BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, August 11, 2011
United States vs Mexico
Friendly - Wednesday August 10, 2011
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia
The United States national team came from behind in the second half and played to a hard fought draw with Mexico in Jurgen Klinsmann's first game at the helm as the team's head coach.
After suffering difficult 4-2 loss in the final of the 2011 Gold Cup to Mexico, the US team came out flat in the first half but ou played their arch-rivals in the second half to usher in the new era of US Soccer.
"What we saw was an interesting game," Klinsmann said of his debut. "I think we saw, especially in the second half, a very exciting game. It was an amazing learning process that the players went through."
"We gave them certain tasks before the game - to play out of the back for example against a high pressure Mexican [team], which is not that easy."
At kickoff, Mexico picked up where they left at the end of the Gold Cup with continued domination in the possession game.
In the 17th minute Mexico would pull ahead when Andres Guardado hit a cross from the left side that Oribe Peralta volleyed home as he wrapped his leg around US defender Michael Bradley.
Mexico continued to press deep into the US attack but failed to generate many clear opportunities on goal. While the offense was lacking, Klinsmann saw positives on the defensive side in the first half.
"I think the first half was really difficult - to keep the defensive shape and to keep that high pressure Mexican [team] away from goal," Klinsmann analyzed. "I think that besides that surprising goal that was more like a coincidence than a real goal, they didn't really have real chances. That was a real good defensive job."
In the second half the US came out rejuvenated. They began to earn increased possession and scoring chances.
In the 57th minute, the US had a great chance to score when Landon Donovan sent in a corner kick from the right side that found Carlos Bocanegra who headed a powerful header on goal. Mexican keeper Guillermo Ochoa was quick to make the outstretched save.
The game tilted firmly in favor of the Americans in the 60th minute when Klinsmann made his first two substitutions in bringing on Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea for Jermaine Jones and Edson Buddle. That move pushed Jose Torres into the middle of the field and Brek Shea out wide on the left.
"What we were lacking in the first half was putting pressure on them - going into their half in the final third and create chances," Klinsmann said of his substitutions. "That is what was missing. We knew that once we brought in fresh energy we were also going to get the Mexican [team] a bit tired. We kept the pace up. We expected them to struggle a little bit towards the end of the game."
In the 72nd minute Juan Agudelo made a nice into the box and appeared to be taken down however Jamaican referee Raymond Bogle signled a play on.
Shortly after, Klinsmann made another successful substitution when he brought on Robbie Rogers for Bradley.
The speed of Rogers along with the aggressiveness of Shea gave the Mexican defense problems. This was particularly true with the added advantage of have Torres now in the middle of the field aiding the possession game.
"We wanted to see a couple of different things," Klinsmann discussed. "Obviously Jose Torres is a tremendous talent coming from the left. But he's also the player that when he plays in the middle he can hold you the ball. Technically he's very gifted. Part of the problem in the first half was that we couldn't keep the ball in the middle."
After entering the game, Rogers did not take long to make an impact on the game.
In the 73rd minute, Shea took possessions on a nice pass from Agudelo. He beat his defender and sent a cross that found an incoming Rogers at the back post who simply had to tap it in, which he did. The three MLS-based substitutes combined well on the play to give the Americans a well deserved equalizer.
"Juan kind of played me in," Shea explained. "I just kind of kept with the ball and played it across the goal. Robbie finished it."
"If you watch teams like Barcelona, Spain, or other great teams their outside midfielders are moving and running at guys and are dangerous," Rogers said of his effort. "That's how I try to play. I just wanted to get on the field, go forward, be dangerous, be myself and maybe get a goal. I got a little luck with that goal."
"I ran into the box thinking maybe I was going to on one early. I looked up and [Brek] kind of lost it but then he won it back. He played a great ball."
Two minutes later the Americans continued to seize on the momentum when Donovan moved forward a dangerous counter attack. He found Torres who unleashed a powerful shot that went over the bar.
In the 82nd minute, Ochoa was once again force to come up big for the Mexicans when Shea unleashed a powerful shot that Ochoa was barely able to push wide.
"He has the qualities to take people on," Klinsmann said of Shea. "He has tremendous pace. He's driving towards the goal, he wants to score. He has a drive into the box. I knew we could bring him on at anytime. We had that in the back of our mind."
In the 86th minute, the US created yet another dangerous opportunity when Agudelo sent a beautiful chip pass over the Mexican defense that sprung a streaking Robbie Rogers in the middle of the field. Just as it appeared Rogers was going to move in alone against Ochoa, Mexican Gerardo Torrado pulled him down from behind.
Everyone assumed that Torrado was going to be given a straight red card but instead Bogle showed just a yellow card.
"It was a red card," Rogers stated frankly. "A one-hundred percent red card. When I saw that ball get played over there. I knew I was going to charge the ball. My eyes lit up. I was thinking ‘alright, maybe I am going to get a double here.' I was pretty bummed. I wished I would have stayed up."
Klinsmann was not about ready to question the officiating of Bogle but instead was focused on the team's play.
"In the last half hour I think the players felt more and more confident," Klinsmann added. "All of the defensive tasks were kind of under control. They challenged that Mexican [team] which I said before the game is a very, very good team. I think we can be very satisfied with our performances."
Jose Torres agreed with Klinsmann on how the Americans improved as the game progressed.
"I think it was a great game," Torres said afterward. "The first fifteen minutes of the first half it was tough. Mexico came out and played their game. I think the backline pushed up and we started taking control of the game. In the second half it was the same."
A few minutes later, Bogle blew the final whistle to end the game at 1-1.
While the Americans did not win the game, they walked away with an improved performance from the last time they faced Mexico. The second half in particular laid a foundation for Klinsmann to build upon as he prepares the team to face Costa Rica and Belgium next month.