SA REPORT CARD: Americans pay for poor play late in first half

By Mike Woitalla

Executive Editor

Soccer America Magazine

in Mexico City

Eddie Lewis, by scoring the U.S. national team's first goal in Mexico in 21 years, provided the lone highlight for the Americans in their 2-1 loss to Mexico at Azteca Stadium.

Lewis' hard low strike from 14 yards after setup work from Landon Donovan and Eddie Johnson followed some lively play from the Americans at the start of the second half. But their lackluster play in the last 15 minutes of the first half had been exploited by the Mexicans for two goals.

The Americans started in a 4-5-1, with Johnson up front. DaMarcus Beasley played behind him and in front of central midfielders Claudio Reyna and Pablo Mastroeni, who didn't make significant offensive contributions.

In the second half, Donovan joined Johnson up front and Beasley moved into the right midfield position Donovan had manned. Beasley, who was unable to beat Mexico defenders on the dribble, received a yellow card for an unnecessary foul and is suspended for Wednesday's qualifier against Guatemala.

On Mexico's first goal, keeper Kasey Keller took himself out of the play by diving at Jaime Lozano's header, which went not on goal but to Jared Borgetti, who headed home from inside the goal area.

On the second Mexico goal, midfielder Antonio Naelson ran unmarked out of the midfield to reach a headed pass from Borgetti, who had attracted both left back Carlos Bocanegra and central defender Gregg Berhalter. Central defender Oguchi Onyewu was behind the play as Naelson curved his shot around Keller from nine yards.

In their quest for an equalizer, the Americans took off defenders Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo. Lewis moved from the left midfield into the backline and Mexico missed several opportunities to increase its lead.

Mexico outshot the USA, 12-5. Mexican keeper Oswaldo Sanchez was called on to make one save, off a Lewis shot, while Keller made four saves.

SOCCER AMERICA REPORT CARD

(1=low; 10=high)

STARTERS:

5 Keller

5 Cherundolo

4 Berhalter

4 Onyewu

4 Bocanegra

5 Reyna

5 Mastroeni

5 Donovan

6 Lewis

4 Beasley

5 Johnson

SUBS:

5 Ralston

nr Noonan

nr McBride

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