08 February 2007

US v Mexico minute-by-minute

I have been contemplating doing one of these for a Liverpool game for a while now. However, I figured I’d test it out on a game where there’s less of a chance of me throwing things at the television. Plus, there’s the fun of my unfamiliarity with and moderate ambivalence to the national team.

Pre-match - Bruce Arena is frightening as a commentator. And he’s joined by Eric Wynalda and Dave O’Brien. Awesome. Also, I find it hard to believe Bob Bradley’s future will be decided by this and only this game, but that’s what we’re being told.

2’ - And we’re off to a flying start. And by that I mean about 6 throw-ins and 2 goal kicks deep. Evidently, we’ll be in this stage for a while, according to Arena. I think he means all game long.

4’ - Yikes. US can’t clear, a header puts Howard under pressure, and he fumbles, leaving Conrad to clear for a corner.

5’ - Ref already talking to, and separating Borghetti and Conrad.

7’ - Bornstein outruns Medina (is this why the soccer blogosphere loves him?) breaking up Mexico’s attack, but the US can’t fully clear.

8’ - The US’ first real attack, with good ball movement, but it breaks down when Clark can’t find Donovan.

10’ - That’s the Landon Donovan that shows up every blue moon. Sublime first touch bringing down the long ball, but it only serves to juice him up, and he tries to split 3 defenders unsuccessfully. Calm down, son.

10’ - Bornstein yellow, given for pulling Blanco down. Never a yellow, especially this early in this game.

11’ - And Chris Rolfe has decided to join us, forcing a foul from Salcido, and drawing a make-up yellow card. Convey’s inswinging free kick goes nowhere though.

14’ - Dempsey shows his skills as well, doing well to keep the ball in play. Very slick, although it leads to naught.

14’ - Nice job by Albright to cut out Medina’s cross. Good positioning.

16 - Another Pardo foul while the US is trying to break out, this time on Convey. He’d better be careful, the Canadian ref seems to like his cards.

18’ - Medina does a ton of work to get the ball to Blanco on the left flank, but his cross is atrocious. Way too long, and Borghetti was available in the middle. Poor.

20’ - For a big lad, Marquez sure falls over easy. Yeah, foul by Convey, but come on Rafa.

22’ - Bornstein again does a good job beating his man, but he’s got nowhere to cross it to. Rolfe and Donovan are invisible. The ‘Kenny Cooper’ chant I’ve started in my living room doesn’t seem to be working either. He's the hot trend, right? All I know is he used to be a Manc.

23’ - Mastro and Clark have started to boss the midfield. Tackling and marking have been quite good, although the passing is worse than poor. When Mexico looks dangerous, it’s balls over the top (usually from Marquez) behind the back line.

28’ - By the ref’s standards so far, Torrado should have seen yellow for his foul on Dempsey. Sweet, let's add inconsistency to being quick with yellows.

30’ - Convey’s threatening run is shut down before he can get in a cross.

30’ - The US would be a lot more effective if they were playing strikers. Just an idea.

31’ - Just to torment me, this time Convey gets the early cross in, but almost takes out the line of cameramen.

33’ - Yellow for Mastro for a foul on Marquez. Mexican free kick and subsequent corner lead to zilch.

35’ - 3 players miss Dempsey’s tantalizing low cross across the face of goal. Super.

36’ - The US is really lucky that Borghetti was flagged for offside there, it really looked like Conrad played him on.

37’ - Wynalda just called Rolfe’s performance “miserable,” moving him up a notch in my book. That brings his total to one notch.

38’ - I think Convey has some sort of deal where he gets paid per second he’s on the ball. Pass, dummy!

39’ - Free kick from the left flank taken by Donovan. It sucked. Hit the first defender and easily cleared.

41’ - Rolfe on a threatening run, beating two defenders before getting a rush of blood to the head, and he’s closed down. Pass, dummy!

42’ - Bocanegra carded. Arena seems to think it’s for shirt pulling.

43’ - And we’re having a second conversation between the referee, Borghetti, and Conrad.

43’ - Ooooh. Borghetti’s header just misses the back post. Should have been 1-0.

44’ - Landon picks up a turnover, and runs past the defender into the box. Tough angle, and his shot is saved. First shot on goal for the US. Yay!

HT - These are the games that are politely described as “cagey.”

46’ - Mexico makes three changes. Guardado for Medina, Bautista for Blanco, and Fonseca for Morales. Shows what I know; I thought the few times Mexico looked dangerous on the ground, it was from Medina.

49’ - Guardado absolutely embarrasses Albright, dribbling past him a couple of times before putting the cross into the box. Great positioning from Conrad to cut it out.

50’ - Mexico’s fourth offside to none for the US (granted, Eddie Johnson’s not in the game yet). They’ve looked much more dangerous since the subs.

51’ - Not enough power on Bautista’s 30+yd shot on goal. That and it was right at Howard.

52’ - GOAL - US. Conrad hits a free header from Donovan’s outswinging corner. Picture perfect corner by Donovan, but abysmal marking by Mexico. I’d claim it was a good use of the US’ height advantage, but Conrad was absolutely wide open.

54’ - !!! Convey tracks back ever so well to break up a Mexican attack. I love defense like that from offensive-minded players.

57’ - Arena just claimed Beasley wasn’t in the team because he’s busy establishing himself for his new team, Manchester United. And I nearly swallowed my tongue. The former US national team manager, ladies and gentlemen!

58’ - Oh wow, what a through-ball and cross across the face of goal by Mexico. Defense cleanly and clearly beaten. Surprise, surprise, it comes from the US’ right side. No one home though. That stings if you’re a Mexico supporter.

60’ - Donovan fouled on a breakaway by Torrado. Yellow, and a smart yellow. Free kick, from the left corner at the top of the box leads to squat.

62’ - Conrad saves a goal, blocking Fonseca’s shot for a corner. Bravo on for Torrado, giving Mexico yet another striker. The corner’s cleared.

64’ - Johnson finally on for Rolfe. Wynalda seems so happy to shit-talk Rolfe. To be fair, he was awful though.

65’ - Damn, Bornstein is fast.

66’ - Oh, a gorgeous throughball to Bravo, deflected wide.

67’ - Another Mexico corner leads to Howard catching the ball right before it’s over the line. Close call again.

68’ - Howard deflects another shot by Bravo. The US is living dangerously, while Mexico is making full use of the 17 strikers they have on the field.

68’ - Gross on for Albright. Better than the Denmark performance, but still much to be desired.

71’ - Smart counter-attacking one-two between Dempsey and Johnson leads to a shot on target by Eddie, but it’s easily saved.

73’ - Yet another Mexico corner, 7 to 2 on the night.

74’ - Ugh. Convey stole the ball in the box, had all the time in the world, but it’s saved by Sanchez. The one time he should have taken more time on the ball. Silly.

75’ - Carroll on for Dempsey. Fulham would like their new player back in one piece, thanks.

76’ - Guardado is still embarrassing folks down the US’ right side.

78’ - Carroll took 3 minutes to pick up a yellow card. Welcome to US v Mexico, lad.

80’ - US needs to keep possession and slow the game down, but they can’t. It’s going to go up and down the field for the next 10 or so minutes as it has for the last 20 or so, but looks to be another narrow US home win.

84’ - Good tempo change by Convey earns a free kick on Mexico’s left flank but nothing comes of it.

86’ - Bravo gets free on the right but the pass is way too long. Think he would have been offside anyway.

87’ - Strong shot by Guardado, too close to Howard though, who knocks it down and smothers.

87’ - Typical Eddie Johnson. Silly step and a half offside when if he slowed down and actually looked at the defense, it’s a second goal.

88’ - Yet another close call. Fonseca should have scored, Howard was beaten. Killer cross from fairly far upfield that Fonseca whiffed on. Tough angle to judge, though.

90’ - 4 minutes of added times?

90+1’ - Hahaha. Donovan breaks away after the ball hits the ref, storms downfield, rounds the goalie, and easily makes it 2-0. To be honest, Golden Balls’ Mini-me has had a decent game, although I've taken my fair share of potshots at him.

90+2’ - Holy shit. The replays show Sanchez half-tried to slide tackle Johnson after the goal. Eric Wynalda’s going to blow a blood vessel, and rightfully so. FIFA should be calling in the morning, even if the US Federation has to mail them the tape themselves.

90+4’ - A couple of late half-chances for Mexico, but full time.

FT - 2-0 is kind of flattering, but the US earned the win. And it was a far better game in the second half. Maybe the announcers were right (gasp!); I actually am more inclined to see the “interim” tag removed from Bradley’s title after that game.

Conrad was easily the man of the match, even discarding the goal. His positioning, defensive heading, and ability in bringing the ball out of defense were superb. Probably the US’ best passer as well. Why isn’t he the captain?

Congrats if you’ve actually made it this far. Hope you did too, because taking these notes actually amused me, so there’s a fair chance you’ll see it again.

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