Final, 2-0 USA: It’s party time in Columbus and all over the U.S., as the Americans have beaten Mexico by a score of “Dos a Cero” to take a huge step toward qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Honduras leads Panama 1-0 at halftime. If Panama does not win, the U.S. will book its place in Brazil.
Second-half goals by Eddie Johnson and Donovan earned the U.S. a hard-fought victory. It was the fourth consecutive time the Americans have beaten Mexico in a home World Cup qualifier by a 2-0 scoreline. All of them took place in Columbus.
After a lackluster first half, the U.S. exploded with energy in the second. Johnson scored early and the Americans took control of the game. Donovan’s goal sealed the result and gave U.S. fans fodder for four more years of trash talk for their Mexican rivals.
The U.S. benefited from a well-organized defense. Gonzalez and Goodson were nearly flawless in repelling everything Mexico sent into the box, while Beckerman and Jones clogged up the middle of the field.
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95th minute, 2-0 USA: It’s a penalty for the U.S., and Dempsey misses it.
Maybe the 2-0 scoreline was “meant to be.”
89th minute, 2-0 USA: We have to think that former Mexico head coach “Chepo” de La Torre is somewhere telling someone “I told you so.”
Mexico has lacked any sort of fluency or authority for most of the game. The visitors started out well for the first ten or 15 minutes, but they simply could not find any way over, around or through the U.S. wall of defense for the next 80 minutes.
In his last press conference as manager, “Chepo’s” told the media that the loss to Honduras was the players’ fault. It was refreshingly honest and forthright. Judging by Mexico’s performance in its last two games, he’s probably right.
86th minute, 2-0 USA: Here’s a GIF of Donovan’s goal, courtesy of SB Nation.
84th minute, 2-0 USA: Zusi comes on for Bedoya, looking to help the U.S. close this one out.
78th minute, 2-0 USA: Donovan scores to make it “dos a cero” for the Americans.
Diskerud slides his cross across the face of goal, and Corona fails to get a touch on it. Donovan gratefully taps it in to double the Americans’ lead.
75th minute, 1-0 USA: Diskerud comes on for Johnson, who received a deserved ovation for his hard work and goal.
Dempsey will probably move into the striker position.
70th minute, 1-0 USA: Honduras has taken a 1-0 lead in its qualifier against Panama.
If these scores hold, the U.S. will qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
69th minute, 1-0 USA: Mexico is bringing on more firepower, as Peralta is coming on in place of Arce.
62nd minute, 1-0 USA: As Johnson jumped to challenge for a header, his teammate and good friend Dempsey undercut him, causing him to fall on his upper back.
Johannsson is warming up in case he has to replace the goal scorer.
58th minute, 1-0 USA: Here’s a GIF of Johnson’s goal, courtesy of SB Nation.
55th minute, 1-0 USA: Herrera is coming on for Gimenez.
49th minute, 1-0 USA: Eddie Johnson heads Donovan’s corner past Corona to open the scoring.
The Mexican goalkeeper came off his line but failed to make contact with Donovan’s set piece.
Johnson’s leaping ability saw him rise above Gonzalez and a Mexican defender to reach the ball first.
46th minute, 0-0: Parkhurst has come on for Fabian Johnson to start the second half. He doesn’t get forward as well as Johnson but he should do a better job of combining with Bedoya on the right.
Johnson reportedly strained his left hamstring.
Halftime: Quality, tension, drama, major flashpoints. This game has lacked all of them so far.
It was 84 degrees at kickoff, which is probably why the game was played at such a slow tempo. Both teams are at their best when they make quick combinations in the midfield and final third. That takes a number of players committing to getting forward, and that did not happen in the first half.
Mexico’s front four shouldered the responsibility for attacking, as did the U.S. quartet. Both teams need to attack (and defend) in numbers to produce a worthy spectacle in the second half.
45th minute, 0-0: Bedoya gets the game’s first yellow card after he tackles Gimenez from behind as Mexico was breaking forward.
It was deserved and makes it more likely that Klinsmann will substitute the former BC. Eagle before the game is finished.
44th minute, 0-0: Dos Santos pops near the U.S. area, shoots and draws a good save from Howard.
The U.S. goalkeeper has two good saves in the first half, which should silence any doubts about his place in the lineup that emerged after Friday’s loss to Costa Rica.
43rd minute, 0-0: Fabian Johnson’s bit of showmanship in the far right corner draws applause from fans and pundits alike.
It didn’t lead to anything of substance, but we approve of it anyway.
32nd minute, 0-0: Donovan finds Eddie Johnson with a corner kick at the far post, and the U.S. striker delivers a powerful header on goal.
The shot was low and on target, but Corona made the save. It was the Americans’ best scoring opportunity and showed what Johnson brings to the attack.
His jumping ability adds a dangerous element on set pieces, and his speed, versatility and work rate can cause problems from a number of spots on the field.
24th minute, 0-0: The Americans’ lack of understanding is evident when they have possession in the final third.
Dempsey, Donovan, Johnson and Bedoya have failed to combine and produce an attack which opens up the Mexican defense. It’s no surprise, as this is the first time they have played in the same starting lineup together.
Quick counter-attacks could give the U.S. a chance to stretch Mexico’s defense and create genuine scoring opportunities.
19th minute, 0-0: Jimenez tests Howard with a curling drive to the far post, and the American goalkeeper is up to the task.
Howard’s diving save preserves the shutout.
17th minute, 0-0: Beckerman hacked down Guardado in the midfield but somehow escaped the referee’s book. It’s unlikely he’ll get away with too many of those tackles.
11th minute, 0-0: Dempsey shoots well wide from distance for the Americans’ first scoring chance (it wasn’t much of one).
Mexico has had the better of play over the first ten minutes, stringing more passes together and putting the U.S. defense under pressure.
When the U.S. gains possession it has been too slow in transition to test its focused and organized opponents.
Fourth minute, 0-0: Fabian Johnson’s right foot has let him down two times early on. He sliced a cross into the stands while attacking a minute ago and mis-kicked a clearance in defense, which resulted in a Mexico corner kick.
Pregame: U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann re-jigged his back line, slotting Goodson alongside Gonzalez in the middle and moving Fabian Johnson from the left midfield position he played against Costa Rica to right back.
Beckerman and Bedoya come into a reconfigured midfield, and Eddie Johnson moves from the substitutes’ bench to the starting 11.
The creative burden will fall on Donovan and Dempsey, who briefly appeared to click during the second half against Costa Rica. They may line up as midfielders, but expect to see them rotate between the forwards and attacking midfield positions with Johnson.
Guardado and Hernandez return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench against Honduras. They, along with Dos Santos, were instrumental in Mexico’s 4-2 demolition of the U.S. in the 2011 Gold Cup final.
President Obama reportedly delivered a message on the stadium video board in which he mentioned beating Mexico. It drew a huge cheer.
7:30 p.m.: Here are the lineups:
Tim Howard, goalkeeper
DaMarcus Beasley, left back
Omar Gonzalez, center back
Clarence Goodson, center back
Fabian Johnson, right back
Kyle Beckerman, midfielder
Jermain Jones, midfielder
Alejandro Bedoya, midfielder
Landon Donovan, forward
Clint Dempsey, forward
Eddie Johnson, forward
Brad Guzan, goalkeeper
Nick Rimando, goalkeepr
Michael Parkhurst, defender
Edgar Castillo, defender
Michael Orozco, defender
Joe Corona, midfielder
Mikkel Diskerud, midfielder
Jose Torres, midfielder
Brad Davis, midfielder
Graham Zusi, midfielder
Aron Johannsson, striker
Jose de Jesus Corona, goalkeeper
Carlos Salcido, left back
Diego Reyes, center back
Hector Moreno, center back
Hiram Mier, right back
Fernando Arce, midfielder
Christian Gimenez, midfielder
Jesus Zavala, midfielder
Andres Guardado, forward
Giovanni dos Santos, forward
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez
Jonathan Orozco, goalkeeper
Alfredo Talavera, goalkeeper
Francisco Rodriguez, defender
Severo Meza, defender
Jorge Tores Nilo, defender
Angel Reyna, midfielder
Javier Aquino, midfielder
Hector Herrera, midfielder
Damian Alvarez, midfieler
Oribe Peralta, striker
Raul Jimenez, striker
4:30 p.m. ET: The day has finally come.
The men’s national soccer teams of the United States and Mexico face each other in Columbus, Ohio, with much more than bragging rights at stake. Both CONCACAF giants are looking to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The U.S. will come within a point of sealing its place in Brazil with a victory. Mexico, needing a late charge up the hexagonal standings, will see Tuesday’s game as a perfect place to start its surge.
Both teams lost their previous game (the U.S. fell in Costa Rica, and Mexico lost at home to Honduras), but the results had dramatically different consequences. The Americans shook off their defeat in Costa Rica and looked ahead to the looming Mexican challenge. Mexico fired its coach, “Chepo” de la Torre and replaced him with Luis Fernando Tena — the man who led Mexico to Olympic Gold in 2012. “Stay the course” is the mantra coming out of the U.S. camp, while it’s the dawn of a new era for El Tri.
The U.S. will be without four starters. Midfield conductor Michael Bradley sprained his ankle during the warm-up before the Costa Rica game on Friday. Matt Besler, Jozy Altidore and Geoff Cameron are suspended. Meanwhile, Mexico will be without its midfield lynchpin Gerardo Torrado (suspension), but it’s likely that the change of leadership will have a rejuvenating effect on the rest of Tena’s group.
The U.S. will count on its vocal home support to help continue its impressive streak of not having lost a home World Cup qualifier in 12 years (a 25-game unbeaten run). In March, the U.S. and Mexico played a scoreless draw at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Should either team win on Tuesday, it can rightfully call itself the top team in the region less than a year before the World Cup.
Join us right here 7:30 p.m. for all the action between U.S.A. and Mexico.
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Photo via Facebook/U.S. Soccer
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