[WINNERS & LOSERS] Jurgen Klinsmann's first game in charge ended in a 1-1 draw, but they were plenty of winners and
losers to go around on a day in Philadelphia that saw the USA and Mexico renew their fierce rivalry and MLS announce an historic television deal.
JURGEN KLINSMANN. For about 60 minutes or so, it didn't look good for the new U.S. coach, but the pitiful start followed by a strong finish gave Klinsmann the best of both worlds. The slow beginning allows him to start his team out at a very low baseline -- any improvement is progress -- but the positive ending meant Klinsmann and his players could go home all smiles.
LANDON DONOVAN. Perhaps no player other than Michael Bradley had more to prove in Klinsmann's first game in charge than Donovan, who was coming a rather disappointing Gold Cup -- remember he started on the bench for two games. Donovan justified the confidence Klinsmann has in him -- he him on loan to Bayern three winters ago -- with an excellent game -- once he was moved into the middle.
MLS. Despite it being a single midweek fixture date and most foreign leagues just starting, Klinsmann's initial roster included only seven MLS players in a squad of 22, but three MLS players created the tying goal: Juan Agudelo to Brek Shea to Robbie Rogers -- who wasn't even on the original roster -- for the tap-in. It's the kind of lift Klinsmann needs to get from MLS -- and it needs to get from the national team. Now let's see how long the league can keep players like Agudelo and Shea ...
FIFA. FIFA has to be liking the news that NBC has partnered with MLS on a TV deal. It gives FIFA two major broadcasting companies committed to U.S. soccer in a big way -- two major broadcasting companies who will hopefully jack up the rights fees when they get around to bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. With the timing of the MLS contracts with NBC and ESPN to end at the same time in 2014, it also gives MLS and FIFA leverage again to commingle their media rights and get the best deal for both of them.
MEXICO. The Tri came to Philadelphia and left as the Gold Cup champion, so it still has that over the USA, but given its recent form against the USA -- a three-game winning streak for the first time in 12 years and and almost total domination in the last two Gold Cup finals -- you would have expected more out of Mexico, even if it didn't have Javier Hernandez. The last 30 minutes debunked the notion that Mexico has moved into another class. It may come to regret that in two years when the USA and Mexico meet in the Hexagonal.
JERMAINE JONES. If the Klinsmann era is to be about creating and not destroying, then Jones' (short) run on the national team is nearing its end. The one German in the lineup should have delighted playing for his countryman, but of the veterans no one played as poorly as Jones did. He should take Klinsmann's praise of other holding midfielder, Kyle Beckerman, that his coach wasn't happy with his performance.
EDGAR CASTILLO. The only player on the field to have played for both the USA and Mexico, Castillo had waited a long time to get a second chance with the USA. Unfortunately, his performance was universally panned by the media with ratings in the 2 and 3 range. Fortunately for Castillo, recent performances by other U.S. left backs against Mexico haven't been any better -- Jonathan Bornstein in the 2011 Gold Cup final and Heath Pearce two years earlier. And give the New Mexican credit. Luck was on his side. Nothing happened on the corner kick that ensued after the ball bounced off his head out of nowhere and over the end line. And after he ruined a nice U.S. exchange of short passes with an errant pass, Mexico goalie Guillermo Ochoa turned around and hoofed the ball into touch, where Castillo's quick throw-in started the play that led to the U.S equalizer.
ESPN. USA-Mexico preempted for a Little league game -- not the World Series from Williamsport but a regional semifinal, no less? When it was already 8:30 p.m. ET, and New Tampa was still batting around in the top of the 4th inning of its game against Mobile, Ala., you knew trouble was brewing. There is precedence to ESPN's decision to stick with the Little League game and move the start of the USA-Mexico game. When faced with back-to-back live events, ESPN almost always sticks with the game nearing its conclusion and moves the game just starting to another network. Just imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. USA-Mexico is moving into stoppage time, and the Florida-Alabama Little Leaguers are just getting underway. Switching from a live event in midstream is rarely done. (The run-over was a shame because it took away from heavy-duty coverage of the game with Bob Ley brought in to lead the on-site studio show and Jorge Ramos added to give the coverage a Mexican perspective.)