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USA-Mexico thriller signals roster countdown drama
by Mike Woitalla, April 3rd, 2014 3:26AM

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TAGS:  men's national team, mexico, world cup 2014

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[USA-MEXICO] The hype that accompanies this rivalry isn't always followed by exceptionally entertaining soccer, but the USA and Mexico served up a thriller in their 2-2 tie on Wednesday. Amid the drama, here are a few things we learned from the clash in Arizona.

BRADLEY’S BETTER THAN EVER. So much for the Eurosnobs’ ridiculous notion that Michael Bradley would forget how to play soccer by returning to MLS. He scored the go-ahead goal, set up the USA’s second, won balls in midfield, and -- although mainly in the first half -- created a rhythm to the U.S. game in a playmaker's role.

WONDO’S STILL IN THE RUNNING. Not having been a factor in World Cup qualifying, scoring against the archrival is exactly what Chris Wondolowski needed in his quest for a ticket to Brazil. His strike, thanks to astute anticipation, gives him three goals in his last two appearances for the USA, having scored twice in February’s 2-0 win over South Korea.

DONOVAN’S NOT 100 PERCENT. Jurgen Klinsmann decided not to start the greatest player in U.S. history because he hadn’t performed optimally in practice. Landon Donovan, who has been bothered by knee problems, did come on in the 59th minute. Will that be his role at the World Cup? As a second-half joker?

TWO FORWARDS ARE BETTER THAN ONE. Playing with a pair up front -- Wondolowski and Clint Dempsey – was a key reason why this was not only a more enjoyable team to watch but why it was able to keep Mexico on its heels for most of the first half. Mexico may have been the better team in the second half, but the USA attacked with vigor late in the game and came close to getting the win.

EDDIE’S AN ENIGMA. He seems to have lost his scoring touch in MLS since wigging out in Seattle and moving to D.C. United, his first touches off the bench against Mexico were awful, but then Eddie Johnson scored with a sweet strike for what would have been the winner but for the AR’s hair-trigger flag.

CENTER D IS A CONCERN. Last month against Ukraine John Brooks and Oguchi Onyewu were hapless. On Wednesday, Omar Gonzalez raised his arm in a ridiculous plea for offside instead of staying with Alan Pulido on Mexico’s equalizer and looked weak while screened to allow Rafa Marquez head home Mexico’s first goal.

THERE ARE OPTIONS AT OUTSIDE BACK. Surprise starter Tony Beltran at right back did well enough defensively and constantly attacked, delivering the cross that Bradley relayed to Wondolowski for the second goal. Left back Michael Parkhurst also was constantly in Mexico’s half and played with poise defensively. The youngster DeAndre Yedlin stormed down the wing a couple times and set up Dempsey for good chance.

THE NEW GERMAN INTRIGUES. Julian Green came into the game after the tide had turned for the Mexicans. But he hinted that he could be a dribbler the USA could use when he nearly drew a penalty kick.

Overall, the game revealed not so much what Klinsmann’s World Cup roster will look like but that the process will be more difficult and possibly more entertaining than we expected.

April 3 in Glendale, Ariz.
USA 2 Mexico 2. Goals: Bradley 15, Wondolowski 28; Marquez 49, Pulido 67.
USA -- Rimando, Beltran (Yedlin 72), Besler (Goodson 59), Gonzalez, Parkhurst, Beckerman (Edu 72), Bradley, Zusi (Green 59), Davis (Donovan 59), Wondolowski (E.Johnson 64), Dempsey.
Mexico -- Munoz (Talavera 46), Layun (Ponce 68), Rodriguez, Valenzuela, Chavez (Aguilar 63), Marquez, Zavala, Fabian, Pena (Jimenez 46), Brizuela (Montes 57), Pulido.
Referee: Roberto Moreno (Panama).
Att.:
59,066.







23 comments
  1. Ginger Peeler
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 9:08 a.m.
    No one has mentioned the Mexican player who was coming in, studs up, behind Michael Bradley as Bradley scored that first goal. And the ref "chatting" with a Mexican and a US player? What's that about? These players are supposed to be the best of the best. They should know the laws of the game at this stage. Don't chat with them...give them each a yellow card. Don't tell them,"I'm watching you." That's what refs are for! If a player breaks the rules, card him. Don't give him second chances. Letting dangerous play continue so as not to hinder the flow of the game is inexcusable. Enforce the laws and we'll have a much less chippy game...and not so many attempts to take down one of a team's best players!!!

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 10:10 a.m.
    Besler, Bradley,Parkhurst, Beckerman, and wondo all had solid games. I still wonder why Klinsmann who started with a 4-4-2 diamond, didnt switch to a more defensive 4-2-3-1 formation in the 2nd half?

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 10:22 a.m.
    Solid first half performance...team shape was on spot, running on and off the ball with sharp passing was the best performance so far under coach K. For me, the 'team shape' is most critical, player matchups are less important as long as each individual performs well. The first goal was a well executed ruse, and Wondo's goal came on a perfect delivery.

  1. Bill Riviere
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 10:57 a.m.
    The assistant referee can sleep well. He made the right call. Johnson WAS offside--by a hair, but offside. The AR was in as perfect a position as any AR can be, while everyone criticising the call did not have the correct angle to assess it properly. The strike to him was also not far away from Johnson and clearly in the AR's vision. At the time the ball was struck, Johnson's head and left shoulder were slightly ahead of the second to last last defender. Johnson was leaning slightly forward on his diagonal run toward goal and most of his body was even or behind the defender, but not all of it. Actually the defender seemed to be leaning back toward the midfield a bit at the time of the pass. An attacker's arms don't count. Head, body and legs do. Johnson's head and shoulder did him in, in my opinion. I'd have called him offside if I'd been holding the flag. A courageous--and correct call.

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 12:09 p.m.
    They need to get rid of that stupid antiquated off side rule! And no, he did not get call right. There are way too little goals scored in soccer anyway. Rule nedds to go away, or at least be modified. Off by a hair? How stupid. Just shows you how moronic the rule is! FIFA needs to get into the 21st Century, and get rid of these dinosaur rules. And institute instant repaly as well!

  1. Vince Leone
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 12:42 p.m.
    Omar Gonzalez usually commits at least one catastrophic mistake per game and can be faulted on both Mexico goals. We need an alternative: Goodson? I'm desperate enough to give Onyewu a chance in the remaining friendlies. I think the speed and guile of the German and Portuguese attackers will overwhelm Gonzalez.

  1. Vince Leone
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 12:46 p.m.
    Hasn't Geoff Cameron played center back for the US a few a times? Maybe give him a real chance to win the spot. We have a little cover at right back and could afford to move him over.

  1. Mark Hardt
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 1:13 p.m.
    I think the Panamanian Referee crue was exacting revenge against the USA for knocking them out of the World cup with a meaningless win for the USA and a devestating loss for Panama. If all goes well with goal line technology we need to look at limited Replay. Maybe twice a half per coach for Goal affecting plays. So both the offside call and near foul in the box would qualify but after that there would be now more challenges.

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 1:27 p.m.
    Definately. Bring on replay. The refs are horrible. This will also happen, as it always does, in WC. Constant blown calls, no call, or wrong calls! It is about time we stopped this crap. We have the technology. Use it.

  1. Bill Riviere
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 1:55 p.m.
    Dan, I see you have a built-in bias against any referee.... It is usual in all sports for the fans to blame the referees/umpires for "blowing calls" that could have won or cost their teams goals/runs/wins. In this game the referees actually did a good job. I actually spend a lot of time watching the officials for their calls and positioning and calls/no calls. NO referee will get every call right or even see everything. As an 18 year ref myself, I've regularly thought I was in perfect position to view a play and then had another player move into the way and obstruct my view even instanaeously and I've missed calls. It is also a LOT harder in some circumstances to determine if contact was actually made--or if a player is faking. At high levels, replays on certain plays make sense. In the meantime, we referees will have to put up with fans, players and coaches blaming us for losing them a game. Remember, referees are trying to observe and control 22 players in a fast moving physical game. I dare any of you who are complaining to get certified and try it. You will clearly see what I mean. Ever notice that teams that win don't complain much about the refereeing--they made the plays they needed to. I do concur that not enough goals are scored in soccer and that affects its popularity. Eliminating the offside rule would, however, allow "baskethanging" and ruin the game.

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 2:35 p.m.
    I don't agree. They do not have offside rule in basketball. Come back and play defense. What is the problem? Or at least modify offside rule like a blue line in ice hockey. I am not aginst refs. But they make a lot of mistakes, and we have the technology to overide their mistakes. And also, questionable close calls should always favor the offense not defense. Fans want to see more scoring, not less. Soccer has way too many 1-0, or 0-0 games. BORING! and let's not go with all the wonderful nuances. Bottom line is it is entertainment. And boring 0-0 defensive games are not entertaining!!! the sidelin refs tend to be flag happy, as they have nothing else to do. Just get rid of the off side rule once and for all. Get out of the "purity" dinosaur age, and join the high tech 21st century, FIFA.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 3:10 p.m.
    Vince is right, without Omar, we might have won last night.Its bad enough if it happens once and awhile to your man central Defender, but we can count on several mishaps ever game with Gonzalez.The way I see it, we'll need at least two goals to win at the WC. Unless it changes in the next few months, we will be in poor shape at the WC.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 3:21 p.m.
    So Dan wants to allow "camping" or "cherry picking" on an opponents goal? Sorry, I love the NBA a lot but a soccer field is far different from a much smaller basketball court. Can you imagine all the long ball service that would ensue if the Phillips no off-sides rule were to be adopted? There would be no more skill in the game in terms of advancing the ball through skillful dribbling or short passing and movement, it would just degenerate into a bizarre form of kick volleyball on grass. No thanks Dan, stick to basketball and volleyball.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
    We need to keep the offside rule to keep the game flowing. But at the highest levels, it should be subject to video replay. Essentially, anything not obviously offside should be let go, and if a goal results, the non-call could be reviewed. And to make the rule simpler to enforce (at least on replay), to be called offside there must be daylight between the torsos of the offensive and defensive player (so no need to consider a slight lean) when the ball was struck. Offside is designed to prevent cherry picking, not to give the defense an opportunity to shut down an attack with the help of the referee in order to avoid having to defend.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 3:35 p.m.
    With the exception of the blown offside call (which was admittedly a very difficult one, but unless you're sure, the benefit of the doubt should go to the attacker), and the missed call when Julian Green was taken down (a foul, but outside the box), I thought the refs did a pretty good job. I think the players should also be credited with playing hard, but cleanly. Given the intensity of the game (and the rivalry), the atmosphere (large groups of both supporters), and the see-saw nature of the game, it was refreshing to see that the players came to play and not engage in too many histrionics or cheap shots. Good composure on both sides.

  1. Steven&linda Pedlow
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 5:17 p.m.
    I have never seen anything in any National Team game that suggests that Omar Gonzalez is good enough to make the World Cup roster, let alone start. Please don't bring back Onyewu, but anyone else played there in the last four years has played better in a U.S. jersey than Gonzalez(I only watch the Galaxy when they play the Fire), who like Onyewu, makes too many critical errors. I would start Besler for sure.

  1. Dan Phillips
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 7:39 p.m.
    Ok then put a blue line, like the old NASL did for offside. And yes, use video replay, let's get into the 21st Century. We have the technology to make the game better and more exciting, with more offense!

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 8:14 p.m.
    I, personally, have always wanted to see what a futbal game would be like with professionals playing without the offside rule. It would totally change the dynamics of the game, but it seems to me it could open up the game. If defenders have to fall way back in order to mark a player who is deep in their defensive end of the field, won't that open up space for the other teams offensive players to spread out the defense? I think it would be interesting to experiment with. On the other hand I used to play with a guy who advocated that the offside rule helped the offense as much as the defense. Well timed runs and passes wil dissect a defense that relies on the offside rule.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: April 3, 2014 at 8:21 p.m.
    Omar Gonzalez's attempt to make it through the pick on the first goal was a joke. The only response I have is: Was he looking for an excuse. All he had to do was maneuver around the guy who was trying to pick him. As a guy who played basketball alot when I was younger, this is not a difficult proposition. I agree with whoever commented that Cameron should be given an opportunity to start again at that position. On Donovan not starting. I have been thinking since 2011 that his best place on the USMNT is coming off the bench. He could create havoc on a tiring teams defense in the second half. If he is truly having knee problems that is probably the best way to use him.

  1. Zoe Willet
    commented on: April 4, 2014 at 12:11 a.m.
    Someone, please, make the Mexican team have the players' names on their jerseys! (And the other teams who do this as well). I don't understand why this isn't a FIFA rule!

  1. David Johnson
    commented on: April 4, 2014 at 11:28 a.m.
    I agree with Kent. Keep the offside rule but there should be open space between the def and off bodies before it's called. A hair here and there is ridiculous. Make it easy for the ref to call and you decrease the blown calls dramatically.

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: April 4, 2014 at 3:11 p.m.
    Clear daylight and video replay and the offside rule would be less of a joke. And if you got rid of the rule altogether, if forwards attempt to cherry pick, then defenders will have to stay with them, and that will open up space, maybe put an end to the stacking of the midfield that destroys most attacking soccer. Worth a try, maybe the US 2nd division league???

  1. Kent James
    commented on: April 7, 2014 at 10:40 p.m.
    While I'd be curious to see how professionals would change the game if there was no offside (though it might take a while to see the results), my fear is that at least some teams would have very tall players camped in the box to whom they would hit lofted balls that could be either headed onto goal or knocked down for others to strike on goal. It might produce more goals but I don't think it would be pretty (though I could be wrong). It would open up the midfield (modern games are so compressed, often with 18 or more players within a 20 yd length of the field), but I think it would largely eliminate the offense moving forward as a unit that I think is one of the most attractive and exciting parts of the game. But I'd love to see what would happen if a league tried it for a season...


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