USA v Mexico: international friendly – live! | Football
September 12, 2018
26 mins: Alvarado has had a bright start, but that’s one for the lowlight reel. He scoops the free kick high, wide and ugly, when a low drive across the box could have caused havoc.
24 mins: Zardes getting occasional scrappy touches on the edge of the box, but he’s being easily crowded out, and lacking outlets.
Now Mexico have a dangerous free kick on the right edge of the box as Lainez is knocked over by Miazga…
22 mins: Guzman has a lot of space to direct a header goalwards and he does well to get pace and placement on it, but it’s just too far from goal to beat Steffen. Worryingly for the USA, the replays show Guzman running from deep without being tracked before he arrived in the box.
20 mins: Mexico switching the ball at will for the moment, and Moore and Lichaj being kept busy as the El Tri wide men try and stretch the backline.
Trapp, who’d been pushing up a little in the early stages, has dropped deeper again, and you can feel the drop in threat from the US.
18 mins: …this one’s caught simply by Steffen. That was a very good reaction save a moment ago. By the looks of it he could be busy in the next phase of the game, now Mexico are finding their attacking feet.
Chants of “Olé!” ringing out as Mexico swing the ball from side to side confidently. And now they earn another corner as Miazga has to head clear.
16 mins: Carter-Vickers only half clears the free kick with a header, and then Zardes makes an indecisive touch that almost sets up Guzman, but his shot is wide. Mexico just looking a little more confident now, and they have another corner…
…and Alvarez glances a vicious header goalward that Steffen does well to make a reaction tip over from. Another corner…
14 mins: Mexico’s forwards not yet to make anything of the spots they’re finding, but they are definitely drifting into some areas between the lines that look promising if they can find some telling passes.
Now Trapp fouls Alvarado some 30 yards from goal and Mexico have a free kick.
12 mins: Another long ball forward for Zardes, who’s comfortably crowded off the ball on the edge of the box. But in next sequence he turns well to touch the ball to Weah on the overlap. He cuts in towards goal and earns a corner off the covering man.
It’s cleared from the near post cross, and Mexico will push up. That was a decent little link up between Zardes and Weah though.
10 mins: Mexico getting their first little pockets of space in the USA’s final third, but in the end Steffen is able to dive comfortably on Abella’s low driven cross, without any pressure on him.
8 mins: USA enjoying most of the possession at the moment. Their midfield looks comfortable in the early running. A big question for tonight is whether Trapp can be more effective further up the field than he was as almost a 5th defender against Brazil.
6 mins: McKennie’s looking lively early on down the right side of the field, but Mexico looking unruffled as they close down the channels when the US have possession. As I type that of course there’s a sloppy giveaway, but Zardes in turn is sloppy with his touch as he turns for goal and Mexico recover.
4 mins: Mexico have had most of the early possession, though miles from the US goal. USA, as they did in the early stages against Brazil, trying to enact a neat press.
Now the US have their first attack, and McKennie is involved down the right, before scooping a ball into the box for Zardes to loop a header up and over. He was never going to get much power on that, but that’ll help settle the US players.
2 mins: Just time for a last minute prediction from Twitter:
Straight from kickoff, the US try to launch the ball forward for Zardes, but it’s cut out and Mexico settle into early possession. US pressing them early.
The anthems are sung, fireworks are launched, last minute huddles are gathered, and we’re off. USA get us under way.
Teams coming out shortly
Obviously with it being the anniversary of 9/11, we can expect that the pre-game rituals will be more extended than usual tonight. Teams are in the tunnel now.
There’s some doubt about where the goals are going to come from for the US, and a fair amount of popular worry about the forward options, but the question of how chances are being made for the front man is as vexed a question:
No Pulisic in this particular international window, of course. His spark will be missed for the US tonight.
A lot of changes for Mexico too
Ten changes to the Mexico lineup tonight, and there’ll be a lot of focus on how Lainez and Alvarado do running up against that unfamiliar US backline. No Gonzalez in the starting line up, but doubtless he’ll drop into the game later on.
Colombia and Argentina are currently at 0-0 near the end of the first half, and with less than 10 minutes on the board Brazil are already leading El Salvador 1-0.
Anecdotally, it looks like there are a lot of Mexican fans in the stadium. Bruce Arena recently suggested, only half in jest, that the US should play a game in Anchorage, Alaska to take more advantage of home games. He was very critical about the choice of New York as a venue for the World Cup qualifier the USA lost against Costa Rica last year.
New York twitter speaks
The New York Red Bulls contribution to the clutch of center backs in this roster is pretty remarkable. Long and Parker are their current center back pairing and Matt Miazga, of course, earned his Chelsea move playing in New York.
Kickoff approaches, sort of
So much like the appointment of head coaches, we can rest assured that kickoff is coming, we’re just not sure when. It’s scheduled for 8.30, but as the TV broadcast doesn’t start until then and nobody will know what’s going on without PUNDITRY™, we can safely say that it’ll be a little while yet.
So relax, enjoy some traditional regional food, and we’ll be under way shortly.
So with Osorio going to Paraguay, another outside choice for US head coach has committed elsewhere. And with one of the likely next-generation frontrunners Jesse Marsch gone to Europe to continue his development within the Red Bull empire, there would appear to be a clear path open for Greg Berhalter to head the list of North American contenders for the job. He’s young, tactically astute, can develop young players (see Wil Trapp, Zach Steffen, and perhaps most impressively the turnaround he’s engineered in Gyassi Zardes this year).
There are wrinkles — his club team Columbus Crew SC are in a state of crisis off the field, with ownership wanting to move them to Austin, TX. And his former team mate, Chris Klein, currently President of LA Galaxy, is now actively on the search for someone to coach that team back to dominance, following the failures of Curt Onalfo and now Sigi Schmid (who stepped down yesterday) to replicate the success of the Bruce Arena years.
Earnie Stewart’s suggestion that a new coach would be appointed by the end of the year, may tie in with him choosing a candidate from the MLS ranks, such as Berhalter, given that the MLS post-season finishes in early December. Among that cohort, Berhalter’s a frontrunner — though you can make compelling arguments for Peter Vermes, Oscar Pareja and maybe a maverick case for Caleb Porter (though there are questions about how well he would play with others in the national set up). Jason Kreis, once seen as among the brightest of the next generation of managers, has been damaged by his experiences at NYCFC and Orlando, and needs a successful spell elsewhere before he gets another look. Of other outliers, Bob Bradley is probably too hurt by his previous treatment by US Soccer to pick up the phone, and happily building a fun team at LAFC.
It’ll be Big Sam, won’t it?
So USA v Mexico games, as we’ve noted, are different. There’s a sense of expectation from fans, regardless of competitive context, or lack of it, that their team is sent out expecting to win.
That USA team is full of unfamiliar pairings, an experimental backline and Gyassi Zardes leading an attack whose width comes from Kelyn Acosta And Tim Weah. It’s in keeping with what Dave Sarachan has done throughout his time as caretaker, but it’s an odd looking mix — bold for the lack of name recognition at this level, oddly conservative in terms of personnel being set up to compete with Mexico. We’ll see how events unfold, but in this game more than any other of the high profile friendlies the US is playing in this series, the potential downside is more pronounced.
In absence of a natty graphic here are some words:
H. González, Abella, Ayala, Edson, Alanís, Arteaga, E. Aguirre, V. Guzmán, Alvarado, Lainez, Zaldívar.
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
One person who’s been repeatedly linked with the Mexico job is their occasional caretaker, Tuca Ferretti, who’s back in post again as he juggles his commitments to Liga MX side Tigres. Trouble is, Ferretti has given plenty of indicators that he doesn’t need the hassle — pointing out in pre-season that he’d been asked “50,000 times” if he wanted to take over as permanent coach and the answer was no.
Former Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores is supposedly in the frame too, as is the wonderfully idiosyncratic former Chivas coach Matias Almeyda (look at the shape of his teams and tell me what sport you’re watching), though perhaps the most intriguing rumor concerns Jorge Sampaoli — the recently departed Argentina coach would be rather more in the mode of the type of sideline fireworks coach that Miguel Herrera was, than the cerebral Osorio, but it wouldn’t be Mexico if coaching change didn’t involve dramatic changes of direction.
More on the team news in a moment, but first, Mexico.
El Tri had a pretty chastening experience in their first game of the international window. They lost 4-1 to Uruguay in front of what was virtually a home crowd in Houston, with Luis Suarez helping dismantle them.
Mexico have largely chosen continuity over ripping it up and starting again, at least until a new coach can be appointed. For the most part, this was a pretty familiar looking side going up against a Uruguay team also favoring continuity (Luis Suarez scored twice on the night).
And in fairness, Mexico looked pretty lively in the opening stages, until conceding the opening goal halfway through the first half. And even then they equalized a few minutes later. But just as in the Sweden game at the World Cup, when the wheels came off, they came off completely. Picking through the performance as a whole, there were few positives to take. The goal they scored was a penalty, and as it happened they’d also miss a penalty later in the game.
If there was a bright spot it relates to that second penalty, which was earned by Roberto Alvarado — the Cruz Azul player who’s broken on to the scene this season, and who has now made his debut for El Tri.
But basically, Mexico, whose mentality at one point seemed reformed under Osorio, now appears to be temporarily back in the mode of anxious introspection.
Someone get that team a coach, quick.
First with the cool, considered takes…
You are all heart, John.
Which leaves little room for reason.
More on US coaching search in a bit…
The biggest takeaway from the Brazil game in New Jersey last week was possibly that it’s a good idea to qualify for the World Cup if you’re counting on building on any sense of occasion for your first home game after a World Cup. It’s not like Brazil didn’t do their part in sending a very strong squad, including Neymar, Coutinho, Allison et al. But some combination of high ticket prices and a general malaise in USA soccer circles kept the attendance low.
Beyond that the game itself went about as well as the USA could expect. They lost without being humiliated, and had the odd set piece look at Brazil’s goal. John Brooks and Matt Miazga probably did enough to deserve further consideration as the long term central defensive pairing; Tyler Adams performed his now familiar routine of being conspicuously unimpressed by anyone he’s playing; Zach Steffen couldn’t do much about the goals he conceded and will, barring injury or precipitous drop off in form be the starting goalkeeper for the forseeable future. Oh, and nobody looked like scoring.
And there’s the dilemma for whoever comes in as coach. Bringing through the next generation at the expense of veterans like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore has its pros and cons, but in attack at least Altidore still looks the most reliable option for now when set against the alternatives in the roster for these two friendlies. Likewise, Michael Bradley is often unfairly maligned for his efforts in a USMNT shirt, but at this stage he’s objectively still a better option than Wil Trapp — who has come on in the last couple of years without looking totally ready for international primetime. He started as a pretty traditional 6 against Brazil, ran around tidily and didn’t do a lot wrong, but like a few other players in the team there’s a decision to be made about whether to build round him and accept his learning curve, or for the new head coach just to pick the best players regardless of the stage of the qualifying cycle.
Welcome to the future. Just not yet…
The USA are taking on Mexico this evening, with both teams heading in new directions after the World Cup. Just don’t ask who’s driving.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio, having taken his team through a near faultless qualifying cycle, and a perfect World Cup start against Germany, ultimately finished up doing no better than his immediate predecessors, when El Tri were eliminated in the first knockout round (as usual). Osorio was appointed as Paraguay coach last week. No word on his long term replacement as yet.
And the USA — well they’re still without a long term head coach almost a year after defeat in Trinidad saw them miss out on the World Cup. Earnie Stewart is in place in the newly created General Manager position, and Carlos Cordeiro, the new-ish President of US Soccer is now well beyond the point when lobbying for the 2026 World Cup was any excuse for not hurrying the process along. We’ve been told a new coach will be in place before the end of the year.
In the meantime, Dave Sarachan has been operating as interim head coach and dutifully going about blooding a series of young players in some tough friendlies. They provided the opposition for France’s send-off game to the World Cup and last week lost 2-0 to a near full strength Brazil team in what was billed as the first of a “Kickoff Series” by the good marketing people at US Soccer. Though given the provisional nature of all things USA at the start of this World Cup cycle, let’s maybe call it the “Kickabout Series” and be done.
Not that any game between the USA and Mexico is ever less than competitive. Both federations and teams may be in flux, but any game between these two takes place in a state of exception. Events in Nashville tonight might not be pretty, but we’re unlikely to see a repeat of the genteel manner in which Brazil eased past the USA last week.
I’ll be back with team news, more build up and secret memos from the resistance inside US Soccer in a bit. For now you can send your tweets to @grahamparkerfc and your emails to email@example.com and I, or my successor, will implement a considered plan and identifiable style to use them in at some point in the future.
Graham will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s how the US got on against Brazil last week:
Neymar and Roberto Firmino scored first-half goals, and Brazil overwhelmed the United States 2-0 on Friday night in a friendly before a sparse crowd at MetLife Stadium.
Firmino scored in the 11th minute after a cross from Douglas Costa, who burst down the flank and past 21-year-old left back Antonee Robinson. Neymar converted a penalty in the 44th-minute for his 58th goal in 91 international appearances, third in Brazilian history behind Pele (77) and Ronaldo (62).
The US have two wins, two losses and three draws under interim coach Dave Sarachan, who took over last October after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup. New general manager Earnie Stewart said this week a permanent coach will be announced later this year.
You can read the full article below: