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July 27, 2009
The U.S. took it's worst ever beating under Bob Bradley at the hands of Mexico on Sunday with a 5-0 loss.
I went to the pub on Sunday to watch a soccer match between the U.S. and Mexico. What I witnessed was a slaughter.
El Tri pounded five goals past a lackluster American defense and completely walked all over a midfield that could best be described as a C team.
â€œThe area where we didnâ€™t do well enough was our response to the first goal,â€ coach Bob Bradley said. â€œI think the first half we played pretty well, and now when the second half starts you obviously want to build on that. We had one very good chance at the start of the second half when Robbie Rogers hit one over. But when we get down, your ability to make sure that the game doesnâ€™t become a free-for-all where the other team has all sorts of space and opportunities, where your numbers arenâ€™t good enough in the back when the ball turns over, where you lose bad balls, so thereâ€™s a lot of different things there that obviously came into play. I think itâ€™s most important that we can look at those things.â€
Too much space between the midfield and defense is putting it lightly. You could have not fielded the four guys across the middle and seen similar results.
The first half did see some chances go astray with Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Rogers and and Stuart Holden sending shots either wide or miles over the bar and into the seats. Beckermanâ€™s efforts in the first half stood out as particularly poor as he sent some flustered off balance shots in, one of which not only missed goal but may have sailed wide of the corner flag. I wish I could tell you where it landed but it was too difficult to watch. Itâ€™s been a long time since Mexico last delivered such a spanking to the U.S., never mind on American soil where the last time they managed a victory was ten years ago.
The defense in this match started out well but in the second half, Jay Heaps and Heath Pearce were awful as they consistently attempted to bomb forward at the same time only to find themselves drastically out of position to defend the impending Mexican counter attack.
For a squad of players that most would consider average on a global scale, I would have to say that this game proves that this team over achieved just to get to this point. Certain players were good enough at times in the group stage or in the two subsequent games to get them to the final, but once faced with a team that brings the speed and attacking power of Mexico, these players were overpowered.
The big difference maker in this one was Mexican first teamer Carlos Vela serving as a substitute. The Arsenal man entered the match just after the half and changed the game with his skill. He and Giovanni Dos Santos proceeded to terrorize the U.S. backline as both players finished with a goal and an assist.
Overall, this was probably the worst performance a U.S. side has ever mustered under Bob Bradley. It would be one thing if this happened against Canada or Jamaica. U.S. fans would feel incredible disappointment and discontent aside from being embarrassed, but losing to Mexico in this fashion rivals any embarrassment over the last twenty years.
Iâ€™ve often defended Bradley for his decisions and still think that this was a respectable summer. Making the final in two cup competitions, one of which was the first FIFA tournament final in U.S. history is an achievement, however, this Gold Cup is something perhaps should have been taken more seriously. After looking at the team sheets in this tournament, youâ€™d have to say that Bradley didnâ€™t view this tournament as all that important, and that is a mistake.
With a trip to the Azteca on the horizon, this was an opportunity for the U.S. to make a statement that it is superior to El Tri on all levels. It would have been a serious blow to the Mexican confidence to lose to the U.S. again just before the all important World Cup qualifier where a Mexican loss could keep them from making a trip to South Africa. The match Sunday was a sad sight to see, but perhaps should have been expected.
Troy Perkins: With a lesser man guarding the net the match ends 8-0. Perkins isnâ€™t too much to blame for the defensive errors of the men in front of him and canâ€™t be criticized for his previous performances in this tournament so I have little to say about the Valarenga keeper. We may see him in the future but heâ€™s unlikely to surpass Guzan as the backup to Howard so his action will always be limited.
Jay Heaps: A very unimpressive finish to an already average tournament for Heaps. If you really believed that Heaps had the skill to play at the highest level, he went a long ways towards proving you wrong in this one. He didnâ€™t have the speed or quality to compete with Mexico, offered very little to the attack throughout the tournament and was caught out of position consistently. His red card in the 88th minute of this one ensures that he will miss the next match that he would even be considered for so I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if you didnâ€™t see him in a national team uniform ever again.
Clarence Goodson: After a solid game against Honduras, Goodson was less than sufficient in this one. He made several mistakes in the back as he and Marshall were spread too wide by the ineptitude of the outside backs to track back. His tackling left a lot to be desired particularly on the second Mexican goal where his sloppy tackling led to an embarrassing effort with Goodson flailing around on the turf trying to take it off the foot of Vela who tapped it to a teammate which led to a goal. Goodson has potential but lacks some of the necessary skill to play his position at this level.
Chad Marshall: It wasnâ€™t Marshallâ€™s best performance either but again you can contribute some of it to poor play by the outside backs. He was often left alone facing multiple Mexican attackers and by the end of the match was visibly running on fumes. He played every match of the tournament and played well enough to be considered a contributor to the limited success of this squad. That being said, he wonâ€™t be back in a national team shirt any time soon most likely.
Heath Pearce: His service in the first half was awful but I liked that he was influential in pushing forward. In the second half, he was caught drastically out of position and beaten too easily. His effort for the tournament as a whole was sufficient but in this game he didnâ€™t do himself any favors if he wants to get back into the first team.
Stuart Holden: While he is good on set pieces, he really didnâ€™t add much to the attack in this one, and was irrelevant for much of the game as he aimlessly chased after the ball and looked confused about what to do with it when he had it. It was not a bad tournament for Holden but this was not his best performance as he fell in line with the rest of this practically invisible midfield.
Kyle Beckerman: Ugh. In the first half he took some far fetched shots that no chance of even threatening goal and in the second half he was more ineffective than in the first as he dropped off his defensive pressure, did little to help the U.S. maintain possession and was far cry from the intelligent passing midfielder heâ€™s supposed to be.
Logan Pause: Iâ€™ve been saying heâ€™s unimpressive the entire tournament and he did little to sway me from that assessment in this one. Youâ€™d be hard pressed to find a more irrelevant player on the pitch in the second half.
Davy Arnaud: The Kansas City man did little to have an effect on the match. He brought no real creativity and seemed to die out in the second half which is why he was replaced by Kenny Cooper who was equally ineffective, although to both playersâ€™ credit they werenâ€™t exactly getting the best distribution out of the guys behind them.
Brian Ching: He can play against Panama, Haiti, or any of the other second rate CONCACAF sides but pit the 31-year old against the quality of Mexico or anyone bigger and he just doesnâ€™t have the speed to really threaten defenders. It was a decent effort from Ching but as usual his finishing wasnâ€™t that great and he couldnâ€™t make it happen. Nothing against Ching but tournaments like this that Bradley views as a chance to run out the backups is probably where weâ€™ll see the most of Ching.
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