What an amazing night down at the Estadio Azteca for the Stars and Stripes. Even though there wasn’t a magical goal that brought the entire stadium crumbling down you can definitely say that cracks in the armor on the greatest home field advantage on the planet are beginning to show.
After a terrible second half down in Honduras in February and the article by Brian Straus in the Sporting News before these last two qualifiers, many were thinking that the USA’s precious record of qualifying for consecutive World Cup’s were about to come to a close.
But when you think about it, everything seemed to come together when the blizzard of Commerce City came to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and a one goal win over Costa Rica started the cohesive process. Then you have the terrible Azteca up next and how they came out of that with a point was fantastic.
What we saw from Omar Gonzalez in these two games was that he was able to shake off that horrible road tilt at San Pedro Sula in Honduras and put on two fantastic defensive games in two different and difficult conditions at home and on the road. The backline was solid and a change that we didn’t know till the end of the game that proves a rookies metal down in Mexico.
Clarence Goodson played very well against Costa Rica, but just finding out that he had a hamstring issue went to Jurgen Klinsmann and told him honestly he wasn’t available for the Azteca. That bit of honesty led to Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler to start this big game and even though he was booked in the 20th minute, it never bothered him and performed very well.
When you are down several big time players for your national team due to injury, you will need those that are considered backups or substitutes off the bench. When you start for your club side in the net, but are considered a back up for the National Team you need to be ready to have your name called and Brad Guzan has done so brilliantly.
While he has never played in a Stadium the size of the Estadio Azteca, Brad Guzan’s positioning and making several big saves proved that he is ready to take over for Tim Howard when he gets a break or when Howard calls it quits on his international career. Taking a hard challenge from Javier Aquino and standing on his feet proved he was ready to play in these big time road games.
Jurgen Klinsmann has proved that he can game plan for these big time games and as of right now, he has a win and a draw at the Estadio Azteca. But the bigger questions will come on the road at Jamaica, Costa Rica and Panama if he can steal a point or the full three.
But after three games in the Hexagonal the big surprise is already glaring. The Mighty El-Tri, the mighty Mexico has earned three points out of nine in their first three games and the media has already passed level of squirming. The Mexican media has started to yell and it’s very loud and looking at the table, they are in 5th place, just ahead of Jamaica but; if it ended all today. No Brazil for Mexico.
Three games down & seven more to go with three games in June coming soon, we shall see what fate has in store for these two sides and who will advance to Brazil, face New Zealand, or stay home.