U.S.A.-Mexico Live Blog

Hello and welcome to this blog for El Superclasico Norteamericano. Not quite en vivo del Estadio Azteca, but we’ll bring you all the action.

3:47- Teams in, per Ives Galarcep:

USA

—————Ching———-Davies—————–

Donovan———————————-Dempsey

—————–Bradley—–Clark————————

Bocanegra—–Onyewu—–DeMerit—–Cherundolo

————————-Howard————————–

MEXICO

—————–Franco———Blanco——————–

Guardado—————————————Dos Santos

——————Torrado——Castro———————

Juarez———Magallon——-Salcido———-Osorio

————————–Ochoa——————————

3:49- ESPN re-ran a piece on SportsCenter about the deep hatred these countries have for each other when it comes to soccer. Landon Donovan is often at the center of it, for one reason or another.

3:52- Coming back to the teams, Steve Cherundolo’s experience wins out over Jonathan Spector’s strong displays earlier this summer in the U.S.A. defense. Ching is preferred to Jozy Altidore up front, and Conor Casey will not dress. For Mexico, Jonny Magallon starts in defense over Aaron Galindo. No Rafael Marquez, as we already knew.

3:53- 77 degrees at kickoff with a chance of thunderstorms later, but virtually no humidity at the moment. Teams should be coming out soon.

3:55- To loud horns and roars, the players have indeed arrived along with referee Roberto Moreno of Panama. The game is sold out, over 100,000 strong in the Azteca, and apparently tickets were scalped for over $400 today. National anthems coming.

3:57- Plenty of reminders lately about the U.S.’s 0-22-1 record in Mexico, plus El Tri’s 62-1-4 record at home in qualifiers. Will that change today? I’m not convinced of it, but that’s why they will play the game! Some mild booing audible as the “Star Spangled Banner” is played. It is a pretty bitter rivalry, after all, and we’ve seen this sort of thing in other countries and sports too.

3:59- Loud singing of Mexico’s national anthem. The players join in too.

4:02- Predictably, Marcelo Balboa on television emphasizes set pieces and possession for the U.S. Those have clearly been issues in recent matches. For Mexico, he wonders about pace, wing play, and how the defenders stand up without Marquez.

4:03- Red Card Sports notes what’s at stake. And we’re off.

2nd Minute- Tim Howard saves comfortably on a long shot from Andres Guardado.

3rd Minute- Guillermo Ochoa gets the ball but Charlie Davies beat Mexico’s defenders. Could be a problem later.

4th Minute- Bocanegra sweeps away a cross from Blanco and Guardado can do little more with the ball. Both teams trying to probe the defenses right away.

5th Minute- Brian Ching goes over the top of a defender to try and win a header. He’s deservedly called for a foul and the ball was far over his head anyway.

6th Minute- Mexico takes advantage of a Steve Cherundolo turnover deep, but Guardado shoots over the top.

8th Minute- First corner to the U.S.A. Nothing really comes of it, although Dempsey eventually gets the ball and takes a few dribbles before Magallon tackles the ball away.

9th Minute- GOAL U.S.A.– Donovan finds Charlie Davies, who breaks away from Juarez and fires a rocket into the corner. Ochoa couldn’t get there quickly enough. That could change everything in terms of pace and approach from both teams. 1-0 U.S.A.

12th Minute- Guardado fires a low, weak, and wide shot.

13th Minute- Guillermo Franco heads wide, referee says it deflected off an American. Corner to Mexico, which Guardado can’t keep in play despite a valiant effort. By the way, Charlie Davies is the fourth American ever to score in a game at Mexico.

15th Minute- Oguchi Onyewu heads away a corner.

17th Minute- Blanco serves in a free kick (won through a foul by Jay DeMerit) and gets the ball back on a one-touch from Dos Santos. His shot not quite good enough.

19th Minute- GOAL Mexico– Mexico held position for a while and didn’t do much with it. But Blanco gets both Clark and Bradley to guard him, passes to Israel Castro near the bar, who takes one touch, lines it up, and fires a screamer off the bar and into the net. His first international goal, and he might never score a better or more timely one. Bocanegra and Onyewu did give him quite a lot of room. Tied 1-1.

24th Minute- Dos Santos with some nice moves, dodges two defenders and shoots agonizingly wide. It won’t matter though, he was flagged offside.

26th Minute- Ching finds Donovan, who then passes to Dempsey. A pass out wide finds nobody, so Mexico gets a throw-in. As I said earlier, possession is still an issue for the Yanks.

27th Minute- Onyewu is booked for needlessly handling the ball. He’s now banned from the next qualifier in September.

29th Minute- DeMerit makes a rough last-ditch tackle on Dos Santos. He did have a foot off the ground. Yellow card and a free kick near the U.S.A. box. Blanco shoots a stinger which Howard parries away despite a minor screen. Osorio then shoots over the bar from long range.

30th Minute- Blanco and Dos Santos are starting to really give the midfielders and defenders (who are both now booked) fits.

31st Minute- Dos Santos goes over the top on a tackle but escapes a yellow. Free kick aimed at Donovan’s head, which doesn’t work too well on this occasion.

33rd Minute- Blanco tries to chip in Franco, but the American defenders sniff it out.

34th Minute- Cherundolo is fouled in a dangerous position by Guardado. Donovan lines up. He fires to the back post, and Onyewu goes up unsuccessfully for the ball. He’s also called for a foul, having barged into Magallon and Salcido.

37th Minute- Some more Mexico thrusts. They’re not getting too close to Tim Howard, but the defenders really haven’t done a great job of breaking up plays before the potential final pass.

40th Minute- Corner kick for Mexico and it’s fired long where Davies snatches it away. The ball comes to Ching, who is fouled near the center line by Castro.

41st Minute- Donovan takes the free kick and his long ball is deflected by Osorio out for a U.S. corner. Davies and Castro jockey for position and the ref warns them to stop.

42nd Minute- The corner pretty much misses everyone, and Ching is called for bumping into one of the Mexican players.

43rd Minute- Franco tries a long shot, but Onyewu is too close and immediately deflects it away.

45th Minute- Onyewu takes position and finds Ching in midfield. He wins a throw-in, from which little develops other than the ball rolling back to Howard and almost behind for a corner. Instead, Davies wins a long ball briefly before a double-team stops him. Now Bocanegra is booked for a late tackle on Guardado. Into stoppage time.

4:50- Halftime. Mexico had most of the possession, especially after the U.S. stunned them with an early goal. But it’s 1-1 heading back to the locker room. Bob Bradley has to worry about having three defenders with yellow cards and decide if/when to enter Altidore into the proceedings. Javier Aguirre will be reminding his charges that they simply must keep Charlie Davies in their sites.

5:07- Teams are back out for the second half.

47th Minute- U.S. free kick early on. A Mexican heads the ball away at the edge of the box and though it comes back to another U.S. player, El Tri eventually takes over.

48th Minute- Onyewu and Bocanegra combine to foil a pass to Blanco and win a throw to boot. Ball played down field to Donovan and then back to Bradley, but Bocanegra is caught off his stride and it goes out for a Mexican throw.

51st Minute- Michael Bradley makes a hash of his attempted clearance, and it eventually becomes a Mexico corner. Service comes to an open Franco but his half-volley is wide. Onyewu was almost caught out of position.

52nd Minute- Davies nearly outmaneuvered Osorio in the Mexican box. He would have been in alone on Ochoa.

53rd Minute- Torrado shoots off-target.

55th Minute- Even Mexico is taking a short siesta. You might think they’d be used to the altitude of Mexico City, but many of the players represent club teams abroad.

56th Minute- Blanco’s day is done. Carlos Vela replaces him. He starred in the Gold Cup Final, albeit against an American team primarily composed of reserves.

58th Minute- Double change for the U.S. Stuart Holden and Benny Feilhaber come in. Ching and Clark exit. This is about ball possession, and it probably means Donovan will play in an advanced role behind Davies.

59th Minute- Tim Howard makes a great save on Dos Santos, whom Guardado found completely open about 15 yards from goal. Where was the defending on either player?

62nd Minute- Penalty shout from Mexico but Vela really went down pretty easily in the box and was hardly touched. The referee wasn’t fooled. El Tri has most of the possession right now, although DeMerit and Bocanegra clean up a little mess before Torrado shoots over the top.

64th Minute- Salcido fouls Holden. Davies unable to win the subsequent long ball and Ochoa collects.

66th Minute- Half chance for Mexico but a low cross goes to nobody in particular. Quarter of the match to go.

68th Minute- A U.S. throw in goes to Dempsey who plays it long to Donovan. His centering pass gets past Castro but not the second defender. Now some chaos as Onyewu is called for a foul. Then a minor skirmish with a Mexican player. DeMerit also called for a foul. Remember, he and Onyewu already have yellows.

69th Minute- The U.S. clears away Mexico’s free kick from the box. Gustavo Nery is warming up for Mexico.

70th Minute- Davies is dispossessed. The Mexican midfielders pass it around but Onyewu steals it.

71st Minute- Great cross by Holden. Davies just missed a chance at a free header. Nery enters.

72nd Minute- Davies is just offside by a hair. Mexico dodges a huge bullet because Bradley made a perfect pass.

73rd Minute- U.S. foul near the box. Dos Santos fires and it’s deflected out. Tim Howard screams that Torrado touched (or handled it last) but corner is the decision. Replay is inconclusive.

74th Minute- Now handbags between the teams. Feilhaber and Davies take shots after trying to get the ball and break up the skirmish, respectfully. Torrado at the center of it for Mexico, as he has been for most of their action today. He gets booked and will miss Mexico’s next qualifier.

76th Minute- Franco deflects a loose ball and thinks it’s going to roll in. Not quite, as Howard grabs it in time. Altidore on for Davies, that’s the final U.S. throw of the dice.

78th Minute- Bocanegra commits another foul. It actually could have been a second yellow, but the referee spares him.

79th Minute- Mexico’s final substitution sees Miguel Sabah replaces Franco. Striker for striker.

80th Minute- Header on target from Mexico, but not a tough catch for Howard.

81st Minute- Mexico thought they had earned a corner, but are instead called for a foul. It could have been worse, as one player tried to forcibly take the ball from Onyewu, whom he thought had been wasting time.

82nd Minute- GOAL Mexico– What an inspired substitution. Miguel Sabah is first to a ball rolling in the box after DeMerit tackled it away from Juarez and smashes it into the roof of the net. The other defenders perhaps could have been more alert in the danger area, but the finish was excellent. The Azteca goes berserk. 2-1 Mexico.

85th Minute- Dos Santos booked.

88th Minute- Howard starts play for the U.S. Next pass not quite on target, but they get it back and a subsequent cross gets headed to safety. The police protects Donovan from bottles some fans are throwing, whose effort is punched away by Ochoa.

89th Minute- Altidore wins a throw in. It’s basically wasted.

90th Minute- Mexico just trying to hold onto the ball as the game enters injury time. There probably won’t be too much of it.

91st Minute- Howard plays a long-ball. Dempsey and a couple of others touch it in the Mexican box, but can’t turn towards goal to shoot. Cherundolo was not able to get the ball either.

93rd Minute- A foul by Torrado gives Cherundolo a chance for a long ball. Every other American field player came up. Comes to nothing, really. Mexico breaks out but it won’t matter, because there’s the final whistle from Roberto Moreno. Full Time, 2-1 Mexico.

5:57- Veritable ecstasy in Mexico as El Tri’s wins the game they absolutely had to, both from the standpoint of pride, and in terms of World Cup qualification. Javier Aguirre and the players hugging each other as they exit. They’re now just one point behind the U.S. for second place in CONCACAF. Costa Rica now has a real chance to finish first when all is said and done. They actually play Mexico in September. For the U.S., it was a decent performance, and I really think they paced themselves well with regard to handling the altitude. They’re home for El Salvador in their next qualifier. Winning that one, as well as the final home game against Costa Rica, should ensure a World Cup place. Today, however, they will rue the lack of possession and good passing. Mexico just about deserved to win.

That’s all for now.

Advertisements

USA-Mexico Rosters Announced

USA head coach Bob Bradley announced his traveling party to the Azteca this afternoon. No real surprises at all, possibly other than Brian Ching and Conor Casey both being on it. That’s interesting as those two seem like pretty similar players- hold-up/work-rate forwards in the vein of Emile Heskey. Since only 18 of the 20 players called up can be on the game-day roster, one of those two will likely be dropped. Otherwise, it’s the A-team, with Chad Marshall and Stuart Holden added on the strength of their performances in the recent Gold Cup.

ESPN and Ives Galarcep give their thoughts here and here. I like Ives’ lineup suggestion, but I think Bob Bradley will probably start Jozy Altidore over Charlie Davies, assuming Ching is a near lock in order to win balls near the goal. Altidore has been starting for a while, so that’s one of the main reasons for this opinion. Also, I think Steve Cherundolo may start over Jonathan Spector if he’s fully fit. Veteran over youth in a cauldron-like environment.

Mexico’s team was revealed last week. The big surprise is no Pavel Pardo, whom Mexico coach Javier Aguirre apparently doesn’t rate at this level. Also, captain Rafael Marquez is injured and will definitely miss the game. Of course, that also means he won’t get himself sent off as he did in the reverse qualifier back in February with a petulant kick at Tim Howard. But ageless veteran Cuauhtemoc Blanco does get the call. It’s certainly a team that can score goals. Where they seem to be vulnerable against the U.S. is on set pieces (free kicks and corners), so watch out for that during the game.

So, can this be the first American team, and only the second overall, to win at the Azteca come Wednesday afternoon? My honest guess is no, but stay tuned. Mexico just has to win this game to feel comfortable about their chances of getting to South Africa for the World Cup via an automatic qualifying spot (CONCACAF’s top-3 make it, fourth place has to win a two-leg playoff against South America’s fifth place team), while the U.S. should pretty much book their ticket by winning their two remaining home games. Plus, if they don’t, the crowd and media down there are known to put big-time heat on the Mexican players and coaching staff after any poor performance. Against their biggest rivals? Dial it up times 100.

USA-Brazil First Half Blog

The FIFA Confederations Cup Final is today, and after several days of hype across the nation, the U.S. gets a rematch with Brazil and the chance to show that beating Spain wasn’t a fluke. It won’t make America a favorite for next year’s World Cup, but it would likely give the players loads of confidence to carry over the next 12 months, and make other countries pause before playing us.

2:08- U.S. players have said in the build-up that all the pressure will be on Brazil. To a certain degree, they are right, Brazil rightly should be considered the favorites to win. Nonetheless, I can’t believe they will take the U.S. quite as lightly as Spain did, even knowing how easily they won the group stage meeting.

2:17- Team sheets in, courtesy of the BBC and their always entertaining live text. But don’t stay there the whole time! Pretty please?

USA- Tim Howard (GK)
D- Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra
M- Clint Dempsey, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Landon Donovan
F- Charlie Davies, Jozy Altidore

So, 4-4-2 again from Bob Bradley, with Davies and Altidore paired up front. Feilhaber, a native of Brazil, replaces the suspended Michael Bradley.

Brazil- Julio Cesar (GK)
D- Maicon, Lucio, Luisao, Andre Santos
M- Ramires, Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva, Kaka
F- Luis Fabiano, Robinho (who will probably be in more of a supporting role)

2:20- By the way, shocking news today as noted product pitchman Billy Mays died this morning in Florida. First, Farrah Fawcett, then Michael Jackson, now Billy Mays?

2:21- Teams come out onto the field with the trophy right in front of them. Dignitaries and national anthems to follow. South African president Jacob Zuma is among those greeting the players.

2:25- Beautiful recordings of the anthems, and it’s almost time to get going!

2:27- FIFA’s world feed graphic suggests Altidore will play in support of Davies at the start, just as Brazil will lineup Robinho a bit off of Luis Fabiano.

2:29- Moment of silence for Marc-Vivien Foe, who tragically died during the 2003 Confederations Cup. His son comes onto the field to speak. Very classy of FIFA.

1st Minute- Here we go!

3rd Minute- Vuvuzelas (horns) blaring as loud as ever in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park. Both teams feeling each other out, but Dempsey does take a shot from distance. A few yards wide.

6th Minute- Onyewu knocks the ball away from Kaka. Off the resulting throw-in, a defender sweeps it behind for a corner. Altidore heads Maicon’s service away but it eventually comes back to Maicon. His third try finally is deflected for another corner.

7th Minute- Kaka is at the near post but heads Robinho’s corner out of play.

9th Minute- Luis Fabiano gets a little bit of space but his shot is well over the crossbar.

10th Minute- GOAL, and it’s Clint Dempsey for the third straight match. Spector crosses from distance and Dempsey hits a half-volley into the ground but it takes a friendly hop and bounds past Julio Cesar’s dive. 1-0 U.S. Another shocker?

12th Minute- This is the first time Brazil has trailed in the tournament. Surely they will respond fiercely at some point, but when?

13th Minute- Quickly, in fact. Robinho cuts in and shoots. Howard knocks it away for a corner. Not too difficult a save though for someone like him. Brazil loses the ball off the corner and Donovan sends it to Davies who streaks up the field. Two Brazilian defenders finally clear it out for a U.S. corner near the edge of the box.

15th Minute- Header deflected for another U.S. corner. This time, Onyewu heads it down but neither he nor Dempsey can get a shot on target.

16th Minute- Ricardo Clark blocks an effort from Kaka and Spector clears. Well done defensively.

18th Minute- Donovan fires in a free-kick. Lucio couldn’t clear it, but a teammate eventually does. Brazil breaks out, and Bocanegra is the first player booked after grabbing hold of Kaka.

22nd Minute- Robinho crosses into the box but it’s headed away.

23rd Minute- A couple of nice tackles by Feilhaber to slow down Brazil. Robinho and Kaka then try a give and go which doesn’t fool either defender whom they took on.

24th Minute- Good idea from Felipe Melo. He gets the ball in midfield and tries to find Robinho on the wing. Hits it too hard though.

25th Minute- Hard low shot from Melo is saved by Howard. Smart, as the defenders were sticking to Robinho and Luis Fabiano like glue. Melo is then booked for protesting about an offside decision.

27th Minute- GOAL, what a 2-on-1 break out by the U.S. They break up a corner, Brazil turns it over, and then Davies feeds for Landon Donovan, who takes one-touch, turns Ramires, and fires to Julio Cesar’s lower-left. No chance of stopping it, and it’s 2-0 U.S. Unbelievable.

30th Minute- Andre Santos couldn’t handle a lateral pass, and it’s a U.S. throw-in. Cross whipped in and it narrowly missed Dempsey, a forward, and Julio Cesar. Wow, Brazil has as much talent as anyone in the world, but they look on edge right now.

32nd Minute- Kaka tries to build some play after a teammate clears the ball from a minor U.S. surge to the box. He eventually gets it again, plays give and go with Andre Santos, passes to Robinho, whose pass is half-cleared by Dempsey. Donovan then finishes the job and wins a throw-in to boot after it deflects off a Brazilian body.

35th Minute- Best chance for Brazil so far. Robinho makes a perfect pass to Andre Santos, whose shot from point-blank range is stopped by Howard at the near post. Robinho’s subsequent corner goes right to Luis Fabiano, but he heads over the bar.

37th Minute- Altidore breaks away from Andre Santos near the box. The Brazilian fullback has to foul him, and it results in a booking. Not to mention a free kick for Donovan. It’s cleared away firmly by Gilberto Silva.

38th Minute- Free kick opportunity for Brazil. 30 meters from goal and Felipe Melo passes to Maicon. His service into the box is tipped away by Onyewu and Davies clears to midfield.

42nd Minute- Howard gets his fingertip to a Robinho shot. Nice job getting Spector to give him some space for the shot. Subsequent corner is basically wasted.

43rd Minute- Maicon tries to catch Tim Howard napping, but his shot is just wide of the post.

45th Minute- Felipe Melo shoots from distance, which is deflected wide for a corner. This leads to a header straight into the air, which Howard catches. One minute of stoppage time. Bocanegra just deflects a cross from Maicon that was just begging to be slammed home.

Half-time– Brazil actually had more of the possession, but few quality scoring chances. The U.S. defended Kaka and Robinho extremely well, and they will have to do it again in the second half if they want to hold on. But they do have a two goal lead. Who’d have thunk it?

These Photos Sum it Up

When I left you following Brazil’s domination of the U.S. national team, I definitely didn’t see this coming on Sunday afternoon. And when I turned on the game midway through a Father’s Day party (in case you’re wondering, it was very pleasant, despite the cloudy skies, and my Dad liked his present), I could believe a 1-0 lead for the Americans (as good as the Pharoahs have been in the last couple of African Cup of Nations, they haven’t translated it to other international theatres, and also missed absent goal-threats Mido, Mohamed Zidan, and Amr Zaki). Even, albeit barely, a 3-0 Brazil lead over Italy which they held on to. Boy was Marcello Lippi steamed about that afterwards… Not this though, even after I heard the final whistle blow. Heck, the players themselves were more than a little surprised afterward.

Image courtesy of ussoccer.com

Image courtesy of ussoccer.com

But led by the two men located on this photo’s left and right sides, they will be playing Spain on Wednesday in the first Confederations Cup semifinal (Brazil plays South Africa on Thursday). Yes that’s right. The current #1 team in the world, Euro 2008 champion, unbeaten in 35 straight games, the last 15 of which have been wins (games decided on penalty kicks technically go down as ties). Considering where the U.S. was on Wednesday, vis a vis where they hope to be next summer, don’t sweat it. For the players, work hard and show what you’re capable of. To the fans, cut out the attacks on Bob Bradley for a little while and get behind the team. As this blogger muses, can we really be sure of anything after Sunday’s results?

The other photos sum up the U.S. Open. You’ll remember that I wanted to live blog some of it. Well, the weather basically killed that idea!

Image courtesy of Wichita Eagle/AP

Image courtesy of Wichita Eagle/AP

But big props to course superintendent Craig Currier and his legions for getting the course playable each morning so that we could crown a champion today.

Image courtesy of whatsinthegolfbag.com

Image courtesy of whatsinthegolfbag.com

And if you expected the man seen above to win, please tell me some lotto numbers to play this week. But after a bad start to his round last night and this morning, he sure did hold the nerves in during the inward nine, punctuated by a decisive birdie-par-par finale. Also, despite their costly bogeys late, Phil Mickelson and David Duval deserve a lot of credit for how well they played this week. Mickelson, of course, has other matters on his mind, while Duval might finally be back among the golfing elite after several years in the wilderness. Even though Tiger Woods never really factored, he still managed to finish sixth, and was actually the only player to shoot three rounds below par. If he gets back to making a few putts, look out in the Open Championship or PGA. Yep, he’s just that good some weeks.