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Mexico 5, USA 0: A look back

VelaPerkins (Reuters)

It was bound to happen eventually, but not like this.

The U.S. men's national team's unbeaten streak against Mexico on American soil began modestly enough back in 2000, when Mexico fielded a patchwork team consisting of the players from just two Mexican league teams. Nobody seemed to care though as the American rattled off a 3-0 victory.

Some nine years and 11 meetings on American soil without a win later, Mexico FINALLY exacted revenge and it did so in brutal fashion, taking apart an understrength and inexperienced U.S. team made up of mostly younger MLS players hoping to make the fringes of the 2010 World Cup team.

Just how strong or weak the U.S. team was is of little consequence to a Mexican team that wasn't at full-strength either. What matters to Mexicans after Sunday's 5-0 thrashing of the United States is that the jinx is over, or so it seems, and 'El Tri' has reason to feel good about its national team program just a few months after Mexico's entire national team program was in a world of hurt following another coach firing and terrible start to World Cup qualifying.

So just what went wrong? How did a U.S. team that had allowed three goals in five previous Gold Cup games (and three goals in its five previous meetings vs. Mexico) suddenly surrender five goals in 33 minutes?

It was simple. It faced a team capable of ripping its defense apart if only it could score that first goal. While the first goal came on a questionable penalty call (Jay Heaps did catch an elbow in the face, but he also had a handful of jersey before the elbow), it cannot be denied that Mexico was already beginning to find cracks in the U.S. defense before Gerardo Torrado's 57th minute penalty kick.

When Javier Aguirre replaced the ineffective Alberto Medina with the extremely dangerous Carlos Vela, and moved Giovani Dos Santos to a roaming playmaker role, the stage was set for the slaughter. The Americans had a handful of chances before that change to score the first goal and put the pressure on Mexico, which is what the U.S. had done so successfully for much of its home unbeaten streak, but those chances were wasted by terrible finishing.

Yes, the penalty changed matters, but assuming the U.S. defense could have held up against Mexico's speedy assault without that call is a big assumption considering the chances Mexico created just before the penalty. In the end, the result wasn't as much about one penalty as it was about one team being perfectly-suited to expose the weakness of the other.

Could this result spark Mexico? It certainly could, but losing 5-0 could also light a fire under a U.S. program that may have grown too accustomed to beating Mexico. Listening to Brian Ching after the game and seeing the anger in his face, tells me there may yet be some value in the lesson learned from Sunday's loss.

Does the loss erase what has been an otherwise great summer for the U.S. national team? Not really, though it might feel that way the day after the slaughter. Once the dust settles and we begin to take stock of what we learned this summer, the U.S. team will still come away having made significant progress and having learned plenty about the talent pool a year before the 2010 World Cup.

For those of you who missed it, here is my piece on the USA-Mexico game for ESPN. The player grades are at the bottom of that piece. I won't re-post them here. I'll only add that of my grade comments I probably overdid the Troy Perkins comments. It's way too early to say that he's locked up the No. 3 goalkeeper spot, but he's certainly put himself in position for it, something I definitely didn't see coming.

If you haven't seen the highlights (er, lowlights), and if you're ready to watch the carnage one more time, here is the video:

What did you think of Sunday's match? Are you angry and irate, or have you put the loss into perspective? Does the result make you even more anxious for August 12th to get here? Do you see the Americans copying Mexico by finally breaking their losing streak in Mexico?

Share your thoughts on the Gold Cup final, and the entire tournament, in the comments section below. 


  1. Americans, your A team does not have the same skills as the Mexican National Team. The Mexican National team was lacking confidence now that we have that, I don’t know what will happen. The U.S. National team is gonna choke at Azteca stadium, that is what I think is gonna happen. They always do.

    Ps. The U.S. national team has never beaten Mexico fivr nothing. TAKE THAT!!!!

  2. Mexico is an average team at best. They put way more money into their league than we do , and their league still sucks. I feel sorry for Mexico. Soccer is all they have, and their not even that good at it. As soccer gets more popular in this country, and our player pool grows, Mexico will have an increasingly difficult time competing with us. It’s only a matter of time.

  3. Bradley still has not learned to sub when he sees his team struggling, instead of waiting until the other team scores. In the 2nd half Mexico finally found an effective method to deal with Chings back to goal holding the ball for dsitribution tactic, which was to swarm him from both sides with 2 or 3 defenders. This could render him ineffective in the August 12 game, and I would consider starting Altidore over him for this reason.

  4. Advice:
    If you had water or beer fall on you…you can do 2 things. The first is to watch the game comfortably at home. Your second option is to get seats where there is some sort of roof above your head.

    It just came to me…you could also wear an umbrella hat 🙂

    Part of the problem was the double header. The organizers should expect these sort of things given that beer is served during the two matches. Double headers should be avoided.

    The Game: Both teams had their B team. The difference was the talent level of the two soccer leagues.

    Aug. 12 Match:

    Both teams will have their top team and it will be a closer game. The difference will be setting. Estadio Azteca is one of the hardest places to win in the world. Part of it is the capacity to hold 100K fans. Not including the Mexican team, the 3 biggest obstacles will be the heat, smog, and altitude. Only Costa Rica has been able to beat them in a world qualifier. Yet it came on a last minute goal after an error by….you guessed it “Owsbaldo Sanchez”.

    I expect Mexico to win by a margin of no more than two goals.

  5. After (re)watching hours on end of the available youtube footage concerning vuvuzelas in the confed cup in SA, I recognized that the sound of the vuvuzelas en masse provoke a kind of mortal discord between the factions of consciousness either pro or anti-vuvuzela. As a fan of the sublime/trancendent/non-human in art and literature, I some how find myself pro-vuvuzela, even though I have a sweet tooth for English chants and supporter culture. The trolling factions on youtube would have it that they’re opposites, but I find them both manifestations of a kind of pagan hive-mind that you can discern in the unintelligible roar of stadiums. I was gutted by the 5-0 (the second gold spelt out clearly hot knife through butter), but was heartened in the first half by the mindless drone of vuvuzelas in Giants Stadium. A bit like the world of Blade Runner, an electric, nameless hum of the urban underground.

  6. the Americans had already given up.

    That’s their fault.

    Also, this wasn’t mexico’s B+ squad. it was a b squad as mexico has enough depth to only have to use one of those players as a starter (Torrado)

    The fact is that this is a team of B defenders/goalies, a “c” midfield and B-C “forwards”.

    Is that better than the US’s – C – goalies and defenders, c – midfield, b – forwards?

    Yes, especially on defense. The difference is the mexico “C midfield” is almost as good as the US’s “B midfield”. And for that reason, they owned the game Sunday. The US got dominated in midfield in the second half.

  7. I think the Mexicans made a mistake running up the score there at the end. There was no need for them to score the final 2 goals; the Americans had already given up. I understand that the Mexicans had a lot of pent-up frustrations to let fly (after all, it’s been hard being a Mexican these past few years), but nevertheless it was unwise of their coach to keep sending his players forward in numbers. No matter how much of a “psychological” win this could have been for the Mexicans, the game in Azteca is much more high-stakes and a loss there by Mexico would destroy any “progress” they’ve made by winning on Sunday. If I were Aguirre I wouldn’t have wanted to run the risk of just pissing the USA off. The game was in the bag, respect your opponent and walk away to prepare for the next game. He chose not to do so, we shall see how that works out.

  8. Bob Bradley is the first major coach to experiment with two at the back. Guus, Klinsi, Special One, are you taking notes?

    God help us.

  9. that wasn’t your point. mex won for the first time in 14 games congrats. now the spanish team wasn’t a worthy opponent.

  10. christian, “All those things you accuse the Mexican supporters of doing, you’re doing them yourselves on this site.” I can’t spit at you through this site. It’s one win bro, congrats move on. Q. when is the last time mexi beat spain?

    Posted by: harry balsac

    Exactly my point.

    Most of you think that because you beat a lethargic Spanish team, all of a sudden you’re gonna go down to Azteca and win.

    When’s the last time the US beat Brazil?

  11. Anybody else think the Gold Cup should be held every four years instead of every two? I understand BB’s reasons for next bringing his best team, but we ought to take our regional championship more seriously.

  12. Not to make excuses but what about that first penalty? that was a foul against mexico. how do you call that a penalty? that opened the flood gates. i’m not saying the US would have won but the game would have been much different. i have no confidence in bradley as a coach however. another thing, why are mexico players and fans a like so dirty? it’s perpetuating a stereo-type that paints hispanics in a bad image. i mean if mexico was down 5-0 they would be fouling the crap out of us every chance they got. they tackle so dirty, never get carded for it, and dive like christiano ronaldo and never get called for it. and the fans, throwing beer and piss, classy mexico, classy

  13. christian, “All those things you accuse the Mexican supporters of doing, you’re doing them yourselves on this site.” I can’t spit at you through this site. It’s one win bro, congrats move on. Q. when is the last time mexi beat spain?

  14. Hush.

    I got a big shipment of Kleenex boxes coming your way.

    Please be a sport and hand them out to all your US buddies so you guys can sit around and cry together and come up with excuses.

    From what I’ve seen of the US, there isn’t that much difference between the starters and the reserves. Experience being the advantage for the starting 11.

    Same game plan, same defensive strategy.

    The US had no answer for Giovani back in February and now the kid is gaining confidence, the only way you’ll be able to stop him is by hacking him down.

    This tournament was meaningless because there was no ticket to the Confederations Cup but it’s huge for Mexico because of the confidence boost plus the fact that our young guys have stepped up to the challenge.

    You guys can whine all you want but the hypocrisy around here is borderline sad.

    All those things you accuse the Mexican supporters of doing, you’re doing them yourselves on this site.

    Hope you’ve got some good cheese to go along with that sour grape wine, courtesy of the Mexican National team.

  15. Daniel, no, that’s is not true! Because soccer in the U.S is not our main sport nor do we have analist saying our team is far superior day in day out. Your media is the real drama queen of the Americas. Even the Brazilian & Argentina media doesn’t over exaggerate over their teams!lol

    I’ve never heard any American analist say Inter & Milan etc.. need improvements after a preseason game! The Galaxy draw against Milan last week and you didn’t hear analist or fans sayings, yeah we tied MILAN, we are super great,.. Milan needs improments because if they don’t, they will get PWND in serie-A!LOL

    Get out of here man!:)

    I hate the mexican national team more than I hate the PACKERS & Cardinals!!! Yes, I’m a Bear & Cub fan for life, that should tell you how much I hate their team!lol

  16. Two things suck about this. First is that it gives confidence to the Mexican team ahead of the August 12 qualifier. Not that it matters that much, as our best 11 certainly is capable of beating their best 11, but this has to be a net plus for them.

    The second is the Mexican fans. I get tired of their smack talk when they are losing time and time again to our team, so the fact that they got this kind of result makes them positively insufferable. It is funny how a decade of failure has in their minds been swept away by a single lopsided result, not to mention the obvious factor about the relative stregth of the teams. Whatever letters you want to use the undesputable fact is our team had a single player, in Ching, that has ever been used in a meaningful game prior to the tournament. Mexico didn’t have its preferred lineup, but had about half its players seeing regular first team time. Nevermind all that, and it doesn’t excuse the melt down, but it seems to be lost on them as they drag out their old, 1990’s stereotypes about how poorly Americans play soccer. I’ve been hearing it all day today at work. One thing you can count on is Mexican fans having absolutely no class, win, lose or draw and this single reason is why I’ve gone from cheering for them apart from US games to absolutely despising their team.

    The upside, of course, is getting a positive result will be all that much more sweeter on August 12 if we can pull it off.

  17. as always the mexican fans are gracious was a wonderful cultural exchange. at least there was no more beer to throw for goals 4&5. it sucked, but when that happens to the full squad, i will fear mexico. untill then i’ll be reminded of altidore pounding marquez in houston, the crunching tackles in columbus, etc. relax remember who the real sheriffs are

  18. The first goal was a joke. The player was clearly offside on the second goal. Our right side and center defenders failed on the final three goals.

    The USA fans failed by failing to turn out to support these boys when they needed it.

  19. It’s a tough loss. Mexico played a great game and deserved to win. At the beginning of the tournament, I would have been happy to make the final so we’d have the maximum amount of games to see this group of players. But to make the final and then lose is a tough pill to swallow.

    Either way, I’m glad this group of players got lots of playing time so a realistic assessment can be made on whether these guys can help out now or in the future. Clearly some guys did more than others to play themselves into future opportunities.


    Brian Ching, Houston

    Troy Perkins, Valerenga IF

    Jay Heaps, New England Revolution

    Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew

    Clarence Goodson, IK Start

    Heath Pearce, Hansa Rostock

    Stuart Holden, Houston Dynamo

    Logan Pause, Chicago Fire

    Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake

    Robbie Rogers, Columbus Crew

    Davy Arnaud, Kansas City Wizards

    Santino Quaranta Soccer News Topics, DC United Soccer News Topics

    Kenny Cooper, FC Dallas

    Sam Cronin, Toronto FC

    Your resignation from the United States Men’s National Team player pool is hereby enthusiastically accepted.

  21. MExicans please stop saying this wasn’t your A 1/2-team! It had players on the roster that started for the A-team!! Torrado,Ochoa,Santos,Vela,Castro,MEgallon,Pinto,Bravo,etc… These are all A-team players and have started with the mexican national team, PURE FACT!!! The mexicans were missing 5 players! While the U.S was missing 4 from a total roster of 22, they only had 2 players that have played in the national team before, but were not present in confederations cup! Out of 19 players in the gold cup, maybe one will be called up, and that would be ching!:)

    Mexico wins one game against some U.S kids and all of a sudden their the giants of concacaf!LOL When ever they say 5-0, as Americans you have the right to say 2-0 W.C 2002!!!!That shuld bring them back to reality!

    Mexican club finishes 2nd in a tournament that is a preseason warmups for the clubs, and most of the Picante analist start saying that Inter & Milan need improvements because they are looking horrible and what not!! Are these guys retarded?! MExicans have a tendancy of over exaggerating when mexican clubs win!

    I’m very proud of the U.S for making it to the final with a bunch of unexperienced young guns, this is something mexicans could have not done!

  22. Sullivan is great but Bretos loves to perpetuate the MLS and USA inferiority complex.

    USA has no leadership on the field. Donovan better take on that role when he returns. Ching must step it up also.

  23. This was a C team at best. It means nothing.

    A team
    –Cherundolo Gooch Boca Spector–

    Bench: Edu, Jozy, Holden, DeMerrit, Guzan, Feilhaber, Clark.

  24. Ives…get those humiliating highlights the f*ck off off one of the only respectable US soccer sites we have. We need to take 2 repressitall and forget this ever happened.

  25. If Mexico thinks that they’re the best in CONCACAF because they beat our JV (possibly even frosh level) team, they are in for a rude awakening.

    The Gold Cup meant nothing to us or else we would have at least kept Adu, Altidore, Bradley, and Dempsey on the roster. This was our chance to get our YOUNG and INEXPERIENCED some playing time, not to win the tourney. Yes, 5-0 is a big loss, but let’s keep it in perspective. Which is hard for a Mexican fan to do, what with their already delusional minds thinking that they are somehow the Kings of CONCACAF.


  26. Props to Mexico for the spanking, which every team needs now and then.

    Most certainly there were comments about the weakness of the U.S. team prior to the shellacking, many fans were surprised to see that U.S. team do as well as they did. Ives wrote about that early. B team? C team? who cares, they wore our colors and were pounded by the ‘green-meanies’. It happens, hasn’t happened in a while which is more the surprise in my eyes, but clearly that team, much like the team that went to the Copa America a couple of years ago are not the headliners. though that is not an excuse, I truly believe that MNT B team would have beaten our back line yesterday. Dos Santos was on fire and Vela opened the road for him.

    So props to Mexico for showing us the reality of that situation on that day.

  27. The Mexican team may have gotten a boost of confidence from this game. But do you think players like Donovan, Dempsey, Bradley, Howard, Gooch, and Bocanegra are going to be less confident because of what happened in a largely meaningless Gold Cup final in which they weren’t even present?

  28. My suspicions that Bradley is the wrong coach for the USA continue to grow with this tournament. It looks like Aguirre made all the right half time adjustments and Bradley did not respond. Bradley’s options were limited anyway because he made questionable squad selections for this team (e.g. Heaps in the Finals ?). The USA was lucky to make the final so I guess that in itself is a big accomplishment.

    If the USA wins in Azteca (big IF), it will be in spite of Bradley’s coaching, not because of it. Mexico has the better coach and may wind up having the better tactics for the next game.

  29. Look playing to Mexico so often it was bound to happen. The facts are the US team beat Mexico in 2002 in the knockout stages. The US beat Mexico 2-0 in 2007 gold cup which landed them on the Confederations Cup. Our youngsters yesterday got the experience of playing in a pretty hostile environment given that most of the crowd was cheering mexico. So yes it is dissapointing but let’s put things into perspective. 5-0 was a great defeat but now we should use it to beat Mexico at home during the qualifiers and more importantly go on a tear into the WC.

  30. Well at least you’ve realized the overstatement on Perkins. I thought what we learned from this game is that he definitely played himself out of a trip to S. Africa.

  31. Im really dissapointed, i didnt expect this from the Nats, its discouraging, well, I hope we get done with this in two weeks…

  32. First off, I didn’t see the match yesterday, either in person or on TV, so I’m not going to comment on the specifics of the match, because I didn’t see them.

    Here’s what bothers me about this result:

    – have a little bit of pride when playing your biggest rival. A five-goal thrashing is embarrassing at any level. The players on the field must have a sense of pride for the jersey they are wearing, and 5-nil doesn’t make me think they had any pride.

    – the constant bickering about this being a B/C/D team. Folks, does it really matter? They’re representing the colors. If you’re sending a squadron of troops overseas, does it matter if it’s a first/second/third-line division? You’re still expecting them to do their job (no, I’m not comparing playing soccer to going to war – use firefighters if you’d rather to get the metaphor). These guys clearly didn’t.

    – the blase manner with which fans are so quick to dismiss this result. You don’t just move on from this. I agree with Brian Ching’s post-game statements 100 percent. People had better be pissed about this – it’s embarrassing.

    – Five goals in 33 minutes is inexcusable, but I don’t think all of the blame can be placed on the players on the field. Granted, I didn’t see the game, so I don’t know the flow of the match, but from looking at the game stories, we didn’t use a single substitution on a defender? What kind of manager does that? It’s pretty apparent from the scoreline that our defense was being torched, yet we made NO adjustments to even stop the bleeding? That’s baffling to me…. The points about having some pride? Yeah, that applies to Papa Bradley as well… seems like Bobbo just punched out after the half, no?

    I’m actually a lot more calm than I would be if I’d seen the match… but I’m still pissed.

  33. @Luis-Never say never, Bro. One day the US will finally win in Azteca. It will happen. I just hope that I am not too old to see it. I’ve been waiting a long time already. Your team played really well yesterday. A lot of USA fans on here have given credit to a team that deserves it. We will see what happens in Atzeca. Until then, enjoy yesterday’s win, hope for many more y calmate muchacho. Good Luck.

  34. ok , no problem, I´ll take it easy , the only thing that botters me a lot !!! is that USA fans are saying that the USA squad was a C+ or D … hahaha please be fair and accept the lose !!! also be ready because in the Azteca you wont beat us , never!!!

  35. @Gerardo Hernandez-Thanks for giving me another good example in how to love your team and respect your opponent at the same time. You sound like a cool guy. You team, as always has the edge in Azteca (anyplace in Mexico) but I hope that the US gives Mexico a better game when we visit this time.

    Cuidate, hermano.

  36. I think the best times for Mexico are comming. Maybe not before southafrica, but i think is going to be the giant of CONCACAF once more. With dos santos, vela, the little dos santos (played with barcelona already), Ochoa, guardado, barrera, etc. I think the US, Canada, costa rica, el salvador, etc. wont be teams that beat Mexico. If Mexico could invest half of the US budget we could have a much much better team but with no discipline and no mentality, like right now.


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