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What we learned from the United States win over Mexico

Sep 11, 2013, 12:24 AM EDT

Mexico v United States - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Getty Images

COLUMBUS, Ohio — From Landon Donovan to Mexico’s sorely lacking belief, a few take-aways from the United States’ 2-0 win Tuesday over Mexico:

The United States still needs Landon Donovan

Landon Donovan, like so many of the U.S. men, labored a bit in the muggy Ohio evening. But he made things happen in the moments that mattered most, with a goal and assist in yet another memorable performance (personally and for the team) against Mexico.

His set piece deliveries arrive in the intended places, and that’s so huge in World Cup soccer. His element of speed changes the way defenses react. Plus, the awareness that he’s around opens up just a little more space for guys like Clint Dempsey.

“We always said Landon is an important part of our team, and the things he went through were his decisions, and we were totally fine with that,” U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said. “But he also had to understand that he isn’t getting anything [for free]. He has to work his way back, to fight his way back, and that’s what he did.”

“He understands the message clearly, that nobody has a spot guaranteed. It’s all down to performance every game. … He understood that. He’s smart. He understands the moment.”

Teams bound for a World Cup need depth

When we talk about World Cup teams, too often it’s about the first 11. Then we tend to narrow the focus even more, concentrating on how the brightest stars might ride in heroically, in this case guys like Donovan, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, etc.

But World Cups, the “getting there” and the tournament itself, are about a bigger squad, and we sure saw that Tuesday. Clarence Goodson wasn’t even among the first 23 called in for these two qualifiers. And yet there he was at Crew Stadium, well-positioned, clearing everything that came near him and finding his passing feet after a couple of early, errant long balls.

Alejandro Bedoya did the hard work along the right, even if he wasn’t much of an attacking threat. Kyle Beckerman did his part on defense, making life hard on Gio Dos Santos and Mexican midfielders who wanted to take their preferred rout down the middle.

Jurgen Klinsmann is likely to use 19 or 20 guys at next year’s World Cup; it usually works out that way. He’ll need more than 11 sharpies in Brazil.

Mexico is a team seriously lacking in belief

The visitors had things in surprisingly in hand for about 20 minutes Tuesday. The United States, badly out-played in midfield, needed some strong goalkeeping from Tim Howard to keep the match level.

But when El Tri didn’t score, heads dropped. Believe drifted away like the odor from one of the smoke bombs set off in the American Outlaws section. Once they didn’t get the goal, the opportunities came at a drip. And once Eddie Johnson struck his goal, they didn’t come at all for Mexico.

The fact that the game was in Columbus, where Mexico never wins (and has yet to score) made it that much worse.

“You could see it in the body language of the Mexican players,” Kinsmann said, “Once they didn’t get a goal that they tried really hard for in the first 20-25 minutes, they got heavier and heavier. You could see that psychological load in their minds, that they started to doubt themselves. The first touch wasn’t there anymore from players who usually have a fantastic first touch.”


  1. bizzmeister - Sep 11, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    Guys, im a die hard U.S fan, always have been. Just want to put that out there before i make this comment. WE PLAYED LIKE HORSE SHIT today.

    Thats 2 games in a row, playing like 3rd division ayso kids. I couldnt believe my eyes, relieved that we have punched our ticket but these last 2 games, jesus christ.

    No flow what so ever, terrible passing, couldnt hold the ball up worth jack. It was frustrating to watch.

  2. braxtonrob - Sep 11, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    @bizz, I agree there were HUGE holes in the lineup, but I think our backline solidified and played brilliantly in the 2nd half, behind Tim Howard who was sensational the whole game.

    Beasley is still crazy shaky, but he definitely has a place coming off the bench at least.

    Beckerman, however was non-existant – just atrocious.
    Jermaine Jones finally committed to defense a little bit but the two of them have GOT to be replaced by someone better – Bradley and ? I don’t even know who, but SOMEONE.

    Eddie Johnson single-handedly bailed out our attack.
    It seems like if Dempsey and Donovan are anywhere near each other on the pitch, they both fail miserably, yet I definitely want both of them in our Starting 11.

    Bedoya was fantastic, and I was thrilled to see him starting.

    Lastly, I have to reiterate for all you Eddie Johnson-bashers – you better open your eyes now and recognize him for the (today a starter) SENSATIONAL sub that he is.

    • merseysideoc - Sep 11, 2013 at 2:42 AM

      Dempsey & Donovan almost mirror the problems England used to have playing Lampard & Gerrard together. Hodgson seems to have sorted that out & I think Klinsi will sort this one out as well. Apparently Dempsey is going through some sort of personal problems off the pitch. His body language the entire game was a clear indicator of that. I’ve never seen him take as poor a peno as he did tonight, incredibly atrocious & shocking to see that from Deuce. Klinsi’s reaction revealed his shock.

      In terms of holding mids, at this point, I’d say the only viable player is Mix. Aside from Bradley, he seems to be the only one with enough creativity to function as a link between defense & offense. One player I’m surprised we haven’t seen called up is Jonathan Spector, given his consistent playing time w/the Brummies & his ability to function as a mid or defender. I think he’d fit this role nicely. Jones clearly does not possess the creative spark we need; he is an enforcer & functions in a role to disrupt opposing sides’ play, akin to what Mastroeni did in the days of yor.

      Jar Jar Becks cannot function at the international level, simply put. Beckerman is and always will be punching above his weight against high caliber international opposition. His flash in the pan moments of brilliance are outshadowed by his consistent backward passing, lack of pace & lack of positional awareness on the pitch. But, he does have his fanboys, so I’m sure they’ll come out of the woodwork soon to argue he needs a ticket booked for Brasil.

      I’m still very leery of Gonzo at back. His mental lapses during a match are concerning. We’ve not only seen it with the Nats, but at the club level as well.

      • braxtonrob - Sep 11, 2013 at 3:21 AM

        @mersey, very well written! (again), I seem to always agree with everything you say – a stunning occurrence for me on these boards, lol.

    • boscoesworld - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      EJ scored on a set piece. Big deal. Lets see him actually create a goal!

      • supercoop8 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:44 AM

        EJ lacks the sense and understanding to be a lone striker. Though he did make a few nice touch passes to an overlapping dempsey he is almost never working in the right space to properly engage a withdrawn attacker. That being said his ability to finish on set pieces and win clears in the air show how valuable he can be when the US play a traditional 4-4-2; how many times did he head the ball forward only to be gathered by a back tracking fullback or the goalkeeper. His efforts solidify why he is a great sub not starting striker. With the cup already booked it will be exciting if Klinsman gives some time to strikers down the depth chart.

  3. hildezero - Sep 11, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    You guys are on crack… XD

  4. mrstev - Sep 11, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    I agree hildezero. Maybe not crack, but definitely smoking something.
    Yea, it was anything but pretty , especially in the first half. But once Parkhurst came in and stemmed the Mexican avalanche down that side, things steadied-out. No idea why Fabian Johnson started over there. Beckerman is never going to play like Bradley, but he actually played pretty well (sorry braxtonrob, you are smoking crack on that one) and got through a lot of unglamorous dirty work. I thought EJ was very mediocre outside of the set pieces, where he rules. Oh, and Goodson was man of the match as far as I could see. We should not panic when Besler is out.
    Overall, it was workman-like effort in a game we should have won handily.

    • braxtonrob - Sep 11, 2013 at 3:28 AM

      @mrstev, I agree with you, Parkhurst has not been getting NEARLY enough credit; he IS our right back. And, indeed, what the hell was Fabian Johnson doing over there, put him back on the left side, and enough with the Beasley experiment; I’m o.k. with starting him, but Beasley is a MIDFIELDER, period.

      As for Beckerman, I’ve no idea what game you Beckerman fans just watched; he clearly has NO idea what he’s supposed to do in an international-level game.
      And for EJ, … :O … I don’t even have words for your mis-assessment of his performance and ability, no words.

      Goodson and Gonzalez were great … against one of the worst attacking teams in hexagonal.
      If you think those two won’t get shredded and humiliated by a WC title contender, you are truly deluded (and apparently haven’t been watching their careers very closely).

      • futbol247365 - Sep 11, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        Hatersgonnahate, amight?

      • boscoesworld - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:41 AM

        braxtonrob: Be objective. I know you have a bone for EJ. Exclude the set pieces and then evaluate his performance. He doesn’t make runs. He reacts late to passes because he is often flat footed. He gets by strictly on athletic prowess. It’s hard for the midfielders to be creative if the forward is just standing there. He leaves the game, men start running and ooops a goal is scored in the run of play. Simple really.

  5. wwsiralexd - Sep 11, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    We always start slowly. We often get scored on in the first 15-20 minutes of the game.

  6. cedod92 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    I learned that Mexico is not the dominant force for soccer it once was.

    In my opinion, the quality of MLS has induced some of this change and impacted the game significantly. No longer is LigaMX the only significant professional league. MLS offers players from Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Jamaica an opportunity to play and improve their skills.

    I believe MLS evolving into a respected league has improved the quality of play throughout CONCACAF and made qualifying for the world cup more difficult.

    • randomhookup - Sep 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      It was funny watching the Honduras/Panama game and rooting for Espinoza and Bengtson to do some damage on our behalf. I think MLS will continue to be the place for CONCACAF players not from Mexico to develop.

  7. dyd4 - Sep 13, 2013 at 5:07 AM

    hi guys!
    David from France.
    we welcomed Alejandro Bedoya in our roster last month and we’re very happy of his debuts!

    can you tell us more about him please?:)

    congrats for the qualification !

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