Monday, June 27, 2011

USA v Mexico--Quick Thoughts

If the Gold Cup Group game against Guadeloupe was World Cup Algeria Part II, then the Gold Cup Final versus Mexico had to be Confederations Cup Final v Brazil Part II. Before I get too far . . . what a game. End to end stuff, great saves, glaring errors, huge momentum changes, and fantastic goals.

The US came out and attacked, very much like United v FCB last month, and capitalized on their first set piece, one of the few advantages they had going into the match. Then the Americans finished off a swift move of quick passes, including a tremendous shield by Adu (surprise starter) that led to Deuce finding Donovan, who coolly finished. And then the lights went out just like 2 years ago against the Brazilians.

How big must have the Mexican eyes been when Bornstein came in? Cherundolo going off changed the match, and I don’t know any Spanish, but surely they said go at #12. With Chicharito occupying the two center backs, Gio and Barrera had their way with poor Jonathon, which led to Mexico being all over the US like white on rice, which totally disrupted any possession and rhythm from the Americans. Hoofing the ball up to the Roma like rotation of target players was not working. Once the ball trickled in to make it 2-2, the game was over. The US looked unlikely to score and the Mexicans had their tails up. Not much changed in the second half and Barrera’s sublime finish told us everything—Mexico is simply better. Gio’s ridiculous finish put the Americans in their place and now it’s back to the drawing board.

There has been a lot of talk about Bradley and his status as head coach. Sean Wheelock says that some of his sources say the US has peaked and grown stale. @UFStretfordEnd has started a #BradleyOut campaign on twitter. Going through a second World Cup cycle is tough enough and here is a coach who cannot win, who cannot win big matches and cannot win the PR battle. He either starts slowly, responding with smart substitutions that either change the match in his favor or cause the fan base to wonder why he didn’t start with those players; OR he gets a lead against a tough opponent and simply cannot hold it. I think Bradley is competent, professional and well organized, while being solid if not spectacular. If you can him, you have to ask, who would you replace him with? If you don’t have a replacement, you must continue on this course, sad and predictable as that might be.

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