26 June 2011

A few remarks about the Gold Cup final

Mexico midfielder Giovani Dos Santos.
That's with one 'n,' spell checkers.
(Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Hats off to the Mexican soccer team for their 4-2 comeback win over the U.S. tonight.  El Tri has had its share of controversy during this Gold Cup, but coach José María de la Torre has done a great job healing a squad Howard Cosell* would have called "a team in disarray."  The emergence of Gio Dos Santos (Tottenham) and Javier "Chicarito" Hernadez (Manchester Utd.) as English Premier League superstars has helped, but I'd bet Javier Aguirre wouldn't have done as well with this talent.

U.S. keeper Tim Howard.  (AP)

It's the Stars and Stripes who are experiencing disarray now.  The defense has taken a couple of giant steps backward in the past year.  Tim Howard's play in goal has seriously slipped.  He needs to stop worrying so much about his sucky defenders and start worrying about himself.  Carlos Bocanegra -- the U.S. captain -- was just awful tonight, losing track of Pablo Barrera on the go-ahead goal at 50', then setting up Dos Santos's spectacular goal with a poor clearance in the 76th minute.  As often as they overran the U.S. defensive midfield, I started wondering whether the Mexicans would get tired.  [They didn't.]

Oh, yeah:  does Bob Bradley want to explain the logic to me again?  He sat his best players for the first half against Spain, and ended up losing 4-0 at home... so his team could then lose at home to Panama?  I understood his need to build the bench, but that was ridiculous.  More generally, Freddy Adu's emergence notwithstanding, I'm seeing way too much backsliding on the team as a whole.  Qualification for Brazil three years hence is now looking much harder.  The 2009 Confederations Cup helped the U.S. tremendously as it prepared for the World Cup, but Bradley won't have that aid this time.

I'd call for Bradley's dismissal, but then I'd have to suggest a replacement -- and I can't think of one.  Part of the trouble is that coaching the U.S. men isn't exactly a plum position.  It's like being the gridiron coach at Kentucky:  you'd be working in the glamorous SEC, but at a place where your sport isn't king.  [Text me when UK wins a BCS bowl game.]

Back to the CONCACAF champions.  Mexico has looked great, but frankly, Honduras and the fading U.S. are the strongest teams they've seen in a long while.  El Tri does have a guest appearance in the Copa América, the South American championship, coming up, so more serious tests are coming in a hurry.

And would it be too much to ask el Tri to leave the black kits in North America?  The only teams that should be wearing black uniforms are the ones that actually have black as a team color.  Like the basketball teams at Duke, Gonzaga and Butler, and almost any team at Oregon, the Mexican soccer team doesn't qualify.  They all should dump the all-black kits, because they're wrong, wrong, wrong.  On top of that, they're wrong.

On second thought, this kit actually looks decent.  Since it doesn't have any green on it, maybe the FMF could license it to a side that could really use it, like Germany.

* Not aging yourself much, are you, Abu?


Matty Boy said...

The Mexicans looked great in the second half.

I have a post about opening day in Germany.

Abu Scooter said...

My favorite Mexican goal last night was actually Barrera's first one. The perfect incoming pass from Dos Santos made a hopeless fool of Clarence Goodson, who, as the replays showed, actually had Barrera decently marked.