Wednesday, August 10, 2011

U.S. battles back in 1-1 draw with Mexico

US Goalkeeper Tim Howard
By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Jurgen Klinsmann-era of U.S. soccer began at Lincoln Financial Field on Wednesday when the U.S. Men's National Team battled back for a 1-1 draw against Mexico in front of 30,138.

Klinsmann, a former World Cup winner as a player and head coach for Germany, was named the 35th coach in the U.S. program's history back on July 29, taking over for Bob Bradley, just over a month after the U.S. fell to Mexico, 4-2, in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final in Pasadena.

A different coach did not produce different results, at least early.

Mexico was able to press the Americans out of the gate and controlled the pace in the first half, finally cashing in during the 17th minute. A corner kick was played in short to Antonio Naelson, who quickly got it back to Andres Guardado before the midfielder slotted a cross into the box. Oribe Peralta was there and put an excellent touch on the ball, sending it into the far post past U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The USMNT, meanwhile, only engineered one really legitimate scoring opportunity in the first half when Landon Donovan crossed into the box in the fifth minute and both Edson Buddle and Jermaine Jones had opportunities to hit it home. The set was just out of reach for a Buddle header, however, and Jones also missed as he slid toward the goal.

The Mexicans continued to tip the field in the second half but the U.S. gave Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa a bit of a scare in the 58th minute when a beautiful Donovan corner kick found the head of Carlos Bocanegra. The American captain was able to redirect the ball hard and low but Ochoa was "Johnny on
the Spot," stoning him.

Some new blood and an unlikely ally helped the Americans finally solve Ochoa in the 73rd minute.

After a fan raced onto the field with a U.S. flag, igniting the locals in attendance, Juan Agudelo, a substitution in the 60th minute for Buddle, got behind the Mexican defense and left the ball for Breck Shea, the FC Dallas
star who had also come in the 60th for Jones.

Shea dribbled for two touches and crossed to wide open Robbie Rogers, who deposited the ball into a wide open net on his first touch of the game for his second career marker with the USNMT. Rogers, who toils for the Columbus Crew in MLS, had come on for Michael Bradley seconds earlier.

Buoyed by the score, the U.S. seized the momentum and kept the pressure on from there. Donovan nearly raced by the defense in the 80th minute but was knocked down and the whistles were silent.

In the 84th minute, Ochoa turned away Shea's one-timer and in the 86th minute, Mexico's Gerardo Torrado was forced to take down Rogers from behind, resulting in a yellow card. The ensuing free kick was blocked, however, and things remained deadlocked through three minutes of stoppage time.

Mexico outshot the U.S. 7-6 but the Americans had three on net to just one for the Mexicans. Mexico also had 16 fouls compared to the United State's eight and all three yellow cards in the game.

“I think we saw a real interesting game, and especially in the second half, a very exciting game,” said Klinsmann. “It was an amazing learning process the players went through in just 90 minutes. We gave them the task to move step-by-step more forward and get more confident the longer they were in the game and put Mexico under pressure. That’s what we saw in the last half hour where I think the players felt more and more confident. All of their defensive tasks were kind of under control and they challenged that Mexican side, which as I said before the game is a very, very good team that we have a lot of respect for.”

Bradley had led the USMNT to some exciting moments during his tenure, including Donovan's heart-stopping goal to secure a place in the round of 16 at last year's World Cup in South Africa but the disappointing Gold Cup setback to his perceived biggest rival sealed his fate.

The thought process is that Bradley had taken the program as far as he could and that Klinsmann is a mentor that knows how to get over the top at the highest level.

The next World Cup qualifying cycle for Brazil in 2014 begins next year and this was the first opportunity for Klinsmann to put his stamp on the team.

Things didn't look good early but his substitutions in the second half proved to be quite  a tonic for the U.S.

“I think now we can be very satisfied with that performance,” said Klinsmann. “It’s great to see some young players stepping into this team and being guided by the experienced ones. It was really enjoyable to see how they then kind of expressed themselves. This is what we want in this team. We want them to express themselves and have fun, and I think that’s what we saw.”


*The U.S. now has a 15-32-12 all-time record against Mexico but is 10-5-3 since the turn of the century. At home, the Americans are 13-8-10 and 9-2-3 since 2000. Mexico, however, has topped the U.S. in consecutive Gold Cup finals.

*This was the first friendly between the two clubs since 2008.

*The U.S. is now 2-0-1 at the Linc.

*Former Union defender Michael Orozco Fiscal, who currently toils for San Luis in Mexico, started for the U.S. National Team and played solidly.

* Rogers was added to the U.S. roster last weekend to replace injured midfielder Maurice Edu. Edu suffered a calf strain playing for his Scottish club, Rangers, in a match against English club Chelsea last Saturday.

*The USMNT gets back to work on Sept. 2 against Costa Rica at the Home Depot Center in Southern California.

-- U.S. Men’s National Team Game Report --

Match: USA vs. Mexico
Date: Aug. 10, 2011
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Lincoln Financial Field
Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET
Attendance: 30,138
Weather: Clear and warm, 80 degrees

Scoring Summary:     1              2              F
USA                            0              1              1
MEX                            1              0              1

MEX – Oribe Peralta (Andres Guardado)       17th minute
USA – Robbie Rogers (Brek Shea)                73                   

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 5-Michael Orozco Fiscal, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 2-Edgar Castillo; 7-Kyle Beckerman 4-Michael Bradley (16-Robbie Rogers, 72), 8-Jermaine Jones (17-Brek Shea, 60) ,10-Landon Donovan, 11-Jose Torres (15-Ricardo Clark, 84); 9-Edson Buddle (18-Juan Agudelo, 60)
Subs not used: 12-Bill Hamid, 13-Zach Lloyd, 14-Heath Pearce
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

MEX: 1-Guillermo Ochoa, 16-Efrain Juarez (22- Paul Aguilar, 75), 4-Rafael Marquez (2-Francisco Javier Rodriguez, 69), 15-Hector Moreno, 3-Carlos Salcido; 7- Pablo Barrera (21-Christian Bermudez, 72), 6-Gerardo Torrado, 17-Antonio Naelson (10-Giovani dos Santos, 55), 8-Israel Castro, 18-Andres Guardado; 19-Oribe Peralta (9-Omar Arellano, 62)
Subs not used: 11-Javier Aquino, 12- Alfredo Talavera, 13-Jesus Zavala, 20-Jorge Torres Nilo
Head coach: Jose Manuel de la Torre

Stats Summary: USA / MEX                                           
Shots: 6 / 7
Shots on Goal: 3 / 1
Saves: 0 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 16
Offside: 0 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
MEX – Efrain Juarez (caution)          42nd minute
MEX – Rafael Marquez (caution)     67
MEX – Gerardo Torrado (caution)    86

Referee: Raymond Bogle (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Ricardo Antonio Morgan (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Dion Neil (TRI)
Fourth Official: Ricardo Salazar (USA)

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