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August 18, 2012

USA vs Mexico: Recap, Player Ratings, and Stats

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I'm not one to get too emotionally invested in the USMNT. They will lose winnable games; Your favorite player(s) won't get called in; They won't fulfill their potential etc etc. But you always have to have hope. That's why sports are great. The glimmer of hope at the start of every game that, regardless of how much ESPN or all the message boards in the world say "Team A is going to crush Team B", the two teams are on even footing. 0-0. And anything can happen. All the things that aren't "supposed" to happen can happen. It's a great feeling. And usually all of that goes out the window 99 times out of 100. Most of the time it's pretty quickly. Team USA dunks all of its first 22 points to get out to a commanding 22-3 lead… You're still learning the controls when a "friend" joysticks around your button mashing defenders to take a 1-0 lead with 2:56 on the clock… And sometimes the #16 team hangs around until the fourth quarter but… we all know what's really going to happen.

I was so bummed at the previews for this game. I could go post them, and as a historian I feel somewhat inclined to, but I think that'd be more counter-product than anything. Just believe me when I say that USMNT writers and fans alike were praying for a 1-1 tie. But I can't do that. We always have the chance to win. We have to. Or else my fandom is based on probability and not the hope of something great.

I'll admit, I can be quoted to say "Man, this game is going to end 0-0. Or only one goal is going to be scored." USMNT's play outside of their own 18 yard box was pitiful. It reminded me of the most recent Brazil game. You could just see the fear and second-guessing in every player's eyes. You can't really blame them. Azteca isn't exactly a Mattress Giant outlet. And while there's no proof of it on the internet or in my journal, I expected them to win the game. Not because I think USA is better than Mexico, because I don't, but because that's my duty as a fan. I'm not the perfect fan, far from it, but that's #1 in a fan's rulebook. See look…

#1. Your team will win.
#2. If your team did not win, they will win next time.

'K now it's in print. And even if they didn't win, boom. There's rule #2. Again, hope.

Enough, enough. I get it. Okay tactics.

  • When Mexico had the ball - Mexico found the flanks relatively easy and with great success. Long, crossing balls were brought down skillfully complemented with acres of space. They pushed the ball as far down the line as they could then… 
    • 80% - crossed into the box
      • 10% - connected with a teammate
      • 90% - USA defense clear
    • 20% - dropped for dribble + combination play around corner of the 18
      • 10% - turnover of some sort
      • 10% - decent opportunit 
(Those stats aren't really based on anything other than my memory, fyi.) Cameron anchored the back line and while he was not flawless, essentially shut down Chicharito for most of the game. Edu played very well. I actually liked the combination of the two + Beckerman (CDM) in the middle of the field because our pool of CBs is very aggressive. Bocanegra, Goodson, Ream (somewhat), Orozco… They all sprint towards the player with the ball, which isn't really there job. (Parkhurst does a good job of staying back.) Yeah, sometimes you need to step but ideally the CDM plays that aggressive stopper position, not the CBs. And definitely not both of them. Here are some goals against the USMNT where CBs and/or CDMs did not do their jobs: Ideal situation is CBs sit back (for the most of the part) while the CDM roams the gap in front of them. Unfortunately Jones can't do this. Neither can Bradley. Or won't. I don't know. But neither do it. They're great at adding to the attack, especially Bradley, and I would put them both in my starting eleven but they don't know how to defend off the ball. So I really believe this game was won because of Cameron + Edu + Beckerman, which stifled every Mexican attack. Oh and Howard, goodness gracious, Howard. I'm so confident of this I'll put it in bold. Cameron + Edu + Beckerman + Howard won this game. Or, more importantly, didn't lose this game. Mexico had to go down the wings because the middle was shut down. The defense could have been better though, had the weak side winger dropped off and given five defenders on the back line. Castillo looked bad (for a numerous amount of reasons) but it didn't help that Torres and then Beasley in the second half couldn't drop off and help with the defense. And don't think defending with five makes it impossible to attack. It's actually set up perfectly for the near-cliche American counter-attack with the added defender. The space opens up up top and all of our defenders can go forward because of their midfield experience. I'll draw some maps soon to show you what I'm talking about. ;{ )

  • When USA had the ball - Uh… having trouble remembering. (possession stats). You know how teams get down to the 18 regularly, pepper the frame, but can't find a goal? Yeah this was nothing like that. We couldn't even get past midfield. It was bad. No one was on the same page. The wingers weren't doing their jobs. The strikers were outnumbered. The CMs were playing bad balls or taking too many touches… In a nutshell: _______ was our offense. As in nothing. We had almost zero offense. And somehow scored a goal
...but still, what a glorious night.
Player Ratings

+8.9 - Cameron - 87% (12…10.4/1.6…90') - Missed a couple of headers that Chiciritro couldn't connect on but otherwise effectively shut him down all game. EPL, yes sir.

+7.3 - Howard - 93% (8.5…7.9/0.6…90') - The only thing I can think that he did wrong was a punch that went down back in a crowd. Could he have used two hands on the already immaculate saves? Eh. Maybe. But he didn't need to, clearly.

+6.6 - Edu - 80% (11…8.8/2.2…90') - The great CDM -> CB conversion worked out well here, especially against a team that's going to exploit the middle of a defense. Not sure what the future holds but on this night he shined.

+5 - Johnson - 78% (9…7/2…90') - Efficient all night. Never got beat. Wasn't involved in the offense a ton because there wasn't any offense.

+4 - Beckerman - 72% (9…6.5/2.5…90') - I may be a little bit hasher on Beckerman than most but I distinctly remember him trying to pass the ball and it just went out of bounds for a corner. But for all the offensive question marks he seems to be the only CDM who can defender off the ball. Well, okay, Edu as well but Jones and Bradley can't/wont' do it. So major props for Beckerman in playing his actual position.

+2.4 - Boyd - 74% (5…3.7/1.3…45')  - Clearly the back heel was not a pass. Not even a question about it. Still good to see him in the play and be that creative under pressure.
+1.6 - Shea - 81% (2.5…2/0.5…15') - Sparked the offense immediately being on the field. I 'm still worried about his vision when crossing because the double assist pass was actually pretty poor.
+1.6 - Orozco - 82% (2.5…2.1/0.5…15') - Well if you score a goal that's pretty good in my book. 
+1.4 - Gomez - 60% (7…4.2/2.8…75') - Should have scored in the first ten minutes with the meatball across the box and not been such an actor about the foul that will hardly ever get called. Still a fan of Gomez but not his best night.  
+1.4 - Zusi - 73% (3…2.2/0.8…30') - Pretty forgettable but the offense jumped up a notch with him and Shea in there and he obviously had better luck than Williams on the field.

+0.6 - Donovan - 57% (4…2.3/1.7…45') - 12/17 on passing with 7 turnovers. Not his best night.

+0.5 - Castillo - 53% (8…4.2/3.8…75')
- The biggest negative I have against Castillo is that he instills no confidence to anyone when he is in the area. The attack came down his side all night for a reason; not because he is going to mess up every time, but because he is the most likely to mess up.

+0.3 - Jones - 52% (8.5…4.4/4.1…89') - Turned the ball over twelve times. Could not figure out when to counter and when to hold back.

+0.3 - Williams - 53% (5.5…2.9/2.6…60') - 4/9 on passing which means he was better at passing the ball at the other team than his own.

+0.1 - Beasley - 52% (3…1.6/1.4…45') - A little out of sync with the team but wasn't aided by his teammates too much.

+0 - Torres - 50% (3…1.5/1.5…45') - Pretty invisible despite his "heat index" being a 42. The best answer to this that I can think of is that, yes, he did, things but nothing that really added to the team's progression of the ball..

+0 - Corona - 60% (0…0/0…1') - Witness.

Subjective Point Graphs
First Half 


USA - 9.50
Mexico - 53.67

Second Half


USA - 32.00
Mexico - 74.17

Full Game

USA - 41.50
Mexico - 127.84

Momentum Graph

First Half

1H Dominance

USA - 0
Mexico - 26.7
None - 73.3

GG Rating - 62.2

2H Dominance
USA -11.1
Mexico - 17.8
None - 71.1

GG Rating - 42.2

 TT Dominance
USA - 5.6
Mexico - 22.2
None - 72.2

 GG Rating - 52.2


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