Wednesday, February 07, 2007

US-Mexico Preview

USA vs Mexico
8pm ET (8:25 kickoff)
ESPN2, Matchtracker

So what to expect from Phoenix? Probably a whole lot of excitement to start the match, after that, not so sure.

Mexico and new coach Hugo Sanchez want a win bad and have been smack talking too much to not give more then everything to the game. They will come out looking for an early goal or a chance to get Mastroeni and/or Bocanegra in early card trouble. The sellout crowd will be at their backs and the US will probably open a little stale.

If they can find the net in the first 15-minutes, it will be a long night for the US. However, if they are held or if the US takes the game to the Mexican half of the pitch early, the odds shift to the American side of things.

The backline for the US should be solid with Bornstein and Albright out wide and Bocanegra and Conrad holding down the center. This should give Bornstein the space and support needed to slow the attack and feed the ball to Mastroneni.

From there the red, white and blue will look to Convey and Dempsey to take the ball up, but what after that? Will it be Donovan and Johnson upfront? Neither has had much form of late. Johnson has speed, but his touch is off, so it does little. Donovan can be so much, but has not realized it in much too long. Maybe put Twellman instead of Johnson, but his international experience is lacking and the recent injury will not help that. That leaves Rolfe. He's not as fast as Johnson, but he has good instincts and should cause a few worries for Mexico.

That said, I would be very surprised if the first goal came from an American forward. Actually, I would be surprised if it came from anything but a deadball. Mexico still has trouble defending against corner and freekicks near goal so if Donovan can get one in a good spot, there is a great chance for a finish by Dempsey, Albright, Convey or someone else.

That said, the US has had some trouble marking players on deadballs as well. I would not be surprised to see each team get a goal off a freekick.

Where the US should be able to exploit Mexico is the start of the second half. It seems that the US always comes out of the locker room with at least a few good minutes (at least under Bruce Arena) while Mexico often restarts soft. If an early second half goal happens, it will make for a great next 20-minutes.

In the end, I don't see either side shining so bright. There will be a few memorable moments, but around the 70-minute mark, things will be dying down (although I would love to be wrong about this).

Prediction
US 1-1 Mexico

Guess at US starting lineup:
For - Johnson, Donovan
Mid - Convey, Mastroeni, Clark, Dempsey
Def - Bornstein, Bocanegra, Conrad, Albright
GK - Howard

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2 Comments:

Anonymous JKO said...

Please tell me you mean:

USA vs Mexico
9pm ET (9:25 kickoff)
ESPN2, Matchtracker

Otherwise I'm going to miss the first half!

3:07 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:38 PM  

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