1. Much-hyped game lives up to its billing.
USA-Mexico was hyped up to be the biggest U.S. game in a generation. Forget that it was for a trophy that had never previously been presented -- the Concacaf Cup -- or that only a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup -- a World Cup dress rehearsal dismissed as useless -- was on the line. A crowd of 93,723 at the Rose Bowl -- the second largest crowd ever to watch the USA on home soil -- endured an autumnal heat wave for the Concacaf Cup.
The game was not as good as the last time the USA and Mexico met at the Rose Bowl -- a 4-2 Mexico victory in the 2011 Gold Cup final -- but it was certainly entertaining with its share of twists and turns. The crowd was predominantly pro-Mexico but the split was certainly less than 90-10 split of four years when the crowd urged on El Tri after it rallied from a 2-0 first-half deficit. After Bobby Wood's tying goal to make it 2-2 in the 108th minute, the pro-USA supporters were in full voice.
USA-Mexico Knockout Games:
1934: USA 4-3 (World Cup playoff)
1991: USA 2-0 (Gold Cup semifinals)
1993: Mexico 4-0 (Gold Cup final)
1995: Tie 0-0, USA 3-1 on PKs (Copa America quarterfinals)
1998: Mexico 1-0 (Gold Cup final)
1999: Mexico 1-0 (Confederations Cup semifinals)
2002: USA 2-0 (World Cup round of 16)
2007: USA 2-1 (Gold Cup final)
2009: Mexico 5-0 Gold Cup final)
2011: Mexico 4-2 (Gold Cup final)
2015: Mexico 3-2 (Concacaf Cup)
2. USA faded badly after halftime.
There is no doubt who is the better team, who has the better players, who plays the better soccer: Mexico. But the USA held its own in the first half, quickly getting back in the game on Geoff Cameron's goal after conceding a goal to Javier Hernandez in the 10th minute when El Tri tore apart the U.S. defense with its best piece of skill all game. Mexico had the edge in play but could not create many opportunities. The best chance either team had for the rest of the half was Michael Bradley's free kick stopped nervously by Moises Munoz at the near post.
That changed immediately after the break. Any notion that the USA would take a proactive approach -- Klinsmann's famous catch phrase -- was quickly thrown out the window. The USA kicked off, it passed the ball around 10 times in its own half, and Cameron launched a 40-yard pass to no one. It wasn't until the 5:20 mark that the USA even ventured with the ball into the Mexico half. It was all El Tri, which almost scored when Raul Jimenez was stopped by Brad Guzan with his best save of the game.
3. Mexico didn't collapse after conceding second equalizer.
Mexico has a history of collapses against the United States, in particular second-half collapses. If ever Mexico should have folded, it was after it conceded an equalizing goal to the USA for a second time, on Wood's goal, which came out of nowhere just as it seemed Mexico was going to pull away with a third, fourth, perhaps fifth goal.
Afterward, Klinsmann felt the USA was closer to getting a third goal than Mexico was -- yes, momentum shifted to the USA and, yes, Wood followed up with another good chance -- but at the end that meant nothing because Mexico scored the third goal, not the USA, on Paul Aguilar's shot in the 118th minute and capture the Concacaf Cup.
4. Saturday wasn't American soccer's darkest day.
There was a lot of debate before and after the USA-Mexico game whether Saturday was the darkest day in the history of American. Saturday began with a totally depressing display by the U.S. U-23s, 2-0 losers to Honduras with an Olympic berth on the line.
The darkest day in the history of American soccer? On May 31, 1985, the USA lost to Costa Rica, 1-0, in Torrance, California. The USA, needing only a tie to advance to the next round, was eliminated from contention for a berth in the 1986 World Cup. Two days before USA-Costa Rica, 39 fans died at the European Cup final between Juventus and Liverpool played at Brussels' Heysel Stadium.
Fans should be thankful they will have three MLS games to fall back on Wednesday and nine more to follow this weekend. In 1985, there was no pro league as the NASL had folded two months before USA-Costa Rica.
And only a berth in the Confederations Cup was on the line Saturday night. Just imagine how dark the day will be when the USA fails to qualify for the World Cup.
5. Klinsmann 'totally fine' with having critics -- and not answering them.
After the game, Klinsmann was asked what he would say to critics who suggested he should be held responsible for the loss to Mexico and the USA's recent decline in form.
"I don't need to say anything to them," he said. "Everybody can express his opinion, and not everyone likes you. That's totally fine. I'm not here to be liked. I'm trying to do a good job and I'm privileged to have that role and represent the U.S. soccer program. It's a privilege for me. I do my best, to my capabilities, and leave the judgment out there for you guys and for people who want to express themselves."