Watching the match on ESPN 2 today a few things stuck out to me. First, the ESPN announcers are shit… as were the guys in the studio… its not so much that they don’t know what they’re talking about as it was that they were simply more annoying than enlightening. Their incessant talking when it wasn’t necessary was irksome, but what really got me were the Sports Center Now in game breaks. Talk about blasphemy, that’s almost equivalent to having a commercial mid game! A part of me really hopes that ESPN does not get the rights to the EPL for fear of such things.
Regarding the game itself, the U.S. played decently but I really wouldn’t say that they dominated the game as the ESPN pundits say. Indeed, neither team could really hold onto the ball for an extended period of time, the match being of the cut and thrust variety. To an extent this is ok but to be successful, a team has to be able to control play and sustain periods of significant pressure upon their opponents which neither team really did today. Personally, the United States was lucky, Mexico had a number of great opportunities which for whatever reason they could not convert. In the end though, the U.S. came out on top 2-0 continuing their unbeaten run against Mexico on home soil.
U.S. Team Ratings –
I found the defense to be lacking to a degree especially at the right back position. Frankie Hejduk is a decent player, but he seems a bit sloppy and lacking in technique. He did a good job running the flank but his tackling is very poor if not downright clumsy at times. The rest of the defense also caused me a bit of consternation in that they lacked an assertiveness in some instances. I counted no less than five times where a sloppy clearance led to unnecessary pressure on our goal. Pearce at left back impressed the most for me in a lackluster defense.
The link up play in the midfield was pretty good and the U.S. did an excellent job of keeping the ball on the deck. My biggest gripe both here and in the attack were the atrocious layoffs I saw. When you have a pass coming into you and a player over lapping, you layoff to feet, something I did not see very much of. Most of the layoffs were very lazy and resulted in the ball getting airborne thus forcing the runner to slow his run to retrieve the ball. No doubt in the end this was one of the bigger reasons as to why we could not sustain a decent period of pressure on Mexico. I think Dempsey showed the most composure in the middle of the pitch with a mature performance even if it did lack a bit of flair.
Mediocre at best with no real standout. Ching was relatively anonymous for me other than a few fouls he took. It seemed as though Donavan was doing enough work for both players by himself. I think Altidore from what little I saw of him should have started over Ching.
Player of the Match:
Beasley to my mind contributed the most this match and controlled his wing very nicely. Excellent in the attack though he did not contribute much in defense.
Check ESPN for a full match report.