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.

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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 Second Half Blog

Teams are back out, and the U.S. is set to kick-off the second half. Remember to hit “refresh” to get these updates, because I don’t think WordPress updates automatically.

46th Minute- Goal, Luis Fabiano gets Brazil off to a perfect start, nice ball into him, he turns Jay DeMerit and hits a perfect shot low past Tim Howard. Great play by Luis Fabiano, who is now on course to win the tournament’s golden boot. 2-1 U.S.

50th Minute- Donovan passes to Feilhaber, who dribbles to the goal line, and while his shot is stopped by Julio Cesar, it may have gone out before that.

52nd Minute- Donovan runs it up the field and finds Davies, but his pass to Altidore is knocked away.

53rd Minute- DeMerit is caught out of position but Feilhaber keeps the ball away from Ramires in the U.S. box long enough for Howard to grab the ball.

54th Minute- Feilhaber fouls Kaka, setting up a free kick in a dangerous position. Maicon fires in and Altidore heads away. A subsequent effort from Brazil fails to find Luis Fabiano.

56th Minute- Another foul by Feilhaber on Kaka. Free kick Brazil. It hits the wall and deflects up. Felipe Melo is flagged offside as he jousts with DeMerit for the ball.

59th Minute- Lucio gets a free header off a corner kick, but Howard reacts quickly to palm it away. Gilberto Silva gets to the follow-up but fires high under some pressure. Brazil definitely smelling blood right now.

60th Minute- Whoa! Great cross to the back post finds Kaka. His header is stopped by Howard, but Brazil screams that he and the ball were over the line. Not given, replays unclear at the moment. One replay suggests yes, another indecisive.

63rd Minute- Another Maicon corner is deflected away by Howard. Davies and Ramires scrap for the ball, and Brazil controls.

64th Minute- Some chaos in the U.S. box, but one of the assistant referees flags Brazil for something.

65th Minute- Davies dribbles forward, then passes back to Clark to ease pressure. He finds Donovan, who shoots from outside the box and Julio Cesar makes a decent save.

66th Minute- Dempsey gets a sniff of goal and Julio Cesar palms away. Daniel Alves comes on for Andre Santos. He scored on a great free kick to beat South Africa in the semifinals. Elano also checks in at the expense of Ramires. Brazil thinking offense here for sure. Quarter of the game left to play.

67th Minute- Nice play by DeMerit to beat Luis Fabiano to the ball and draw a foul. He has been really good throughout the tournament.

69th Minute- Lucio booked for arguing with referee Martin Hansson.

71st Minute- DeMerit clears away a cross, but moments later, Luis Fabiano beats everyone and the offside trap, only to see Howard come off his line and smother the ball.

72nd Minute- Davies takes on several Brazilian defenders and nearly prevails with some nice touches of the ball, but Luisao as the last man knocks it away before he can get to Julio Cesar.

74th Minute- Goal and it’s Luis Fabiano again. Robinho heads off the crossbar from a Kaka cross, and Fabiano heads home at the opposite post for his fifth of the tournament. Howard was down in trying to stop Elano and had no chance. Tied at 2. Nice burst of speed by Kaka to set it up.

76th Minute- Bob Bradley brings in Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Kljestan. Feilhaber and Altidore exit.

78th Minute- Kaka decides to shoot from long distance. Doesn’t get much on it and it rolls harmlessly wide.

79th Minute- Felipe Melo fouls and he needs to be careful because he was already booked. Good free kick from Donovan, and Julio Cesar grabs it just before Clint Dempsey can pounce.

80th Minute- Bornstein decides to shoot. He’s a bit off-balance, although the technique is good, and the ball flies wide.

82nd Minute- Robinho fires high and wide after a few moves.

84th Minute- Goal.DeMerit stops Luis Fabiano from getting a scoring chance. Elano hits a corner and from it, Brazil scores. Lucio outjumps Dempsey and has what amounts to a free header, which he doesn’t miss, firing into the lower-left corner. The players all mob Lucio but credit also to Elano for a perfect set piece. 3-2 to Brazil, and that is surely the winner. A comeback worthy of the sport’s greatest champions.

88th Minute- U.S. corner. Conor Casey on for Ricardo Clark in Bob Bradley’s last throw of the dice. Donovan puts it into the box and Onyewu gets to it but heads over the bar. In fairness, not a bad miss, as he wasn’t that close to goal.

89th Minute- Kaka tortures a U.S. defender and then fires just past the far post.

90th Minute- Dempsey stumbles in chasing down a Donovan pass, but it was probably hit too high and far for him to reach it anyway. Three minutes to be added on.

92nd Minute- Quiet injury time so far. Brazil just about keeping hold of the ball.

93rd Minute- Daniel Alves shoots high and wide. Howard restarts quickly but Brazil sweeps it away in midfield. Moments later they win a throw-in. Foul on Bocanegra and that should do it.

94th Minute- And that is it, as Martin Hansson blows the whistle right off the free kick. The Brazilian team races onto the field to celebrate a record third Confederations Cup title. Would defeat have cost Dunga his job? He will never have to find out. The U.S. can be very proud of its performance overall, even if they know they did let the game get away from them in the second half. The lessons of this tournament should serve them well going forward.