Setting the stage: If you’ve read our site before, and judging by our analytics you haven’t, you know how this works. But anyway, we use a half point system because it’s more fun, generally talk shit about the ineptness of the manager’s strategy, etc. etc.
A couple of important things to note about this game; we aren’t in a FIFA window so clubs were not required to release their players for international duty. Save for Sergino Dest, players were indeed not granted their releases to play in this game. As a result, you will see some newer faces and if you follow MLS, some familiar faces who might not otherwise crack an international roster.
We’re currently about 30 minutes from kick off here so we have a few minutes to share some early thoughts. Primarily this. Expect a dumpster fire. A bunch of guys who don’t normally play together, playing together under an interim manager who has never had any measurable success at any of his stops. Fun times to come! *cracks beer*
10 minutes to kick off: So one thing is already pissing me off. This game is being streamed on HBO Max, which sucks because it just took me about 13 minutes to reset my password since I haven’t used the stupid service in forever, and quite frankly forgot that I was paying for it.
Recap: Well, nobody was expecting a clinic tonight, were they? It wasn’t ugly soccer — you’ll see a lot worse. In fact, considering the lineup trotted out, the team acquitted itself reasonably well. Still, you’d have liked to see the team a little bit more interested in, you know, scoring some more goals before Mexico took the lead. The US pressed Mexico into a couple of turnovers that led to promising counters in the first half, perhaps getting a little unfortunate for Jordan Morris not to score. But as we saw so often during the Gregg Berhalter era, possession in the opponent’s third too often ended up in a pass back to the goalie. A criminally bad turnover by Aaron Long, really capping off a criminally bad performance by a criminally bad player, let to Mexico’s opener. The US didn’t capitulate, continued to press, and despite Mexico clattering the woodwork with a shot that could have put the game to bed, got a deserved equalizer late on through Jesus Ferreira.
GK, Sean Johnson – 4.5: Johnson didn’t have a lot to do outside of the goal, and there wasn’t a ton he could do about it. Came out smartly for a few crosses. Did make a halfway decent save low to his left on De La Rosa in the second half. Was beaten cleanly on a couple of close calls where a better keeper may have gotten a hand to it. Where he was nearly exposed most on multiple occasions was his inability to play with the ball at his feet. Multiple shanked clearances, wayward or underhit passes, and general discomfort is not what you want to see. It’s not a big deal because he’s about 14th on the US goalie depth chart, but for that reason he probably shouldn’t have been the guy tonight anyway.
LB, Sergino Dest – 5.5: Dest switched sides for this one from his customary right back position. In general, he looked ok. Didn’t get beaten on the wing by anyone, and generally made it difficult for Julian Araujo and company to provide useful service from his wing. Committed a couple of fouls that led to free kicks in the attacking zone for Mexico, but that happens. What we really missed from Dest were his marauding runs up the wing on the counter. He was entirely non-existent on offense in the first half, and that’s where he’s at his best. And when he finally did charge ahead, he beat three Mexican defenders and released Jordan Morris for the US equalizer. We needed more of that. Disappointing.
LCB, Aaron Long – 1.5: Maybe one day we’ll see what the fuss was ever about. To be fair, he had one nice cover to erase a Mexican counterattack in the first half, but apart from that, his few clearances were undecisive and his passing at the back was, if not erratic, inaccurate. Most glaring, he was entirely to blame for the turnover that led to Mexico’s opener. Yes, Acosta played him into a difficult spot but there was no reason to let Antuna win that ball from him. He’s quite simply terrible. Hopefully this is his last game in the shirt. Off for Miazga in the 70th minute.
RCB, Walker Zimmerman – 6.5: Won every arial challenge in his radius, and in general bailed out his central defensive partner fairly well. Any time Mexico got close to scoring while he was out there had nothing to do with him. Biggest contribution was a critical late clearance out of the six yard box as Mexico chased a winner. But much like Dest, he didn’t provide anything on offense. While he doesn’t blaze up and down the field like Dest, he usually manages to provide some positive passing from the back. For some reason, he decided to play a bunch of entirely unnecessary, unpressured long balls today. They weren’t necessarily awful, but why play them when a better option exists? Still, more good than bad, as usual, from the dependable World Cup veteran.
RB, DeAndre Yedlin – 5.5: Yedlin still has blazing speed, even though he’s on the wrong side of 30 with a lot of miles on his tires. In general, the veteran defender looked at home in the squad, snuffing out attacks with his speed, and creating space on the attack by surging up the wing. However, he seems entirely uninterested in doing anything enterprising in the final third, electing usually to play an unnecessary back pass. And he’s always good for a few unnecessary fouls that lead to free kicks in dangerous situations. Certainly not awful, but he could have been better.
LM, Cade Cowell – 2.5: I’m not sure I heard his name called in the first half. Had a couple of opportunities early in the second half to create something off of a turnover but barrelled headlong into cul de sacs. What a crushing disappointment from one of the more promising youngsters in the US squad. Off for Alan Sonora in the 64th.
CDM, Kellyn Acosta – 2.0: Dreadful. The veteran is usually trusty, if not particularly impactful. The fact that the US had very few free kicks or corners throughout this game really limited the impact Acosta could have, as he’s the best deliverer of deadball situations. But usually he’s a fairly responsible defensive presence. The US would have been better off playing with ten men today. Couldn’t keep possession. Couldn’t make a tackle.
CM, James Sands – 6.5: Well well well. Anyone who knows me knows that I laugh at James Sands. I never got the appeal of him in MLS, and his Scottish loan was hilariously disastrous. Why even put him in the squad when better options like… well, me, exist. But, let’s be honest, he was the architect of every positive attacking play the US had in the first half. Frequently made himself available in space, and sprayed about half a dozen inch-perfect cross-field passes to set up promising opportunities. Also slid comfortably into a center back role as the US reconfigured to chase the equalizer, including a crucial challenge in stoppage time to prevent a golden chance for Mexico to snatch a late winner. His first touch still lets him down too frequently, but this was something to build on. I’m always happy to be proven wron
RM, Jordan Morris – 5.5: Morris always runs his ass off, and generally gets in space as a result of it. He’s been on an absolute tear for Seattle in MLS as their center forward. Looked decent on the wing for the US tonight, but as is the case with just about everyone on this squad, the final product is generally a let down. He had about ten chances, no exaggeration, to put a useful ball into the box for someone to latch onto. It wasn’t until his 11th, a lovely ball in on Ferreira’s equalizer, that he got it right. It was a nice assist. He should have had about three of them.
CAM, Jesus Ferreira – 4.5: You can always count on Ferreira to run tirelessly, and he’s an easy guy to cheer for. One of his several dozen full steam runs into the attacking third was finally rewarded with the equalizing goal, a reflexive finish off a nice Jordan Morris cross that took a slight late deflection. Other than that, his passes were consistently astray, his first touch was awful, and he simply doesn’t look the part of a number 10 / false 9. He’ll never have to be ashamed of the effort level, and seems to get stronger as the game goes along, but he always leaves you wanting more.
F, Brandon Vazquez – 1.0: Was he even on the field? He seemed entirely uninterested in doing anything at all. Off for Aidan Morris in the 64th minute, which was about 54 minutes too late.
Alan Sonora – 5.5: Didn’t have a ton of opportunities to leave his mark on the game but the US had a different complexion to them once he came on. Hard not to give him a lot of credit for that.
Aidan Morris – N/A: Minimal impact, apart from a nearly costly turnover.
Matt Miazga – N/A: Minimal impact.
Paxton Pomykal – N/A: Thank Christ we only saw him for the final few minutes. He’s abysmal.
Caleb Wylie – N/A: Would have liked to see him for more than just the last few minutes. With the helium this kid gets from the pundits, we should have had the opportunity to see him play.