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U.S. Loses: Who Is To Blame

August 13, 2009

No one really. The United States may have had half a shot at taking out Mexico in Azteca. That shot looked even better after an early goal by Charlie Davies, but it was soon apparent that it wasn’t going to be their day. Mexico quickly struck back to tie it up and then grabbed a late winner. I can’t be too upset about the game. I had some hope holding out for a tie, but Azteca is tough and the Americans still have enough difficulty playing away from home in CONCACAF.

I cannot blame coach Bob Bradley too much. I could quibble with Brian Ching’s start, but using him to hold up the ball and clear the pressure and allowing for a later speed sub in Altidore wasn’t an awful idea. It didn’t help that Ching was invisible nearly the entire time he was on the field. Additionally, bringing in Stuart Holden and Benny Feilhaber was a good idea to try and recapture the midfield.

I do have a problem when the U.S. tried to absorb too much pressure. The defense played well, but the midfield pulled back to the point they were within yards of the defense. Mexico could walk the ball down the field and create several good chances. The wide backs played narrow and a H1N1 Flu infected Donovan and an ineffectual Dempsey did not pressure the periphery of Mexico’s offensive players.

It seemed Bradley chose to use the same gameplan from the Spain and Brazil games from June. That worked against Spain, but Brazil tore us apart when they dribbled at us. Mexico watched that tape and had their best chances when they were able to dribble at our defense, including on the game winning goal. The defense remained too compact and we even lost the ability to counter as the game went on. The midfield wasn’t able to break out and most passes went straight to the opposition.

The loss still leaves the United States will a solid chance of qualifying (the final game against Costa Rica is suddenly looking very important) and Bradley is going nowhere. It still seems like a wasted chance. The Americans came in with a solid team that had played well in the Confederations Cup and they even had a lead in Azteca, but now leave with a two game losing streak to the Mexicans. There are four more games to go and now each one of them will probably mean something.

On a final note: there was one other factor to the game, the referee. Let’s just say I share Bill Archer’s opinions on Roberto Moreno of Panama.

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