Dos a Cero...at half.
The first half was as subtle as a samurai sword cutting through bread. What a dominant display! Everywhere on the field, the Yanks looked the part of angry and petty boss while they tough El Tri a thing or two about the beautiful game. The backline was solid, played high, and kept excellent shape. Mexico barely threatened through the 1st 45, and with the exception of a few slightly shaky moments, were on their heels for most of the first half.
The midfield: one and two touch awesomeness with similar samurai subtlety. I am hard-pressed to remember a game where we owned such an advantage in the midfield. This was despite the fact that they were facing extra numbers in the midfield.
Wondo: he reminded us early why he's in line for the X-Ray machine. A well-taken chance with a mere sliver of space, and he shows what he adds to the roster as a pure poacher. Nothing wows you about this guy, except his goal total in MLS over the last 2 years. Oh, and his goal haul for the Nats in the last 9 months (9 goals in 10 appearances). He even drew a foul that led (albeit indirectly) to the first goal with some hold up play.
And then the rout was on...until we got beat on a set piece...when our best set piece defender lost his mark...who just happened to be Rafa Marquez. El Tri woke up after the punch to the jaw that was the first half and turned this into a barn burner that produced an extremely enjoyable match for the casual observer. And despite a plethora of concerns that will leave us cringing over the next couple of months, we can take heart in the fact that we out-possessed and out-passed and out accurately passed the Mexicans (rarity). We also should have walked out winners in front of a pro-Mexican crowd if it weren't for an extremely poor offside call on Eddie Johnson's would be clincher (DCU should be excited to see some progress from EJ).
Here are the three things that I'm reading into from this match:
1. There are very few seats left on the plane after tonight. Barring injury, Wondo, Parkhurst, and Beckerman will be on the plane. I think they were back end of the roster players/sorry, you were #24 candidates going into tonight, and their respective performances has them now residing squarely in the former. Wondolowski and Beckerman showed what they can do in that formation. Wondo scored a killer goal, and Beckerman's positional discipline allowed Michael Bradley to play arguably the greatest half of soccer ever played by an American field player. Parkhurst actually got up the field on the left last night. In his worse position, he acquitted himself well against a strong opponent; he is the USMNT backline's Swiss Army knife. Welcome aboard, Mikey!
2. Dempsey is creeping his way back into the form. He worked his way into this game, and actually showed his best work in the 2nd half when El Tri had the momentum. He provided the greatest threat to the Mexicans and was robbed of an assist on the game winner by a heavily compensated visually impaired linesman. There's at least some hope he's saving his best for this summer. Hopefully, we'll see an uptick from Jozy soon, too. It's got to be the case, right?
3. The future may not be now for Julian Green. The first 15 minutes of action were something approaching forgettable for the recent Red White and Blue convert, but as he settled in to the game, he did show what Der Klinnsman is excited about. I think the narrative today would be a lot different if the foul he earned was called. Donovan service to Gonzalez for the winner off the free kick- how much differently do we look at some of the lesser performances if Green's dynamic move on the left is adjudicated properly? We'll never know, but it was at least a respectable first turn for Jules.
On this last point, I will say that one of the few spots left is between Jules and Brek Shea. Shea has a little more beef, a little more experience, and a lot more of a toehold in the national team mainly on the strength of past national team exploits. His sliver of hope is based on being something more of a known quantity. You can point comparatively to their respective caps in Cyprus and Phoenix- Shea looked more the nuisance of the 2. Bayern's already clinched the Bundesliga, and I fully expect Julian Green to get minutes over the last month of the season to demonstrate what he offers as an heir apparent. Shea must force his way into the Potters conversation in meaningful matches over the next 6 weeks. If not, you just witnessed the debut of our bench wildcard for Brazil 2014.