So wow what a disappointing start to the HEX in a huge loss to Mexico 2-1 in a place where the US had NEVER Loss before Columbus. We were there and the crowd and atmosphere was the same as always for this game – loud and overwhelmingly US – American Outlaw Strong! I waited a few days before penning this late Sunday night – as my initial anger at Klinsmann (the GERMAN) for causing this loss and costing the US our perfect record in Columbus was compromised. His attempt at playing a 3-5-2 line-up against a strong Mexico side was both perplexing and maddening? My biggest question was why now at home in Columbus when the US had been playing so well out of the 4-4-2 for months. Why now with one of your best defenders (Geoff Cameron out on injury). Why now with only 3 maybe 4 days to train the new formation? The 3-5-2 is not something you can train all-stars in half a week? If this is something we had played in a friendly or 2, trained for 2 weeks before COPA or something – maybe. But after 30 minutes of just being dominated all of the field (we should have been down 3-0, instead of just 1-0) we finally switch to a 4-4-2 and wah lah -Everything is back to normal. In fact we dominate the 2nd half of play with chance after chance before finally giving up the winner on a stupid unmarked header (WITH NO ONE ON THE BACK POST???!!!!&&&&????) Why oh why do teams insist on not having a back post player?? Why? What the heck else is the extra player doing that you can’t put one on your blind post? WHYYYYYY??
Anyway back to the game – I thought the US had some good moments and while we didn’t deserve the win after (the German’s) stupid formation change … I truly thought the US did deserve a tie. I thought the young 18 year old Pulisic (7) was at times the best player for the US on the pitch – though he did miss a chance to equalize on a easy first timer at the end of the 1st half. I thought he passed a couple of times when he should have shot. Still you could tell by the way Mexico had 2 sometimes 3 players tracking him that they thought he was the most dangerous play maker on the field. Bobby Woods (8) was a deserving Player of the Match and was the US most dangerous threat to score time and time again. Man he’s just getting better and better. Altidore (6) was ok – I still think he is just too lazy to play for us – but he had some good combination play and a decent pass to free Woods for the goal. (though his losing the mark on Marquez at the end essentially cost us the tie). I thought Jones (5) was rough and tumble in the middle which the US needed to try to thwart the speedy Mexican midfield. I was surprised he went 90 however. Bradley (3) played perhaps his worse game in the US jersey and its beyond obvious at this point that pairing he and Jones as co #6s is not the answer. I am not sure what to do here – pull Bradley and insert Kljestan and employ Jones as a lone #6? Pull Jones for Kljestan and let Bradley be the only #6? Really not sure? While I was excited to see him as a midfielder, I really thought Johnson (4) looked lost most of the night, left wing nothing much happened, moved to right back behind Yedlin – he made a game saving slide on Cheat-Chi-Rito but otherwise was non-descript. Yedlin (4.5) is a right back – leave him there. I thought Timmy Chandler (5) actually had an ok game – though I prefer Yedlin. Beezler (4) was just ok at left back – listen he’s a central defender and simply is not offensive enough to play the left back spot unless you want to just bunker in. I thought Brooks was ok – but not spectacular a (5), Gonzales was ok in the air but man he can’t complete a pass to save his life (3.5). So what’s next for the USA? Well a 4-4-2 obviously has to be the formation as we travel to Costa Rica Tuesday 9 pm on beIN Sport in an all important match. Listen the US has never won at Costa Rica and has only tied once in 9 tries. I think if they can pull of a tie and earn a point that would be an incredible result, but honestly this is a game we should lose on the road. 0-2 to start the hex won’t be great – but it’s a 10 game marathon and the US can still right the ship. We lost 1 game we should have won or at least tied at home and while the perfect dos a cero record vs Mexico, and lifting the shield of invincibility in Columbus lies at the feet of the German, we still should advance thru the hex unless he pulls more idiotic moves.
Moving to the Indy 11 – it was a disappointing loss in a shootout to the NY Cosmos late Sunday night. I thought the 11 played well enough to pull off the win in regulation of what was a fairly even game. Huge shame that game was on CBS Sports Network late on a Sunday night instead of ESPN 2 or ESPNU or something. The 2,000 seat unfilled stadium was a joke and the camera angles for the game on TV even funnier. I have seen high school games covered locally with a better production. If the NASL thinks they deserve to be a Top Flight Soccer league in the US – this was not how to do it. Still what a fantastic season for our Indy 11, coaches Tim Hankinson and Tim Regan and all the players and the entire Indy 11 Organization. Congrats on a Great Season !!
Got some big games coming up this weekend with Man U hosting Arsenal Sat at 7 am on NBCSN, Dortmund and US youngster Christian Pulisic hosting Bayern Munich at 12:30 pm on Fox Sport 2, and the Madrid Derby with Atletico hosting Real Madrid at 2:45 pm on beIN Sport and Sunday AC Milan vs Inter at 2:45 on beIN Sport.
Carmel FC’s U15 Girls – Gold and Blue took home Championship Trophies from the Fall Fusion Classic last weekend. Congrats ladies and Coaches!
GAMES ON TV
Tues, Nov 15
3 pm beIN Sports Bolivia vs Paraguay
6:30 pm beIN Sports Chile vs Uraguay
9 pm BeIN Sport Costa Rica vs USA
Sat, Nov 19
7:30 am NBCSN Man United vs Arsenal
10 am NBCSN Southhampton vs Liverpool
10 am CNBC? Crystal Palace vs Man City
12:30 pm NBCSN Tottenham vs West Ham
Sun, Nov 20
11 am NBCSN Middlesborough vs Chelsea
2:45 pm beIN Sport AC Milan vs Inter
Tues, Nov 22
12 noon Fox Sport 1 CSKA vs Bayern Leverkusen
2:45 pm FS1 Monaco vs Tottenham
2:45 pm FS2 Sporting vs Real Madrid
2:45 pm ESPN3 Dortmund v Legia Warsazawa
2:45 pm Fox Soccer Leicester City vs Club Brugge
2:45 pm ESPN2 or 3? Sevilla vs Juventus
8 pm ESPN MLS – East Con Finals Montreal vs Toronto 1st Leg
10 pm FS 1 MLS – West Con Finals Seattle vs Colorado 1st Leg
Weds, Nov 23
12 noon Fox Sport 1 Rostov vs Bayern Munich
2:45 pm Fox Sport1 Arsenal vs PSG
2:45 pm Fox sport2 Celtic vs Barcelona
2:45 pm ESPN3 Borussia Mgladbach vs Man City
11 am NBCSN Middlesborough vs Chelsea
2:45 pm beIN Sport AC Milan vs Inter
4 pm ESPN MLS – West Con Finals Seattle vs Colorado 2nd Leg
Weds, Nov 30
7 pm ESPN MLS – East Con Finals Toronto vs Montreal 2nd Leg
The scenarios are clear for USMNT: secure a result in Costa Rica or else
If there’s one thing the USMNT knows following a late 2-1 loss to Mexico in Columbus to start the Hex, it’s that only a win on Tuesday will ease up on the pressure.Unfortunately, that’s much easier said than done.Winning in Costa Rica has been literally impossible for the United States – they have lost eight World Cup qualifiers in a row in Costa Rica, earning just a single point which came back in 1985. Add in that Los Ticos are on a five-match winning streak including a win over Columbia to finish their Copa America this summer and a friendly triumph over Russia, and the task is daunting.Now, the Stars & Stripes travel to the Central American nation needing victory in the worst way. All three matches in round one of the Hex finished with a winner, leaving the United States three points adrift of anyone else above them in the group. The most devastating result was Panama’s win over Honduras, and while Panama isn’t expected to be a favorite in any other match except the reverse of that fixture, the U.S. still has ground to make up.
According to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, the loss to Mexico alone slammed the U.S. chances of qualifying for Russia 2018 by over 20%, dropping them from 86% favorites down to an uneasy 69%. A loss Tuesday would likely compound that into a full on free-fall, unless both other fixtures ended in a draw.Despite all this pressure, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t afraid. In fact, quite the opposite: he guaranteed the USMNT would come away from San Jose with points. “The message is very simple, we’ve got to go down there and get a result, which we will do.”They better. While making up a four or six-point deficit with eight matches to go is hardly unheard of, it’s most definitely a position the United States does not wish to see itself in by any stretch. While next international break serves up a relative respite with games against Honduras and Panama, nothing is for certain in the Hexagonal, and any unnecessary pressure during those matches would be counter-productive to otherwise straightforward games.But they’ve been here before. Just in the last Hexagonal, they suffered a significantly more damaging defeat to Honduras to begin the round. A home win over Costa Rica just days later – the famous snow game in Denver – righted the ship.With Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago both clear favorites in their matches against Honduras and Panama, the United States could fall significantly behind if they drop points in San Jose, and hand any points to the opponents in the process, as Los Ticos already sit on three after an impressive first-match victory over the Soca Warriors.Right now, the wound from a last-second loss to a bitter rival is surely fresh, but the actual danger is still relatively minimal. However, the bottom line for Tuesday is clear: a loss against Costa Rica – or even a draw – would add legitimate pressure to the already building uneasiness among fans. Only three points can appease the masses.
Klinsmann formation blunder hurt U.S. vs. Mexico, but there were positives
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Angry. Upset. Disappointed. Frustrated.Those were the adjectives used by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his team Friday after the Americans lost 2-1 to Mexico, and for good reason.The players had every right to be distressed by Klinsmann’s overthought and ultimately unsuccessful decision to employ a 3-5-2 formation — one they had rarely, if ever, used during his five-plus years at the helm.Meanwhile, one can also understand how the manager might be miffed after his defenders left Rafael Marquez alone to nod home the winner — from a corner kick, no less — in the dying seconds of a match they’d eventually grabbed by the scruff of the neck after mercifully switching back to their traditional 4-4-2 alignment.The defeat leaves the U.S. in real danger of starting the 10-game Hexagonal with two consecutive setbacks; the Yanks face a daunting test on Tuesday in Costa Rica, where they have a dismal record of zero wins, one draw and eight defeats in nine qualifiers.Yet however disheartening Friday’s result was for the hosts — it was the national team’s first home qualifying loss in 15 years (a span of 30 games) and its first to southern neighbor El Tri since 1972 — there’s also legitimate cause for optimism.”In the second half we went to something we were more familiar with, and we dominated the game,” said forward Jozy Altidore, who set up strike partner Bobby Wood’s goal just after the break, which cancelled out Miguel Layun’s 20th-minute opener. “We have a young team and a lot of talented guys that will learn from tonight and move forward.”Chief among the up-and-comers is 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic, who repeatedly dazzled the capacity crowd of almost 25,000 with his silky skills and fleet feet.Pulisic began the game playing centrally behind front-runners Altidore and Wood, and then moved to the left wing — the spot he usually plays for Dortmund — when Klinsmann made the tactical switch. Wherever Pulisic was, he drew the attention of Mexican defenders, beating them off the dribble almost as often as not.”I thought Christian handled it very well,” Klinsmann said. “He’s trying to find his openings, find some areas where he can explode and take people on.”Wood also continued to show his quality, and not just on his well-taken finish. The 23-year-old enjoyed perhaps his best game for the U.S. and was a little unlucky not to score a second when, after a brilliant turn, his goal-bound shot was stopped by Mexico keeper Alfredo Talavera.Still, the Hamburg player’s touch, hold-up play and clever decision-making were plain to see — Wood was named the Americans’ man of the match — and he will only improve as he matures.Elsewhere, full-back Timmy Chandler settled down and had a solid match after a shaky start, which was mostly the result of Mexico flooding his right side with numbers, which pinned him in his own end early on.And Matt Besler turned in another credible shift at left-back after the formation switch, a spot he’d never really played before filling in for one match during June’s Copa America Centenario.If Besler can make the position his own — his next chance could come as soon as Tuesday in the Costa Rica capital of San Jose — it would enable Klinsmann to deploy the more attack-minded Fabian Johnson further up the field.On the whole, though, Friday’s contest served as a reminder to Klinsmann that his team performs its best when it knows exactly what to expect.”I would not say we were not comfortable with it,” Jermaine Jones said of his coach’s latest experiment, noting that it had worked well in training earlier in the week. “Sometimes you have to try something. But then in the second half I think you saw that we were on their toes and we almost scored the second.”Klinsmann admitted as much afterward himself: “It took us a while to get into the game. We switched back to 4-4-2 after a little bit to correct some things because in the beginning our midfielders didn’t get into the one-on-one battles that we expected them to get into.”Only time will tell if he will stop tinkering unnecessarily and stick with what’s proven to work, and that goes for Tuesday’s encounter at Estadio Nacional as well as the eight matches that will follow when the Hex resumes next March.If it does, that would be the biggest silver lining of all from the latest Columbus Clasico.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s tactics put U.S in a bind it can’t overcome vs. Mexico
COLUMBUS, Ohio — At the end of the Copa America Centenario, U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann seemed to have answered his most vexing questions. The team played out of a 4-4-2, had identified its preferred back four and had determined the best roles for Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, with Bradley sitting deeper and Jones creating mayhem farther up field.At that time, it seemed as if it would be a shame for Klinsmann to blow it up. There was no reason to, especially with two of the most difficult World Cup qualifiers — home to Mexico and away to Costa Rica — looming on the horizon. Yet every so often, Klinsmann the fantasist overrules Klinsmann the pragmatist and decides to do something exotic tactically.That is precisely what he did in Friday’s 2-1 defeat against Mexico. In a tactical blunder, Klinsmann opted for a 3-5-2 or, as he semantically insisted, a 3-4-3. Whatever. The U.S. hadn’t played three in the back since a friendly against Chile nearly two years ago. When asked why he decided to go with the formation, Klinsmann said, “We trained that [formation] and it went really well in training.” Klinsmann added it had nothing to do with Mexico’s approach.Here comes the migraine.The results proved as devastating as they were predictable. For the first 25 minutes or so, the U.S. was overrun, especially on its right side. The defensive spacing was a mess, as clear a sign as any that the formation’s unfamiliarity was causing the side problems. Yes, Mexico is talented but all the more reason to not introduce such radical change with only a few days of preparation. El Tri was getting some fantastic looks, too, finally breaking through when Miguel Layun scored in the 20th minute. Mexico hit the woodwork on two other occasions.”Tactically they do some interesting things and they space themselves out in a really good way,” Bradley said. “So you have to have clear ideas about how you’re going to deal with that and how you’re going to close them down. Then it’s easy to get pulled around and it’s easy to have guys step out of one space to close something down and now that’s the exactly the space that they’re going to end up playing through.”When Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado went down injured in the 26th minute, it was like a boxer being saved by the bell. It allowed both Bradley and Jones to walk over to Klinsmann and plead with him to change the formation. Bradley barely hesitated when asked who suggested the formation change, Klinsmann or the players: “I think ultimately it was among us all. It was clear that it made sense to change.”Loosely translated, it was the players. Credit Klinsmann for going along with it, but he never should have put his team in such an awkward situation in the first place.Once the U.S. made the switch, it not only got the home side back in the game but allowed Bradley & Co. to dominate the second half. The U.S. pulled even through Bobby Wood’s cool finish and had chances to go ahead, only to run into some inspired goalkeeping from Alfredo Talavera. But then Rafa Marquez found space on a late corner, his flick-on header found the back of the net and the U.S. was forced to swallow a 2-1 defeat.That the U.S. recovered is what makes the loss so frustrating. Klinsmann treated the match more like a January friendly than it was a World Cup qualifier. You simply can’t gift an opponent like Mexico 25 minutes of the game and expect to get away with it. The U.S. didn’t.The result saw the end of some impressive streaks. It was the first home loss in a World Cup qualifier for the U.S. since 2001, when the Americans lost to Honduras. It was the first home loss to Mexico in a World Cup qualifier since 1972. There’s no guarantee, of course, that if Klinsmann kept his framework simple, the U.S. would have won. But chances are the U.S. would have started the match on more even footing.Instead, he left his side vulnerable and, rather predictably, Klinsmann blamed his players for the formation’s failure, specifically Bradley and Jones.”The key in that system is that your central midfielders need to get into these one-against-one battles,” Klinsmann said in his postgame news conference. “That’s something that was not happening the first 25-30 minutes. Not Michael Bradley nor Jermaine got into these battles and their players could roam and that really puts difficulties, so that gave them their chances. So we changed it then back because we train different systems, we have that always available.”It calmed down the situation then and I think the second half was really good. If you go back to set pieces, we had ours with Omar [Gonzalez]’s open header there and it could have easily been a goal. But they scored two minutes before the end of the game. That’s how it goes.”But it didn’t have to.Klinsmann didn’t rule out using the 3-4-3 again. But ahead of Tuesday’s match at Costa Rica — where the U.S. only ever achieved a draw, back in 1985 — he should rediscover the pragmatic approach that made the U.S. so successful earlier this year, using some variant of the 4-4-2. That way, come Tuesday, perhaps the U.S. can be the one to break an opponent’s winning streak instead.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.
Klinsmann reacts to Mexico loss, says midfielders hurt 3-4-3
Jurgen Klinsmann was angry after the United States fell to Mexico in the first match of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying on Friday.That mostly seemed to relate to the lost points, and not the performance, though Klinsmann refused to say the 3-4-3 was to blame for the early struggles.Well, perhaps it was to blame, he says, but not because of the formation… because of his midfield. [ MORE: Match recap | Player ratings | Three things ]
Klinsmann thrice mentioned the efforts of Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley in the first half as problematic, saying they weren’t compact enough to stop Mexico’s flair players.Klinsmann claimed he’d like to see the 3-4-3 again for the opportunities it gives new star Christian Pulisic.“We started the game in a 3-4-3 with Christian Pulisic having all the freedom to roam with the two strikers up front,” Klinsmann said. “The key in that system is the central midfielders need to get into those 1-on-1 battles. No for Michael Bradley, no Jermaine. Their players could roam an they had their chances. So we changed back, and it calmed down the situation. Second half was really, really good.”As for how Pulisic responded to a big start under the bright lights?
“He handled it very well,” Klinsmann said. “He’s trying to find his opening, find some areas where he can explode and take some people on. I think he did very well. In the 3-4-3, he can go either way left-right-middle. I’m sure you will see that every once in a while that system because it suits us. But our midfielders need to win that battle.”The Yanks dominated the game, mostly, after going to the 4-4-2., save for the all-important Rafa Marquez header of a late corner kick. That, Klinsmann says, goes on otherwise strong John Brooks.“We lost him there,” Klinsmann said. “Individual mistake. We had it all designed nicely on the whiteboard, but when a player misses his player being ahead of him, that’s when these goals happen.”So how does the U.S. regroup for Tuesday’s qualifier in Costa Rica against a Los Ticos that won 2-0 in Trinidad and Tobago?“The message is very simple,” Klinsmann said. “We’ve gotta go down there and get a result, which we will do.“It gets a sense of anger in us, urgency. You don’t want to be behind. Costa Rica won tonight so it’s right there. All the qualifying games are difficult. That’s what the players are prepared. If we play the way the second half, I’m not worried.”
Michael Bradley laments lack of “clear ideas” in USMNT gameplan
With Geoff Cameron out with an injury, United States men’s national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann opted to change formation rather than plug a different center back next to John Brooks.It didn’t work.The Yanks went down early against Mexico on the way to a 2-1 loss in Columbus, breaking the vaunted Dos a Cero Hex hex against their bitter rivals in an entertaining game on Friday.That’s largely due to what Klinsmann called a 3-4-3 formation for the first 30 minutes of the game, one that allowed Mexico to dance down the right side of the American defense and saw Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley looking rather off their games.Klinsmann didn’t mention Cameron’s absence in defending his use of the formation, and said they would try it again in the future. He though the 3-4-3 would free up Christian Pulisic, and would work if Bradley and Jones were aggressive in their 1v1 battles. That didn’t work out well, and Klinsmann thrice mentioned those players in his postgame press conference.Jones said the formation looked good in training, but that Mexico sorted it out quickly. Bradley seemed to say it was an error in direction.From the Sporting News:
“Tactically, They do some interesting things, and they space themselves out in a really good way,” U.S. captain Michael Bradley said of Mexico. “So you have to have clear ideas about how you’re going to deal with that and how you’re going to close them down, because if you don’t, then it’s easy to get pulled around, and it’s easy to have guys who step out of one space trying to close something down, and that’s exactly the space they’re going to end up playing through.”
Regardless of who’s to blame — and it’s likely a bit of both — Bradley and Jones both had nights to forget. Jones was over aggressive and fortunate not to be sent off just before halftime, while Bradley struggled to carry over any semblance of his wonderful Toronto FC form to Mexico.Next up is a chance to make history: the Yanks have never won a World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica, where they play on Tuesday. Win, and feel good. Draw, and feel okay. Lose, and stare down four months with no points and a place in the Hex cellar.
U.S. at a low ebb ahead of Costa Rica test; Mexico confidence soars
Following Mexico’s 2-1 win versus the United States in the opening game of the CONCACAF “Hexagonal,” we asked a writer from each side of the rivalry for thoughts on the state of their national team.
What is your reaction to the result?
Jason Davis: A loss to open the Hex, especially versus Mexico, is a bad way to start the campaign to reach an eighth consecutive World Cup. The psychological edge the U.S. once had on Mexico in qualifiers is gone. The team improved in the second half, but Mexico’s early domination falls at the feet of Jurgen Klinsmann. He’s got work to do, especially as postgame comments from the coach and his captain, Michael Bradley, revealed a fundamental disagreement about who was responsible for the failure of the formation used to start the match.Nayib Moran: Although the U.S. national team had a great second-half performance, Mexico was able to muster its first-ever win in Columbus. In the first half, Mexico showcased the type of football favored by Juan Carlos Osorio, which includes pace and passing precision. Carlos Vela and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona kept the U.S. defense busy, while Miguel Layun and Rafael Marquez were able to find spaces to release key passes. There were moments where it looked like Mexico was going to break apart, but it didn’t happen.
Where does this leave your country on the Road to Russia?
JD: The Americans have to avoid any sort of panic because there are nine games left to get the points needed to qualify. That said, with a trip to Costa Rica on Tuesday, there’s a very real possibility the U.S. will be bottom of the table after the second round of matches conclude. It’s not an issue of talent; the squad has more than enough quality to coast to a top-three spot by the time when all is said and done. But, as we saw in the 2014 cycle with Mexico, talent alone doesn’t guarantee anything.
NM: It will be difficult for other CONCACAF teams to get wins on U.S. soil, so this result puts Mexico in a good spot to make this Hex campaign more straightforward than the last. Friday’s first half should set an example for what’s to come; Mexico should play its home games with the same intensity. Scoring more early goals would also set the tone and avoid the issues of four years ago, when Mexico finished with three scoreless draws at Estadio Azteca, one of which was against the U.S.
What is your grade out of 10 for the present mood, and what happens next?
JD: Three. The mood can’t be good considering the way the U.S. played in the first half and the manner in which they conceded the winner. They have never won in Costa Rica and, if the team is lacking any belief in their coach, there’s very little chance of breaking that streak on Tuesday. The leaders within in the team itself — Michael Bradley, plus the likes of Jermaine Jones and Jozy Altidore — must pull things together in time for an even tougher challenge than the one they faced on Friday. Missing Tim Howard through injury certainly would not help.
NM: Nine. In Panama, Mexico will be without the injured Andres Guardado the suspended Carlos Salcedo, which means players like Nestor Araujo, Orbelin Pineda and Jonathan dos Santos could get some minutes. Raul Jimenez and Marco Fabian could also be involved. Panama won at Honduras to begin their campaign in style but El Tri will travel full of optimism. The pressure has also eased on Osorio, with fans pleased after a period in which the coach was doubted.
Though not decisive, Pulisic showed vs. Mexico that he is worthy of the hype
Christian Pulisic showed he belonged on the U.S. national team Friday night against Mexico in Columbus. He drove forward with Bundesliga bravura. He worked neat combinations with Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood in the final third. He refused to be physically intimidated, holding his ground against body slams, double marking and late tackles.And like every American player who has earned his stars and stripes, he proved he’s capable of a bad touch.It came toward the end of a first half in which the U.S. was outplayed, outthought and outcoached at a venue where the Americans had never previously been out-anything-ed. Pulisic made a run into the box as Michael Bradley’s free kick was headed by Altidore straight at the Mexico goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera who, for some reason, couldn’t hold it. The ball fell invitingly for Pulisic, 10 yards in front of goal. All he had to do was put his foot through it and the U.S. and Mexico would be even at 1-1.But the 18-year-old hesitated ever so slightly and, instead of shooting first time, he tried to control the bobbling ball, only for his first touch to take it away from him and into the grateful arms of Talavera. The Ballon d’Or might have to wait for another year.Aside from that one speed bump, though, the rest of Pulisic’s night was a relatively smooth passage for the teenager, on whose shoulders American soccer has seemingly hung everything but the solution to climate change. No pressure, Christian.We’ve been here before, of course — Hi Jozy, Freddy Adu, Julian Green, Gedion Zelalem, DeAndre Yedlin! — but never with a precocious talent who actually appears capable of delivering on those hyperbolic expectations, if given the time and surrounding cast to showcase his gifts.On second thought, maybe we have witnessed this phenomenon before. It is easy to forget the wonder and excitement that radiated throughout the American soccer community at the sight of 20-year-old Landon Donovan shredding defenders at the 2002 World Cup, en route to being named Best Young Player of the Tournament.Donovan had it all — the technical ability, the pace, the guile, the quick-thinking soccer brain, the calm in front of goal — except, perhaps, for the mental fortitude, at least as an adolescent, to make it in the crucible of high-grade European club soccer.It was this putative lack of resolve to push the boundaries of his comfort level, more than anything else, which ensured the best player this country has ever produced would not flourish under Jurgen Klinsman.It is also the essential difference between the way the U.S. coach regards Pulisic, a card-carrying member of Borussia Dortmund’s first team, and Donovan, who tore up Major League Soccer for more than a decade but washed out in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich.That Klinsmann risked tactical chaos for the first half hour against Mexico with his newfangled 3-5-2 formation is a measure of how much he values Pulisic’s burgeoning creative role. The system is designed to give him license to roam behind the two strikers, Altidore and Wood, and take advantage of the wonder teen’s ability to dictate a game’s tempo with his penetrative dribbling and precision passing.Even if the gambit proved misguided and Klinsmann was forced to revert to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation, Pulisic didn’t look out of place or over-matched in the furious intensity of central midfield, though it should be noted that he did his best work when switched to the left flank, where he could more frequently get behind the Mexican defense and utilize his dangerous crossing ability.After making his World Cup qualifying debut in the previous round, Mexico was always going to be something of a competitive litmus test for Pulisic. It is one thing to be the best player on the field against CONCACAF minnows such as St Vincent and the Grenadines, but quite another to impose yourself on an opponent that has long been the U.S’ fiercest rival in the region.Then again, if you’ve already managed to enter a Champions League game against Real Madrid in the 73rd minute and have the skill and composure to set up the tying goal, as Pulisic did in September for Dortmund, then you’re unlikely to be cowed by the likes of Rafael Marquez and Javier Hernandez.There were two telling moments, late in the game with both teams desperate to break the 1-1 deadlock, which bode well for Pulisic’s success on the big stage.The first came after he pick-pocketed the ball off a Mexican player in midfield and was surging toward the penalty area when rugged defender Carlos Salcedo launched himself at the American with the full weight of his brawny physique. Pulisic went down in a heap but sprang back to his feet, as if to say “I’ve taken worse hits than that in the Bundesliga.” Salcedo was booked for the foul and eventually sent off in the final minute for time-wasting.Two minutes later, Pulisic was involved in another tussle, this time with Hernandez. The two players converged on a 50-50 ball and it was Pulisic who dug it out after Hernandez had wrapped himself around the teenager in a futile attempt to keep him from breaking away. The crowd roared its appreciation of Pulisic’s grit but, if they hoped he might decide the match with a dazzling highlight-reel winner, they would ultimately be disappointed.Pulisic is not yet the finished article, not yet a refined game-changer at an elite level, but he is far ahead of any of the U.S.’ previously anointed soccer messiahs, with the exception of Donovan.He may also eclipse Landon one day but let’s try to resist American soccer’s knee-jerk tendency to expect too much, too soon. After all, Pulisic is barely 18 and only five months removed from his high school prom. He still relishes his time away from the field where he can indulge in two of his favorite pastimes: Play Station and listening to the musical stylings of Justin Bieber.In that last pursuit, he is not alone. After his authoritative, if not quite defining performance against Mexico, you can count me as a “Belieber” in Christian Pulisic.David Hirshey is an ESPN FC columnist. He has been covering soccer for more than 30 years and written about it for The New York Times and Deadspin.
Bobby Wood scores, PLAYER RATINGS
Mexico arrived in Columbus, Ohio, to open the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying intent on ending the “Dos a Cero” tradition. Thanks to a dominant first half and a late set-piece tally, El Tri did just that in a 2-1 victory over the United States on Friday.
It’s difficult to pull many positives from the match for the U.S., as the team saw a 15-year unbeaten run in home World Cup qualifiers come to an end against its biggest rival. Bobby Wood’s play was the highlight of the evening for the Stars and Stripes, and he combined well with Jozy Altidore in what coach Jurgen Klinsmann will hope is a sign of things to come. If we’re being generous, the United States’ response after the first 45 minutes was good, though playing so poorly in the first half counts among the negatives.
The opening 25 minutes were an absolute disaster for the Americans. A new formation led to mass confusion, especially through the midfield and defense. Though a switch to a 4-4-2 brought some improvement, falling behind a goal at home put the U.S. in the difficult position of chasing the game. A better second half was undone by shoddy set-piece defending when Rafa Marquez slipped to the near post and flicked a late header past keeper Brad Guzan.
Manager rating out of 10
2 — Yes, the U.S. controlled most of the second half and found an equalizer through Wood. But Klinsmann’s tactical plan to start the game, a 3-5-2 that his personnel were not suited for, killed any chance the team had of taking the game to Mexico to open the match. Klinsmann might have played a role in getting his team up for a much better second half, but because his choices led to the atrocious first-half performance, he can’t be given credit there either.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Tim Howard, 4.5 — Forced off in the 40th minute due to injury. Made one excellent save early on, but was unable to get across to stop a deflected shot from Miguel Layun.
DF Omar Gonzalez, 4.5 — Dragged out of position on numerous occasions in the first half because of the unfamiliar three-man back line. Made a couple of solid interventions when required.
DF John Brooks, 5 — Had a decidedly uneven night. Baited into fouls by Mexico too often. Played an excellent pass that led to the American goal, but was beaten by Hirving Lozano late in the game.
DF Matt Besler, 5 — Fought hard throughout his 81 minutes of action and did not shy away from the physical side of the clash. Struggled through the first half, but looked more comfortable at left-back after a formation switch.
MF/DF Timmy Chandler, 5 — Looked lost at wing-back in the 3-5-2 the U.S. rolled out to start the game, but improved dramatically in the second half. Became a crossing threat late.
MF Jermaine Jones, 4 — Looked slow and unfit in the first half, but found the game in the second 45 minutes. Helped the U.S. match Mexico physically, but was very lucky not to see yellow on more than one occasion.
MF Michael Bradley, 4.5 — Clearly uncomfortable with the formation in the first 25 minutes. Misplaced passes throughout the first half before improving in the second.
MF/DF Fabian Johnson, 5 — Lacked sharpness in the first half. Contributed more to the attack in the second and provided a few key defensive moments.
MF Christian Pulisic, 5.5 — Grew into the game in his first big test as a starter. Drew multiple Mexican defenders with every touch.
FW Bobby Wood, 7 — Limited in his influence in the first half, largely because of the dysfunction of the U.S. midfield. Bossed the second 45 minutes alongside Altidore and scored the goal that drew the game level.
FW Jozy Altidore, 5 — Found an understanding with Wood that probably should have delivered more than one goal. Set up one tally with an excellent turn and pass. Looked to have been caught flat-footed on Rafa Marquez’s winning goal.
GK Brad Guzan, 5 — Held down the fort after Howard’s injury and didn’t see much action. Was not at fault for Mexico’s goal.
MF DeAndre Yedlin, N/R — Brought energy as a substitute and tracked back well from midfield. Did not find the rhythm of the game quickly enough.
DF Michael Orozco, N/R — Did not feature prominently.
Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.
Player ratings from the USMNT’s 2-1 defeat to Mexico
The United States men’s national team started the Hex with a 2-1 against Mexico on Friday night in Columbus, Ohio.It was a tale of two halves as the U.S. looked out of sorts in a 5-3-2 (or 3-2-2-1-2) formation as Mexico dominated play. Once the U.S. went down a goal it switched to a more familiar 4-4-2 and looked far more comfortable in the second half. However, Rafa Marquez scored late on against the run of play to steal the three points for El Tri.Here’s how the players fared in this hotly-contested matchup.
USMNT Starting XI
Tim Howard (Off 40′) — 6 — Made a fantastic save on Corona’s shot in the first half, tipping it off the post. Layun’s goal came off a deflection that directed the ball away from Howard. Suffered an injury off a goal kick.
Matt Besler (Off 81′) — 5 — Had a tough task being forced to play out of position and committed a number of fouls.
Omar Gonzalez — 5 — Not great distribution out of the back and missed a wide open header off a corner kick in the second half.
John Brooks — 5 — Had a few testy moments in the first half, including a silly yellow card within the first 15 minutes. Was badly beat on a run by Lozano in the second half.
Timmy Chandler (Off 74′) — 5 — Mexico successfully attacked down his right side throughout the first half, but he had some good attacking moments in the second half.
Fabian Johnson–6 — Looked more comfortable (like most others) when the U.S. switched formations. Had a goal-saving tackle on Chicharito in the second half.
Jermaine Jones — 5 — Had a few nice moments, but looked off the pace at times. That’s to be expected in his first start since the July 4.
Michael Bradley — 4 — An uncharacteristically poor performance from the captain. He wasn’t strong enough on a challenge that led to Mexico’s first goal and struggled throughout to put his influence on the game.
Christian Pulisic — 6 — Played through the middle early on and was his usual self once the team switched formations.
Jozy Altidore — 7 — Great run to set up Wood’s goal. Linked up well with Wood in the second half, winning seemingly every aerial ball he went for.
Bobby Wood — 8 — Didn’t do much in the first half, but came back strong in the second half scoring early on. Continued to wreak havoc on Mexico’s defense along with Altidore.
Brad Guzan (On 40′) — N/A — Could do nothing on Mexico’s second goal and faced little action besides that.
DeAndre Yedlin (On 74′) — N/A
Michael Orozco (On 81′) — N/A
Mexico Starting XI
Alfredo Talavera — 6 — Didn’t face many shots in the first half. Got a hand on Wood’s goal, but could not stop the shot.
Miguel Layun — 8 — Had multiple positive moments in attack, including scoring Mexico’s goal in the first half.
Diego Reyes (Off HT) — 6 — A short shift for Reyes. Picked up an early yellow card for taking down Altidore, but didn’t make any costly mistakes.
Hector Moreno — 6 — Missed a challenge on Wood’s goal.
Rafa Marquez — 7 — It was a quiet night for Mexico’s captain until the 88th minute as his flicked header proved to be the winner.
Hector Herrera — 5 — Not much from Herrera on the night. Tried to draw a foul on Gonzalez in the box, but got a card for simulation.
Andres Guardado (Off 28′) — N/A — Subbed off with an injury in the first half. Didn’t get much opportunity on the ball.
Gio dos Santos — 5 — Directed the attack for Mexico, but didn’t create any dangerous chances.
Jesus Corona — 7 — Nearly scored in the first half, but Howard tipped his shot onto the post.
Carlos Vela (Off 73′) — 6 — Almost doubled Mexico’s lead in the first half with a header off the crossbar.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez — 5 — Made decisive runs to cause trouble for the U.S. defense, but could not find the final touch.
USA vs. Mexico, 2018 World Cup qualifying: Final Player Ratings
Nov 13, 2016, 8:30am PST
Well that didn’t go as any U.S. Soccer supporter would have hoped. The Dos a Cero curse has been broken by Mexico and the powers of Fort Columbus washed away in one fell swoop by none other than Rafa Marquez himself.One of the most hated El Tri representatives to American soccer fans for the last decade-plus, Marquez’s 89th minute header sent every Yank home bitter and Mexico to the next CONCACAF Hexagonal match day with three points and the USMNT still looking to get off the mark.As is customary, we put out our poll for the SSFC community to give your own player ratings. Predictably, most of them were pretty dire. However, there were a few bright spots. Here’s how the results turned out:
Man of the Match: Bobby Wood
The man who gave us hope in the 50th minute with his well-worked equalizer got the highest percentage of rating from the community. Bobby Wood’s 7.57 leads the pack, with the 18-year-old phenom, Christian Pulisic, coming behind with a 7.01. They were the only two USMNT players to get over a 7. Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, the captain went down with his ship as Michael Bradley received the lowest rating of all 13 eligible players. His 3.94 rating was a full rating point below the next lowest player on the field. Oof… Now, on to Costa Rica where the USMNT hasn’t won…ever. How fun.
Final Player Ratings
GK: Tim Howard – 5.82
RWB: Timmy Chandler – 5.50
CB: John Brooks – 5.83
CB: Omar Gonzalez – 5.00
CB: Matt Besler – 5.17
LWB: Fabian Johnson – 5.82
CM: Michael Bradley – 3.94
CM: Jermaine Jones – 5.37
CAM: Christian Pulisic – 7.01
ST: Bobby Wood – 7.57
ST: Jozy Altidore – 6.62
SUB: Brad Guzan – 5.28
SUB: DeAndre Yedlin – 4.94
SUB: Michael Orozco – NR
Rafael Marquez and Mexico get their revenge, beat the U.S. 2-1 in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mexico finally put an end to “Dos a Cero” on Friday night, defeating the U.S. men’s national team 2-1 to open the final round of World Cup qualifying.Miguel Layun opened the scoring for the visitors with a deflected effort in the 20th minute, but Bobby Wood equalized four minutes into the second half for the hosts. It was left to Rafa Marquez to grab the winner in the 89th minute to give El Tri a valuable victory on the road to Russia 2018. It also marked the first qualifying victory for Mexico in the U.S. since 1972.Here are three thoughts from a pulsating encounter.
- Marquez,El Triget their revenge
For all the concerns that non-soccer overtones would bleed into the match, Friday’s game was not only free of incident but included numerous instances of fans mingling and enjoying the game together. The two teams even posed for a joint team photo before the match. Focus was soon placed on the match by all involved and it proved to be another memorable encounter.Once the game started, it was clear that this was a different Mexico team from the outset. Manager Juan Carlos Osorio had employed psychologist Imanol Ibarrondo to help his side banish its demons and it worked perfectly because Mexico looked a much more confident side than in recent road World Cup qualifiers against its longtime rival. Players like Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela oozed sharpness, and Marquez, who could usually be counted on to lose his head, looked composed even after he was forced to move into midfield when Andres Guardado was subbed out injured in the 28th minute.And yet given the extent to which El Tri dominated the first half, it almost looked as if it would leave two points on the table when Wood equalized. But then Marquez, who has often been the villain in these encounters, popped up to be the hero for Mexico. He evaded the attentions of Jozy Altidore and delivered a flick-on, near-post header that looped into the U.S. net. The visitors also had goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera to thank as he came up with several crucial saves to keep the game level before Marquez’s winner.The match will not only give Mexico a huge boost of confidence, but should also give Osorio some valuable breathing room in terms of his job security. He no doubt wanted this victory given that he once coached in the U.S. until he was fired by the New York Red Bulls in 2009, and he has been under some pressure since his side was humbled 7-0 by Chile in the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario.Given how dynamic Mexico looked in attack, this looks to be a team that is headed in the right direction again. Now Osorio and El Tri can bask in a memorable victory.
- Klinsmann’s blunder hamstrings U.S.
The huge surprise came before kickoff with the news that U.S manager Jurgen Klinsmann was opting for a 3-5-2 formation with Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler as wing-backs and a back three of Matt Besler, John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez. Mexico’s decision to counter with an attack-heavy 4-3-3 that included Gio Dos Santos, Carlos Vela, Jesus “Tecatito” Corona and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez made Klinsmann’s gambit seem like a risky proposition, especially given the last time the U.S. employed the alignment was in a friendly against Chile in January 2015.The choice proved an unmitigated disaster. The U.S. was second to every ball and seemed all over the place with its defensive spacing, particularly on the right-hand side, which was defended by Chandler. On top of that, the U.S. touches looked heavy, resulting in several turnovers. Mexico was soon looking dangerous on almost every attack. In the 10th minute, Corona shook free but his curling effort saw Tim Howard touch the shot off the post.The U.S. wasn’t so fortunate five minutes later. Layun pounced on a loose ball after Michael Bradley lost possession and his shot took a deflection — the carom was enough to fool Howard as it snuck in just inside his left post.Vela came close to doubling the advantage in the 25th minute when his header struck the bar. Once Guardado had to leave the game a few minutes later, Bradley walked over to Klinsmann and appeared to be pleading with him to change the formation. Change it he did to a 4-4-2 and the U.S. was on level terms in the 49th minute.Altidore did superbly to hold the ball up, fend off a Mexico defender, spin into space and then run at the defense. His pass found Wood near the top of the box and after breaking through a last-ditch tackle, the Hamburg SV attacker swept a left-footed shot beyond Talavera to level the score.Both teams had great opportunities to grab a winner but were repelled by superb goalkeeping and defending at either end. Wood nearly added a second in the 74th minute but his shot on the turn was superbly saved by Talavera. The Mexico keeper was on hand to tip an Altidore free kick over the bar and Johnson then saved the U.S. with a desperate intervention in the 79th minute.The late drama set the stage for old nemesis Marquez to spoil the party for the U.S., but for the Americans, Klinsmann was just as much of a villain.
- U.S. heads into Costa Rica match at a low ebb.
It’s far too early to say that the U.S.’s qualifying effort is in trouble. After all, there are nine games left and it remains one of the giants of the region. But this defeat is a bitter blow and leaves the U.S. psychologically wounded heading into Tuesday’s match in Costa Rica.Complicating matters is the fact the U.S. goes into the match without goalkeeper Howard, who was forced to leave the match because of a suspected groin injury in the 40th minute. Fortunately, Brad Guzan is an able replacement, but the U.S. can’t afford to start Tuesday’s match as slowly as it did against El Tri on Friday night.Avoiding another slow start will be aided by starting the match in a 4-4-2, which remains the team’s best alignment. The formation might be considered out of date by some, but at minimum the U.S. should operate with four in the back and then build its attack from that foundation. The level of comfort the U.S. showed in the second half was evident, further proof that it ought to be used going forward.Of course, that also assumes Klinsmann avoids his occasional penchant for making odd tactical decisions. One can only hope he learned his lesson in Columbus.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.
USA vs. Mexico atmosphere positive despite recent election tensions
A charged political environment everywhere else was noticeably and thankfully absent in Columbus
Nov 13, 2016, 7:05am PST
The US/Mexico World Cup Qualifier in Columbus is a bucket list item for every US Soccer fan, no matter when the game is or what form the teams are in. But with the recent election results threatening to hang a low cloud over what should be a festival of the sport in this country, would the atmosphere of what otherwise is such a fun occasion be changed for the worst? There were rightfully concerns about what some fans might do in such a charged atmosphere, but thankfully, the story of the game was about just that: the game.There were plenty of Mexican fans that made the trip to Ohio’s chilly capital for the festivities, and they certainly made their presence known. Mariachi bands and Mexican music were ever-present all throughout the Ohio State Fairgrounds, and they all felt like a natural part of the spectacle. The only common chant from American fans to Mexican fans was, predictably, “Dos A Cero” and nothing more.Inside, fans wearing red, white and blue mingled with those wearing red, white and green as if the election hadn’t happened. Outside of the usual friendly banter, more people were focused on tactics, formations, and whose manager is more likely to be sacked first rather than the news cycle. It really felt like the old saying: “There’s soccer, and then there’s everything else”.How would the Supporter’s groups tackle the possibly thorny issue of chants? The American Outlaws made their stance known early on, and their chants were their usual fare, and even amidst rumors their tifo had to be changed due to the election results, for them it seemed like every other US home game. When the US was behind, Mexican fans celebrated and US fans stayed more shocked than anything else, and when Bobby Wood leveled the match, wild celebrations ensued without anything negative to spoil the moment.Maybe the worst of some would come out after Rafa Marquez’s winner after the initial shock and pain of the goal had worn off. Thankfully, and as a testament to most US fans, the worst never did come. My most striking moment came as I was walking out of the stadium. Two fans, one American and one Mexican were ahead of me and the Mexican fan said something to the effect of “Dos A Uno, gano en Columbus”, and the American fan responded by saying “I want to make fun of you, but you guys won so I can’t”. Most US fans were reflecting on the failings of Jurgen Klinsmann’s aborted 5-3-2 formation, or lack of discipline on a corner kick rather than anything negative or political.While it was hard for politics to not be in the spotlight during the build up to the game, by the time Friday had come, most had put their thoughts on the week that had come and gone on the backburner, and used the chance to focus on soccer to do just that, even considering the game and the stakes. While the US and Mexico have one of the most heated rivalries in international soccer, the rivalry has always been friendly, fun and even sometimes self-loathing and almost never vicious or politically charged. Despite what the world tried to throw at Columbus this weekend, soccer’s bubble wasn’t popped or even remotely pierced, to everyone’s credit.
It might not have been the result we wanted, but thanks to the fans for a great atmosphere and for respecting the rivalry. #USAvMEX
The powerful message of the picture from above shows what makes this rivalry, and this sport so special, and the atmosphere at MAPFRE Stadium certainly helped add to that. Despite the legitimate fears, when the US and Mexico played soccer, everyone thankfully focused on soccer, and left the politics at home. And even after the game, politics remain miniscule compared to Jurgen Klinsmann’s tactical screw-up.
Indy Eleven fall in NASL championship match
Kevin Johnston, IndyStar correspondent11:29 p.m. EST November 13, 2016
It took 90 minutes plus another 30 in extra time and a penalty shootout to separate the best teams in the North American Soccer League. For Giovanni Savarese’s New York Cosmos club, it was worth every second.The top-seeded and host Cosmos downed No. 2 Indy Eleven 0-0 (4-2) in penalties Sunday night to win the 2016 NASL title at Jamaica, N.Y.For Indy, the runner-up finish caps a hugely successful campaign – a stark turnaround from the team’s bleak first two seasons. Indy came out aggressively Sunday, racking up numerous fouls early. The Eleven got the better of the opening 20 minutes, then the Cosmos settled in and controlled play.“We started finding more space and we were able to control the ball – to be able to find those areas that we weren’t finding in the first 20 minutes,” Savarese told CBS Sports Network. “Then we created a lot of chances to be able to score.”In the 11th minute, striker Eamon Zayed thought he put the visiting side up when he collected a pass from right midfielder Don Smart, turned and fired a left-footed laser at the Cosmos net. But goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer saved the effort.Smart served numerous crosses into the box while also tracking back on defense to make timely tackles and clearances. Twice his shots struck the crossbar. He eventually cramped up in the 88th minute and was subbed out for Duke Lacroix.In extra time, Indy regained some of the momentum it had in the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net. After 120 minutes plus stoppage time, the match headed to a penalty shootout.Nicki Paterson buried the first penalty for the Eleven, but misses by Zayed and goalkeeper Jon Busch gave the Cosmos some breathing room after the home side drilled its first three attempts. Left back Nemanja Vukovic converted to keep Indy alive, but New York right back Ryan Richter calmly slotted his penalty home to seal it.Indy ended its remarkable season unbeaten at home across all competitions, finishing second in the NASL regular season (15 wins, seven losses, 10 draws, 55 points) and second in the playoffs.While the future of the NASL appears opaque, the 2017 season is set to proceed as planned. Currently at 12 teams, the NASL will lose Minnesota United, the Ottawa Fury and Tampa Bay Rowdies this offseason, but will add the San Francisco Deltas
FINAL – NEW YORK 0 (4) : (2) 0 INDY ELEVEN
After 120 minutes of full effort, Indiana’s Team downed in Final in PK’s Nov 13, 2016
Indy Eleven Falls in Penalties to New York Cosmos in The Championship Final
First Trip to NASL’s Final Falls Short After Scoreless 120 Minutes, 2-4 Loss in PK’s
QUEENS, New York (Sunday, November 13, 2016) – Indy Eleven saw its trademark fight and determination even out the New York Cosmos all evening, but Indiana’s Team would eventually fall short in penalty kicks, dropping its first appearance in The Championship Final tonight at Belson Stadium.After dueling the league’s highest-scoring attack to a scoreless stalemate through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 more of added extra time, New York would make each of its first four penalties in the determining round, giving the Cosmos their third title in four seasons of play in their NASL reboot.
Indy Eleven had the first dangerous shot on goal 11 minutes into the game. Midfielder Don Smart centered from the right flank to Eamon Zayed, who settled the ball and turned for a shot that was saved by Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. The Eleven were on the attack again three minutes later. Left-side defender Nemanja Vukovic hit a high diagonal ball that Smart smacked on the volley off the goalpost and out for a goal kick.New York answered back with its best chance in the 18th minute. Juan Arango, the winner of the league’s Golden Ball as most valuable player, found a streaking Yohandry Orozco at the top of the Indy penalty area. But he got under his left-footed shot, which sailed high and wide. In the 29th minute, Cosmos defender Ayoze dropped a long lead pass over the Indy defense that Arango was able to run on to for a shot that Indy goalkeeper Jon Busch jumped to swat away.In the 54th minute, a shot by New York midfielder Ruben Bover, with his second-favorite right foot, tested Busch from about 20 yards out. The Indy goalkeeper was up to the task, first knocking the ball down in front of him, then smothering it to prevent Jairo Arrieta from pouncing.Indy had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 70th. Sinisa Ubiparipovic controlled the ball at the top of the Cosmos penalty area and touched a pass to Smart. Smart ran onto the ball and curved an open, left-footed shot that had Maurer beaten, but rebounded off the angle where the crossbar meets the goalpost.The Cosmos came close four minutes later. Ryan Richter sent a curving cross into the Indy penalty area that Arrieta met with his head, but his effort skittered wide of the near post for a goal kick. Looking for a spark up front, Cosmos coach Giovanni Savarese inserted David Diosa as a replacement for Orozco.With a little less than 10 minutes left in regulation time, Richter on the right again sent a dangerous ball into the Indy penalty area. Four players, two from each team plus goalkeeper Busch, converged in a jumble as the ball bounced and skipped wide without being touched by anyone.At the start of second-half added time, an Ubiparipovic free kick from deep on the left flank found the head of Zayed. His effort was deflected over the end line for a corner. Two minutes later, Arrieta crossed from the left to Diosa in the center of the penalty area. His first touch escaped him, but Diosa stayed with the play, turned and hit a right-footed shot that just skipped wide of the near post.Indy went first in the shootout and Nicki Paterson, the Eleven’s final substitute in the game, beat Maurer with a shot inside the far post. Arrieta stepped up for the Cosmos and smacked his shot off the far post and in.Zayed was up next for Indy, but saw his shot hit the far post, skitter along the goal line and out. Adam Moffat took the second kick for the Cosmos and put it right down the middle as Busch dove the other way, giving New York a 2-1 advantage.In a departure from usual practices, Indy coach Tim Hankinson had Busch take the third kick, which he put high and wide. Ayoze gave the Cosmos a 3-1 lead, curing a patented left-footed shot past Busch.The Eleven were in danger as Vukovic kept Indy alive by planting a hard shot in the near, upper corner. Richter then had a chance to ice the game and the championship for New York. He did not fail, hitting a shot low and inside the far post to give the Cosmos the victory.Indy Eleven will return to Indianapolis on Monday afternoon, scheduled to arrive at the Indianapolis International Airport at 2:43 pm via Delta Airlines. Fans are encouraged to welcome back the “Boys in Blue,” while media looking to attend for interviews are asked to contact John Koluder at 317-919-0808 (mobile) to confirm details.
The Championship – NASL Final
(#1) New York Cosmos 0 : 0 Indy Eleven (#2)
New York wins 4-2 on penalty kicks
Sunday, November 13, 2016 Belson Stadium – Queens, NY
IND – Nicki Paterson (goal)
NYC – Jairo Arrieta (goal)
IND – Eamon Zayed (miss)
NYC – Adam Moffat (goal)
IND – Jon Busch (miss)
NYC – Ayoze (goal)
IND – Nemanja Vukovic (goal)
NYC – Ryan Richter (goal)
IND – Brad Ring (caution) 72’
IND – Colin Falvey (caution) 83’
NYC – Jairo Arrieta (caution) 116’
Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R): Jon Busch; Nemanja Vuković, Greg Janicki, Colin Falvey (capt), Marco Franco; Dylan Mares (Gerardo Torrado 45’), Brad Ring, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Nicki Paterson 101’), Don Smart (Duke Lacroix 90’); Eamon Zayed, Justin Braun Indy Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Lovel Palmer, Daniel Keller, Souleymane Youla
New York Cosmos (4-1-4-1): Jimmy Maurer; Ayoze, Carlos Mendes (capt), Roversio (David Ochieng 59’), Ryan Richter; Adam Moffat; Yohandry Orozco (David Diosa 77’), Ruben Bover, Juan Arango, Andres Flores (Danny Szetela 103’); Jairo Arrieta Cosmos bench: Brain Holt (GK), Jimmy Ockford, Jimmy Mulligan, Eric Calvillo
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