What an enjoyable, nerve-wracking 90 minutes we got to see last night. After all the talk coming from the Mexico camp over the last week, I was shocked though to see the tactics employed by El Tri. They seemed happy to head home with a 0-0 draw and only mustered a defensive, move the ball around the midfield while the fans in green shout “Olé!” and then when the US (I think they though Beasley was a piñata) has the ball, resort to the “Hack-a-man” defense (heck, if I can see the off the ball cheapshots watching on TV…there had to be a ton more I couldn’t see) to insure nothing gets past them. How did that plan work Señor Lavolpe?
“The U.S. is a small team,” he said. “They play like my sister, my aunt and my grandmother.”
Huh? I was shocked when I read the AP Report of the match in my local fishwrap (ever order Fish n Chips in England?) and saw that quote. What match was he watching? Perhaps something is missing in the translation from Spanish to English…but I doubt it.
Now, I know there are some great players out there (at least in this country) who are sisters or aunts or even grandmothers…but coming from someone representing a male dominated chauvinistic country, it was intended as an insult.
I’ve got to respond to that. Who’s team was it that came into the match intent to just lay down and hope for a single point rather than play for a win? Which team could only create attacking opportunities when they took a dive on the edge of the box and got a free kick in a dangerous position? Who’s star player was marked off the pitch by a youngster who still only has single-digit international appearances allowing said star striker only a handful of touches the entire match?
Well, I’m sure the media in Mexico are tearing him apart right now and pointing out many of the things I just did. The Mexican team really didn’t seem to have a plan on how to breakdown the US.
Wasn’t it fun to see a packed stadium like that full of US fans? I wonder if the Mexican fans who paid highly inflated prices for their tickets on eBay are feeling they got value for their money today?
Once the US took the lead, Mexico really had no response. I honestly thought they would take a more attacking posture…especially when they went 2-0 down. But they seemed to just stick to the gameplan they had before kickoff. Arena seemed to make a few changes at half-time which seemed to make the difference as the two goals came early in the second phase. There was never any sense of urgency on the part of the players in green.
So, the US are through to Germany ’06 and I couldn’t be happier. To qualify by beating our biggest rivals convincingly is the only way to do it.
Highlights of the match for me…
- Beasley’s goal.
- Beasley’s almost goal…if only.
- The look of frustration on Borgetti’s face every time he’d take a dive after Onyewu would breath on him and the ref ignored his plea.
- Keller’s save-did he make any others?
- Donovan dropping an “F-Bomb” on national TV during the postgame celebration.
- ESPN sticking around after the match to get comments from Arena and players rather than going straight to “regularly schedule programming”.
All fun…and thankfully made available to fans in this country on Live TV…though on a channel I never watch. Hopefully, the ratings the game got will show ESPN they did the right thing to make it happen.
Anyway, it was fun and I could only have enjoyed it more if I were there. Donovan summed things up well though.
“At least for three or four more years they’ll shut up. They can’t say anything and I love it.”
He and many of the other players on the team take this rivalry very seriously and love to beat them every chance possible. The match in Korea three years ago was great…but this one was pretty darn special too.
If the US plays like girls, how do you explain your teams performances against them outside of the Azteca Señor Lavolpe? That’s the only thing you can brag about now…and it’s only a matter of time ’til that’s gone as well.
Next stop…Germany ’06.