Final Score: USA 2 - Mexico 0
Formations: USA 4-4-2 (tight diamond midfield) Mexico 5-3-2 (using wing backs)
Best way to describe first half was frantic and spastic. At the beginning I thought it was going to just be the start of the game, but the lack of quality possession never really changed from either team. Yes, I understand the field was sub-par but the decision making on the ball by players was pretty poor too. That has nothing to do with the surface. There were so many rushed and seemingly forced balls into players. Neither team could consistently complete 4-5 consecutive passes. The constant turnovers made by the US team was the major disappointing thing for me. Also, many times the ball was forced into the forwards by the US. For me, their final ball and penetration should have been better. Maybe there would have been more patience if on a better field… I’m not sure.
Despite this, the two major positives for the US for me would be that the US showed great defensive shape and Morris showed great enthusiasm and pace. The midfielders showed a great positional understanding and balance. They didn’t get played through that often and forced a lot of the Mexican attacks wide. Morris, although wasn’t very dangerous, was working hard and showed a committed effort up top. You could tell he was eager for his chance. If I were Jurgen, I’d just ask him and Zardes to work and combine more together in the second half. Since both have pace and field is poor, maybe look for space in behind and second forward then looks to get it off the one who got played in behind.
It was great to see the US start the second half so positive with a ’48 minute goal by Morris. For his effort and work-rate, he got his reward. Even though the pass by Zardes was misplaced and off a Mexican defender, Morris was still ready and finished calmly. Jurgen is a debated coach among US fans, but one thing he needs to be credited for is that he isnt afraid of trying to bring young players through… ie Morris!!! He also doesn’t give up on players…like Agudelo. This guy is trying to make somewhat of a career resurrection and scored a solid ’72 minute goal. It was a class first-touch to settle and then decent low, hard finish.
All in all, I was certainly not impressed with the quality of play by either team, but what I was impressed with was USA’s ability to overcome the circumstances. Even though the field was very poor and it was an inexperienced team, they battled until the end and fought for the result. Hopefully making no excuses and relentlessly competing becomes an American soccer staple for years to come.