You mean, this isn’t the US team that was going to go down to Azteca and defeat the mightly Mexicans?
They hadn’t suddenly flipped a switch from the Confederations Cup and were hyped to do what no other US team had done before?
The US scored first on a nice goal by Charlie Davies, then held the lead for all of 10 minutes, and finally gave in for good in the final 10, as Mexico won the CONCACAF World Cup 2010 qualifier between the nations, 2-1.
It was everything US-Mexico games at Azteca have always been:
* The US had some bright moments, and give credit for getting a goal – that was better than usual; and it was a great goal.
* People will whine and moan about the ref. But how was it different than any other game down there? You know what it’s going to be before the game even starts.
* There were the typical antics from a few Mexican players, lashing out at opponents, ganging up on a US player while fallen, etc., mostly unpunished – and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
* There were the typical antics from a few Mexican fans, throwing whatever they could find at American players.
It was, in a nutshell, everything we’ve always seen. The US played well in spurts, but the spurts were way too short. They responded to the challenge at times, but those times were way too brief. They defended as valiantly as they could deep in their own third of the field, but couldn’t do it for the time required.
Blame the ref, blame the stadium, blame the fans, blame global warming, blame Paula Abdul … the loss comes down to the fact that the US couldn’t defend adequately enough to win a road match against what is still a challenging and formidable opponent. When under pressure, the US often were able to clear the ball, but rarely were they ever to do so in a controlled fashion, finding teammates to start a counter attack.
And it’s a shame, because the Mexican back could be had with speedy breaks. The run Davies made and the pass he got for the goal were great, and the defense had no answer. He found open space later and barely missed heading home a cross.
But the US couldn’t set up those situations often enough because their defending wouldn’t allow them the ball. Then late on, it was even Donovan, slowed by fatigue, altitude, reading the Beckham book, whatever, who got wasted on the right flank in the buildup to Mexico’s winning goal.
I don’t blame coach Bob Bradley or any individual player. I don’t think there are other players in the pool who could have done better. Just about the best lineup went out there, and they got beat – pretty much rightfully so based on gameplay.
All the rest of it – the ref, the projectiles, the gamesmanship … that’s for people to argue about here on BigSoccer.
The US just wasn’t good enough today to succeed in this situation. They never have been – and they’re not there yet.