USMNT: Ups and Downs for U.S. in Re-Match with Mexico

August 12, 2011

 I don’t think this is what Jurgen Klinsmann meant. Over the past few days, newly appointed USMNT team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has repeatedly said that the U.S. must develop a style that defines us. Unfortunately, the U.S. seemed to follow what had become its style in the Bob Bradley era. Concede possession all over the park, go down an early goal, then 15 minutes into the 2nd half after some substitutions, battle back to tie the game and nearly, but not quite, nip it in the end.

 Coming out in the 4-2-3-1 that breathed life into the U.S. attack during the Gold Cup, the U.S. was outplayed for long stretches in the first 60 minutes of Wednesday’s contest. Although Mexico had few good chances, and even their goal was a bit of luck and skill, Mexico clearly dominated possession for the first 2/3rd’s of the game. In the opening lineup, Michael Bradley was ineffectively deployed as an attacking midfielder under an equally ineffective Edson Buddle and Jose Torres was left to cut a frustrated figure on the left flank. Our latest experiment at left back, this time Edgar Castillo, proved to be the Hispanic version of Jonathan Bornstein as Castillo was left chasing the play over and over. Jermaine Jones continued his up and down performances with the national team unable to affect the game while partnered with Kyle Beckermann who, if nothing else, worked hard the entire game to break up the Mexican attack.

 The real bonus for the U.S. came in the 60th minute when Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea came into the game for Edson Buddle and Jermaine Jones and sparked the U.S. attack to life. Agudelo, as he has in numerous National Team performances, looked much better when entering the match as a substitute than when given the start. His young legs quickly put pressure on Mexico’s backline as he ran at them and Brek Shea performed admirably, putting behind him some utterly forgettable National Team performances in the January friendlies. The two combined on a nice play in the 73rd minute and Shea won the endline to deliver a pass to Robbie Rogers for an open netter.

 Following the goal, the U.S. continued to press, having two seemingly legitimate penalty calls and a separate unmistakable red card offense waved away. With a stronger official, the U.S. could have easily won the game 4-1.


Klinsmann – willing to experiment and gave some players renewed life with the National Team.

Agudelo – a sparkplug once he came off the bench. Unlucky not to have drawn a penalty after being tripped in the box.

Shea – much more impressive than in his previous National Team appearances. Could add depth to a very crowded midfield pool.

Bocanegra – for me, he was the man of the match. Could this man be any more composed in the back? Every time it looked as if the Mexican’s had broken us down, he was there to clean up the mess. Also could have easily had a goal on a powerful header in the 2nd half.


Castillo – not our answer at left back. Could not keep up with the speed of play.

Jones – a forgettable outing. I am still hopeful a healthy Edu and/or Holden displaces him from the starting 11.

Torres – while he looked better for the 12 minutes he was moved to center mid, he was ineffective on the left. Will struggle to compete for time as a center mid.


Howard – not truly tested

Donovan – ineffective in the 1st half, he looked much better late in the match when he began to run at people and also could have easily drawn a penalty after being taken down in the box. In my opinion, needs to be playing in the withdrawn forward position. A Donovan/Dempsey combo up top would be lethal while Adu and Bedoya could man the flanks.

Cherundolo – not a great game, but his quality is a known factor

Rogers – got the goal, but on a shot my grandma could have finished. Should have drawn a red when he was taken down on an obvious breakaway late in the game. Still has to prove he can play at this level.

Beckermann – ran around a lot to break up the Mexican attacks. We’ll have to see if Klinsmann gives him another shot.

Orozco – committed a bad foul early, but seemed to settle down once the game got started. We’ll have to see how he competes against a healthy Goodson and an in-form Onyewu and numerous other center back options in the National Team pool.

Bradley – looked out of place as the attacking mid, but his quality as a holding midfielder is undeniable.

Buddle – unimpressive, but to be fair, saw little of the ball.

John D. Halloran

2 Responses to USMNT: Ups and Downs for U.S. in Re-Match with Mexico

  1. DE Dupuis on August 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Overall I felt better than after the Gold Cup final. I think Mex had 1 shot in the second half. Based on the second half, the early take on our USA “style” of play looks a bit like Blackpool in BPL last year (and look what happened to them), a couple of quality players with everyone else working like crazy and attacking every chance we got. I loved the team’s spirit, but the quality often makes one wince. On the up side, it will get much better. Our left back problem is not as bad as it seems, I’m sure Lichaj and Spector will get the call when it counts. When Holden and Dempsey return the quality in the midfield/attack will go up by an order of magnitude. And Donovan only stank in one half of the game and was really good in the second half. Will someone please tell him that when the other team has the ball he should try to stop what they are trying to do with it. Our big problems remain a second center back, a holding midfielder who can distribute (Bradley is a bit too generous with passing to the other team), and a strike team. Here’s a thought on a solution, since we will seem like we are going to be a high pressing, attack minded team I hope we switch to a 4-3-3. With Agudlo, Dempsey and Donavan up front (Adu), Holden and Bedoya or Torres as playmakers (Shea, Rogers) , Bradley as holding midfield (is there anyone else, Jones does not defend as well as MB and gives the ball away even more) maybe Spector instead of MB, Lichaj, CB, someone else (many OK choices), and SC at the back (Spector), and lots of good choices at keeper.
    And sure the officiating was painful, but it was a friendly after all.
    And here’s a big tip for junior players, when either attacking or defending a cross – know where the ball is!!!!
    And for the love of God, give Rogers some credit for his goal – sure it was a tap in – BUT he had to be running to that spot at that time in order to be there to tap it in – there is NOTHING wrong with making it look easy!!! In fact Rogers repeatedly got himself into positions to be dangerous – a skill few others in the red, white, and blue seem to have.

    • John Halloran on August 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Like your idea of Spector as a CB. It’s at least worth looking at for a game or two. It was his natural position growing up and I don’t really think he’s quick enough to play OB. His runs forward at OB worry me as well. He doesn’t know when to get rid of the ball and just dribbles into traffic.

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