Tag Archives: Mexico

2014 World Cup Draw Set

6 Dec

Yeah, I know, it’s been forever and a day since I actually posted anything, but the World Cup makes a person want to blog again, if only to complain about how rough the US has it.  Anyway, the ridiculously drawn out official draw was today and while yeah, the US has it rough, spare a thought for the Aussies, who have an even tougher go.  And while almost everyone can complain about the groups right now, in the end it’s all about what happens on the field.  Anything can happen on any given day and that’s one of the things that makes the World Cup (and sports in general) so awesome.

Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia

Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, France, Honduras

Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria

Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea

I’ll admit that my initial thoughts were that the USA was on the receiving end of a brutal draw (In fact I think my exact words were ‘holy shit’).  But after thinking about it a little bit, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as it could’ve been.  I think it’s great that the US will open against Ghana.  It’s going to be huge for the Yanks to start the tournament well and if they can do so against a team that’s knocked them out of the last two World Cups, so much the better.  There’s no doubt they’ll have the motivation to take down Ghana.  Portugal is tough, even if they only qualified through the strength of one Mr. Ronaldo, but I do think they are beatable if the US can play an entire 90 minutes.  I believe that Germany is the top team in the group and probably one of the favorites for the tournament.  That will be interesting if only for the storyline of Klinsmann taking on his home country.  I’ll chalk that one up for a German victory.

As I’ve said in the past, the key to US success on the big stage is putting together a solid 90 minutes. They can’t afford to have lapses and give up early goals like they did against England, Slovenia, Ghana x2 last time around.  Coming from behind to win/draw is not a sustainable model for success. The US has been playing well in the past year and I think Klinsmann’s system is finally starting to click.  It’s just a matter of whether they can show up when it really counts and play consistent football.

Now for the extremely premature predictions.  Of course a team’s chances could go to hell in a handbasket pretty quick with a couple key injuries and we all know that there is a lot of football to be played before we get to Brazil.  But based on how things stand currently, this is what my gut says:

Advance to second round (1st, 2nd)

Group A: Brazil, Croatia

Group B: Spain, Chile

Group C: Colombia, Japan

Group D: Italy, England

Group E: France, Honduras

Group F: Argentina, Nigeria

Group G: Germany, USA

Group H: Belgium, South Korea

Knockout

A1 vs. B2: Brazil vs. Chile – Brazil

A2 vs. B1: Spain vs. Croatia – Spain

C1 vs. D2: Colombia vs. England – Colombia

C2 vs. D1: Japan vs. Italy – Italy

E1 vs. F2: France vs. Nigeria – France

E2 vs. F1: Honduras vs. Argentina – Argentina

G1 vs. H2: Germany vs. South Korea – Germany

G2 vs. H1: USA vs. Belgium – Belgium

Round of 8

Brazil vs. Colombia – Brazil

France vs. Germany – Germany

Spain vs. Italy – Spain

Argentina vs. Belgium – Argentina

Semifinals

Brazil vs. Germany – Brazil

Spain vs. Argentina – Spain

Final

Brazil vs. Spain – Brazil

Going with the home country in this one.  France was the last team to lift the World Cup in their home country, but I think Brazil has the talent to get it done.  Spain’s got the experience though and Brazil will be under mountains of pressure, so I anticipate this final going down to the last minutes.

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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?

U.S. outclassed in Gold Cup final

26 Jun

I’ll start by saying that Mexico fully deserved to win the Gold Cup final.  The U.S., particularly the back four, just couldn’t compete with their pace and passing.  

The U.S. actually started the game strong for once, going up 2-0 despite early pressure from Mexico.  For once, the team took advantage of the few opportunities they had with Michael Bradley scoring on a header from Freddy Adu and Landon Donovan scoring off a perfectly-placed ball from Clint Dempsey.  It was a dream start, but the way that Mexico was playing, you knew that it wasn’t going to last.  In fact, the 2-0 lead only lasted six minutes before a beautiful sequence of passing picked the U.S. defense apart.

One of the biggest problems that the U.S. faced was Steve Cherundolo’s injury in the 10th minute.  He’s been solid all tournament and losing him in such a big game was quite a blow, especially given all his experience.  And Bob Bradley’s substitute? Jonathan Bornstein. Bornstein’s entrance meant that Eric Lichaj made the switch to right back where he was clearly not 100% comfortable.  Lichaj’s played decently well since entering the lineup and it really didn’t make sense to switch him out of that position.  Why not put Jonathan Spector in at right back for Cherundolo since, ya know, he’s a right back too?  Putting in Bornstein was simply the wrong move.  Now even with Cherundolo in the game, I think the U.S. would have struggled defensively due to Mexico’s excellent off-ball movement, but it would’ve helped. 

Bornstein was smoked countless times (as were the rest of the defenders) and Mexico had all the space in the world to operate.  It was the worst I’ve seen the U.S. defense play in a long time.  There was miscommunication, missed marking and too much space given to the Mexican forwards.   Another issue is that the U.S. simply didn’t have the pace to keep up.  The Mexican team was simply faster and was able to take full advantage of that speed.

Props to Mexico for not giving up despite going down 2-0, but the U.S. needs to be able to learn how to control a game once they have a lead.  The same thing happened against Brazil in the Confederations Cup.  The U.S. never makes you feel like any lead is safe (even against Guadaloupe).

The loss  just goes to show that the U.S. truly does have a long way to go in terms of becoming a top soccer nation and competing for a World Cup title.  Even though the U.S. made the final, it was an ugly road to get there and didn’t exactly inspire confidence in the fan base (other than perhaps the resurgence of one Mr. Adu).  Things have got to change if the U.S. is going to make any noise in Brazil (or even make it to Brazil).

World Cup results – June 26 & 27

27 Jun

Heartbreak on Saturday, massive controversy on Sunday.  In the opening game on Saturday, Uruguay dispatched South Korea, 2-1.  Luis Suarez gave the South American side an early lead, but Lee Chung-Yong equalized midway through the second half.  Suarez notched the game winner in the 80th minute on a beautiful curling shot into the upper right side of the goal.  It’s Uruguay’s first trip to the quarterfinals since 1970 and it is well-deserved.

And in the day’s second game, an early extra time goal from Ghana was enough to send the U.S. packing, despite several golden chances for the Yanks to equalize.  (I’m still way too depressed about this game to get into much more detail.)

Anyways, Sunday’s games were characterized by controversy and once again raised questions about the place of technology in soccer.  Germany took a shock 2-0 lead over England in the first 30 minutes, thanks to goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.  The game looked over before it had started, but England got back in the mix after a Matthew Upson header.  Frank Lampard leveled the game moments later…or so everyone thought…except the ref.  Lampard’s shot bounced off the crossbar and over the goal line, but referee Jorge Larrionda waved play on.  (You might recognize his name from the three red card debacle between USA and Italy in 2006.)  Clearly an equalizer from England would’ve changed the game dramatically.  Thomas Muller scored twice in the second half to put the game away and give Germany a 4-1 win.

The Argentina-Mexico game saw its own bit of controversy.  Carlos Tevez gave the Argentines a lead in the 26th minute, but he was clearly offsides.  A conference between the ref and the assistant yielded no change and the goal stood.  (Note to self: write post about technology/refs.)  Gonzalo Higuain  added a second for Argentina in the 33rd and Tevez added a second (totally legit) goal in the second half.  Mexico got a late consolation goal from Javier Hernandez.

Saturday, June 26 results
Uruguay 2 (Suarez 7, 80)
South Korea 1 (Lee Chung-Yong 68)

USA 1 (Donovan 61 – pen)
Ghana 2 (Boateng 4, Gyan 92)

Sunday, June 27 results
Germany 4 (Klose 19, Podolski 31, Muller 67, 69)
England 1 (Upson 36)

Argentina 3 (Tevez 26, 52, Higuain 33)
Mexico 1 (Hernandez 71)

Quarterfinal matchups
Uruguay vs. Ghana
Germany vs. Argentina

World Cup round of 16 set

25 Jun

The group stage is officially over and the round of 16 match-ups are all set. I made some predictions earlier at the beginning of the tournament and it turned out that I picked 13 of the 16 teams correctly, not too shabby. Anyways, there’s some very enticing matches coming up.  Germany and England has potential, as does Spain and Portugal.  Of course, at this stage, all the games should be close and exciting.  Let the drama begin!

Saturday, June 26
Uruguay vs. South Korea
USA vs. Ghana

Sunday, June 27
Germany vs. England
Argentina vs. Mexico

Monday, June 28
Netherlands vs. Slovakia
Brazil vs. Chile

Tuesday, June 29
Paraguay vs. Japan
Spain vs. Portugal

World Cup results – June 22

22 Jun

Congrats go out to Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and South Korea for making it to the round of 16. 

In the final set of games in group A, host nation South Africa almost pulled off a miracle, taking a 2-0 first half lead over France.  Despite Yoann Gourcuff getting sent off in the first half and half the starting lineup benched, France managed a second half goal from Florent Malouda.  Uruguay could only manage a 1-0 win over Mexico, which kept El Tri ahead of South Africa on goal difference.  It’s the first time ever that the host nation has failed to advance past the group stage, although South Africa went out on a positive note.  Uruguay topped the group with seven points.  However, the biggest story out of group A has to be the completely mind-boggling meltdown of France. (Sorry, Uruguay.) 

In group B, Argentina won all three games in rather dominant fashion to take top spot.  Argentina left it late against the Greeks, but late second half goals from Martin Demichelis and Martin Palermo sealed the deal.  The second game between Nigeria and South had a lot at stake as both teams had a chance to advance to the next round.  Nigeria struck first with a Kala Uche goal, but South Korea hit back with a strike from Lee Jung-Soo just before half.  South Korea took a 2-1 lead at the beginning of the half after a Park Chu-Young goal.  Nigeria leveled on a Yakubu Aiyegbeni penalty, but couldn’t find the winner that would send the African nation through.  It is only the second time ever that South Korea has advanced to the round of 16.

Group A Results
France 1 (Malouda 70)
South Africa 2 (Khumalo 20, Mphela 37)

Mexico 0
Uruguay 1 (Suarez 43)

Group B Results
Greece 0
Argentina 2 (Demichelis 77, Palermo 89)

Nigeria 2 (Uche 12, Aiyegbeni 69 – pen)
South Korea 2 (Lee Jung-Soo 38, Park Chu-Young 49)

Final Group A standings
Uruguay 7 (+4)
Mexico 4 (+1)
South Africa 4 (-2)
France 1 (-3)

Final Group B standings
Argentina 9 (+6)
Mexico 4 (-1)
Greece 3 (-3)
Nigeria 1 (-2)

Round of 16 matchups
Uruguay vs. South Korea
Argentina vs. Mexico

World Cup results – June 17

17 Jun

All three of today’s games featured something that had been somewhat lacking in the first set of games…GOALS!  11 goals were scored today. (Please let the goal scoring bonzanza continue…)  In the day’s first match, Argentina put the pedal to the metal and showed why its offense is so potent.  Gonzalo Higuain notched the tournament’s first hat trick en route to a 4-1 victory over South Korea.  In the second group B game, Nigeria took an early 1-0 lead off a Kalu Uche free kick, but the tide turned in the 33rd minute when Sani Kaita was sent off for kicking out at a Greece player.  From that point on, Nigeria was on the back foot.  Greece finally broke through just before halftime on a Dimitrios Salpingidis strike, the country’s first ever World Cup goal.  Vasilis Torosidis notched the game winner in the 71st minute.  The win was the first ever for Greece in the World Cup.  In the day’s finale, Mexico put the screws to a floundering French side with a 2-0 win.  Javier Hernandez beat the offside trap and dribbled around goalie Hugo Lloris for the first goal.  Cuauhtémoc Blanco added a second on a penalty.

Group A results
France 0
Mexico 2 (Hernandez 64, Blanco 79 – pen)

Group B results
Greece 2 (Salpingidis 44, Torosidis 71)
Nigeria 1 (Uche 16)

Argentina 4 (Park Chu-Young 16 – OG, Higuain 33, 76, 80)
South Korea 1 (Lee Chung-Yong 45)

Group A standings
Uruguay – 4 (+3)
Mexico – 4 (+2)
France – 1 (-2)
South Africa – 1 (-3)

Group B standings
Argentina – 6 (+4)
South Korea – 3 (-1)
Greece – 3 (-1)
Nigeria – 0 (-2)