Now admittedly, some freakish, borderline-Biblical storm activity forced me to miss the opening 27 minutes, which may have been awful watching for all I know, but the rest of the match was pretty entertaining stuff until it petered out about 10-15 minutes from the final whistle as both sides ran out of steam and ideas. Some random thoughts that went pinging through my overtaxed noggin . . .
- We need possession, some sweet possession - Mexico dominated possession and won the middle third easily. They're a more technical side, true, but the US needs to do better and not let those forwards get detached from the two deep-lying central midfielders. This may be one of those cases where Bob needs to be making adjustments when things aren't going so well--either pull Dempsey a little deeper or push him wide right and get Donovan inside to provide both a shorter passing outlet and some pressure on the Mexican midfield when they first get possession.
- Where have you gone, Landon Donovan? - I was ready to bite my tongue a bit regarding Captain Kissypants after he looked pretty good on the right side of midfield for the US--pressuring defenders, actually deigning to use some of that vaunted pace and ability to run at them a bit, and generally looking like he came to play. But that was just the first half. Where, oh where, was he in the second? I think we have another case of tactical failure here. The Mexicans identified a threat and took steps to neutralize it, and the US utterly failed to adapt. That said, I don't think Donovan needs to be the focus anymore . . .
- Deuce, feed Deuce, kick it to Dempsey's boots - Dempsey looked confident, quick, and ready to take chances. To be fair, he's always been one of the only American players willing to dare the latter, and as such, is one of my favorite American players to watch. Had he not been fractionally offside on his "goal", that would have been one of the better individual US netters in a long while--good control on the ball over the top, beats two defenders on what was, tantalizingly, almost a Blanco bunny-hop (good God, but that would have sweet!), jukes a third, and tucks the ball in the corner from the edge of the box. I really don't think the Mexicans would have recovered after going down 3-1--you could see it on Ochoa's shell-shocked face. Things would have devolved into a miserable hack-fest. As it was . . .
- Then it turned out, they had a touch of class - For all of the passion and moments of bitterness and brutality on display during the match, it almost brought a tear to my eye to see the exchanges after the final whistle. Márquez--never a contender for Miss Congeniality or Humanitarian of the Year--exchanging smiles and pleasantries with Altidore after they had banged away on each other for 90 minutes. Jonny Magallón, fresh off smoking the hapless Drew Moor for two goals, giving a post-game interview to ESPN with a swapped (hideous) US jersey on. Just a general decent mood in the place, and two sides congratulating each other on a battle well-fought. Now, we'll never know how our amigos en verde would have reacted after a loss, but that was a step in the right direction--a rivalry, yes, but a rivalry founded on mutual respect for the opposition.
- Fullbacks in a coma, I know, I know, it's serious - Ugh. Now, Drew Moor's cross to Altidore was one of the better crosses I've seen from a US in player in a long time, but his marking on set plays was just atrocious. On the other side, I'm still not sure what the hell Corrales is doing in a US jersey again. Whatever--we've got other options who were either injured, not released for the game, or just plain unused. What we do know is that Corrales is not an option against big-time opposition, and Drew Moor isn't either--yet. I still hold out some hope that Moor can grow into the role. His distribution is pretty good, he can cross, and he proved that his excellent moments at Copa America were not a fluke. But, he's not quite seasoned on the defensive side and he might not have the pace to really hack it at international level. Still, he's only just turned 24, so the best years are yet to come if he can learn to mark up a little more soundly.
So that about wraps up my thoughts on what was a pretty good edition of El Clásico Norteamericano. I'm sure I've left out something, so I'll stick in addenda as they cross my weary mind. In the meantime, bonus points for the first commenter to correctly identify the dated lyrics that I so horribly abused in the bulleted points above.