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Highlights and talking points from last night’s draw at Azteca

Mar 27, 2013, 1:17 PM EDT

When the games ends as it started, there usually aren’t many highlights, but when you lump all of Mexico’s chances together in a six-minute clip, you realize all the things that had to go right for the U.S. to get out of Azteca with a point.

The first thing that went right was their effort, from the Man of the Match to players like Matt Besler and Graham Zusi, who showed stark improvement as the game went on. But beyond that effort, you really have to look at the places Mexico failed to convert.

Some other talking points:

  • We forget that the U.S. actually had some nice forays forward in the first half, with combination play through the middle forcing corner kicks, one of which Geoff Cameron almost converted. They didn’t offer much, and they finished the game without having tested Guillermo Ochoa, but particularly in the 10-12 minutes before halftime, the U.S. showed some sparks.
  • Carlos Salcido had far too much time on the ball. Starting with an eighth minute diagonal that forced a yellow card-worthy foul from DeMarcus Beasley, the defender-cum-midfielder strung together a number of long passes that made you wonder: Where’s Clint Dempsey? Perhaps the plan didn’t call for him to come back on Mexico’s last midfielder, but with a second half chip over the U.S.’s defense, Salcido nearly made the States pay for giving him time to execute.
  • Giovanni Dos Santos could have really broken this match open, but it would have required him to be Gold Cup Gio, not the guy we saw last night. It’s not that the Mallorca man was bad, but particularly in the first half when he was running in behind  Cameron, Dos Santos had his chances to craft something dangerous. A few times he did, but against a U.S. defense that grew stronger as the match went on, Mexico needed their stars to shine.
  • Speaking of dimmed stars, Javier Hernandez has reason to dwell on a couple of last night’s chances. The first half cross from Jorge Torres Nilo? That second half corner that bounced over his foot? “Chicharito” has to finish those.
  • The Maurice Edu second half foul on Javier Aquino was horrible. And it looks worse every time you see it. Terrible decision by Edu. Worse non-call by the official. You could say something trite like “that’s a penalty seven days a week and twice on Sunday,” but it wasn’t a penalty on Tuesday. Remarkably.
  • As for Aquino, it’d be fair to say the U.S. had no answer for him. The States didn’t miss Fabian Johnson on Friday, but boy was he missed on Tuesday. Nice effort from Beasley, but just like on the right, the U.S. needs their left backs healthy.
  • Angel Reyna really gave Mexico a spark in the second half. His efforts may have stymied any intent the U.S. had of using the substitutions of Eddie Johnson, Brad Davis, and Brek Shea as cause to go for three. Instead, thanks in large part to Reyna in the middle, the U.S. were left to hold out.
  1. Dan Haug - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    There were two PK shouts in the match. The first, Chicharito went down in the box when Bradley touched his back. I think this was rightly ignored by the ref. The second, when Edu slid from behind, probably should have been called… but if you watch in slow motion from a close-up (not shown in the video above) Aquino mis-kicked the turf before Edu ever touched him… and Edu actually did a remarkable job of minimizing contact. See it here:

    In other words, it wasn’t nearly as bad as your making it out to be.

    • Richard Farley - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      Obviously, I disagree. You run through the back of somebody in the middle of the penalty area as he’s in position to play/go for the ball? That’s horrible.

      People shouldn’t give up penalties unless it’s the most extraordinary of circumstances (Suárez vs. Ghana). This one? Not even close. It’s pretty bad.

      If Edu really was trying to minimize contact, he won’t have run through Aquino. He would have went ball side, not up his back. As is, I’m not sure Maurice is trying to do anything in particular, which is probably why he commits such a bad foul.

      Even after you take the most forgiving view possible, it’s a terrible decision by Edu, trumped only by the ref’s unbelievable non-call.

      • Dan Haug - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        I agree it was a really poor decision by Edu, and I agree that it should have been called a PK. All I’m saying is that if you watch the replay you see that there was actually minimal contact, and it was after the the shot had already been scuffed. In that light, it doesn’t “look worse everytime you see it”. I thought it looked worse from the angle in the video you posted, but not as bad in the slow-motion link that I added (which was really the only reason I commentd).

        Then again… maybe I’m splitting hairs here. :)

      • Richard Farley - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:36 PM

        No … I see what you’re saying now. I think I agree on “looks worse everything you see it.” To me, it does, but I can see why others wouldn’t feel the same.

      • bishopofblunder - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:56 PM

        Apparently the referee thought Edu got the ball, since he awarded a corner. But going through the back of a player, even if one gets the ball, should still be a penalty. I think some of the “embellishment” by the Mexican players early may also have been a factor.

  2. docstraw - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:21 PM

    that’s a great replay and I don’t remember seeing it on ESPN broadcast … the guy sure did scuff the shot horribly but what in the world was Edu trying to do with that particular intervention? Talk about clumsy … He had a bad game overall as far as I am concerned. His ball security was atrocious.

  3. nygiantstones - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    What about the brief comments last night about Carlos Vela? Any follow-up from this site coming on that? He seems to rate fairly high in terms of Mexican firepower, would be interested to hear why he isn’t playing or is declining to join the team.

  4. drewvt6 - Mar 28, 2013 at 1:30 AM

    I really think EJ is FAR better used on the left as a wing player. His touch will never let him be a hold up player. I couldn’t understand why his substitution didn’t push Herculez up top to hold up the play till a few more Americans could join in.

    The Brad Davis sub completely blew my mind.

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