“I thought we dominated them through the middle. DaMarcus [Beasley] and Clint [Dempsey] did a great job tucking in and helping and working. Michael [Bradley] and Sacha [Kljestan] were excellent and Mexico had no where to go. Any loose ball we seemed to pick up. We were on top of them, anticipating well, and they didn’t really have an answer.”
Landon Donovan loves to play against Mexico. Growing up in southern California, Donovan understands better than any American player the culture of Mexican Football. Part of the reason the Mexican press and Mexican fans spend so much time discussing Donovan is that they understand him so well: When I have attended US matches as a member of the media, Donovan has spent as much time giving interviews in Spanish as in English. Even to the US based Spanish Language media, the emphasis in football terms is usually on Mexico: this is something Donovan thrives on.
For the first time in his long career, Donovan has been justifiably able to claim that the US “dominated” Mexico in a match. While the US has continued to regularly defeat Mexico, most of the matches have featured more Mexican possession and better chances for El Tri to score goals. Wednesday night’s match on the other hand was a complete humiliation in footballing terms for Mexico. If this was an isolated incident or a one game situation that would acceptable to many, but the reality is Mexico has backslid substantially since the conclusion of Germany 2006.
Donovan also showed remarkable patience in the attack. Holding the ball up, and eager to maintain possession rather than the typical US trait of going forward and being dispossessed in the final third.
“It wasn’t the best start and they had a good chance early. We got a lot more comfortable though and started putting pressure on them. We had a few chances and obviously the goal changed things. In the second half we knew that if we were solid and patient that they would open up and we’d have a chance to get the second.”
Patience and maturity have not always been a trademark of Landon Donovan or the United States. But now as the nation grows in football playing terms, understanding of the game and how to finish off a wounded opponent have developed.
Whenever good things happen for the U.S., Landon Donovan is in the middle. That should be no surprise to anyone.