photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
Jurgen Klinsmann's coaching debut with the U.S. men's national team didn't start out too well, but it finished on a high note.
The United States tied Mexico 1-1 in Klinsmann's U.S. debut as Robbie Rogers scored a minute into his substitute appearance in front of 30,138 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA on Wedndesday night.
Rogers' second international goal pulled the Americans level after Oribe Peralta scored in the first half and it prevented the United States from dropping its fourth consevutive meeting to its southern neighbor.
After a first half largely dominated by Mexico, Klinsmann turned to Rogers and fellow youngsters Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea to help turn things around. They did just that as the Americans made significant improvements in the second half, and were unlucky not to come away with a victory. Shea had a late effort saved by Guillermo Ochoa and Rogers was brought down by Gerardo Torrado on a clear goal-scoring opportunity that only resulted in a yellow card for the Mexican.
Deployed in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the Americans began the game with little offensive cohesion. Klinsmann's men struggled to keep the ball and their passes missed the mark more often than not.
Defensively, the Americans were chasing the Mexicans for much of the first half, especially on the left flank where Edgar Castillo and Jose Torres had trouble containing Pablo Barrera.
It was from the left where El Tri's 17th-minute goal was created, as a corner kick played quickly and short to Andres Guardado allowed the Mexican midfielder to whip in a strong cross into the penalty area. The cross found Peralta, who managed to fight off Michael Bradley before hitting a side volley that snuck inside the far post.
The U.S. team continued to struggle as it entered halftime, but the second half brought new life for the Americans.
A more composed United States began pushing the game after the intermission, and that led to the creation of chances and two penalty kick appeals that were not given to the Americans.
Carlos Bocanegra, who captained the Americans in the match, came close to scoring a headed goal in the 56th minute when got on the end of a Landon Donovan corner kick. Ochoa, however, came up with one of the biggest saves of the game to keep Mexico ahead.
Four minutes later Klinsmann turned to some of his younger players, substituting Edson Buddle and Jermaine Jones with Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea, respectively. Klinsmann also replaced Bradley with Rogers in the 72nd minute.
The three MLS-based players combined for the American goal a minute later when Agudelo made a run behind the Mexican defense to receive a throw in. As the ball came his way, Agudelo one-timed it to Shea, who was able to muscle off a defender before playing a low cross that Rogers was able to tap in.
With momentum shifted in the U.S. team's favor, the Americans continued to push the game. Torres hit a shot wide on a good sequence a minute after the equalizing goal, and Shea saw a low shot parried by Ochoa in the 82nd minute after being played through on goal by Donovan.
The Americans looked ready to win its first game against Mexico since 2009 minutes later when a counterattack saw Agudelo hit a lobbed pass to Rogers just as he was about to break free on goal. But Rogers never got to take a shot as a trailing Torrado tugged on Rogers' jersey to prevent the goal-scoring chance.
What do you think of the United States' 1-1 draw with Mexico? Who impressed you? How do you rate Klinsmann's U.S. coaching debut?
Share your thoughts below.