Javier Aguirre took a chance on Miguel Sabah. Former Coaches Sven Goran Eriksson, Ricardo LaVolpe and Hugo Sanchez all hardly rated him – it paid off big time today with a game winning goal. Sabah, who struggled at Guadalajara as a youngster had never been capped for Mexico at any level until he was 28. An amazing story, indeed: from Chivas washout to national hero.
Charlie Davies’ early goal gave the US an un-expected lead, but after that the American shape collapsed and defending was at times shambolic. Yet, Mexico left it late but did get the result they needed.
After Davies’ brilliant goal, the US continued to look organized and in control until Israel Castro scored what can be described fairly as a fluke goal with a blast from outside the area that rattled the post and went in. But from that point forward, the US stopped playing football until halftime. Gio Dos Santos, surplus to requirements at Spurs in the EPL ran circles around the US defenders and El Tri could have felt hard done not to get a second goal.
Early in the second half, the US settled back in and fought competitively with Mexico for 10-15 minutes. But then Javier Aguirre rolled the dice and came up big.
Aguirre’s subs changed the game totally. Not just Sabah the goal scorer, but Nery Castillo was a pest even though he arguably should have been sent off. Carlos Vela was also good. Bob Bradley’s subs, on the other hand failed to change the flow of the game, and conspicuously absent was Jonathan Spector who without question, would have performed better than Steve Cherdundolo on the right side of defense.
The officiating, while far from perfect did not affect the game except for the incident which should have seen Nery Castillo sent off for grabbing Charlie Davies in a way that could have caused injury. But on actual foul calls, the official was about as good as you will get from a CONCACAF official at Azteca. While that means he wasn’t very good, it also means he wasn’t as bad a most officials for EL Tri games in Mexico.
The result was well deserved. While the Mexicans left it late, three points for El Tri was the only fair result.
Steve Sampson remains the only USA coach to get a point in Mexico City.
Ochoa 6, Juarez 7, Magallon 6, Osorio 7, Salcido 5, Castro 7, Torrado 7, Guardado 5, Blanco 8, Dos Santos 8, Franco 5, Vela 7, Castillo 7, Sabah 8
Howard 7, Cherundolo 4, DeMerit 4, Onyewu 6, Bocanegra 4, Donovan 5, Clark 4, Bradley 6, Dempsey 5, Ching 4, Davies 7, Holden 6, Feilhaber 4, Altidore 4
Post-match podcast later.