As a few of you know, I moved out to LA in March, and one of the perks of that was, when the United States Men's National Team flamed out in the Gold Cup, there would be a play-in game for the Confederations Cup in Los Angeles on October 10th. I chose park and ride via the LA metro to get there, which although it was an exercise in patience and sore feet, the route worked out fine.
As for the game, a lot was made of the lack of 'pro active' style, and I think Liviu Bird nails it with his tactical analysis. With a lone d-mid (Kyle Beckerman) early, the US was quickly overrun with numbers, and in a man to man situation, the US was exposed. The adjustment of sliding Bradley back after the 1st goal helped protect the back line, but in the process, ceded possession to El Tri much in the way most US-Mexico matches have gone for years. Minus a real ball winner in front of the defense, the tactical shift was practically inevitable.
As for Klinsmann, well you can go all-in on trashing him or all-in on supporting him. That seems to be the spirit of the times, and even the cognoscenti appear flummoxed to the point they forget the meaning of words.
Because Klinsmann is an objectively bad coach. https://t.co/9rzNIa8d0Q— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) October 11, 2015
Now, I've already demonstrated that, objectively, you're running up hill in very soft sand if you want to make a declaration like that, but if you want to be mad about the US failing to beat Mexico in what has traditionally been an unfriendly venue in the rivalry, I don't blame you. I was mad, too. Without saying too much, I'll say that Bird's analysis pretty much sums up my discomfit with Jurgen Klinsmann's selection strategy, and if you want to start a conversation around that, I'll probably be the fat man on the dog pile.
That said, the US had as many good chances as Mexico did in the game (judging solely by my reaction to individual shots from either team), and the post-game narrative probably wouldn't be markedly different even with a US win. Well, maybe the Fabian Johnson thing wouldn't be a big deal, but the haters would still hate, and the fans would still fan. One thing I feel certain about is that the Rose Bowl should be where every US-Mexico game should be from here on out.
The environment was absolutely electric. Chants of 'USA' would be followed by chants of "Meh-he-co" in perfect time, and almost always, in the same section with zero segregation. The crowd at the Rose Bowl was pro-Mexican, but not nearly to the extent perception would suggest. I was surrounded by a large group of family and friends, all hispanic, all 1st-4th generation living in the US; and the split of Pro-Tri, Pro-Yank, and Pro-I'm just going to drape every flag and dildo sombrero on me to soak up the sweat, was ill-defined. The Rose Bowl should be the spiritual home of this rivalry (much like OU-Texas is a must at the Cotton Bowl) for the foreseeable future. The US can trade their matches at Crew Stadium for El Tri's matches at the Azteca. Seriously, let's make that happen. Despite the misery of leaving Pasadena as a vanquished partisan, it easily ranks in my Top 5 of events attended in this life. On to some quick hits.
Olympic Team: Well, they lost in spectacular and CONCACAF'y fashion to Honduras, 2-0. There will be no easy Olympic qualification for Rio 16' for this group. They play Canada today for 3rd place, and with the booby prize, get a chance to meet up with Colombia's U23s for the last spot in the Olympic tournament. The US U23s have several players missing because it's not a FIFA tournament, and clubs do not have to release their players. Would they be available for a play-in in March (pending victory today)? It's a good question. The US have had more players break out at a young age, and thus, their clubs are more than happy to hold them out of the tournament. I can't imagine we'd be sweating a 3rd place game with Canada now if John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, Rubio Rubin, and Kellyn Acosta were with the team these past 2 weeks, but what do I know? Maybe it's Klinsmann; maybe it's CONCACAF hosting 2 strategically important events at the same time.
Costa Rica Friendly: Lost in failure, more failure, and a lot of chimpish chest-beating about the virtues and vice of Jurgen Klinsmann, the US plays in their last match before World Cup Qualifying begins in November. Their foe, Costa Rica, are fresh off a home loss and a lower finish in the Gold Cup than the US. Will this be the one that does Klinsmann in?
No, it won't, and it's not because new players are coming in or that Costa Rica was the best CONCACAF finisher in 2014. Klinsmann's primary benefactor is Sunil Gulati who is the head of US Soccer. Gulati is much like Klinsmann in the fact that he has a large power share in US Soccer. He's been successful, although it's arguable if there isn't another bureaucrat who couldn't have been as good or more so. He tied his fate to Klinsmann (perhaps unnecessarily) and, although the results have been adequate, a larger and more savvy market of fans, pundits, etc are now clamoring for more. An ouster for Klinsmann will be an expensive cost and a demerit (or grounds for termination) for Gulati, so it shouldn't be surprising that Klinsmann has Gulati's full support. Regardless of Klinsmann's departure date and collective accomplishment, it will provide a clear reflection on Gulati's perceived success or failure. Anything short of a full fledged US meltdown today will insure that the status quo continues. With that said, are you crossing your fingers for a massive loss today...cuz that'd be weird.