for points in the Hex standings before yesterday's match. What he said was 100% accurate.

Even with the win Mexico is in 4th place. If they had only tied they'd be in serious difficulty for one of the 3 automatic qualification spots. They're still only 4th but they're within striking distance of the top 3.

Current standings after 6 games:
Costa Rica 12 points
Honduras 10 pts
USA 10 pts
Mexico 9 pts
El Salvador 5 pts
Trinidad 5 pts

Besides their own win, Mexico was primarily helped by El Salvador's loss. At least now El Tri is the clear "frontrunner" for 4th place and a WCQ play-in series with a South American team.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | August 13, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

You know, Goff, if you give ratings like these, you lose all credibility and look like a fan-boy. 7 of your 11 were either 4 or 4.5. So many low ratings in a game as close as this one means either MEX actually stank as a team, your ratings stink or both. True, some guys probably deserved 4's, but with 7 of 11, the score should have been like the Gold Cup. Insert a dose of analytical realism, please.

Posted by: lmorin | August 13, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I'm unsure as to which thread is still active, so I posted this on the Thursday Open House thread as well.

I waited a day to let the emotions stew a little before posting my true observations on the game.

- Aguirre plain and simple outcoached Bradley. That's a simple fact. Mexico employed the perfect gameplan. They took advantage of the fact that the US does not use width, that our weakest players on the pitch were our wide-backs, and that our primary means for transition are Donovan and Dempsey operating ahead of Bradley in Clark pinched in towards the center of the field. They operated in a 3-back system (which didn't hurt them because the US rarely attacks down the flanks), 3 central middies (which allowed them to effectively thwart our transition through Donovan and Dempsey WITHOUT sacrificing their two most dangerous attackers -- Guardado and Dos Santos -- defensively), then used said attackers by nearly exclusively having them run at Cherundolo and Bocanegra (more at Cherundolo). I'm actually a huge fan of Bradley's formation, but ONLY when he uses 2 speed options up top, and primarily when the opposing team is running a traditional 4-4-2. Mexico did not, and Bradley should have adjusted at halftime to counter Mexico's formation.

- Even with that formation, Donovan still showed his magic early in the game. The production crews showing that game clearly don't know the sport very well, because whenever they showed replays of the goal, they only showed the slipped pass and finish. The real magic was the way Donovan turned his defender on his first touch and exploded into the minimal space their midfielders allowed. Nobody else on the roster can do that. Nobody. Couple that with his vision and touch on that pass, and you realize why Donovan is on a level that no US player before him has reached. His performance the rest of the game didn't replicate that one movement, however.

- Davies is a star in the making up top. In every imaginable way, he completely outshined Ching. Defensively included.

- Ching deserved no higher than a 2 rating for that match. And I honestly came into the game giving Ching the benefit of the doubt. He hurt the US by being on the field.

- The worst players on the field were Bocanegra, Ching, and Cherundolo. Not surprising, these are also 3 of the US's most tenured players. Experience means nothing when that experience is consistently getting the crap kicked out of you at a certain venue. If you go into a place where you have a bad history, you do NOT stick with the same guys that you consistently lose with at that place. If it's a straight toss-up between Cherundolo/Spector or Ching/Altidore, you go with the fresh blood there. I thought this would have been obvious for Bradley (of course, I am talking about Bradley here).

Posted by: psps23 | August 13, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

The fundamental problem is that by playing two defensive midfielders in a 4-4-2 is that you don't have anyone to link up to in the middle of the field. They would have been far better to have moved to the current Dutch 4-2-3-1 with Feilhaber in the middle of Donovan and Dempsey with Davies up front as the striker. This "might" have led to more creativity in the middle and more possession than they had. By dropping Bradley and Clark back a little more and have the mid-3 pressure higher they would have protected the flanks better than they did. I worry that Bocanegra is getting to be a step too slow and won't be a realistic option at left fullback. I don't know if Spector is comfortable on the left as he is on the right. I have always beleived that left fullback is the hardest postion to fill given the propensity of opponents to attack down the right side.

Posted by: agoldhammer | August 13, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Anybody watch the Honduras game last night? Dam they just went buck wild all over Costa Rica last night, 2 of the last goals came within 1 min of each other. It seemed CR was done by the 3rd goal but they managed to score that goal when the refereee whistled. If CR's goal had counted, we'd be at same goal difference with Honduras, not with Honduras +1 over us.

Why does this matter, you ask? Because Honduras, USA, and Mexico could all end up with 16 points, and then goal difference comes into play. If CR only 7/9 points, and Mexico gets 7/9, then they have 16 just like what we and Honduras would have if things go according to plan. Then that goal that CR scored yesterday that they didn't count will make a difference to make the 3-way tie.

Posted by: Charisma_Man | August 13, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Just thank god that beasley didn't play, if he did there would have been even more space for mexico on the wing.

I am really tired of watching ching do absolutely nothing.

I say ditch bradley also.

That being said 2-1 is better than 5-1. But when do we start complaining about our "ranking." We are improving but we are not that good yet.

Posted by: TheDane1 | August 13, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Dear Bocanegra:

You are playing in one of the most important games in years. When the opposing striker is setting up his shot, and it is clear he is committed, you charge that $%^&! If you get hit in the face or down below, you worry about that later! Saving the goal is all that matters. Seriously! What are you THINKING?

Posted by: DCU4LIFE | August 13, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

how does Torrado NOT get a red card for his choke hold on Benny?

Posted by: mcrhoden | August 13, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

the sky is falling. return of edu and jj's addition,will solve midfield.left back is a concern, boca's play has been suspect.

Posted by: rleit64 | August 13, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

"how does Torrado NOT get a red card for his choke hold on Benny?"

Good point mcrhoden. If the roles were reversed there, the card would have been red without a doubt.

Like the Tim Howard quote above, the ref was intimidated by the fans. And why not? They threw beers at Donavan just for going near a sideline, imagine what they would do to the ref if he (god-forbid) called a foul against a Mexican player. On a side-note, check out how the fans reacted to US media members:

Posted by: csesno | August 13, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, meant to post this in this thread, but posted it in the previous thread. Anyway:

I'd like the Ching experiment to be put out to pasture. We have 5-6 forwards better than him: Davies, Altidore, E. Johnson, Cooper, and Dempsey/Donovan.

Next, Spector and Hey-dude are better options on the right than Dolo...too much space given, especially in the first half, which led to DeMerit's card. Dolo's a fine back-up, but he's not quite there...maybe the injury has limited him some.

Third, Bradley's man-crush on Boca needs to stop. He's been caught watching way too many times and at both the CB and LB positions. I don't think he's quick enough for the international game. Even, an out of form Pearce would've been a better option out left. Pearce and Bornstein are still our best options there...I know, sadly. And I doubt Boca would be a better option than Parkhurst, Marshall, or Goodson as a backup CB.

Fifth, Dempsey needs to be a forward in this setup as he doesn't have any interest when he's an attacking midfielder...thus, his Harry Houdini performances there.

Sixth, Bob, quit tweaking when you don't need to. I think that is self-explanetory.

Finally, bring on Jermaine Jones! His intensity will be a catalyst for a considerably more spirited team effort every single game.

Posted by: fcmuenchweiler | August 13, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Just to repeat: Post Match Analysis

Intimidated Ref. Hostile crowd. Difficult opponent - they were a bunch of dirty rascals w/o any sporting qualities! Very poor play by USMNT for most of match. Mexico seemed to have plenty of space when attacking. US always seemed in frantic hurry to get rid of ball - not necessarily to their own team. No midfield presence at all. Donovan needs to play in the middle but needs help there. Farewell to Boca, Ching, Dempsey and one or two more. Thanks for your past contributions but you just don't seem able to keep up anymore. Bob Bradley - You need to drill your guys on ball possession and attacking. When moving w/o the ball, they should have some idea of what to do with it when they get it. Pass, dribble, shoot - that's soccer. Hoping for better results but not feeling confident after yesterday's debacle - and that's what it was. Don't believe any of that moral victory crap. Cheers/ts

Posted by: tfshea | August 13, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

No one deserved more than a 5 including Davies and Gooch. Good players...poor performance all around. That loss was a team effort.

Posted by: FAkeemail9875 | August 13, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

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