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What You Need to Know About the Mexico Match.

June 25, 2011

Look, if you’ve been scouring the internet for information on the Gold Cup finale, I’m sure you’ve found plenty of info that tries to explain what will make the difference in the US winning and losing to Mexico.  I’m here to tell you they are all wrong.  Well,  at least partly wrong.  I’m sure some of them are partly right.  But not me.  I know what’s gonna happen, so this is the piece to read prior to kickoff.  Here are some guarantees for the most important US soccer match for the  next three years.

Expect some scuffles in Saturday's tense Gold Cup Final. Will there be any Red Cards?

  • Chill Out.  Landon Donovan is Gonna Start

Bob Bradley made the RIGHT decision in the past two games not to start Landon.  In the quarterfinal against Jamaica, Landon was understandably a bit “hungover” from his twin sister’s wedding and the flight across the country.  We played so well in that game, that I supported(as noted in a previous story) that if it ain’t broke, let’s get past the “Landon Donovan is the golden boy of American soccer” stage.  Maybe I got ahead of myself….but I really don’t think so.  Thing is, Sacha Kljestan was really freaking awful last game.  He’s used up his allotted 60 minutes of decent futbol in this tournament and therefore should not see the field anymore.  That, however, doesn’t mean that this is still Landon Donovan’s team(It’s not).  It doesn’t mean that Landon is the best chance we have to create opportunities to score against Mexico(Not even close).  It simply means he’s the best option we have and that his game is better suited for Mexico than the previous teams.  For one, Mexico will control the ball more, and Landon is most dangerous on the counter-attack.  Second, he does have a chip on his shoulder after the past week, and he loves to torture Mexico.
  • Which Team has Better Endurance?

Any tournament like this is a test of more than just skill, but also a test of fitness.  Both the United States and Mexico have played a lot of matches over the past few weeks.  Two interesting differences exist, however.  For the first two weeks, Mexico only had a roster of 17 players as a result of its doping scandal.  A possible result of this is extended playing time for the core players, resulting in a bit more fatigue.  Second, Mexico’s semifinal match went into overtime.  Luckily for them, they scored twice early in the first extra time period.  Still, the extra 30 minutes on the field could make a difference.  It will be interesting to watch which team has sharper passing and more energetic movement early on in the match.

  • Can we Knock Javier Around?

There are a lot of things our defense has done well in this tournament(notably 3 shutouts in a row), but we are about to face our biggest challenge.  It’s a rivalry game.  He’s the best player on the turf.  He’s also still 23 years old and playing in his first tournament final since joining the Mexican national team.  It’s important that we frustrate him early and not give him a lot of easy chances.  The best way to do that, in my opinion? Beat him up.  It’s likely that Chicharito won’t be shut out in this game.  In fact, it’s my opinion that we need to score at least two goals to win this game.  It’s important to frustrate him early and limit him to just one goal or assist in order to win this game.  If he gets going early, this could get ugly.
  • Once Again, Bob’s Substitutions Will Be Huge

His starting lineups have been inconsistent, but Bob Bradley has been spot on with his adjustments after the halftime period in this tournament.  The question is, who will be the difference in this game?  I will offer two names, both in the midfield.  Maurice Edu and Freddy Adu.  We saw on Wednesday what Freddy is capable of doing to our offense, which has a tendency to get cluttered in the middle of the field.  His vision and ball skills can open up the entire field for our team.  Maurice Edu, however is more likely to make a huge impact.  Why? Two reasons.  One, he is extremely well rested, something the other members of our midfield cannot claim.  Second, Mo has made a habit of scoring extremely clutch goals both for his club, Glasglow Rangers and the USMNT(see Koman Coulibaly).  This could be another chance for him to make his mark as a substitute.


This rivalry is probably as balanced right now as it has been since the US destroyed Mexico in the 2002 World Cup round of 16.  The young talent is clear and evident on the side of the Mexicans, though the United States have proven to be spirited as usually and have brought some fresh blood of their own.  I expect this to be a high scoring affair, different than most recent US matches, with Chicharito scoring once and Giovani Dos Santos providing the other for the Mexican side.  This will be Juan Agudelo’s coming out party, as he will score early for the Yanks and then follow that up by setting up Michael Bradley to send the game to extra time.  In extra time, I look to our team’s best player, Clint Dempsey….our new leader, to put a header in off of a corner to give the US a 3-2 win and return trip to the Confederations Cup.  The difference will the slightly more rested legs of the US team as well as the fact that the game is played on US soil.

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