Thursday, June 5, 2008

In worse shape

The U.S. and Mexico are each one game away from playing a pair of critical World Cup qualifiers. But neither side is providing many reasons to cheer or feel confident about lately.

The United States went 0-for-Europe in a week's span, losing 2-0 to England and 1-0 to Spain. Sunday's opponent could wipe the floor with the US, as evidenced by Argentina's 4-1 thrashing of Mexico. Landon Donovan, Jonathan Spector and Benny Feilhaber have each suffered injuries. The players have seemingly not been able to pick up the slack left behind by Donovan's absence. Coach Bob Bradley's call ups have been questioned (Josh Wolff, most notably) as well as his lineup choices (Freddy Adu's limited time, for starters). Sure, the US is the Gold Cup champs and will play in the Confederations Cup next year but these next two-plus weeks will be critical, and this isn't exactly the best way to enter them.

Mexico, meanwhile, have as much turmoil and uncertainty as they've seen in recent history. Coach Hugo Sanchez was an unmitigated disaster, particularly over his final month-plus in charge. The coaching situation was finally resolved this week as Sven Goran Eriksson took charge but players were not exactly thrilled with the news. Jesus "Chucho" Ramirez, though, made the hiring look wise as Mexico were destroyed 4-1 by a superior Argentina side. Mexico has nothing but World Cup qualifying to prepare and play for over the next 12-18 months, but El Tri is all but limping into the first pair of qualifiers.

So who is in worse shape? Which fans have reason to worry? Or is there nothing to get too worked up about on either side of the border?


roonydoich said...

So let me get this straight, because Argentina mopped the floor with Mexico, you feel the Argies will do worse to the U.S.? HAHA!
Last time i checked, USA > Mexico.

Anyways, A win versus the Argies will sure enough take away the bad taste from the last 2 loses.

Adelanta Alianza Norte Americana!!

Anonymous said...

i think the usa has shown its weak bench and weak coach. wheres klinsman? but if donovan and adu see playing time and are on the feild at the same time they could be dangerous

Anonymous said...

If Donovan and Adu both get to play at the same time, and if the US comes out with the right attitude, I could see us possibly getting a result.

And I just don't see the US getting run off the pitch by 4 or more goals.

ben said...

even though the USA has gotten the better of mexico recently, i'd say the USA is in worse shape because of their lack of passion. the US players don't look as if they are in complete buy in to the system or each other. the mexico team always seems to play with pride, while i can't say the same about the US. most of the US players lately have looked disinterested at best (dempsey is a prime example). until the US gets a team mentality, i'm going with the US is in worse shape

CACuzcatlan said...

roonydoich, Remember what Argentina did to us last year at Copa America? 4-1 IIRC. And keep in mind that Mexican has beaten and tied Brazil in their last two games while we lost to Brazil in our last one. Just because we can beat Mexico head to head doesn't mean we'll do better than them against the same opponents.

As for the question, I'd say Mexico has more to worry about since their WCQ group is harder than ours. Honduras and Canada are both strong teams and Mexico could find itself in danger of not qualifying with one or two bad games if Canada and Honduras don't slip up.

RonnyDoich said...

You would take the our Copa America game serious wouldnt you, knowing we fielded nothing but puppets. But yes i understand your argument, But son, We are still King of this Hill regardless of which opponents you beat and we don't.

Ben, that is an interesting argument you have there. Very much valid, If thats the case, Passion can be acquired in a split second, i just don't understand why we've lost it these past 2 games.

dave said...

Despite our recent results in the states, I still think mexico is the better team. However, our results against England and Spain should have been expected. Those are top quality teams and those games are learning experiences for us. I expect Argentina to beat us, but hopefully we learn how to deal with these higher quality teams by applying what we can to the game.

However, the results don't make me think that we are going to do terribly in CONCACAF... losing to Spain or Argentina is not indicative of how we are going to look against Barbados....

A.C. said...

Worse off? Luis, are you making us choose the lesser of two evils? Both teams look sorry these days.

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

In the short term, Mexico is in worse shape because Hugoool did nothing for the team in terms of tactics or training, whereas Bradley has been meticulous about creating a team-oriented climate.

Besides, it's critical to remember that there will always be a gap between the United States and the better Euro powers (England and Spain) because the Euros have a far more developed soccer culture than the U.S.

In the long term, Mexico will be better off simply because Eriksson is the coach. The U.S. has never had a national team coach with the kind of experience Eriksson brings to Mexico, which can only get stronger (especially w/more Mexican players competing in Europe).

DS said...

Mexico has a stronger domestic league, a stronger squad, especially a number of very good young players in the attack (Guardado, Dos Santos, Vela, Castillo) and some veterans in defense (esp. Marquez); when the dust settles from the "controversy" surrounding SGE's hiring, there's only an upside (though I think of SGE as an unimaginative coach, more suited to England, US, etc. than to Mexico).

The US, on the other hand, has a weak domestic league (most of whose best players are not Americans - Schelotto, Joseph, De Rosario, Toja, Beckham, et al.), is seriously lacking in talent (if the young Freddy Adu and the old Eddie Lewis and Josh Wolff are our most creative players, then God help us), and an unimaginative coach who is content to play unattractive soccer (the only "excitement" is when Donovan is on a breakaway after a counterattack), and whose appointment looks more and more questionable after every strong team they play. Before a couple of Adu's efforts against Spain, when was the last time we saw a US midfielder send in a through ball?

Rudy said...

I'm pretty sure either of the sides we fielded in Europe should be able to handle Barbados. Getting smashed by Argentina will only hurt our pride.

shelbo said...

Can Bradley please let his son rest?

cj howareya said...

These are the matches the US need to be playing. Denmark, China, Canada, Norway, Guatemala, Ecuador... those aren't the matches that will help us evolve.

Not to diss on those nations (or claim superiority for the US), but we should be playing at least two or more matches of the Spain/Argentina caliber -- on foreign soil -- every year. So ass-whipping or not, I'm all for the experience it will give players like Pearce, Edu, Freddy, etc.

If Donovan's injured for key competitive matches, then we're in trouble offensively. Full stop.

But I still hope against hope that Bradley is simply testing players in these matches, and that when push comes to shove Adu and Altidore will play key roles. Color me naive.

Ronnydoich said...

I'll agree on one thing, Bob bradley will NOT lead us to greatness. We need a Euro based coach to bring some real Football tactics to this country. We were so close from landing Klinsman too.. :(...

Frank Rijjard anyone?

Anonymous said...

Mexico and the US are in bad shape, no question about it, lately both struggle to do the basic stuff like keep a clean score-sheet and more importantly score a simple goal from the buildup of play (not from set-pieces and counters).

Both teams have lots of hope but at the same time both teams need a lot of things to happen perfectly at the same time.

For Mexico, they need Sven fast, they need a rebuilt backline which is amazing to me because many people believed this was the team's major strength for the immediate future. Sven has to plug all these kids and experience together but the good news is there is talent.

For the USA, they need to rebuild the midfield and front line. I'm not sure Bradley is the man for the job anymore. Can a team be more unimaginative and uncreative. I almost fell asleep the last two games. What's with the love affair with Wolff??? It's been going on like 8 years. Enough said.

The poster who mentioned qualifying is absolutely correct, Concacaf may not be the best region in terms of quality but it is really unforgiving if you slip-up even once. I mean are you kidding me with all these groups and eliminations. Let's go to a single table like South America.


RHYbread said...

Klinsmann would have done nothing for us tactically. His staff, maybe.

I think the US is definitely in a deeper hole right now than Mexico. No doubt we'll dominate the hex but there are absolutely no proven options at forward yet, no matter how we'll get Adu, Landon, Dempsey, and Beasley all on the field and performing well at the same time.

Cooper and Altidore are nice in the abstract but they're young and unproven. Bradley has been unusually hesitant to step out of his player choice and tactical comfort zone. It doesn't bode well for 2010 when such formations and thoughtless ball movement are easily shut down and countered.

Anonymous said...

First i want to give a shout out to all the ACBers here, and also say that this is CONCACAF. US and MEXICO will be fine. But I do agree with one thing. Americans definately lack passion and swagger. I don't know if its the coach that instills that or if american players are just brought up thinking they are not good enough, but we need players with swagger even if loosing 4-1. I liked what i saw of ADU and wonder what kind of creative and intelligent football the US could play with ADU, Donovan, Beasley, Altidore, Spectre, Feilheber (in-form, and Bradley would bring if allowed to play together extensively. I would even thow Kenny Cooper in there as the replacement for McBride. I think we could have a really really good team. But unless we get a coach willing to let them play together and take some lumps we will never know how good we could be. I think we have as good young players as Mexico. I think we just get the shaft because no one wants to respect americans ability and automatically write them off. Time will only tell, and as far as coach, why not go for broke and go for Gus Hiddink.


Anonymous said...

I am personally glad that Bradley got the job over Klinsmann.

What has Klinsmann really done? He took a four time WC champion nation to the semifinals? He is good, but just how good is he?

Bradley has an impressive resume, not just with winning, but with recognizing talent before the players become 'popular'.

"We need a Euro based coach to bring some real Football tactics to this country"
Thats just so stupid in so many ways.

No country has won a World Cup with a foreign coach, and I doubt that will ever change.

FC Uptown said...

I knew I wasn't the only one quietly holding a candle in the 22nd row for Klinsi!

A.Ruiz said...

"USA > Mexico"

You know....I keep reading this over and over again in various parts of the blogosphere.

Also, in person and as a fan of both teams.
If anything...Mexican fans have been humbled by the strings of losses to the US, especially privately when no US fans is around.

The last time I've seen Mexicans arrogant vs the US was in 2002. That seems to have beens Mexico's Maracanazo or Wembley 1953. It was a paradigm shift in CONCACAF and Mexico.

It's probably why Sven was hired...well also a string of round of 16 exits.

But anyway...Mexican players have better technique and overall more complete players up and down. Especially their new crop of attacking players.

The raw talent is there ....hopefully the can be molded into an effective unit.

The US definitely has more holes in it's rosters and I honestly don't know how far better coaching can take them. Hope for a 2nd round berth and then see what happens like 6 years ago (Draw a certain CONCACAF opponent again? *shicker)?

The US has the confederations cup next year to see how it stacks up against the world. But based on the last 2 might not be very pretty...but at least they can improve so you at least say " wasn't pretty...but it was effective". Kinda like when it beats Mexico.

While the Mexicans take a very late 70's Dutch outlook on soccer. It's not just about winning or losing, but how you played (with panache, gusto, fearlessness and a devil may care attitude).
I think it's been their achilles heel but it's admirable quality which it shouldn't completely turn it's back on.
Which is why I secretly hope for a Dutch coach to take the reins for Mexico. I think he'd appreciate that outlook.

Anonymous said...

Only 7 nations have ever hosted a World Cup. Ever!

Which should shed some light as to how far the US and Mexico are from reaching this particular goal. In fact, many of those winners were home field advantage.

But to say a foreign coach won't help get you closer is pure naivete'.

In fact, Zidane, Maradona, Bobby Charlton, Totti, Mattaues are not walking through that door so you better have a tactical advantage.


A.C. said...

Actually, the U.S. has hosted a World Cup. Mexico has done so twice.

M. Verde said...

Every single Argentinian commentator I heard speak on the aftermath of yesterdays game has said that Argentina played an impeccable game and that Mexico never showed up. I agree. I doubt Mexico will have many more of this "bad" games, and apart from playing Honduras who hates us more than Rafa Marquez hates Coby Jones, I am not at all worried about us getting to the World Cup! The U.S. will continue to do exactly as they are doing now, that is planning their whole life around beating Mexico and not much else.But I don't see them not getting in any real WC qualifying trouble. Mexico-U.S. or U.S.- Mexico will be one and two at the end of the day. And by the way when will Mexico field the same team consistently? Compare the Argentinian team of yesterday (basicallly the same one that played us in WC 2005) with the Mexican team! And where are Marquez, Pardo, Franco, Nery, Giovani, De Nigris, Bravo, Ochoa when you need them?

Anonymous said...

Sven will do well in Mexico. he's fluent in Italian which means Spanish should be pretty simple to pick up. Mexico has a fine pool of talent, certainly deeper and more promising than England's and if he wins over the supporters, Mexicans love and support their team unlike the English who use their national team as a mirror for their various neuroses and wind up eating their young alive. And of course Sven is a fine coach. On the other hand, look at the USMNT's last two games and tell me if Capello,Lippi, Klinsmann or Hiddink would have tolerated this sort of ill- disciplined dreck. The US is talented but inconsistent and the one thing those manangers would have instilled is a sense of disciplined play. As much as I like him, Bradley can't seem to consistently get that out of this bunch. If he has a plan I'd love to hear what it is. I know there are a lot of injuries and the European based guys are burnt but that is part of the game and England and Spain must have been tired too. Capello's England are boring but they are slowly devloping a style and at least retain their discipline. Sven will have his guys in shape in no time so the US should be very worried.


L.B. said...

I think BBSC meant seven nations have ever won a World Cup: Uruguay, Italy, Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina, France.

Hosted: Uruguay, Italy, France, Brazil, Switzerland, Sweden, Chile, England, Mexico, Germany, Argentina, Spain, United States, Japan, Korea.

Anonymous said...

Catamount said...

I think both countries have problems at the federation level.

Mexico has taken a step to correct that problem. If the Federation supports SGE without meddling, El Tri could take the next step into a very rare stratosphere of elite teams.

How can a country that produces the kind of technical quality evident in El Tri and teams like Pachuca, implode when that technical skill is put under pressure? El Tri consistently abandons what makes them really good when the US plays them. Meanwhile the US sticks to its one dimensional approach with laser-like tenacity until their power wins out. The US turns it into a battle of wills and athleticism.

Meanwhile, the United States has soccer moms and dads running the federation. High schools, colleges and communities ignored the sport though it's championship has been around longer than any except hockey. So moms and dads took the game into their own hands and developed the system as it is today. Sunil Gulati is the representative of this amateur infrastructure, and Bradley is the ultimate soccer dad. Our last national team coach was a lacrosse player.

The last time the US made great strides was under Bora Mulitinovic. Klinsman insisted upon a cohesive professional based infrastructure. Gulati and his cronies were unwilling to forfeit their jobs, since Klinsman wanted professionals running the show. Like good soccer moms and dads across the country, Gulati and his group forfeited the good of soccer and its players for their own ambitions.

Hopefully Mexico will beat the snot out of the US, so the US will finally create a professional infrastructure.

artnsue said...

The latest round of results for the US reflects more on Bradley as a coach and leader than on the players. He should be worried about his job because unless we play an international against a team much lower in the (questionable) FIFA rankings, we struggle. His team selection has been poor (Johnson has had way to many chances to finally prove himself, Wolf???), his pregame tactics poor (2 defensive midfielders failed miserably against England) , his halftime tactics a disaster (might have actually had good team selection and tactics 1st half against Spain, and it was totally lost in the second half, why not sub out tired players?).

cj howareya said...

Quoting this from Catamount for emphasis:

"Klinsman insisted upon a cohesive professional based infrastructure. Gulati and his cronies were unwilling to forfeit their jobs, since Klinsman wanted professionals running the show. Like good soccer moms and dads across the country, Gulati and his group forfeited the good of soccer and its players for their own ambitions."

I agree on others about how far any good coach can take this player pool and about Klinsi having the luxurious history of only having coached Germany's best players.

But the structural and philosophical shift he could have brought to USSF is something we will unfortunately never know.

Pisses me off.

ronnydoich said...

a.ruiz said:
But anyway...Mexican players have better technique and overall more complete players up and down.

Now ill agree with better technique, But more complete players..?? What the Americans tower over Mexican players is Athleticism, Height, Power, and the most important factor SPEED!
Speed kills, as you seen so often witnessed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks LB, good looking out man. Funny what happens sometimes when you omit a little "i". I meant to say "hoisted" as in won.

Good points by everybody, good discussion. It seems the consensus is that change is a scary and powerful thing for the people wearing the suits. But sometimes you need an impartial outsider with experience to come and shake things up and tell you what your doing is shite.

ronnydoich said...

You hit the nail right on the head with that one last anonymous...

I dont see no one else saying "Hey U.S. NT, you look like Shite out there".

Anonymous said...

comparing the Us to the mexican team is like comparing men with p-ssys. Argentina smashed them 4-1 it should have been more, easly. Argentina might be us but barely, not a beat down.

Anonymous said...

Having seen Canada, Panama, Honduras and Guatemala all play within the last week I think the US is at this point in time with its current philosophy unlikely to make the World Cup. Mexico under Sven will recover, and slip in. The other two CONCACAF spots will go to Honduras and Costa Rica. The US has a long way to go to even come close to its pre 2006 level.

Anonymous said...

can the last anonymous person please not post ever again. that makes no sense

Gabriel in Argentina said...

Mexico is in more of a crisis than the U.S. After all is said and done, most US fans know that we are building to be good..we have a long way to go..but we are not anywhere near being a "good" team. We will win a few games here and there but we are not consistent.

Mexico, on the other hand, really believes that we are just one coach away from winning the World Cup. When we beat Brazil and Argentina every once and a while, all of sudden all in Mexico thinks that we are in the elite. So, while we both will qualify, Mexico and Mexicans will spend more sleepless nights wondering where it all derailed.

In terms of "technical teams" like Pachuca? It is probably because Pachuca has so many good "mexican" players like Chitiva, Chaco Gimenez, Damian Alvarez, Gabby Calderon and now of course that other Mexican striker..Marioni..