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Soccer Saturday: Your Running Commentary

BrazilFinal (Reuters)

Neither Brazil or Mexico have ever won the Men's Soccer Olympic gold medal before, but one of them will add that prestigious title to their trophy case when they square off in the Olympic Final today.

Brazil reached the semis on the strength of a win over South Korea, while the Mexicans pounced on defensive errors by Japan to book their place in the gold medal match.

In Mexico, Jose Torres leads Pachuca against Edgar Castillo and Club Tijuana in a match that U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann will likely have an eye on.

If you're craving some Serie A action, look no further than the Italian Super Cup, between reigning champion Juventus and Coppa Italia winners Napoli.

If you will be watching today's action, please feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (Commentary is after the jump):

MexicoOly (Getty)

TODAY'S SOCCER ON TV

8 a.m. - beINSport free web stream - Juventus vs. Napoli

10 a.m. - NBC Sports Network/MSNBC/Telemundo - Brazil vs. Mexico

1:15 p.m. - ESPN3.com - Dinamo Bucarest vs. Barcelona

2 p.m. - ESPN2/ESPN3.com - Real Madrid vs. Celtic

3 p.m. - Univision Deportes, beINSport free web stream - Paris St-Germain vs. Lorient

5:30 p.m. - Univision - America vs. Atlas

5:30 p.m. - GOLTV - Bahia vs. Cruzeiro

7 p.m. - MLS Live/Direct Kick - Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Real Salt Lake

8 p.m. - Telefutura - Pachuca vs. Tijuana

8 p.m. - Univision Deportes - Tigres vs. Queretaro

8:30 p.m. - MLS Live/Direct Kick - Sporting Kansas City vs. D.C. United

9 p.m. - MLS Live/Direct Kick - FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids

10 p.m. - Univision Deportes - Monterrey vs. San Luis

10:30 p.m. - MLS Live/Direct Kick - San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders

Comments

  1. It just makes you wonder what the U.S. might have done if that last second gaff by Johnson did not occur, a team that beat this Mexican side in a friendly right before qualifying. Yes, it was a friendly but everybody played hard and to win. Honduras gave Brazil a terrible time with only 10 men, so playing against a Mexican side was not going to be easy. Mexico got some breaks and took advantage and that’s what you have to do. The Brazil side was their own worst enemy fighting amongst each other on the pitch. Whenever Brazil loses its cool, they are their own worst enemy. This Mexican Olympic side is not as good as the Mexican national team and the Mexican national team did not play that well against both Guyana and El Salvador despite winning. The U.S. did not do that much better but both will qualify for the WC. I still think the U.S. will win their group for the third time. But in the end, it does not even matter. The goal is to qualify and to peek right before the WC. National teams are completely different than an U-23 Olympic side. The WC is still 2 years away, some teams hit their peek two years from the WC and then flop in the WC and some teams hit their peek right before the WC and end up doing well. The U.S. is still in transition, and I believe within two years we will see a quality side. Congratulations to Mexico, a country with a rich culture and nice people. But when it comes down to soccer, their number one sport, I hope they lose every single game, unless it benefits us for some reason. That would probably be the day they lose on purpose. Congratulations to Mexico’s Olympic side but we will give them hell in qualifying, because it is a different beast all together.

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  2. Did you even read what I wrote? I agreed that at the time it was an overstatement for anyone to measure the success of a nation’s senior squad and whole football program based on one u17 team. However, that’s not what has occurred. They are consistently developing talent at all levels which are beating out the teams from traditional elite countries in nearly every tournament they’ve participated in since 2005. It takes time to see the fruits of these long term processes develop, and they finally are. Has the US done this? No. That is the point. I have nothing against the US, but if you want to actually improve you need to understand what you are facing up against. And that is a Mexico football program that is showing that these youth and new football culture are now changing the team that you once knew into a much more talented, cohesive, level headed and effective team. Same thing happened in Spain. Same thing is happening for Japan and Korea in their federation, and for Ghana in Africa. Smart investments and clear vision and culture pay off.

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  3. That game was a friendly and allowed Tena to field 6 players that didn’t make it to the Olympics. So, yeah. Good for them… but who eventually qualified and won the tournament?

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  4. Completely inaccurate? Nope. You are missing my point.People jumped the gun back then stating that Mexico was way better than the U.S. (meaning the national team) just by the fact that the U-17 won the WC. That’s ridiculous, Jeff. It is way too early to tell who will be better in 2 years for the WC. I think the U.S. will be fine. The U.S. will probably lose the friendly against Mexico and might in a big way due to the fact that many European based players are still in pre season mode. It also depends who will show up. Let’s see how Mexico does in the Cofed cup. I actually think they can do well.

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  5. I see what you are saying, but I need to point out that there are faults in your reasoning. 1) It is still too early for ANY teams WC qualifying to even know what their senior teams will look like. That is why this particular tournament is so important. Many of these players will be 23, 24 or 25 come 2014. This is a precursor to the qualifiers for all of the football conferences. As things stand, right now, most of the teams out there won’t field the teams that are currently their starting senior team in 2014. I think Mexico will have three or more of these players on that team. South Korea already had half of their actual starters play in this tournament. Uruguay, 5. Brazil, come 2014, probably around 6 or 7. You can’t take a snapshot in time today and think that the teams that you know now will be the same come 2014. In fact, follow who played in this tournament to know who will be starting in Brazil.
    2)The last qualifying for Mexico was marked by turmoil and showed the effects of change in their approach to how the senior team is managed and developed. You saw a changing of the guard, both on the field and in management. The old Mexico would probably have collapsed after going down 2-0 to the US. But this team, and the culture that is being developed from the youth teams on up was on display when Japan scored first in the semis. They never, ever, showed any loss of composure. They stuck to their game and worked back until they scored the goal they knew was coming. Same thing against the US. And let me remind you, Mexico lost Marquez and Salcido during that match. Dolo is important to the US; but Mexico losing its captain and other defensive stalwart was a MUCH harsher blow. But the team didn’t care. This is not your dad’s Mexico, this team has a completely revamped culture.
    3) And finally, the two last Olympic games were won by Argentina. With Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, Mascherano and Riquelme. And Ghana is actually the best example of a team that invests in its youth. They would’ve been in to the semis of the last WC had Suarez not stopped the ball on the line with his hand. They were through on skills, but lost because Uruguay cheated. Oh, and remember, they beat the US handily. Whereas Nigeria has been marred by corruption and ineffective policies to support the development of their talented youth. You need to compare apples to apples, instead of coming up with arguments based on conjecture. This Mexico with a new culture and a different upbringing has beaten the US in finals 9-2 over the last 4 years. I agree, the old Mexico couldn’t have accomplished that. But today, they beat Brazil in a final. That’s the Mexico that you need to measure your progress against.

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  6. yeah, I thought about that too…I’m afraid I won’t see my USA win a WC during my lifetime since I’m already in my 50s

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  7. Completely inaccurate. First, I want to ask you why you think that a u17 squad will be lined up to take on senior squads a year or two after their championship win in World Cup qualifying? You obviously miss the point of what youth development is all about. No one, not even the most hardcore Mexico fan, thinks that a u17 squad will be given starting positions on the senior squad, if they clearly don’t have the maturity or experience to compete at that level. It takes time. 2005 was the START of Mexico’s efforts to begin developing talent and creating depth across the various positions on the field.
    Spain took years to develop their depth and it took several championship winning teams and those players to get playing time, maturity and experience to start filling roles on the senior team. Iniesta played in the youth squads as a 13 year old, but didn’t get called up to the senior squad until his early twenties.
    So, yeah, the Mexico squad of 2008 was weak. It was deficient. Why? Because it hadn’t benefited from the investments in youth since those players were still too young to be considered. But not anymore. And the US hasn’t done that. Oh, and by the way, every team struggles against El Salvador in El Salvador. But Mexico won. That’s more than I can say about the States. So, get used to being the new number 2, because the cream is finally rising to the top. It took time, but now we’re going to make it nearly impossible for the US to reclaim it. Good luck.

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  8. when does a youth team label end? U23 is pretty much as close as you can get to senior status, the advantage that Mexico had was they all played together for a while since just about all of them are from Mexico domestic leagues. Brazil is much better at the individual level but for this tournament they were at a disadvantage, I give props to Mexico for pulling this off.

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  9. Good win and deserved by Mexico. I really hope this puts a fire in USSF’s and the men’s programs bellies. Mexico didn’t qualify for the Olympics in 2008 and didn’t qualify for the U-20 WC in 2009. After that they rehauled things and made some serious changes. Now four years later Mexico is reaping those benefits from that overhaul.

    Hopefully the changes Claudio Reyna have insituted, and with the continued help from Klinsmann the U.S. men’s program will get back on track these next 4 years.

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  10. Well… look at the players we DIDN’T have at Olympic Qualifying. If we had all our top players at Olympic qualifying (Altidore, Gatt, Chandler, Williams, etc) we would be thinking a little different.

    Mexico is doing better, but if Chandler really is back with us, added to Cameron, Boca, F Johnson, J Anthony Brooks, Lichaj, Cherundelo, Goodson- we may finally have a rock of a back line, unlike the last 8 years.

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  11. Sorry Mexico and the U.S. are the poster boys. Honduras has a decent team every once and awhile. Look at there recent U-20 team which lost to Nicarauga, and now Honduras will not be heading to the CONCACAF 2013 WC qualifying tournament.

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  12. Thats also false. Basketball is second behind Soccer in international circles.

    We have some of the best athletes in teh world playing basketball, and Basketball is measured by atheltic ability.

    I agree that Mexico has grossly underachieved in soccer though. It’s really about time Mexico started to produce better National teams, considering the tens of millions of kids that play the game in Mexico.

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  13. All well stated points and I agree with you. as fans we like to measure things and because Mexico just won we tend to overstate their powers. Like I said below before qualifying our youth team creamed theirs. In the end the medal says otherwise but I agree we are not as bad as we are making things out to be.

    That said, I will take nothing away from Mexico. It was a youth tourney but it mattered, as Brazil showed, it mattered a lot. But I get what you’re saying and I agree with you.

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  14. Mexico had 19 and 22 year old centerbacks and they held a forward group of Neymar, Hulk, Pato scoreless for over 90 minutes. Thats mighty impressive.

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  15. 7 Positives to take from the win by Mexico.

    1) Two US Citizens won a Gold medal in Men’s Olympic Soccer and 18+ in Woman’s Olympic Soccer.

    2.) Three of the six medals won in these Olympics were won by Concacaf teams.

    3.) 5 of the 6 teams who won Olympic medals were from the Pacific Rim.

    4.) The only teams to give the Brazilians a tough match were the Men’s Concacaf teams (Honduras L 2-3 and Mexico W 2-1)

    5.) Europe was shut out of Soccer medals…in EUROPE.

    6.)Concacaf teams beat Spain AND Brazil.

    7.) None of the Mexican Olympic team members are scheduled to play the US this week.

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  16. Changing gears from the gold medal game…

    Mikey Parkhurst had the game winning goal and added an assist in the 6-1 romping Nordsjailand (sp?) put on their opponents today

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  17. That’s fine, but let’s see what Mexico does during qualifying. They did not play that great against Guyana and had a difficult time against El Salvador. They are not as great as people think. Can they be very good in two years? Maybe… Maybe not. When they won the U-17 WC, everybody was saying the same thing and then Mexico barely qualified out of the semis on goal differential and the U.S. won the hex. I’m not taking anything away from Mexico but when people insinuate that this Mexican side is better than the U.S. because of a youth tournament, that’s not right. Remember, Mexico did not qualify in 2008 and they did not do badly. They came in second to the U.S. as they always do.

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  18. Congrats to Mexico!! shows their player development is still years ahead of the rest of the CONC. region!!

    The U.S. player development structure is still a work in progress – way to much emphasis in competition vs. player development, though it is improving compared to 10 years ago.

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  19. We don’t have the dream team because we have passion neccesarily, we have the Dream Team because no one else really plays the game.

    Mexico being a top team should not be suprising. At 113 million people, the only other country larger than Mexico where soccer is THE sport is Brazil.

    With their population and devotion to soccer, their success up until this youth championships has been way underachieving.

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  20. Mexico success has to do with player development… what specifically is Mexico doing well in their youth development? I believe U.S. focuses on competition – not on development, though it has just been the last few years, with the MLS involvement, that the “development” discussion is more widely discussed.

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  21. Now if we want to keep things in perspective and a like for like argument, we did beat Mexico, handily if I may add, prior to the qualifying tournament – pure U23 to U23, head to head.

    Not saying that translates to how this would have gone down if we made the Olympics, or even trying to take anything away from Mexico as I give them full credit and congratulations for what they just achieved. Just saying that if one were to make the perspective argument that would be the one to make – that maybe the future is not as bleak as many are portraying here.

    Oh but at the moment we are a distant second though it not an insurmountable gap. We could close the gap by 2014 – we’ve got the tools. The question is do we have the fire?

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  22. no kidding – I *totally* whiffed on that one. I should’ve figured the Brazilian Curse of the Olympics™ would continue, but I really wanted Mexico to lose.

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  23. Let’s not forget that this is the Brazilian team that dismantled the full US Nat team. Mexico deserves this. The rise of Mexico precedes Klinnsman but so far, JK has done little to deserve the accolades. Facts the US is going backwards and it is largely caused by a youth system that depends on guys with accents who tut tut and cluck and keep a strangle hold on youth development solely or their pocketbook. Until that stranglehold is broken, we will continue to be made up of soft prima donas, who lack the mental, technical, and physical toolsbto be successful at the international level. Mexico is now a team of hardened veterans who play for team and desire to keep their spot. Viva Mexico – it’s the only thing that will change the USSF

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  24. Yes, a youth tournament. How many of the players at the Olympics are regulars for their full national teams? Not many. Naming a few exceptions doesn’t change that. I’m not saying it’s not an accomplishment – Mexican fans should be elated. But these guys saying that it will take the US twenty, twenty-five years to catch Mexico are talking straight out of their asses. We topped WC qualifying last time, and finished higher in the WC. We were up on them 2-0 in the Gold Cup final before we were forced to sub out Dolo, which destroyed our defense. Most importantly, no one has any clue who will be playing on either team in ten years’ time. Those players are ten-fifteen years old now, and we don’t know who they are. It’s absurd to predict that far into the future. (I know you aren’t, Jeff, just responding to others here who are.)

    When was the last time Brazil, Italy, or Germany won gold at the Olympics? I don’t know, but I can remember Nigeria and Cameroon winning since I’ve followed the sport, not to mention Ghana’s U-20 World Cup win a few years ago. Winning youth tournaments is not a harbinger for future national team success.

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  25. No, beating them in qualifying would sufficient. This is a youth tournament. The best players do not play. Remember, we beat Mexico in an actual WC to advance to the quarter finals. I’ll take that any day.

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  26. I’m not dismissing Klinsmann’s input just not gIving him the credit some want to, that’s it.

    When he earns it I’ll be the first to give it…and I hope sincerely he earns it, just like Mexico did today

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  27. Congratulations to Mexico but the U.S. is not even close to being their doormat. It was a youth tournament. Waite unit qualifying starts and Mexico starts defeating the U.S. at home and away by a large margin and then Mexico can claim to be Kings. Until then, the U.S. has won the hex two times in succession.

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  28. “his name is ORIBE PERALTA!” wow great game for mexico! USA be warned the “golden generation” is really good.

    I still think we (usa) have just as much talent and passion than ever but the rivalry is growing faster than we are! This is what international competition is all about, if your not going forward than you are going backwards; ex missing or not playing well at the Olympics, U20 WC, etc is unacceptable if anyone seriously thinks US Soccer will ever be something.

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  29. Nah, not my line of reasoning – all tournaments matter. Why do you think Brazil wanted this so bad, to the point where Juan wanted to commit murder on TV (OK overstatement).

    My point was achievements like this by your rivals should do nothing more than spark the fire in your belly to top them. These guys are pros and they know you’re only on top for so long. But also as a pro things give you a reason to step your game up, make you better, make you hungrier and that is the response I want to see from the USMNT in response to this Mexico resurgence. This isn’t even out JK or any coach anymore, this is about going out there and making your opponent know that you have not and will never surrender the crown to them.

    If this is a dark day then it is for the fans, as we’ll have to deal with Mexican fan verbal beatdowns now – like we handed out to them when we were on top.

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  30. I said the same thing earlier, Mexico is leaving us and the rest of in CONCACAF behind, they are ONLY for Mexico and Mexico’s success.

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  31. Right, these youth tournament reflect the future of these national teams (as long as they keep developing) and as it stands our youth wasn’t even good enough to qualify. People need to hold the soccer people in our country accountable, we need to invest in our youth holding on the Landon and Dempsey forever will not save us.

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  32. I don’t know why people keep saying great achievement for CONCACAF and Welcome to CONCACAF! Mexico isn’t representing CONCACAF, Mexico is representing Mexico. Other countries aren’t’ going to say “hey watch out for those CONCACAF teams” they are only going to say watch out for Mexico. They are on a completely different level from the rest of our teams. And everyone knows it

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  33. They should still stop giving him crap, do they expect the current senior team to be the business? Well, they shouldn’t our players have average talent, but have a never say die attitude, sometimes that’s not good enough. It is good that he is working with Reyna but we will not see the benefits until 10 years down the road.

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  34. Good points beachbum, but I gotta disagree with you on the JK thing there. It’s the old Bill Parcels argument of cooking the meal and being able to buy the ingredients (I probably got that wrong). JK can only go so far with what he has, and as Mexico is showing us adding more to what you have does wonders for the overall team.

    Yes, JK’s primary job is the first team but as in many other parts of the world the national team coach is also responsible for shaping and maintaining the steady flow of talent that comes through the pipeline. In this effort I have no problem with his approach and vision.

    No one is taking credit from Reina but to dismiss JK’s input is simply folly. The MLS is coming along but those academies are not where they should be (not a knock, it’s just that they haven’t been around long enough) – as you can see even in MLS, besides the odd standout like Najar and Lade, these guys need some more shine.

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  35. A youth tournament? Its under 23… 23! Most fans are already complaining about players nearing their peak at 25-26 (I disagree, since I think players can be great well into their 30’s). How old is Messi? Aguero? Di Maria? Give me a break. We were pitted against players who will form the backbone of many of these country’s senior teams come 2014. If this were a u15, you’d have half an argument. But when you look at the field of play today and see that over 90% of the Brazilian team are starters on teams that play the Champions League, then you can’t possibly make that argument.

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  36. it’ll probably be another 25 years before the USA wins a tournament (youth or not) besides the gold cup. the only thing that would quiet mexico fans to usa fans would be if the usa won a world cup. i dont think thats going to happen for another 50 years.

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  37. We accept losing easily, Mexico did not when they where losing to us. USSF needs to do something so that we can compete at the youth level and up. You play to win the game it is that simple.

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  38. Yep, but don’t worry at least the very least I hope in a decade we will be a very strong team, but to have a strong nat. team we have to have a strong league, with strong academies. Until then…. well we are Mexico’s doormat.

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