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US Gains Massive Three Points and Mexico Escapes (Updated w/ Player Ratings and Comments)

Photo from Reuters

Mexico was fortunate to escape with a 2-1 win at Azteca tonight over a Honduran side filled with quality. Honduras played some quality football and was unfortunate not to secure at minimum a point as Mexico despite being out thought and flustered much of the night used two Pavel Pardo goals in a three minute span late in the match to escape. Controversy surrounded the winning goal as it appeared Cuauhtemoc Blanco appeared to be offsides and obstruct the goalkeeper. However the goal stood and Mexico triumphed. Despite the win Sven Gorn Eriksson’s side has lots of work to do to improve on what was a poor performance.

Mexico’s two Premier League based attacking players, Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Vela were outclassed and over their head in such a big setting. Eriksson would be wise to recall Jared Borgetti for the next set of qualifiers. With Jamaica’s draw in Toronto against Canada, The reggae boys must be considered in the drivers seat to claim second spot and a ticket to the hexagonal from the CONCACAF Group of Death. Long time MLS midfielder Andy Williams, one of the true gentlemen of the league scored Jamaica’s lone goal to secure the 1-1 draw.

Bob Bradley’s US side on the other hand played the perfect tactical match in a hostile road environment and escaped with three points. The Americans never really lost their shape and the two center backs, Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra were outstanding. Brian Ching validated his selection with a fine performance which also makes my questions about his recall from yesterday’s American Soccer Show look silly. Clint Dempsey as has become on the norm for the National Team was poor and appeared to be weary from the long travel after playing Saturday for Fulham. While I question some of the officiating which prior to Steve Cherundolo’s sending off seemed to favor the US at critical moments, nobody can doubt that Bradley and his team had a massive victory tonight.

This win is perhaps the biggest by the United States since World Cup 2002. It is the first US victory in Central America since a 2001 win over Honduras. On the return trip to the US, Honduras defeated the US at RFK Stadium and came within an eyelash of qualifying for Korea/Japan 2002. Guatemala however lacks the quality and composure of that Honduras side. Led by master provocateur Carlos Ruiz, the Guatemalans were quick to the ground and quite unsporting for large portions of the match. As I stated last year, I believe Rico Clark was probably justified in lashing out Ruiz and that his suspension by MLS was unjust. In Ruiz and Blanco, MLS has attracted two of the most unsporting players in this region. Sadly as fans of the beautiful game in the United States we continue to be subjected to the childish and immature behavior of both superstars. Thankfully class footballers like Andy Williams and Eddie Lewis who also featured tonight in qualifying give MLS a good name. Lewis who was seriously injured by a rash Guatemalan challenge is a warrior whose spirit exemplifies the best hybrid of American and British football around.

Trindiad and Tobago defeated Cuba behind the efforts of several current and former US based players. T&T now has a leg up on Guatemala to join the US in the hexagonal out of the group. Cornell Glen who played several years in MLS scored one of the Soca Warriors goals.


Player Ratings for the US

Tim Howard   7

Lost his head literally and figuratively in an exchange with Carlos Ruiz but otherwise a solid effort.

Heath Pearce   5

Got away with a hand ball in the box and was beat often in the first half. Was steadier in the second half

Carlos Bocanegra  9

Outstanding. Glad he’s out of the mess that is Fulham FC! That does wonders for a player’s confidence

Oguchi Onyewu  8

Was excellent in the air and a commanding presence on set pieces going forward

Steve Cherundolo 3

Reckless and silly in one outing. Not what you’d expect from a seven year Bundesliga veteran

Michael Bradley 5

Inconsistent as usual. Spectacular one moment, terrible the next. A typical outing for Bradley

Pablo Mastroeni   5

Reckless and physical as always but seemed to get away with it.

Landon Donovan  5

Never much in the match

Eddie Lewis  6

Made some good runs but service was lacking

Clint Dempsey 2

Time for a long break for the national team for the Deuce

Brian Ching 6

Had an under rated game with good hold up play and some wise decisions. A poor finisher, but we already knew that.

DaMarcus Beasley  7

Bob Bradley 1 Kartik 0. Okay so this is why he gets called in. He knows how to play in these sorts of matches.

Frankie Hejduk   7

At 34, still the best option for the US at right back

Mo Edu   6

Has secured his UK work permit and will be a star for Rangers.

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  1. Pingback: Honduras » Mexico-Honduras, US-Guatemala Live Commentary

  2. football detective

    August 21, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    It’s a good sign that USA can win a tough away game even though they didn’t play their best.

    The officiating sucked – neither team had an advantage there.

    A well earned three points!

  3. Soccer Guru

    August 21, 2008 at 11:30 am

    While I understand Kartik’s sentiment about the result the performance was embarrasing. If we go to Azteca, Saprissa or even Honduras and play like that we’ll lose 2-0 or 3-0. That is the bottom line. Take the three points but appreciate the fact that we were lucky. Besides Pearce’s handball should have been called. I’ve seen it not called before, but it should have been called.

    Bradley got the tactics and team sheet right other than not play Frankie Hedjuk ahead of Dolo but the players were intimidated and did not execute well.

  4. Phillip

    August 21, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Bandeeto… playing in Guatemala, what kind of style were you expecting? It would’ve been foolish for us to really play a style other than what we did as many times they beat us down the flanks with ease

    Here’s a picture for Ives blog of Eddie Lewis post match…

  5. bandeeto

    August 21, 2008 at 3:17 am

    And even when Donovan did run with the ball he was stripped easily. Poor performance by Donovan.

    This game was a yawner. Our performance at the Olympics were MUCH more entertaining, and seemed of a much higher quality. Overall anyway. How many goals from the run of play is it now?

    I won’t be paying to watch the USMNT in person untill they play a style worth paying to watch. Till then, I’ll support them over the TV.

    Boring, boring game.

  6. kartik

    August 21, 2008 at 2:16 am

    Dempsey has been poor with few exceptions for a year now with the national team. Pearce had a rough night but hopefully if Eddie recovers he can be put at left back if Pearce continues to struggle. As far as Donovan his performance was fine for where he was playing and what we were trying to do. Dolo? An awful outing. Simply awful. Frankie is still the men at 34 for that job.

  7. Phillip

    August 21, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Dempsey, Donovan, Cherundolo, Mastroeni, and Pearce were EXTREMELY poor tonight.

    Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu did more running at Guatemala with the ball at his feet than Landon did.

    What happened to Landon tonight?

  8. JustinR

    August 21, 2008 at 1:03 am

    My first thoughts are to Eddie Lewis, I hope that he is ok. Kartik, please update Eddie’s condition on the Friday American Soccer show. I know everyone wants to bash Bob Bradley, but we got the win. I think Harkes said it best “The U.S. win a street fight in Guatemala”. That was a very physical game and we pulled through.

  9. Joseph T.

    August 21, 2008 at 12:54 am

    John Harris is a disgrace but Kartik seriously when Guatemala was dominating us you kept pointing out how good our shape was and how well we were defending and even at halftime you talked about how well the US was playing.

    Were you watching the same game I was where Guatemala a player who has only one guy in Europe created chance after chance after chance?

  10. John Harris

    August 21, 2008 at 12:51 am

    Great people. You are all celebrating a win against Guatemala, and Kartik the fact that you would call a win against Guatemala the biggest win since 2002 tells us all we need to know about the lack of quality of the US and why they are best ignored.

    England drew with the Czechs. What did the US do the last time they played the Czechs? Would the US even win a match in UEFA?

  11. Phillip

    August 21, 2008 at 12:39 am

    I hope Eddie Lewis is okay. That was such a vicious elbow/forearm to his face.

  12. Ric

    August 21, 2008 at 12:36 am

    John Harris said: “Why don’t you advertise that more openly and say that this is a site for Americans to bash everyone else.”

    Advertise that this is a pro-American site? Who would have thought the “American Soccer Spot” would be pro-American? I certainly wouldn’t…

    and let’s be fair, this isn’t a site where “Americans bash everyone else.” Truth be told, I think Kartik is usually too harsh (or if not harsh, just wrong) about the US and MLS, but your seriously delusional if you think this is just a pro-American, anti-everyone else site.

  13. abenco

    August 21, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Actually, I fell asleep watching England again the Czechs this morning.

  14. kartik

    August 21, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Ric, don’t pay any attention to John Harris. He’s clearly a total fool.

    Anyone who would say England who are totally unwatchable are some how exciting enough to sell this country on Football is drinking too much of the Times or FSC Kool Aid.

    Our colleague michael james has a great site on England which is linked from the right side. Go there to discuss the virtues of English Football. If you don’t like this site or pro US commentary, DON’T COME HERE. I actually also contribute to a site that covers British football, but this site is connected to a show about American Soccer. You know what the advice I gave Ric I’m taking myself. I’m need not explain anything more to John Harris.

  15. John Harris

    August 21, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I’m American but as always when I try and watch the US they put me to sleep. England on the other hand plays the way that would sell this country on the game. I’m relieved you admit your biased. Why don’t you advertise that more openly and say that this is a site for Americans to bash everyone else.

  16. Ric

    August 21, 2008 at 12:25 am

    John Harris said:
    “The official was exceedingly biased towards the US I agree but in order to placate the masses you claim he was pro Guatemala at the end after he had blown that offsides call and the penalty call and the advantage call.”

    …and after Ruiz kicked Howard in the head and Howard got the card…

  17. kartik

    August 21, 2008 at 12:24 am

    John Harris,

    Are you British or American? I mean this is a pro-US site. We don’t claim to be anything otherwise. The British media is SO biased towards England and anything EPL related it’s sick.

  18. kartik

    August 21, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Dempsey scored once in 2008 for Fulham after scoring a bunch early in the year. He’s looked tired and quite frankly disinterested for many of his recent call ups including tonight. I called Ching a stale pick also but tonight he was outstanding, probably the best non defender for the US.

  19. Phillip

    August 21, 2008 at 12:23 am

    Ruiz should’ve been sent off 3 different times.

  20. Ric

    August 21, 2008 at 12:21 am

    So the guy who lead his EPL team in goals last year is a “stale” pick. Interesting….

  21. John Harris

    August 21, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Your bias is amazing kartik. As guatemala was dominating the game you kept talking about how good the US shape was and how well positioned their players were.

    I did not see the Mexico game but obviously you were in the tank for Honduras as much as you claim the ref was in the tank for Mexico.

    Oh we do agree on one thing. That Pearce handball was a clear penalty. That call is made 7 times out of 10, especially in that situation. The official was exceedingly biased towards the US I agree but in order to placate the masses you claim he was pro Guatemala at the end after he had blown that offsides call and the penalty call and the advantage call.

    If I want running commentary, I’ll turn to a British site next time since unlike you they can objectively cover their team and even be self deprecating at times.

  22. Jeff H

    August 21, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Abenco: I won’t disagree on the convincing part, but consider that the US has NEVER beaten Guatemala in Guatemala in a World Cup Qualifier. Getting the win period is a step up from the norm.

  23. abenco

    August 21, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Come on. Yeah they won but they didn’t win convincingly. Guatemala held the ball more, attacked more. If they weren’t such a dirty team they might have won. The US has a long way to go to be taken seriously. And the first thing to do is get Adu in there.

  24. kartik

    August 21, 2008 at 12:13 am

    Frankie isn’t stale because he’s gone long periods without being picked. I mean a year between WC 2006 and GC 2007 and again a year between GC 2007 and the England game in 2008. “Stale” picks are guys like Beasley and Dempsey who don’t have to earn their place and automatically get picked for every friendly and qualifier they are available for.

  25. Jeff H

    August 21, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Fantastic. Really amazing effort their by the back line of the US to keep the Guatemalans from getting into the net. Big result to be building off of here.

  26. Ric

    August 21, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Really? Frankie? But isn’t he just another stale pick?

  27. Jeff H

    August 21, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Well, I’ll say it: what a night. Regardless of what happens now, this is going to be a match to talk about for a long time to come.

    Agreed on the ref’s inconsistancy, but the players are doing no favors either. Hopefully this isn’t the beginning of a trend.

  28. kartik

    August 20, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    Ric, I’d have started Frankie, but then again as everyone knows I’d always start Frankie and Eddie Lewis!

  29. Ric

    August 20, 2008 at 11:49 pm

    So Kartik, in your expert opinion, who exactly should be starting over ‘Dolo in the most important match of the round?

  30. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Match update-

    64th minute: Costa Rica 1 El Salvador 0

  31. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 11:44 pm


    But fantastic job taking advantage of it by Bocanegra. After all is said and done, the US is set to escape with 3. Unreal.

  32. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Guatemala blasting a million shots going in a billion directions, and none of them on goal… so far. If this night ends 0-0, I’d say it’s fair.

    OH CRAP.

  33. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    If I were Bradley (having just seen that near fumble), I’d be telling my strikers to fire away at the goal. Something tells me he will give it up at some point.

  34. Phillip

    August 20, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Ruiz picks up his 8th foul of the match in the first half.


  35. eplnfl

    August 20, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Just as I said if you have early chances and miss them you will be in trouble and it looks like it now

  36. Phillip

    August 20, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Landon’s got to have a better first touch.

  37. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Oh man. I’m glad that handball wasn’t called (and I don’t think it should have), but I agree with Harkes: that could have been called rather easily.

  38. Phillip

    August 20, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Where was the foul when the Guatemalan player threw Heath Pearce into the boards surrounding the field?

    Where is the yellow for Carlos Ruiz’s 5th foul of the match?

  39. eplnfl

    August 20, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    USA looked good early, but failure to score a real problem after 30 mins of play, USA needs to take control with a score

  40. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    And now it’s all on ESPN 2. It started there a couple of minutes ago, and now Classic has said good bye.

  41. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    FULL TIME: Trinidad & Tobago 3, Cuba 1.

    And if the FIFA matchcast website is to be believed (no way to prove this yet), ESPN’s broadcast is 5 minutes behind where we actually are in the match. Not sure about this obviously, but we’ll see.

  42. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    T&T now 3 up on Cuba with just extra time to go (from FIFA website).

  43. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    And is it just me, or does it look rather dark in that stadium in Guatemala? The lights seem rather low for a match about to start.

  44. Jeff H

    August 20, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    It is also on ESPN Classic right now in the run over. Interestingly, we have no commentators coming out of the first commercial break, but they were there in the opening.

  45. Phillip

    August 20, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    It’s 4-0 in Houston right now… they are destroying Chivas.

  46. Phillip

    August 20, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Doesn’t look like a very good crowd at Azteca.

  47. Phillip

    August 20, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    I don’t know where else to post this…

    Dave Denholm is an idiot.

  48. Pingback: Honduras » Honduras Team Illuminar

  49. kartik

    August 20, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Commentary thread moved from the front page:

    Mexico hosts Honduras at Estadio Azteca. Sven Goran Eriksson has made brash statements the last few days regarding the possible rebirth of Mexican hegemony over CONCACAF. Sven, we’re not buying it just yet but a win in tonight’s match will be a big step for El Tri to restore some lost luster.

    Mexico starts with Gio Dos Santos and Carlos Vela up front. David Suazo is starting up front for Honduras as a lone striker playing right in front of Amado Guevara.

    In the first minute Andreas Guardado serves up a dangerous ball but Honduras clears it, just barely. Honduras has come out in a 4-5-1. The idea is to save energy and soak up pressure early.

    25 minutes into the match and Honduras keeping its shape well and seemingly has withstood the early Mexican attack.

    Mexico has had some decent chances but their performance has been in no way overwhelming thus far.

    GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Honduras!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Julio Cesar Leon.

    Minute 40: Mexico is wilting under the physical pressure of Honduras. El Tri looks flustered but continues to have the better of the play.

    Rafael Marquez hits the post on a great corner by Pavel Pardo in first half stoppage time.

    Halftime: Mexico 0 Honduras 1

    Full time: Canada 1 Jamaica 1

    US Lineup for tonight:

    Cherundolo———Onyewu——Bocanegra (c)——Pearce

    The match is on Galavision as ESPN 2 has a baseball game that has run overtime.

    Mexico-Honduras has restarted. Trinidad and Tobago has taken a 2-0 lead on Cuba in minute 61.

    The US game has been moved until the baseball game ends to ESPN Classic. Personally I am sticking to Galavision. I know they’ll take me start to finish and not ask me to change channels sometime in the middle.

    Minute 52 at Azteca and Mexico is showing little of what Sven’s “green revolution” promised.

    Franco will be coming in for Mexico likely for either Vela or Dos Santos both of whom have looked way over their heads thus far tonight.

    Thanks Jeffy for the update: T&T up 3-0.

    The US wastes a golden set piece opportunity in minute two.

    GREAT SAVE by Osvaldo Sanchez to keep Mexico alive for all three points at Azteca.

    Honduras is coming closer than I expected to scoring again. Mexico looks totally flustered. I still expect an equalizer but a draw is more or less a win for Honduras

    Why is Bob Bradley continuing to use Clint Dempsey as a striker?

    The US is holding up well through 12 minutes. The organization is good and the spacing outstanding as well.

    Steve Cherundolo is a veteran: you cannot pick up a dumb yellow like that qualifying.


    Landon Donovan plays a decent ball to Eddie Lewis but truthfully he could have done better in minute 19.


    Ramirez just went to ground, and quite honestly, Dempsey is lucky not to be sent off. You cannot lose your composure like that on the road in qualifying. Yellows to both Ramirez and Dempsey.

    The justification for taking such a veteran team to Guatemala City was to avoid silly immature plays like what we’ve seen from Cherundolo and Dempsey resulting in yellows. Hopefully that’ll be the end of it.

    Mastroeni as always picks up a yellow. Three bookings in 34 minutes for the US.

    The Mexico game has gone final. I’m sure all the El Tri supporters will be boasting about this result, but you folks have big problems and Sven isn’t anywhere close to solving it. Besides, Honduras really looked lively and until the sending off and controversial goal looked in the control of the match.

    Guatemala has a penalty shout and it’s legitimate. Should have been a PK for sure as the ball went off Heath Pearce’s arm. Again on the road you have to expect that call.

    The referee is really bailing out the US here. As biased as the official was in this corresponding fixture eight years ago where every call went Guatemala’s way, that should have been a PK and Mastro reckless as ever should have been sent off for a second yellow.

    The US has done the job here in the first half to get out nill nill. Not pretty but effective. Now we need to close the deal in the second half.

    Surprisingly Bradley leaves Mastro on at halftime.

    Good defending by the US on the Guatemala break. Carlos Bocanegra remained in perfect position as he’s been all night.

    The US is keeping its shape well, and just played a nice offsides trap. On second look it wasn’t a good offsides trap, he was onsides!

    “Loco” Rodriguez is running the US ragged right now but still no breakthrough for Guatemala.

    As I implied before I think this official is being extremely favorable to the US especially considering this game is in Guatemala City.

    Steve Cherdundolo and all his veteran experience has been sent off. I’m glad we didn’t want to take a chance with young players in this match. The veterans have shown little composure other than Brian Ching who impressed me by not allowing the Guatemalan players to bait him on numerous occasions.

    It is about time the official made a decent call in this match. Honestly the US has to this point gotten just about every critical call go there way.

    Eddie Lewis is taken down, in what appears to be a very serious injury.


    In a 10 v 10 match Guatemala looks desperate. I think the US will score again or Guatemala will have another player sent off.

    Okay now the official has changed sides. He simply hasn’t been fair to either team as now two reckless Guatemala challenges have gone unpunished with a booking. One should have been straight red.

    SEND RUIZ OFF! This official, Enrico Wijngaarde has been so off the mark in his calls, both favoring the US in the first half in not sending off Mastroeni after a reckless rash, cleats up challenge when he was carrying a yellow and now not sending off Ruiz or Marquez after equally reckless and unsporting challenges.

    On a night where Mexico essentially stole two points CONCACAF officials are once again doing little to distinguish themselves. However if this result holds, it’s a GREAT scoreline for the US. The best result ina competitive match quite possibly since beating Mexico 2-0 in World Cup 2002.

    Okay as is typical in a Central American qualifier any minute the lights will go out or someone will storm the pitch or more likely the referee will award Guatemala a pk.

    If the US hangs on here, Bob Bradley will have done something Bruce Arena NEVER did. Win a qualifier in Central America.


    The subplot of the night has been the poor officiating both in Mexico City and in Guatemala City. What else would you expect from CONCACAF?

    American Soccer Spot Man of the Match: Carlos Bocanegra

    Honorable Mention: Brian Ching, Oguchi Onyewu

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