Posts filed under ‘USMNT’

Mexico, the USA and one… or is it?

CONCACAF’s qualifying process is, not surprisingly, viewed as a formality for the USA and Mexico these days with a third spot up for grabs. Even with Mexico sitting in fourth place halfway through I don’t see it any other way and here’s why: big teams struggle at times but in the end we remember the final result. Brazil struggled in 2002 qualifying. Final result? They qualified, as always.

So I expect Mexico, the USA and one more will qualify and I expect the fourth placed team to have a good shot in the playoff. So, that’s it right? Recap over? Well, no, after all we’re halfway through and Mexico sit in fourth place, let’s wait till the Hexagonal is over before we overlook all the details. The good news for Mexico is that they have 3 home games remaining and their toughest home game is behind them. The bad news is they just fired a bad coach only to watch the new coach implode at the Gold Cup, suggesting their problems are contagious and not easily resolved. Their next game is against their greatest rival and while the US has had no previous success in Mexico if they change that now Mexico will on the outside looking in.

This seems like one of those cases where the problems have been building over a long period of time and qualifying will only hide those problems, not solve them. The storyline is still being written and August 12th will be the turning point, for better or worse. I find it particularly funny that both my country and my adopted country have upcoming games with their biggest rivals and a chance to further their opponents’ struggles, maybe even effectively knock them out of the World Cup.

On to the USA though. They’re in good shape but not in good form when it comes to qualifying. The Confederations Cup run though has brought them out of their slump and if they bring that form to remaining qualifiers they shouldn’t have any more scares like early goals given up at home (Honduras) or drubbings away (Costa Rica). If they’re sensible they won’t invest too much in the Mexico game expectation-wise but go in with an “everything to gain, nothing to lose” attitude”. They should see 8-9 points in the 4 remaining games and qualify in second place with first available if Costa Rica loses any home points.

I’ll take the gamble and expect Mexico to qualify third and ignore the larger problems. Honduras will take fourth in this scenario. Once again though I can’t wait to be wrong. I’m looking forward to Mexico x USA perhaps even more than I am Argentina x Brazil.


July 15, 2009 at 12:06 am Leave a comment

USA x Spain preview and Group B thoughts

The first semi-final kicks off tomorrow and I’ll take today to catch up on the action so far and preview US x Spain.  Tomorrow I will preview Thursday’s semi after some post-game thoughts.

Let’s start with Group B as it featured both of the teams I have a vested interest in: Brazil and the USA.  I could’ve made an optimistic prediction ahead of opening day that both would qualify.  I wouldn’t have expected it and after the first round of games I had dropped that optimism and would have revised my prediction.  Yet here we are at the semis and guess who made it through?

The biggest disapointment then has to be Italy.  Current World Champions who rely too much on aging players, they’ve looked best with Giuseppe Rossi, a 22 yr old, on the field, but he hasn’t played a full 90 minutes.  Of course adding only Rossi does not solve the problem of an aging defense or midfield and that was seen clearly against Brazil who dominated the first half and scored 3 quick goals.  An earlier loss to Egypt meant that Italy were out and the USA had a shot at the semis if they could score 3 of their own against Egypt.

Sure enough, the US beat Egypt 3×0 despite previous rounds showing Egypt to be the stronger team among the two.  It’s harder for me to say good things about the US right now than it usually is.  They’re my “second” team if there can be such a thing but they have consistently underperformed in competitive games this year – giving up early goals, struggling to maintain possession early and doing very poorly on the offensive end.  Stringing two solid performances together in a row will not be easy but is, in my eyes, necessary for the morale of the team.

The US put in a solid effort against Italy but saw it fall apart following a rash tackle.  Against Brazil they fell apart early and compunded problems with another red card.  They need a better performance against Spainm win or lose.  They can’t beat themselves and make it easy on the higher-ranked team.  I’d love to predict an upset and the US is certainly capable, but doing so would be overly optimistic based on recent performances.  I want to see the US do better on offense – counterattacks especially where they need to make better decisions.  If they make good decisions on the offensive end and don’t overcommit defensively I won’t be too surprised by an upset.

June 23, 2009 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment


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