Wednesday, February 07, 2007

El Tri Left With Cero, Again

On Wednesday night, opposite the Duke-UNC mens basketball game, the U.S. Mens National Team renewed its heated rivalry the Mexican National Team, El Tri. At the University of Phoenix Stadium (nee Pink Taco Stadium) in front of a decidedly pro-Mexico crowd, the USMNT delivered yet another shutout on American soil with a 2-0 victory. It wasn't the prettiest victory and had Mexcio finished better and had luck on its side it easily could have been a victory for El Tri. Thankfully, it wasn't to be.

For this "friendly," Mexico recalled most of its players from overseas and had a very experienced squad on the pitch, while the U.S. recalled four from across the pond and mixed many fresh faces. The match started off slowly with neither team able to maintain much possession and no real opportunities. Not until late in the half did the Americans find their rhythm in the game.

The play opened up in the second half with both sides stringing together passes and creating some chances. In the 63rd minute the U.S. won a corner and Landon Donovan served a great ball that managed to reach Jimmy Conrad and he buried the ball in the left corner with a strong header beating the outstretched arms of Mexican keeper Oswaldo Sanchez.

After the goal, Mexico started push forward heavily and had a number of opportunities. U.S. keeper Tim Howard, recalled from his duties for Everton in the EPL, made several quality saves as Mexico devoured the outside defenders repeatedly. Howard made a good case to be the U.S. keeper of the present taking everything Mexico kicked at him. Although, the situation may have been worse had Mexico managed to put a quality touch on any number of balls (that didn't sound good, how about opportunities) that were right in front of the goal.

In the 90th minute, a bit of good fortune struck for the Americans when a Mexico back pass deflected off the referee. Ricardo Clark calmly collected the ricochet and fed it to Donovan who raced from just inside of midfield past a grasping defender and then juked the keeper for an easy tally.

At the end of the match, Mexico walked off without the customary handshakes and jersey exchanges which was emblematic of the sportsmanship of the Mexican side during the match and in the past. Although, I will say that the Americans have been guilty of bad sportsmanship, too.

A quick rehash of the good and the bad of USMNT. Good: Tim Howard--stopped everything; Jimmy Conrad--great defense, good offense and the winning goal; Landon Donovan--finally looked like a playmaker again with a goal and an assist; 2nd half Josh Bornstein--showed speed and determination. Bad: Chris Albright--couldn't stop an 8-year-old in the game; Chris Rolfe--did nothing, created nothing. Everybody else: mediocre or not enough time to judge.

Some good quotes from the ESPN match report:

"The sportsmanship -- it would be nice if you guys [reporters] and the Mexican press talked about it, because it's really poor," Donovan said. "When we lose to
them there, we shake their hands and say, 'Good job.' There's none of that
reciprocally, and it's kind of disappointing."

- Landon Donovan

"They were a little opportunistic and stayed in their own end for the majority
of the match, but they did beat us," Marquez said. "Considering the tactics that
they utilized, I think that is the credit I would give them considering the fact
that on the field, they were not superior to us."
-Rafael Marquez, Mexico captain

Update: I Dislike Your Favorite Team, one of my favorite sites I might mention, has a lovely round-up of this game.


Static Cling said...

Classless is El Unibrow, Oswaldo Sanchez, trying to take out Eddie Johnson after Donovan's goal. I missed it when I watched the game last night, but he should have seen a straight red. You can see the clip on my site, or by searching for it on YouTube. Disgusting.

(Also, you said that Mexico left "with" the usualy jersey exchanges, and I know you meant "without." Classless, as always. Good for Landon to call them out for it this time.)

Dos a cero.

The Fan's Attic said...

static cling: duly noted. thanks.

Robin said...

I agree with Marquez's comment -- USA is lucky to approach Mexico's level of on-the-ball skill, although at times on Wednesday night they played at pretty close to it. But the last 30 minutes wouldn't have been nearly as exciting without the Conrad goal.

Ben said...

That must suck to continually be punked by a team that is so much worse than you. It's almost enough to make you wonder if maybe the other team isn't that bad...nah.

Hmm, 7 years of bad luck. Maybe they broke a mirror or something.

Colin said...

Well we aren't "so much worse" than Mexico. In fact, I'd dare say we are better, and HAVE BEEN better for some time now.

They can only beat us in Mexico City. We've beaten then everywhere else under the sun.

But yes, it does suck when you call in 14 World Cup players and they get beat...again... and shut out... again. ha ha ha


Big Blue Monkey said...

Colin, I dare say you are not picking up on Ben's rather obvious sarcasm.

But in this game at least, Mexico was the better team. Of course, they should have been, as they brought back fucking everybody. I mean, really, Rafa Marquez? Does this guy have more important things to do than play in an unFriendly?

But soccer isn't about the number of chances, it's about what you do with them. And if Jimmy Conrad can score on a corner without leaving his feet, and Borghetti insists of shooting wide of the goal, then the US deserved to win. Hell, if the US can compete with a jetlagged Clint Dempsey contributing absolutely nothing, they deserve to win. I would have liked to see Blanco get his knee ripped up at some point, but on the whole I'll take 6 and 1/6 years of Mexico scoreless in the US.

And thanks for the shout-out, FA. I enjoy your site as well.