Tag Archives: CONCACAF

USA gains valuable point in draw with Mexico

27 Mar

It wasn’t pretty, but the US managed a 0-0 draw with Mexico in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.  The Azteca is an notoriously difficult place to play and the Yanks have seen little success there.  In fact, this draw was only the second point the U.S. has ever earned at the Azteca in World Cup qualification.

With a win and a draw in its last two matches, the U.S. now sits in third place in CONCACAF with four points with seven matches to go.  Mexico, meanwhile, is in fifth with three.  There’s still a lot of football to be played and this whole qualification process is guaranteed to get interesting before things wind down.  The top three teams advance to the World Cup in Brazil while the fourth place team has a play-off against Oceania champ New Zealand.

Thoughts and observations on the game in no particular order:

  • Brad Guzan has shown that he is more than capable of replacing Tim Howard in net.  Two shutouts in two starts this campaign, including one away to Mexico?  Not too shabby.  With some question marks still surrounding the defensive unit, it’s nice to have someone reliable between the sticks.
  • Definitely think that was a penalty on Maurice Edu when he took out Javier Aquino late in the game.  Despite massive protests by the Mexican players, it wasn’t called.  It’s surprising to see the U.S. get the benefit of the doubt on a call like that on the road.
  • The U.S. has to do a better job maintaining possession and creating chances.  The Yanks were lucky that poor touches and off-target passing in the midfield didn’t result in a Mexico goal.  They can’t afford to give the ball away so much.  That said, it’s near impossible to create any decent opportunities when you can’t hang onto the ball.  The U.S. only managed one shot and didn’t force Ochoa to make a single save or big play.  The off-ball movement going forward was lacking and often midfielders didn’t have much of an passing option.
  • I was surprised to see Javier Hernandez miss a couple golden opportunities in front of the net.  Those are the kind of goals he regularly scores for Manchester United and it was odd to see him go so off target from three yards out.
  • The U.S. defense bent, but didn’t break.  Despite coming under significant pressure towards the end of the match, the U.S. defense managed to keep Mexico at bay.  For an inexperienced back line (with the except of Beasley), this was a huge performance.  To come into a place like the Azteca and earn a shutout will definitely give them confidence going forward.  Omar Gonzalez is looking much more confident and Matt Besler did a decent job in place of the injured Clarence Goodson.  Beasley looked a step too slow against Aquino down the flank, but Mexico was never able to take advantage.

What did you think?

Big weekend for World Cup qualifiers

9 Oct

More spots in South Africa are up for grabs this weekend.  In CONCACAF, the US, Honduras and Mexico all  have a chance to clinch a place tomorrow.  The big match in Europe is Russia hosting Germany.  The winner of that match is through to South Africa, while the loser heads to a playoff. A winner has yet to emerge in five of the groups in Europe.  South America is home to a tight race as well.  While Brazil and Paraguay have already qualified, the final 2 1/2 spots are up for grabs in a very tight race that will come down to the final matches.  Bahrain and New Zealand start their two-legged playoff tomorrow as well.  In Africa, only Ghana has made it through so far.  The rest of the groups are still up in the air.

There’s a lot of excellent soccer to be played this weekend.  It’s hard to believe how many spots (22 to be exact) are still open.  It’ll be exciting to see who else books a place in the finals…only 243 days away!

Already in (10):

Australia, Brazil, England, Ghana, Japan, Netherlands, North Korea, Paraguay, South Korea, Spain

U.S. wins; three more nations clinch spots in the finals

9 Sep

Trinidad and Tobago US WCup SoccerThe U.S. defeated Trinidad & Tobago tonight, 1-0, thanks to a 62nd minute Ricardo Clark goal (off a Landon Donovan assist of course).  The only way to describe their play is consistently inconsistent.  To quote Forrest Gump –  “You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Are you going to get the team that beat Spain or are you going to get the team that struggles against teams like Trinidad?  It’s frustrating to say the least, but props to the team for getting three points on the road.  This was a must win game for the U.S. and while it wasn’t pretty, they were able to get the job done.  The victory assures the U.S. at least a place in the 4th place playoff, but there’s still two more games to go, so it’s all still up in the air.  In the other CONCACAF games, Mexico beat Honduras, 1-0, to move into second place and El Salvador beat a reeling Costa Rica, 1-0.  The standings now look like this:

1. USA, 16 points (+5 goal difference)
2. Mexico, 15 points (+3)
3. Honduras, 13 points (+6)
4. Costa Rica, 12 points (-4)
———————–
5. El Salvador, 8 points (-2)
6. Trinidad & Tobago, 5 points (-8)

In other World Cup qualification news, there are now 11 teams that have made it to the finals.  England dismantled Croatia, 5-1, to book their spot, while European champ Spain is also headed to South Africa.  Out of the South America region, Paraguay earned a spot thanks to a 1-0 win over Argentina.

US escapes El Salvador

5 Sep

The United States had to come from behind to beat El Salvador, 2-1, in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday night.  The visitors went ahead in the 32nd minute on a goal from Christian Castillo. The US was able to bounce back and tied the game in the 41st minute when Clint Dempsey beat the offside trap and headed in a beautiful ball from Landon Donovan.  Donovan was the catalyst for the second goal as well, sending a long ball in to Jozy Altidore, who was able to head in the cross just before halftime.  

The US had a goal called back in the second half (still rather unclear why – although it’s suspected that Dempsey was called for the foul after sliding to get the ball up to Altidore.  If he was, it was a terrible call.)

Mexico is back.  They went into Costa Rica and dominated, pulling off a 3-0 victory.  That victory over the US in August clearly did wonders for Mexico’s confidence.  Honduras also won, defeating Trinidad and Tobago, 4-1.  Based on tonight’s results, Honduras now leads the hexagonal with 13 points and the US is second, also with 13 points (Honduras is first based on goal difference).  Mexico is third with 12 points and Costa Rica is now fourth.

Positives

  • The US showed the ability to come from behind again.  They’ve been able to win twice when coming from behind (tonight, in June vs. Honduras) and draw once (at El Salvador).
  • Landon Donovan showed why he is a dangerous player.  He had assists on both goals and did a nice job distributing the ball.  He put in a solid performance and did a good job tracking back on defense.
  • Clint Dempsey has scored some clutch goals for the US.  Dempsey is excellent at being in the right place at the right time.  He’s played with more energy since the opening games of the Confederations Cup (where he looked lazy and tired).  
  • Jozy Altidore is a solid presence up front for the US.  He scored his team-leading sixth goal of qualifying (his potential seventh got called back).
  • Altidore and Charlie Davies are a dangerous duo up front.  Davies showed great poise on the ball and showed off his speed before being taken off after hurting his leg in the second half.

Negatives

  • The US is still having issues clearing the ball out of the defensive end.  If the US makes it to South Africa, they are going to get blown out if they can’t get the ball out of their own end.  There were way too many shanked balls and turnovers in bad places on the field.  All the players on the team have to be more aware of who is around them and where they are on the field.
  • The backline looked rather shaky, especially Jonathan Bornstein.  The teams gets Onyewu back for Wednesday’s game at Trinidad and Tobago.  They need him.
  • They allowed El Salvador to score first.  Even though they have shown the ability to come from behind, they cannot continue to give up goals first.  Better teams will be able to shut them down after scoring.
  • The ref called back a goal by the US in the second half.  No one really seemed to know why.  An explanation would have been nice.  That goal also would have eased the pressure on the US a little.

US hosts El Salvador in World Cup qualifier tonight

5 Sep

The US men’s soccer team plays El Salvador tonight in a crucial World Cup qualifier.  The match kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN Classic.  The US currently sits in third place in CONCACAF and a win would go a long way towards ensuring the Americans a spot in South Africa.  In the first matchup between the teams in March in El Salvador, the US was able to salvage a 2-2 draw thanks to an 86th minute Frankie Hedjuk goal.  

The US needs to start tonight’s game strong and put the pressure on El Salvador right away.  When the Americans come out with intensity and poise, it makes all the difference in the world.  They need to make smart passes and take advantage of opportunities in front of the goal. Plus, they are finally back on home soil and they always play better here.  The US will be without defender Oguchi Onyewu, who is suspended after picking up a yellow card against Mexico.

There’s also a huge game further south tonight between Mexico and Costa Rica.  The Mexicans head to Costa Rica high on confidence after beating their US arch rivals in the last qualifier.  Costa Rica currently leads the CONCACAF standings and has a stellar record on their home turf (literally, astroturf).  Honduras hosts Trinidad & Tobago in the other CONCACAF game.

U.S. ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton)
DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Jonathan Spector (West Ham)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), José Francisco Torres (Pachuca)
FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Charlie Davies (FC Sochaux), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)

Mexico hosts US in World Cup qualifying today

12 Aug

Donovan usa mexGet ready for another tough battle in the rivalry between the US and Mexico. This afternoon’s game will be played at Estadio Azteca, home of over 100,000 screaming Mexico fans.  The US has never won at Azteca, posting a 0-22-1 record on Mexican soil with the lone draw coming in 1997.  If any US team can win in Azteca, it’s this group.  The team has the confidence to play with anyone in the world.  That confidence stems from a defeat of top-ranked Spain and a near-upset of Brazil in the Confederations Cup.  There’s also a little bit of anger following the shellacking the US took in the Gold Cup final.  Only three players from today’s squad played in that game, but that loss has still got to be giving the US some motivation.  In order to win, I think the US needs to play like they did against Spain, meaning don’t be scared or intimidated; make smart, quick passes; and finish the opportunities in front of goal.  They also need to make sure they keep their composure as things tend to get heated when these teams meet (example: Rafa Marquez karate-kicking Tim Howard in the last qualifier).

Mexico recently got a big confidence boost as well, beating the US in the Gold Cup final, 5-0.  Granted, it wasn’t the first team US squad, but you’ll take a 5-0 win over your archrival any day.  Mexico is currently sitting in fourth in CONCACAF qualifying (meaning they wouldn’t automatically qualify for SA 2010 if qualifying ended now).  In this game, the pressure is on them to perform.

The game will be televised on Telemundo and Mun2 (which is supposedly being provided free of charge to cable providers today) beginning at 4 p.m. ET.  It’s ridiculous that NBC Universal is not showing the game on any of their channels that are accessible to more US households.  I know that I had to add the Spanish speaking channels to my cable package in order to get the game at all.  Games this big should be available for everyone to watch.

Highlights from the February World Cup qualifier, which the US won 2-0: