DOS A CERODOS A CERO – US Dominates Mexico in 2nd half
It had to be 2-0 right? USA vs Mexico – in Ohio – it had to be Dos a Cero. The great thing about the result is like normal the US came alive in the 2nd half. After a 0-0 start, where ball possession was even, and the chances were a little in Mexico’s favor as they had forced 2 very good saves from US Keeper Steffan with only 1 good shot of our own, the game turned in the 2nd half. The US’ constant high pressure started to wear down a much older Mexican team – especially their older back line. Tim Weah was running free down the right side all night and Pepi was holding up play and setting up good shots. Finally when Pulisic (Capt America) came on he scored within 6 minutes of entering the game with a world class header across goal on a great cross to the near post by Weah. The McKinney insurance goal 10 minutes later settled us in on Dos a Cero. Here are Extended Hilights – US 2 – Mexico 0 in case you missed it. The US plays at Jamaica tomorrow – Tues at 5 pm on Paramount plus only – NO TV. Pregame starts at 4 pm – with the best coverage in the US. Paramount + Free Trial. PS – James Sands has been added to replace Robinson and McKinney who will miss the Jamaica game with Red Card and yellow card accumulation.
Shane’s Roster Picks for Tuesday vs Jamaica 5 pm Paramount Plus
—– Steffen —–
— Scaly — Richards — Zimmerman — Robinson
—- Musah —- Adams —- Llegett
—- Weah —- Pepi —- Aaronson
Cincy and the New TQL Stadium were Fantastic Hosts
You Must See this — If this doesn’t give you chills – you aren’t American. It brought tears to my eyes in the stands at Cincy – FINALLY US Soccer has a singer who understood his job was to lead us in Singing the Anthem. And Of course ESPN was TOO DAMN Stupid to Show it live. You only saw that if you were watching TUDN – which by the way you should always watch because – the US still doesn’t understand how to cover a soccer game. Here are Extended Hilights – US 2 – Mexico 0 in case you missed it. I must say I am so blessed to have been at the 4 of the 5 2-0 wins in Ohio and Chicago and this one was no different. Except I felt like the entire stadium this time was the American Outlaws section. The singing was constant – everyone stood the entire game – and I could not pick out a section of Mexican fans. There were some scattered throughout the stands – tons outside the stadium – but inside they were hard to pick out. It was a US home crowd and we stayed for 30 minutes after the win – it was Amazing. Cincy will become the new goto stadium for US wins in Qualifiers – it was cold and rainy and it had a US Crowd Frenzy that helped carry the team to victory.
You have to check these things out – of course by now everyone has heard about the Quote from Mexican Goalkeeper Memo Ochoa – about the US Seeing its self in the Mirror and wanting to be Mexico. Pulisic’s goal and then pulling up his shirt to show the Man in the Mirror on his T-shirt was the ultimate response. God I love Pulisic !! Cool video – Man in The Mirror
Here’s a hilarious sequence on US Coach Greg Berhalter who by the way has beaten Mexico 3 times in a row – NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE – and has us at the Top of the Table midway thru World Cup Qualifying. Listen I question his tactics sometimes – but you could argue this is the Best coaching job by a US Manager ever. Was he is doing with a team that’s average age was 23 years old Friday night is amazing. He has completely changed the way we play – he has adjusted to his talent – which is young but outstanding – and he adopted a high press attack that absolutely dominated Mexico. The first half was even – but the US just ran roughshod over El Tri in the 2nd half with 55% possession and far more shots. (19-9 overall). We are young and Mexico is old – the torch is being passed to US – and its time the world took notice. We still have been qualification games ahead but Berhalter has the US playing better, more offensive, attacking futbol than anyone ever. At this point I would say the Jury is no longer out on Berhalter – its time to give him the respect he has earned – he’s our Coach – will be our Coach thru the 2022 World Cup when this team makes a Quarterfinal run. He’s a former US National Team player, an MLS Champion Coach, and now he’s making his mark on our national team. Cool Interviews hear that crowd postgame – Go USA !
NWSL Finals Set Sat 12 noon at Louisville on CBS Tickets Available Just $15
Interesting watching #1 Seed Portland and all those US players lose 2-0 at home to the Chicago Red Stars. Sophia Smith, Becky Saubraun, Klingingberg, and the NWSL Regular Season Champs Thorns lost to the young Red Stars and Tierna Davidson. Even without quarter-final hero Mal Pugh (due to COVID-19 protocols), the Red Stars still had enough offensive firepower to eliminate the top-seeded Thorns yesterday. Red Stars forward Katie Johnson scored just minutes after subbing in for an injured Kealia Watt, and midfielder Sarah Woldmoe netted an insurance goal in the second half to secure the 2–0 win. No. 2 OL Reign vs. No. 3 Washington Spirit: Both sides netted a goal within the first 12 minutes, but Spirit forward Ashley Sanchez defied the laws of physics to score the 68th minute game-winner and send Washington to their first title game since 2016. Undefeated in 11 straight on-field matches, the Spirit appear unstoppable. Now all that’s left is the championship game…and finding a new owner. What’s next: Neither the Spirit nor the Red Stars have won an NWSL title, but that’ll change this Saturday at 12 p.m. noon in Louisville at Lynn Family Stadium on CBS. Tickets are just $15 – if you have daughters who play soccer you should scoop up tickets and head down there!!
WORLD CUP QUALIFYING
Today England can qualify for the World Cup by beating San Marino on the Road at 2:45 pm on ESPN+. Italy has a tougher go as they need a win at Northern Ireland also on ESPN+ to advance as the Group Winners. (updates as they happen)
BIG GAMES TO WATCH
2:45 pm ESPN+ Northern Ireland vs Italy
2:45 pm ESPN+ San Marino vs England
2:45 pm ESPN+ Scotland vs Denmark
8 am paramount + Egypt vs Gabinni
2:45 pm ESPN2 Wales vs Belgium
5 pm Paramount+ Jamaica vs USA
6:30 pm fubo Argentina vs Brazil
9 pm Para + Canada vs Mexico
7:30 am NBCSN Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Leicester City
10 USA Wolverhampton vs West Ham
12 noon CBS NWSL Championship Chicago Red Stars vs Washington Spirit
12:30 pm NBC Liverpool vs Arsenal
2:30 pm Tele Philly Union vs NY Red Bulls MLS Playoff
4 pm Tele Sporting KC vs Vancouver
7:30 pm ESPN+ Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Louisville FC
10 pm ESPN+ San Antonio (Jordan Farr GK) vs Orange County FC
9 am NBCSN Man City vs Everton
11:30 NBCSN Tottenham vs Leeds
12 noon CBSSN Inter Milan vs Napoli (Italy)
3 pm ESPN+ Real Sociedad vs Valencia (Musah)
3 pm ABC NYCFC vs Atlanta United MLS Playoff
6:30 pm ESPN Portland Timbers vs Minn United MLS
PARAMOUNT PLUS Live TV, Soccer & Originals Starting price: $4.99/mo.Features Champions League, US Men’s National Team, CONCACAF WORLD CUP Qualifying, , Serie A, Europa League Free Trial
Despite Reviving Dos a Cero, It’s No Time for USMNT to Reflect
USMNT felt Mexico’s disrespect. Christian Pulisic, with a win and a cheeky T-shirt, fired back
Dos a Cero again: USMNT blanks Mexico 2-0 for crucial World Cup qualifying victory
Opinion: Win over Mexico shows USMNT has the swagger to go with its considerable talent
Opinion: USMNT needs to follow Ted Lasso’s advice after Mexico win and ‘be a goldfish’
USMNT vs Mexico final score? Dos a Cero, via super-sub Pulisic
USMNT player ratings: 2022 World Cup in sight after beating Mexico
Zlatan Suspended for Late Foul in Game – to miss 1st game of playoff
Salah launches comeback as Egypt reach final qualifying stage
Di Maria winner puts Argentina on brink of WC qualification
England on verge of reaching World Cup as Kane treble destroys
England qualify for World Cup with 10-goal rout of San Marino
Italy in World Cup play-offs after Northern Ireland stalemate
Argentina’s defense, Brazil’s temperament to be tested in World Cup qualifier Tim Vickery
Who’s in? Who’s out? European World Cup qualification enters the final stretch
With one day remaining of the group stage of European World Cup qualifying, the race is hotting up for a place at Qatar 2022.
QUALIFIED: Germany, Denmark, Belgium, France, Croatia, Spain, Serbia, England, Switzerland
PLAYOFFS: Scotland, Wales, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, North Macedonia, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Italy
That leaves one automatic qualification spot still up for grabs for group winners, along with two playoff places for the group runners-up.
Here’s the state of play across all 10 groups.
|1 – Serbia||8||6||2||0||+9||20|
|2 – Portugal||8||5||1||1||+11||17|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
A stunning turnaround in Lisbon as Portugal threw away an early lead and a direct place at the World Cup finals.Renato Sanches netted on two minutes, only for Dusan Tadic to equalise just after the half hour. And the real drama came in the 90th minute, as Aleksandar Mitrovic scored the goal to win the group.Portugal are guaranteed to be seeded in the playoff draw.
|1 – Spain||8||5||1||1||+10||19|
|2 – Sweden||8||5||0||3||+6||15|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
Spain had a nervy time against Sweden, needing a point to advance to the finals, before Alvaro Morata calmed the nerves with what proved to be an 86th-minute winner.Spain go direct the the World Cup finals, while Sweden enter the playoffs. Sweden should have enough points to be seeded in the playoff draw, but they must wait for confirmation.
|1 – Switzerland||8||5||3||0||+13||18|
|2 – Italy||8||4||4||0||+11||16|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
Switzerland scored three second-half goals at home Bulgaria to get the 3-0 win they needed to put pressure on Italy.
The European champions couldn’t respond, held to a goalless draw away to Northern Ireland.
It means Switzerland qualify for the World Cup and, just like in qualifying for the 2018 edition, Italy must go through the playoffs. Roberto Mancini’s team will be seeded in those playoffs.
Nov. 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Ukraine, Finland vs. France
|1 – France||7||4||3||0||+13||15|
|2 – Finland||7||3||2||2||+2||11|
|3 – Ukraine||7||1||6||0||+1||9|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
France (12 points) sealed their place at the World Cup with am 8-0 win over Kazakhstan on Saturday.
Finland (11 points) moved into second with victory over Bosnia, who are now eliminated, and must win at home to France on Nov. 16 to definitely secure the playoff place. They will be second regardless if Ukraine do not win in Bosnia.
Ukraine (9 points) now know they must win in Bosnia to make the playoffs, with Finland losing or drawing against France. If Finland lose, Ukraine go to the playoffs with any win.
If Finland draw and Ukraine win, it comes down to goal difference. If Ukraine win by one goal, goal difference would be level and it would come down to goals scored (as it stands, Finland have 10 goals and Ukraine 9). If goals scored also finishes level, Ukraine are second on head to head record.
Nov. 16: Czech Republic vs. Estonia, Wales vs. Belgium
|1 – Belgium||7||6||1||0||+19||19|
|2 – Wales||7||4||2||1||+5||14|
|3 – Czech Rep||7||3||2||2||+3||11|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
Belgium (19 points) qualified for the World Cup with their 3-1 win at home to Estonia.
Wales (14 points) are second ahead of Czech Republic (11 points), and both are assured of a playoff place via the UEFA Nations League if they finish third. However, Wales need at least a point at home to Belgium guarantee finishing second and have a chance of being seeded in the playoff draw. They will also finish second with a defeat if Czech Republic fail to beat Estonia.For Czech Republic to finish second, they have to win at home to Estonia, and need Wales to lose, meaning the two teams will finish level on points. The Czechs (+3) must then finish with better goal difference than Wales (+5). If goal difference finishes level, second place would be decided on group goals scored.
If records finish identical, Wales win the head to head. This can only happen if Wales lose and Czech Republic win by the same one-goal scoreline.
– UEFA World Cup playoff system explained
|1 – Denmark||10||9||0||1||+27||27|
|2 – Scotland||10||7||2||1||+10||23|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
Denmark qualified but missed out on finishing with a 100% record after defeat to Scotland in their last game. That victory was crucial for Scotland, and it means they will be seeded in the playoff draw.Austria didn’t finish inside the top two, but are guaranteed of being unseeded in the playoffs as a UEFA Nations League group winner.
Nov. 16: Gibraltar vs. Latvia, Montenegro vs. Turkey, Netherlands vs. Norway
|1 – Netherlands||9||6||2||1||+23||20|
|2 – Turkey||9||5||3||1||+10||18|
|3 – Norway||9||5||3||1||+9||18|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
Vastly superior goal difference effectively means Netherlands (20 points) will only need a point at home to Norway to qualify for the World Cup. They could only miss out with a draw if Turkey (18 points) win in Montenegro by at least 13 goals.However, Netherlands would miss out on the playoffs and finish third in the group if they lose to Norway (18 points) and Turkey win.Turkey are level with Norway, but hold second on goal difference (by one goal) following their 6-0 win over Gibraltar. Turkey know that a win away to Montenegro guarantees at least a playoff place.If Turkey (GD +10) and Norway (GD +9) both win, Netherlands are out and first and second will be decided goal difference. Turkey can only top the group if both they and Norway win. Turkey, who have scored 10 more goals than Norway, would need to win by the same score margin, or one goal fewer, to finish top on goal difference or goals scored.
A draw is definitely enough for Turkey for the playoffs if Norway lose.If Norway win in the Netherlands, they get at least a playoff, and win the group if Turkey fail to win. If Turkey win, Norway must win by two goals more than Turkey to overtake them on goal difference. A draw is enough for the playoffs if Turkey lose.If Turkey and Norway draw, Turkey are second on goal difference.If Turkey and Norway both lose, it will again come down to goal difference, so Norway would need Turkey to lose by a two-goal greater margin.Turkey and Norway won’t finish with identical records as Norway would need to win 12-10, even if Turkey only won 1-0.
|1 – Croatia||10||6||2||1||+16||23|
|2 – Russia||10||6||1||2||+13||22|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
Croatia got the win they needed against Russia in split to climb above their visitors and top the group.
Fedor Kudryashov scored an own goal in the 81st minute to give Croatia and 1-0 win.
Russia will have to go through the playoffs, where they will be seeded.
|1 – England||10||8||2||0||+36||26|
|2 – Poland||10||6||2||2||+19||20|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
England cruised to the World Cup on the final day, winning 10-0 away to San Marino.
But it wasn’t such good news for Poland, who had already qualified for the playoffs but lost their final match 2-1 at home to Hungary. That result means they have to wait for results on Tuesday to find out if they will be seeded or not, but their hopes and hanging in the balance.
|1 – Germany||10||9||0||1||+32||27|
|2 – N Macedonia||10||5||3||2||+12||18|
|1st qualifies, 2nd into playoffs|
Germany had already secured their place in October, leaving the playoff place up for grabs this month.North Macedonia were in danger of throwing it away, drawing 1-1 at home to Iceland, before two goals from Eljif Elmas gave them victory and a place in the playoffs.However, North Macedonia will be unseeded in the playoff draw so face an away semifinal.
HOW THE PLAYOFFS WORK
The 10 runners-up from the groups are joined by the best two UEFA Nations League group winners not to have finished in the top two of their qualifying group.We now know that Austria and whoever misses out on the top two from Group E between Czech Republic and Wales will qualify via the Nations League.The playoffs, to be played in March 2022, will be seeded by qualifying points, with the two UEFA Nations League teams unseeded. The draw takes place on Friday, Nov. 26.Seeded teams will be drawn at home against unseeded teams, to play one-legged semifinals.
SEEDED: Portugal, Russia, Italy, Scotland
UNSEEDED: Austria, North Macedonia
POT TBC: Czech Republic, Sweden, Wales
The finals will see the winners of SF1 play SF2, SF3 vs. SF4 and SF5 vs. SF6. There will be a draw to determine the home team in each final path.
European champions Italy and England can qualify for the 2022 World Cup on Monday but Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will have to wait until next year to battle through the playoffs.Portugal crashed to a 2-1 loss to Serbia on Sunday that sent the winners through to the finals in Qatar and forced Portugal into the playoffs in March as the second-placed team in Group A.
Christian Pulisic and USMNT revive ‘Dos a Cero’ lore, vanquish Mexico in World Cup qualifier
Henry BushnellFri, November 12, 2021, 11:03 PMIn this article:
celebrates the first of two U.S. goals that beat Mexico in a World Cup qualifier on Friday. (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI — The half-fit savior jogged up the sideline at 10:31 p.m. He had, for over an hour here on Friday night, watched a World Cup qualifier from a shivering bench, bundled in a rain-repelling overcoat, helpless. He’d watched from a worn patch of grass just beyond the southwest corner flag as his teammates and their biggest rivals sparred, surging and retreating, trading crunching tackles and promising moments but, for 65 minutes, no goals.Christian Pulisic watched all of it, and knew he could change it.Five minutes after joining the fray, with his first touch the ball, he did.Pulisic, who’d been limited by injury to just 23 minutes of competitive soccer over the past two months, headed the U.S. ahead of Mexico on a frigid night in Ohio. Eleven minutes later, Weston McKennie doubled the lead. And ghosts reappeared. Dos a Cero emerged from its grave. Some 20,000 American fans sang it, those three Spanish words, flowing from the mouths of gringos, echoing around TQL Stadium the rest of the night.Those fans had stood without reprieve through drizzle and driving rain, as mid-40s temperatures dipped into the 30s. They’d hoped to revive that famous scoreline, to resuscitate the demons that Mexico had seemingly vanquished five years and one day ago, when it snapped the streak of four consecutive 2-0 U.S. wins in home qualifiers.For over an hour, the USMNT looked strong but incapable. Focused and passionate, but without cutting edge. Organized and intelligent, but without an extra touch of class. Possession and purpose without a breakthrough.Then Pulisic arrived, and Cincinnati came alive, and the past became the present. Perhaps the future, too. There may never be another U.S.-Mexico game like this. There may never be another opportunity in Ohio for El Tri to confront these demons.Dos a Cero, after another magical night, may just live on forever.
The Dos a Cero lore
It all began just up the road in Columbus, over 20 years ago, before a few current USMNTers were even born. The Mexican media dubbed it La Guerra Fría. Soccer’s cold war. Literally. The U.S. won 2-0. Mexicans froze. A legend was born.It solidified itself in USMNT culture that next summer at the World Cup. Dos a Cero again, then again in 2005, and by then it was more than just two numbers. It was a foregone conclusion, a rite of passage for U.S. fans, a date that got circled on calendars and a flight that instantly got booked, because the game would inevitably be in Columbus and the result would inevitably be 2-0. It was again in 2009. And again in 2013.
The names on backs of jerseys changed. Not much else did. Clint Dempsey could have made it Tres a Cero in 2013. Some fans revised the chant as he stepped up to a stoppage-time penalty kick. Others, though, cringed at the thought. One standing behind the goal that day swears that Dempsey “looked me directly in the eye, gave me a wink, and kicked the ball wide. And then looked up at us [fans], and kinda gave us a little sly grin, and kinda gave us a thumbs up, and clapped as he walked away to celebrate. So, I go to my grave saying, Clint did that for the culture.”
Such was the importance of Dos a Cero, and such was the sadness when it perished in 2016. (Cause of death: A Rafa Marquez dagger.) But the traditions it spawned? They persisted, and reappeared in Cincinnati this week. On Friday, as the sun set and temperatures ebbed, parking lots, bars and streets filled. Mexican and American and Mexican American fans came from all 50 states, and from south of the border, some having paid thousands of dollars for a ticket, some having gamed a system designed to prevent them from getting one.They danced and drank and sounded air horns. Some indoctrinated their kids. Others met friends they hadn’t seen in years. Many fraternized with the enemy. Starkly different cultures meshed in a largely white Midwestern county, harmonizing around the one thing they share: Soccer.This time, the city was different. The venue was brand new. The goosebumps and stomach pits, though, were familiar. U.S. fans felt them, and wondered whether their players would. Only one of the 11 who took the pitch to a coordinated, stadium-wide “U-S-A” chant on Friday had played in this game before. Would they understand its history? Its ethos? Could they cope?They answered resoundingly, and immediately.
Passion and intensity mixed with poise
They swarmed to the ball high up the pitch in the game’s very first minute. They stood up to Mexican elders in individual duels. Zack Steffen, a controversial choice to start the game in goal, calmly split Mexican opponents with passes. Tyler Adams, after some early mistakes, flew into tackles. Tim Weah and Ricardo Pepi combined, with a dummy and a flick, and with the confidence of men twice their footballing years.
The classiest players on the field were the Mexican stars. The usual suspects. Chucky Lozano was magical. His teammates cut through the U.S. press in the 18th minute, going back to front with six touches and five passes, and played him in on goal. Steffen sprawled for his biggest save of the night.
But those stars — Raul Jimenez, Tecatito Corona, Hector Herrera, Edson Alvarez — met resistance. They met DeAndre Yedlin’s shoulder and Miles Robinson’s grit. They outplayed Adams and McKennie throughout the first half, but Yunus Musah, all of 18 years old, ran the U.S. show. He wriggled in and out of tight spaces, his feel for the game precocious, his drive relentless. Standing on the sideline, U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter marveled.
“The quality, the bravery, the relentlessness,” he said of Musah postgame. “He just keeps going.”
But part of Berhalter also worried. His kids, clearly, were undaunted. They were outpossessing Mexico. Perhaps outstripping individual expectations. And yet they hadn’t found a goal.
“We have to get one,” Musah told Weah at halftime.
“I’m thinking how well we’re playing,” Berhalter said, “and it would’ve been a shame if we didn’t win the game.”
At a Thursday meeting, though, Weah said they’d talked about patience. About balancing intensity and poise. They emerged from their locker room at halftime — a full two minutes before Mexico did — with all of those attributes and more.
They kept their heads when the game got chippy and, in some instances, brutal. Jimenez put Adams on his back after an aerial duel. Luis “Chaka” Rodriguez very nearly gauged Brenden Aaronson’s eye. A scuffle ensued. The match frayed. Fans wondered, understandably, if there’d be a winner.
But Mexico had tired. The U.S. never did. “That’s the effect that we have on opponents,” Berhalter said. “When we can press them, and we can be that aggressive around the ball and with the ball, turning them around, making them face their own goal, it becomes really challenging.”
The Americans took control. And then, with around 25 minutes remaining, Berhalter looked to his right. Down the sideline, swinging his limbs, warming his muscles, was a $73 million forward with the final-third lethality that had been lacking.
“When we brought in Christian, it gave the team a boost,” Berhalter said. “And it also put some fear into Mexico. Because they know his quality.”
Dos a Cero lives forever
So on came Pulisic. Five minutes later, with the match seemingly stalling a bit, out wide the ball went to Weah. Weah, the coaches’ man of the match, drove at a defender, giving Pulisic time to sneak between two others in the box.
The ball skimmed off his head and past Memo Ochoa. As TQL Stadium exploded, Pulisic brought two fingers to his ears. As beer flew and 20,000 people leapt with joy, he lifted up his jersey, to reveal an undershirt, and send a message.
As the game resumed, and the USMNT refused to flinch, Mexico wilted. McKennie waltzed through a crumbling defense and finished.
Robinson got sent off late, few cared. It was Dos a Cero, again. It was Dos a Cero, Part Six. It was Dos a Cero, risen.
At the final whistle, U.S. players beamed and scurried onto the field. Up in the stands, U.S. supporters jumped. A middle-aged man clad in only a shirt and stars-and-striped shorts shed the shirt and waved it in the air.
And then came the chant, again and again, and again and again.
The players gathered at midfield, then took a lap around the field to soak it in. Perhaps they knew the context. Perhaps they didn’t. The World Cup is changing. The qualifying format will change with it. The U.S. and Mexico may never come back to Ohio, at least not for a meaningful game. This was the end of an era, of a ritualistic experience, of a series that has defined U.S. men’s national team fandom for two decades.
And it will always be associated with those three words.
Dos. A. Cero.
More to USMNT than Christian Pulisic, but Chelsea star proves vs. Mexico he’s the face of U.S. soccer
CINCINNATI — Christian Pulisic was there. He was there for a week of hard training. He was there in the dressing room as the players gathered round. He was there as the game began to tip in the second half. He was there in front of goal. He was there in the middle of that magical, glorious celebration that set TQL Stadium aglow.
Pulisic was there with the message on his shirt, the perfect person — the only person — who could deliver that necessary missive to Mexico, the one that makes clear this United States men’s national team is not interested in being anything other than its precocious, penetrating self. No one could say that Pulisic was the best player on the field in the thrilling 2-0 victory over its biggest rival Friday night. Pulisic played only 25 minutes and, in truth, even had it been 90, it was hard to imagine him (or anyone) surpassing the dynamic Timothy Weah, who delivered nothing less than everything you could want from a winger attacking from the edge against a dangerous opponent.But after missing the past three U.S. games because of an ankle injury, Pulisic reminded evryone, including Mexico, that he is this team’s talisman. Its star. Its leader, the kind of player who can, at any moment, grip a match in his hands and bend it just so.He came into a scoreless game. He pushed and pressed and prodded. He made a precise run at a precise moment to meet Weah’s impeccable cross. He headed the ball past Guillermo Ochoa, the Mexican goalkeeper who suggested earlier this week that this young U.S. group has accomplished so little that it still sees El Tri when it gazes at its own reflection. As Ochoa floundered then in the bitter cold late Friday, Pulisic ran toward the corner and proudly pulled up his jersey to reveal the words scrawled in black marker on his undershirt: Man in the mirror.It was a flawless riposte, sly and knifing all at once. The Americans howled. The Mexicans slumped. The days of the U.S. being bossed by its rival are long since past.Even Pulisic, ever stoic with the media, allowed himself a relative crow. “We’ve come a long way in the past few years,” he said.
Earlier in the week, in a conversation at the team hotel, I asked Pulisic how he felt about the U.S.’s progress as this arduous World Cup qualifying cycle approached its halfway point. “I think we’re in a good position,” he offered quickly in the head-down, muted murmur that is his default. Then he paused and looked up. “In a week and a half, we could be in a great one,” he said.They nearly are. If the U.S. can get a result on Tuesday in Jamaica, it will head into the new year in excellent shape to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar — a goal that, Friday’s excitement aside, is far bigger than any one win over a reviled neighbor.Pulisic, of course, is the only link to the 2018 World Cup qualifying failure, and he does not hide his desperation to lead this group back from those dregs. That is what made his injury so much more difficult to manage. Missing games for Chelsea was gutting enough, but having to sit idly by as the national team played three critical matches in the last window without him was brutal for Pulisic.Stuck in London, he went to sleep early on days the U.S. played and woke up in the middle of the night to watch the games, pacing in his living room. When his recovery progressed to the point he could rejoin Chelsea’s training a few weeks ago, he immediately began thinking about targeting a return in time for Mexico.He craved it. Pulisic makes no secret of the fact that he is not wired to be a vocal captain like Tyler Adams, but he nonetheless sees himself as a leader of this youthful U.S. group. And so he wanted to be present, to be visible, to be close.”I just want to lead in my own way,” he told me, “and I hope that the other guys can see that and then try to follow.”He needn’t worry. Even if many of his teammates are only a few years younger (Pulisic, remember, is still only 23), it is clear there is an abiding connection. Brenden Aaronson, who was among those asked to fill in with Pulisic out, said Pulisic “means so much to our team,” adding, “It’s like another confidence boost just having him here.”Weah said simply, “He’s our star player. He’s so deadly.”It was Weah and DeAndre Yedlin who came up with the idea to put “man in the mirror” on a shirt, and it is emblematic of Pulisic’s place within the group that he was the one who got to show it.It should be said: It is not his team. There is too much talent for any one player to take on that load, and the truth is that the U.S. is better because of it. But there is also no denying that Pulisic remains the ideal fulcrum around which this American roster pivots.That is what U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter — and, very likely, just about every American fan in the stands — thought when Pulisic took off his warm-ups, gave his coach a hug and ran onto the field late Friday.”When we brought in Christian, it gave the team a boost,” Berhalter said. “And it also, I think, put some fear into Mexico.”
Sports is, so often, simply a results business, and that concept is especially true in World Cup qualifying. Yes or no — did you accomplish that which you set out to do? Reaching Qatar next winter is, at bottom, the only measure that matters for this American team.But the journey remains important. The moments do have meaning. And Friday in the arena with their most important opponent was a moment for the U.S. players. They imposed their will on the game. They played their style, not Mexico’s. They threatened. They defended. They were patient, trusting that their work would be rewarded even if it took so long to arrive.Even more, they did not act surprised by their victory, did not lay false claim to being some sort of massive underdog who pulled off an upset. Their skill is indisputable and, to some, might even be superior. They had their crowd. They deserved to win on Friday and they did. It was a formative experience in the story still to be written about this gifted group.Now comes another moment. A road game in Jamaica feels like the classic comedown, the kind of match that slips away easily if not held with care. A win is ideal, of course, but even a steady draw would show the sturdiness of character to which the U.S. aspires. CONCACAF is hard and the most important course of action is often just figuring out how to avoid undoing the positive work you’ve already done.It is not clear what Pulisic will be able to offer on Tuesday in Kingston. He had played less than half an hour for Chelsea before rejoining the U.S., and the conditions in Jamaica — hot, humid and on a field that inevitably resembles the rough on a chewed-up golf course — are lacking for a fit player, let alone one coming back from an ankle injury.Might he come on as a late sub again? Perhaps. But even if not, the power lies in knowing that he is available. That he is back.Pulisic was there on Friday. Right where this U.S. team needs him most.
USMNT Duo Suspended for World Cup Qualifier in Jamaica
he U.S. men’s national team is flying high after a 2–0 win—Dos A Cero once again—over Mexico, which lifted the Americans to the top of the Concacaf World Cup qualifying standings. The victory did come at a cost, though.Midfield star Weston McKennie received a yellow card, giving him two in the 14-match competition, while center back Miles Robinson was dealt two in the second half, resulting in a red card and a sending off. McKennie’s accumulation and Robinson’s ejection mean both will be unavailable for Tuesday’s qualifier in Jamaica. Any player who accumulates two yellow cards over the course of the competition is forced to miss the subsequent match. McKennie, Tyler Adams and DeAndre Yedlin were the U.S. players carrying yellows into Friday’s match vs. El Tri. John Brooks and Jordan Pefok also picked up yellows earlier in qualifying, but they are not in this camp.McKennie received his as part of the fallout of a skirmish that followed Chaka Rodríguez appearing to grab Brenden Aaronson’s face and eyes. Rodríguez saw yellow in that sequence, as did U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen.Robinson saw yellow in the 59th minute before getting his second in the 90th for taking down Hirving Lozano from behind. It left the U.S. down to 10 men for the duration of stoppage time. Robinson has been a constant in the back for the U.S. throughout qualifying, and his absence opens up a place for Chris Richards or Mark McKenzie, the other two center backs in camp in addition to Friday’s other starter, Walker Zimmerman.
Reviving Dos a Cero Is Worth Boasting, but It’s No Time for USMNT to Reflect
There was much to celebrate Friday night in Cincinnati after a memorable win over Mexico, but the World Cup qualifying road to Qatar is only halfway complete.
BRIAN STRAUS Sports Illustrated
CINCINNATI — U.S. men’s national team players, coaches and staff—or at least the staff who had access to the stadium PA system here—weren’t too fond of the suggestion that they see only Mexico when looking in the mirror.El Tri captain Guillermo Ochoa implied last week that Mexico is and always will be the Americans’ exemplar and measuring stick. But with Friday night’s emphatic 2–0 World Cup qualifying win, which was its third straight competitive triumph over Mexico in just five months, this young U.S. side demonstrated that it’s developing its own identity. It has broader ambitions.There’s a catch, however. There’s always a morning after, no matter how glorious the previous evening might have been. And there’s always a response required, whether you win or lose. The U.S. (4-1-2) may be in first place at the halfway point of Concacaf’s Octagonal qualifying competition, but this isn’t the summit. Tickets to Qatar aren’t yet secured, and Jamaica (1-3-3) is on the schedule next Tuesday. If the U.S. spends too much time basking in the afterglow of Friday’s win or admiring its own robust reflection, it risks squandering its momentum and advantage. “This game is behind us now,” said U.S. winger Christian Pulisic, whose timely match-winning goal and “MAN IN THE MIRROR” undershirt were the talk of TQL Stadium late Friday. “It’s huge to help us to get three points, and now we’re first place in the group and to be in this position is unbelievable. But we haven’t accomplished our ultimate goal yet. Jamaica is going to be a tough match. We know what they’re about. We’re going to get the scouting report. We’re going to prepare as best we can. That’s all we can do now.”Tuesday’s game in Kingston will mark the second time during this World Cup qualifying cycle that the U.S. plays again shortly after a win. And the first one was a disaster. Last month, the the Americans eased past the Reggae Boyz in Austin, Texas, before flying to Panama City and face planting. The 1-0 loss to Los Canaleros marked their worst performance in almost two years.There are differences between that game and this week’s. That loss in Panama came on just three days rest and was the second of three October qualifiers. As a result, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter deployed a heavily-rotated squad in Panama that was missing the requisite chemistry, movement and attacking verve. But next Tuesday’s qualifier will come after four days rest and will conclude this international window. There’s almost no need to be cautious.“It should be reasonable that if we’re happy with the performance of the players in the first game, that they can continue on and play the second game and we won’t need to rest them or rotate them,” Berhalter said after unveiling this month’s squad.He had every reason to be happy with every performance against Mexico. But he’s not going to just send out the same XI. There are two suspensions to contend with, and they’re significant. Midfielder Weston McKennie is a casualty of the stupidly draconian yellow card accumulation rule that requires a player to sit out after receiving only two cautions across the entire qualifying competition. The scorer of Friday’s second goal, McKennie saw yellow following a second-half confrontation between several U.S. and Mexico players. He was also booked in the Octagonal opener at El Salvador.The U.S. will also play Jamaica without center back Miles Robinson, who’s arguably traversed more ground on Berhalter’s depth chart than any other player since the summer. The Atlanta United defender probably should’ve won the Concacaf Gold Cup MVP award, and he was excellent on Friday, partnering with Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman to take Mexico front man Raúl Jiménez out of the game. Robinson was sent off with a second yellow card in the 90th minute for a tug from behind on Hirving Lozano.
Tradition Restored, Respect Earned: USMNT’s Latest ‘Dos a Cero’ Hits All the Right Notes
The U.S.’s rallying cry against Mexico has officially been adopted by its new generation in a defining World Cup qualifying victory. BRIAN STRAUS Sports illustrated
CINCINNATI — This may be a generation of young U.S. players the likes of which we’ve never seen. It’s ambitious, fearless and committed to its manager Gregg Berhalter’s stated mission “to change the way the world views American soccer.”But it still has an enthralling and timely appreciation for the classics.It’s the score made famous by their predecessors, the ones who pulled the U.S. men’s national team even with and often past their arch rival and long-time tormenter, Mexico. It became a slogan, an appellation and a call to arms: “Dos a Cero.” It was the score when the Americans bested El Tri at the 2002 World Cup and when they established a long-sought home-field advantage in nearby Columbus, where they won four straight World Cup qualifiers by that exact margin.If Friday night’s qualifier here in wet and chilly Cincinnati indeed was the last between the teams on U.S. soil, then this stretch of games that redefined U.S. soccer’s standing in the region ended on a perfectly poignant note. Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie scored second-half goals, punctuating as dominant a performance as the U.S. has ever enjoyed against its rival. The 2–0 win lifted the Americans (4-1-2) to first place at the halfway point of Concacaf’s eight-team qualifying competition, which will send the top three finishers to next year’s World Cup in Qatar and the fourth-place side to an intercontinental playoff.The U.S., which visits Jamaica (1-3-3) next Tuesday, is now ahead of second-place Mexico on goal differential. But the gap suddenly seems bigger than that. After losing his first two matchups against El Tri, Berhalter has engineered an unprecedented three straight competitive wins in just five months—the Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League finals during the summer and then Friday’s signature triumph.Before making their case to the world, the Americans had to re-establish themselves locally. The failure to advance to the 2018 World Cup loomed large over this revitalized program as the new quadrennial cycle commenced. But this player pool clearly is made of different stuff. It’s exceptionally young for a contending national team—this month’s squad averages under 24 years of age—but its aspirations and confidence are evident. Many members play for high-profile clubs. Others are on their way. And they approached Friday’s game with no fear, pressing and harassing and going at Mexico until the visitors eventually and inevitably buckled.“When I think about our age and the youth we have in this generation coming up and having to compete against Mexico, that’s an experienced team. And these guys just keep going and they’re relentless,” said Berhalter, a member of that U.S. team that bested El Tri in ’02. “It’s the mentality of the group to be very aggressive. We wanted to put Mexico on their heels. We know they’re a good team, a well-coached team, and for us it was about, ‘How we can we disrupt them?’ And I think we didn’t want to show that sign of weakness by dropping off. We wanted to be aggressive and continue to press.” If it looked like the hosts played with a bit of a chip on their collective shoulder, it’s because they probably did. Each and every qualifier is worth just three points, and the three points earned Friday are no more vital than the ones at stake in Kingston next week. But anyone who’s ever competed understands the nature of rivalry, and how that friction and antipathy can jumpstart emotions, highlight perceived sleights and heighten sensitivity. It’s not enough to beat El Tri. It has to sting.This week, veteran Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa expressed an interesting take on the cross-border clásico. Those two wins over the summer and that winning overall record over the past three decades didn’t change the overall pecking order, he suggested, because the U.S. still defines itself by its relationship to Mexico.“Mexico has been that mirror in which they want to see themselves and reflect—what they want to copy,” Ochoa told reporters.Berhalter bristled during his pre-game press conference on Friday, saying that his players apparently still “have a long way to go to get the respect of Mexico.” That was the cue. At some point between then and Friday’s kickoff. U.S. Soccer staffers put Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” on the stadium playlist. And Pulisic, separately and coincidentally, had the same phrase written on a white undershirt.When Pulisic scored the game’s opening goal on a quick near-post run and sharp, short-range, 75th-minute header, he lifted his U.S. jersey and showed off the undershirt to the fans sitting behind TQL Stadium’s south goal. And after the final whistle sounded about 15 minutes later—McKennie had tallied the symbolic second goal in the 85th—the arena’s PA system played Jackson’s hit.
Pulisic, McKennie Bring Dos a Cero Back for USMNT vs. Mexico
AVI CREDITOR sports illustrated
It’s Dos a Cero: The next generation. Into Friday’s World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico for just five minutes as a second-half substitute, U.S. men’s national team star Christian Pulisic scored the go-ahead goal in the 74th minute, while Weston McKennie added a second 11 minutes later to give the U.S. a familiar 2–0 win in an intense bout between the two storied rivals at FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium.The stakes were big, with the U.S. now topping the Concacaf Octagonal halfway through the cycle, tied on points with Mexico but ahead on goal differential. After the other results in the region on the night, the U.S. is a point clear of third-place Canada and three points ahead of fourth-place Panama. More importantly, the U.S. is eight points clear of fifth-place Costa Rica. The top three teams in the Octagonal automatically qualify for the World Cup, while the fourth-place team goes to an intercontinental playoff. The Dos a Cero scoreline had been a fixture in World Cup qualifying bouts between the two sides, with the U.S. winning 2-0 in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 before Mexico snapped the streak and prevented it from going to five in a row in Columbus in 2016, winning 2–1 to open the last round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. On a night the U.S. made it three straight wins in competitive matches vs. El Tri in a matter of five months, following summer triumphs in the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup finals, the Americans took back their tradition as well. The U.S. was a bit shorthanded for the match. Pulisic wasn’t available from the start, Gregg Berhalter announced Thursday, citing his bandwidth after just returning from injury, while Sergiño Dest and Gio Reyna were sidelined with injuries of their own. Mexico wasn’t playing with a full deck either, with the visitors facing a bit of a center back crisis. Néstor Araujo was suspended, while César Montes and Héctor Moreno were out injured, forcing manager Tata Martino to dip into his depth at a pivotal position. Things were busy on the U.S. left to start the match, with left back Antonee Robinson pushing forward and trying to drive the U.S. attack only to be thwarted, while Jesús “Tecatito” Corona tried to go 1-v-1 on Miles Robinson—who was covering Antonee Robinson’s area—on the other end, with the Atlanta United center back coming out on top in their duel. The first U.S. half-chance emanated from the right, though. Yunus Musah did well to keep possession in the midfield before finding Tim Weah out wide, and he picked out Mexican-American forward Ricardo Pepi, whose redirect in the box went wide of the target in the fifth minute. Weah called his own number from long range on a one-man transitional moment a couple of minutes later, trying to beat Guillermo Ochoa with a low blast when he had Brenden Aaronson streaking forward into the box. The veteran goalkeeper calmly and cleanly made the save. Mexico tested Zack Steffen for the first time in the 12th minute. Edson Álvarez curled a shot from over 20 yards out toward the left post, but Steffen, who got the start over Matt Turner for a second straight qualifier, was equal to it, diving to his right and pushing it around the target. Steffen made another massive save in the 18th minute, when Hirving Lozano was played through by Corona and found himself on a breakaway. With DeAndre Yedlin bearing down, Lozano still had room to shoot, but a sprawling Steffen made the save.
DOS-A-CERO Again! Pulisic ignites USMNT rally to down Mexico in Cincy
The United States national team wrote another memorable chapter to its long-standing rivalry with Mexico. While it featured many new players, the 2-0 scoreline remained the same with Christian Pulisic breaking the game open with a huge goal and Tim Weah putting on a dazzling performance. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta breaks it all down with his thoughts and analysis.
BY BRIAN SCIARETTA American Soccer now — NOVEMBER 12, 20213:55 PM
AT HALFTIME, it seemed like the game could have gone either way with the score even at 0-0. Mexico had some nice chances, but the U.S. team had some nice chances but was only lacking its final ball. The second half, however, told a completely different story and the U.S. defeated Mexico by the iconic 2-0 score to notch a third competitive win over Mexico in 2021 and move into first atop the Octagonal World Cup qualifying group.
The U.S. team simply came out and took the game to Mexico in the second. The U.S. team dominated and had the better of chances. Mexico struggled to get anything decent going in their final third. The U.S. team was able to press much higher up the field.“The second half is when we started to pull away,” Berhalter said. “The first half was an entertaining half, it was back and forth and both teams were taking shots at each other. The second half is where we started to pull away.”“That’s the effect we have on our opponents. when we can press them and we can be that aggressive around the ball and with the ball, turning them around make them face to face your own goal becomes really challenging.”With the U.S. in control of the possession and pressuring Mexico, the turning point came in the 69th minute when Berhalter subbed in Christian Pulisic. The Chelsea star has missed most of this season for the Blues – first due to COVID and then due to an injured ankle. He had made a few late cameos in England before the break and was not fit to start.But he was fit to make a difference. In the 74th minute, five minutes after entering, he turned the game decidedly in favor of the U.S. team with a critical goal off a beautiful pass from Tim Weah.“We bought in Christian he gave the team of boost and it also put some fear into Mexico, because they know his quality,” Berhalter said. “So, anytime we can bring in players like that, and they can make an impact is a good thing for us.”In the 85th minute, the U.S. put the game out of reach when Tim Weah swung a ball into the middle for Jesus Ferreira. The FC Dallas attacker played it off to McKennie who attempted to play it back to Ferreira. His pass was deflected off a defender and came back to him and he had an opening through the defense. He moved in and beat Guillermo Ochoa with the shot.The U.S. team was able to play out the win but suffered a late second yellow card to defender Miles Robinson who was sent off and is now suspended for the Jamaica game. He will join Weston McKennie as two players who will miss that important game.When the final whistle sounded, the U.S. ended yet another 2-0 storied win over Mexico. It is now the sixth time the U.S. team has defeated its archrival with that iconic scoreline in World Cup or World Cup qualifying with the other editions coming in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2013.
Here are some thoughts on the win
WEAH WAS THE MOTM
Gregg Berhalter gave Tim Weah the “Coach’s MOTM” and it was the right decision. In the first half, Weah was actively pushing the ball forward whenever he had the chance and this prevented Mexico from pressing too high as it kept them on their heels a little bit.Then in the second half, Weah was the key difference maker. His cross set up Puslic beautifully for the opening goal and then it was his pass to Ferreira that was instrumental in McKennie’s late goal.
For the three wins the U.S. team has had over Mexico this year, this was the best offensive performance from any American players. It would take going back to Landon Donovan to find a player who had a better offensive game against Mexico.Weah’s raw numbers were simply fantastic across the board.
PULISIC BUILDS USMNT LEGACY
Christian Pulisic has had a wonderful career so far and while he is yet to play in a World Cup, he has scored some important goals for the team. This was probably his biggest so far. The U.S. team is desperately trying to reverse the legacy of 2017 and change a new narrative.The two wins over Mexico this summer were important but this one put the exclamation point on what has been a good year for a program that has built a deep pool of players. This win put the U.S. team in an excellent position in World Cup qualifying and Pulisic’s goal is what turned the tide from a good U.S. performance into a winning performance. That is what star players are supposed to do.
MIDFIELD RISES TO THE OCCASION
The starting midfield for the U.S. team was sloppy with its passing in the first 20 minutes. The remainder of the match, however, the starting trio of Adams, McKennie, and Musah were dominant. In the second half, it was no contest.For the starting trio, they won 22/35 of their combined duels. The physicality they brought to the game gave the U.S. team an edge, and it wore and older Mexican team down.
While McKennie scored, the most complete midfield performance was Yunus Musah who is one of the most direct midfielders the U.S. team has had. When Beharlter preaches “verticality,” Musah seems to fit this plan.Gianluca Busio has been pushing for a starting spot, but Musah will probably make it tough for him. Busio and Musah both are still a little defensively naive and it is tough to start both of them together. But for now, it’s tough to take Musah off the field.
YOUTH PROVIDES THE EDGE
The U.S. national team has three wins in three games against Mexico this year. In those three wins, the U.S. team has scored six goals. Five of those six goals have been scored after the 74th minute (27th, 82nd, 114th, 117th, 74th, 85th).It’s an older Mexican team and a very young U.S. team. Berhalter was quick to point out how he wanted to wear Mexico down. This strategy has been very effective. The U.S. has found a way to own the latter parts of the game and that has been key.Will the U.S. team be able to do that in Azteca next year? That’s a tough assignment.
ZIMMERMAN’S BIG NIGHT
Walker Zimmerman had a very, very big night for the U.S. team. He was a steady presence in the back and dominated in the air. Aside from one turnover in the first half, it was pretty much flawless defensively. It wasn’t just winning duels, he was intercepting passes and doing well in his 1v1 defending.This was a defining performance for Zimmerman who probably put himself on the inside part of a top 23-player roster. If Berhalter is going to call in four central defenders he’s probably one of them. The odds are that John Brooks regains his form. That would probably have John Brooks, Miles Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, and Chris Richards as the top four central defenders at the moment.
STEFFEN’S STANDS TALL
It was one of the most talked about decisions in the starting XI since it was known in advance. Berhalter opted to start Zack Steffen over Matt Turner. It was talked about because both goalkeepers have done well, and both should feel they have reasons to start.In this game, Steffen did well and the fact that he got the nod in this game probably makes it a realistic guess he will be the team’s starter in big games – at least for now. Turner will still get chances and is probably a slightly better shot-stopper than Steffen. But Steffen’s ability to play out of the back and distribute the ball worked well here and it the U.S. team earned a lot of key possessions out of it.Of course, Steffen has dealt with several injuries over the years and has missed a lot of time. The fact that he rarely plays for his club also could see his form fluctuate. But for now, Steffen put himself in a great situation.
LOOKING AHEAD TO JAMAICA
On Tuesday, the U.S. team will face Jamaica in Kingston and keeping the entire starting lineup from this game together is impossible because Miles Robinson and Weston McKennie are suspended.There are some other evaluations which Berhalter will have to consider – mostly around fitness levels of some players. Most likely it will be players like Tim Weah and Yunus Musah haven’t been regular starters with their respective clubs and playing two full games from the start with extensive travel are tough questions.Berhalter admitted after the Mexico win that he was thinking about calling in extra players but those would almost certainly be for cover.
In central defense, Zimmerman and Chris Richards seems certainly to be the combination. In place of McKennie, Kellyn Acosta has been the backup in that role for most of the year. While Gianluca Busio could get the start, it would be in place of Musah and it would be hard to see the two teenagers starting together.The rest of the lineup should be pretty much the same and Pulisic, like against Mexico, will be a big offensive weapon off the bench.
THE STARTING LINEUP
Zack Steffen: The Manchester City backup goalkeeper had a big outing with important saves in the 12th and 18th minutes while having solid distribution. Rating: 7
Antonee Robinson: The left back pushed forward and defended well although his crossing and final ball sometimes let him down. Rating: 6.5
Walker Zimmerman: The Nashville SC stallwart had a first-rate performance in central defense and was most responsible for the cleansheet. He also had some nice passes out of the back that created nice possessions. Rating: 7.5
Miles Robinson: The Massachusetts native was sent off in the 89th minute with his second yellow card but the U.S. was up 2-0 and coasting. Prior to that, Robinson had a nice game where he defended well and won his duels. His first yellow card was unnecessary. Rating: 6.5
DeAndre Yedlin: The team’s loan veteran from the 2014 World Cup team wasn’t flashy but was just dependable and strong. He made no real mistakes and was there defensively whenever needed. Rating: 6.5
Tyler Adams: Adams had a tough beginning of the game but settled in nicely. His second half was strong and he allowed the attackers, fullbacks and other midfielders to push higher up the field and build pressure. Rating: 7
Weston McKennie: The Juventus midfielder scored the team’s second goal but also did a ton of dirty work in the middle of the field to disrupt Mexico’s attack. Rating: 7
Yunus Musah: It was a big outing from Musah who passed well in the open field and was always looking to dribble quickly and create chances. He linked up well with Weah and Mexico struggled to contain his skill an athleticism. Rating: 7.5
Brenden Aaronson: The New Jersey native had a shot inside of the 20th minute but couldn’t get enough on it and hit it straight at Ochoa. While he had other positive moments, he didn’t stand out as much as he typically does and his set piece deliveries can be better. Rating: 6.5
Tim Weah: It was Weah’s best performance for the U.S. team and one of the best offensive performances a U.S. player has ever had against Mexico. While he didn’t score, he had a stellar assist on Pulisic’s goal and his pass to Ferreira was instrumental in the second goal. When Mexico was playing well in the first half, Weah was part of the U.S. team’s effort to get the ball forward and not let Mexico step too far into the attack. He was everywhere and Mexico had no answer for him. Rating: 8.5
Ricardo Pepi: His scoring touch let him down but Pepi was able to contribute in other ways. He set up Musah for a good chance in the first half. It was clear Mexico was paying a lot of attention to shutting him down, but Pepi wasn’t invisible and had his moments. Rating: 7
Christian Pulisic: Pulisic did what star players do, create a moment of magic to give his team an edge. His goal was the defining moment. Rating: 7.5
Kellyn Acosta: The Colorado native replaced a tired Musah and helped see out the win. He didn’t do much either way. Rating: 5.5
Jesus Ferreira: Entering into the game in the 82nd, Ferreira played with some nice energy. He had a big hand in the second goal in getting it to McKennie (not credited with an assist because McKennie’s attempted pass didn’t work). He missed a late shot wide – which he could have done better but was probably lost in the moment. Still, his energy was solid. Rating: 6.5
Chris Richards: A stoppage time sub to fill the void in central defense left by Robinson’s red card. Rating: NR
Gregg Berhalter: You can’t argue with the result, the decisions, or the performance. The U.S. team looked prepared. The lineup was 100% right and his non-lock picks – Steffen, Zimmerman, Weah – all worked out. His subs changed the game and the team made some important adjustments at halftime as the U.S. began to take the game to Mexico after the break. Rating: 8.0
As global soccer’s landscape shifts, was USMNT-Mexico the best we’ll ever see at FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium?
Pat Brennan, Cincinnati Enquirer Mon, November 15, 2021, 8:59 AM
TQL Stadium is about six months old, and it might have already peaked and hosted the best-ever night its history.Due to the shifting landscape of international soccer, we might never again see a soccer spectacle at the stadium as big as Friday’s U.S. men’s national team game against vaunted rival Mexico in FIFA World Cup qualifying.At the outset of the July 28 press conference at TQL Stadium announcing the USMNT’s quadrennial home match against Mexico in World Cup qualifying, FC Cincinnati Chief Executive Officer and Controlling Owner Carl Lindner III proudly declared: “We’ve done it.”And they had done it. The biggest match and the most intense rivalry in North American soccer, and therefore one of the prominent international fixtures in the world, would be staged at TQL Stadium. Building a venue worthy of the game and bringing it to Cincinnati was no small achievement.Four months later, the match was executed to perfection. Friday’s game was nothing short the spectacle you expect of USMNT-Mexico, complete with chippy on-field drama and a famous “Dos a Cero” victory that immediately took its place in USMNT lore.
USMNT-Mexico FIFA World Cup qualifier: Winners, losers from TQL Stadium
Opinion: Win over Mexico shows USMNT has the swagger to go with its considerable talent
A World Cup qualifier against Mexico is as big as it gets for USMNT and its fans. There’s another happening in March 2022, too, at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Bigger venue, pro-Mexican crowd, of course, and every bit as much passion and flair.
But after that game, the biggest match we know in North American soccer might cease to exist as we’ve come to understand and love it in its present context.
There won’t be a qualifying cycle for the next World Cup for these decades-old foes. The event is to be jointly hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada, and allows the three host countries to qualify automatically.The 2026 World Cup is also the tournament that will see the field grow to 48 national teams from 32.
In enlarging the World Cup field, it’s more likely regional heavyweights will have an easier path to qualifying. There will be less risk of missing the tournament altogether, which befell the U.S. for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and nearly happened to Mexico four years earlier in Brazil.And then there’s still the possibility (albeit a fiercely debated one) of switching the FIFA World Cup from being staged once every four years to a biennial event. That could also upend that qualification process as we know it.The USMNT-Mexico rivalry will remain, of course. The border countries will meet again in games both meaningful and friendly.FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding told The Enquirer on Wednesday he expected the rivalry to continue unabated, with future meaningful match-ups likely to occur in the Concacaf Gold Cup, which crowns this FIFA region’s champion national team every two years.The newly introduced Concacaf Nations League will exist, too. That competition, which saw the Americans meaningfully triumph in the championship match over Mexico in June, attempts to make a kind of league season out of international matches for the region.But Friday’s match still might have been the end of an era, and the best night TQL Stadium will ever know.It’s not that FC Cincinnati did anything wrong. The venue and the club that reside there aren’t at fault, of course, but having tasted built a stadium worthy of hosting the match and experienced the extravagance of USMNT-Mexico firsthand, it would also be Cincinnati’s loss to see the rivalry diminished.To be sure, this isn’t just a Cincinnati problem.A lessened USMNT-Mexico rivalry on the men’s side is a broad, pressing concern for both countries. It was discussed at length in the week leading up to the match, and American players and coaches were regularly asked about it.If it doesn’t get bigger than USMNT-Mexico in World Cup qualifying, and the stakes and format of World Cup qualifying are going to shift, how can there ever be another USMNT-Mexico match like Friday’s, and the one in March to come?How can Cincinnati ever again know white-hot soccer feuding set against frigid temperatures and driving rain, and 26,000 still packing the stands?
Asked Thursday about the future of the USMNT-Mexico rivalry, U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter said, “it could potentially change.””I think about the rivalry over the years and the impact of these games, what they’ve meant to our fans and Mexican fans and the rivalry and how the rivalry’s grown, you know, it’s been great,” Berhalter said. “I’ve been asked ‘is it gonna change? Will the rivalry change?’ And I don’t think it will.”We may not be able to play qualifiers of this magnitude, World Cup qualifiers. But we’ll see them down the road in a lot of meaningful games and the rivalry is always gonna be intense. You know, we’re both fighting to be top of our region and when you have two teams like this going at each other, there’s always gonna be heat.”This is not to say TQL Stadium doesn’t have big games and events left in it.The stadium’s in its infancy, and by every account U.S. Soccer has enjoyed the two events it helped stage there in 2021 (the U.S. women defeated Paraguay in a post-Olympics friendly in September).In terms of the city at-large continuing to be a destination for major matches, TQL Stadium should be at the top of the list for future consideration regarding MLS All-Star games, friendlies, Gold Cup matches, and other events.
There’s also Cincinnati’s bid to host 2026 World Cup matches. The bid isn’t to host the USMNT specifically and Paul Brown Stadium would be the host venue, but if the tournament comes to the city in 2026, you can bet that would be like nothing the region has ever experienced.And then there’s FC Cincinnati. The club fell on hard times upon entering Major League Soccer and has finished last in the league for three consecutive years. The club is a popular punching bag for national MLS pundits but the reality, as well as the custom in North American sports, is that all expansion projects eventually improve.Better days will come at the club level in Cincinnati. MLS Cup playoff soccer at TQL Stadium would be a very enticing proposition given the club’s rabid support.Bringing an event like the USMNT’s World Cup qualifier for Qatar 2022 to Cincinnati was always going to be special. Regardless of the outcome, it promised to be memorable and historic.The game that resulted, combined with the scenes around the city for a week leading up to the match, surpassed expectations. History was made, and then some.The stadium’s reputation grew for the right reasons, and U.S. Soccer, be it the men’s or women’s national teams (probably both), will surely return eventually.Still, that doesn’t promise the spectacle Cincinnati witnessed on Friday. Scenes like that are becoming scarce, so we simply might not ever again see a night like Friday for as long as TQL Stadium stands. That’s simply the reality of the impending sea change in the world’s game.
Written Version: Landon, Wahl and Witty on USMNT 2, Mexico 0
|Mike Ryan Joins the Group to Break Down a Huge U.S. Win Over Its Archrival||Grant Wahl Nov 14|
As we do after every USMNT World Cup qualifier, I was joined by Landon Donovan and Chris Wittyngham (along with the Dan Le Batard Show’s Mike Ryan) to discuss the USMNT’s big 2-0 win over Mexico in Cincinnati. I really enjoyed this discussion and think you will too.
Hey there. Welcome to Landon, Wahl and Witty On The Road To Qatar. I’m Grant Wahl. Thanks so much for joining me. We’ve got a special episode in partnership with Meadowlark and Le Batard and Friends with reaction from Landon Donovan, Chris Wittyngham, Chris Wittyngham and me to the U.S. men’s national team’s 2-0 dos a cero win over Mexico on World Cup qualifying Matchday 7. Landon is in Washington D.C. tonight. The rest of us are here in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I’m writing for my Substack newsletter at grantwahl.com. Go there to read all my stuff. Guys, great to be with you. How are you?
I’m buzzing. I wish I was there. You guys must be electric.
Yeah. I mean the atmosphere was crazy from minute one, walking into the stadium. It’s jam packed. In the first half, you felt confident. The U.S. wasn’t really vulnerable except for that one chance for Chucky Lozano, but you wondered where were they going to find the attacking breakthroughs from? Then they came in the second half.
A true home-field advantage and all the games should be at Cincinnati?
This was totally pro U.S.. You’ve got a few Mexican fans sprinkled throughout, but very much pro U.S.. We’ve been in so many stadiums over the years, for USA-Mexico games in the U.S., where that’s not the case, where it’s very pro Mexico. I want to get a sense of what happened in the second half of this game, because that was the best half I have seen the U.S. play against Mexico since maybe the 2013 World Cup qualifier in Columbus, where you, Landon, scored. Was that your thought?
What it looked like to me, I said to someone at halftime, I was on the phone and I said, “Although Mexico had the two, certainly one, most dangerous chance, it felt like the U.S. had the tempo of the game the way they wanted it. The only way Mexico were going to get a chance was through Raúl holding the ball up, Raúl Jiménez, and maybe Chucky Lozano running behind.” Off of that movement, him holding it and Chucky from outside-in to attack the U.S. team, but Mexico just looked like they did not have a way they were going to score. They never looked dangerous except for the one chance. In the U.S., in the first half, it wasn’t clean or perfect, but they were at the top of Mexico’s box over and over and over and over. You just felt at some point there was going to be some sort of breakthrough. I just felt like we looked like the team that was going to score, even though Mexico had the bigger chance in the first half.
To me, the thing that most stands out about that performance is that the U.S. were the ones that were pressing. The U.S. were the ones that were causing Mexico problems. My feeling in the Tata [Martino] era has always been his sides come out and cause the U.S. problems, and you’ve got to survive the first 15 minutes. But it was exactly the opposite and Mexico never grew into the game. It never felt like this is going to be a team that is going to create consistent chances. I think that comes down to the center back partnership of Walker Zimmerman and Miles Robinson. Zimmerman, in particular, I thought was absolutely massive for the U.S..
You feel like you found a couple of center backs there. That’s your partnership going forward. Play the two of them. They know exactly what they’re doing. They negated Mexico. They did a good job. The one fear I had when you look at the lineup, the two Robinsons, Zimmerman and [DeAndre] Yedlin is, could this team play out from the back? They actually found direct forward passes that were not just knocking the ball along. It was with intent and Ricardo Pepi did a decent job with handling those. Tim Weah did a decent job at those, but really it was the assuredness of the fact that allowed them to press forward.
I think we found our center back pairing for the World Cup run in Qatar. To see Walker Zimmerman really step up to this level in this moment was really reassuring and really good for MLS, and really good for the future of that center back position. They totally neutralized Raúl Jiménez.
He really didn’t have a big impact on the game besides decking Tyler Adams. Miles Robinson did get a second yellow, so we are going to see a different combination down in Jamaica. I think Chris Richards is a terrific player with a really bright future. I’m curious to see if we see him making that replacement, but Zimmerman did not put a foot wrong in this game. I did think Tim Weah was the man of the match for the U.S. For the second straight game, the game winning goal, connected to Tim Weah, a guy who wasn’t even going to start ahead of Paul Arriola in the last game, and came in because Arriola got hurt in the warmup [against Costa Rica]. Do you get a sense, Landon, that Tim Weah is really starting to establish himself as a player who could make a difference for the U.S.?
It certainly looked like it tonight. He looked comfortable, confident, like he belonged in the team. I haven’t seen him look that way yet. So I think he’s just growing, as all players do at that age, and feeling comfortable and confident. What you want, ultimately, is competition. You saw it tonight with Zack Steffen, and now Matt Turner. You saw it with Tim Weah’s performance. When Gio [Reyna]’s back, what does that mean? What does that mean for Paul Arriola? You want that. You want competition, but I want to touch on Walker Zimmerman. I thought Tim Weah was fantastic, but for me, Walker Zimmerman was the man of the match. He just neutralized Raúl Jiménez in almost every aerial duel. The one he lost, Raúl Jiménez held the ball, laid it off and Chucky Lozano was in behind for their one chance. I also want to give Gregg Berhalter a ton of credit.
They came out and went after Mexico. We’ve seen the U.S. team in the past, a little more hesitant, sitting back, a little more savvy, tactical in the way they defended. They just went after them and put them under pressure. Mexico, to their credit, tried to play out and tried to play out and tried to play out, but Walker Zimerman was isolated one v one a decent amount of times and he just won every duel. The U.S. absolutely pummeled Mexico in just duels. I think it was like 65 to 40. They won every duel and that just turned the game into the U.S.’s favor so they could just keep Mexico pinned their end, pile pressure on, as I always say. Then eventually, they made them crack and won the game.
Landon, am I being hyperbolic if I say that this is in some ways, the U.S. justifying, I think, what’s been a journey for a decade, probably? When Jurgen [Klinsmann] takes over, with Berhalter, they’ve been trying to implement a style of play so that when they go into big games, it’s not just about bunker and countering and the hard work. Am I diminishing your achievements with the U.S. national team if I say that this is the U.S. living up to the identity that they’ve set forward for themselves more than they ever have?
Here’s the reality, Witty. In the late ’90s, early 2000s, we played 15, 18, 20 games together a year, plus a January camp, so we were together all the time. We were able to build partnerships, build relationships. In modern football, you just don’t have that. They don’t have time to train together, work together. I’ve said that all along. It’s really hard for Gregg to actually implement a style of play when you have guys for three days of training, and they’re mostly just recovering because they played a game on the weekend in London or somewhere in Europe.
What I saw tonight , and what it felt like to me, was continuity starting to build. You had that same midfield three with Weston [McKennie] and Tyler [Adams] and [Yunus] Musah, and they looked comfortable. They knew how to play together. Center back pairing, or the back line pairing isn’t always the same, but you’re getting more of the same guys together on the field, consistently. Pepi now on the field consistently with Brenden Aaronson. All of that stuff matters because you start to build a rhythm with the player next to you. That’s what you saw tonight. They look like an actual team versus a lot of really good, talented players who hadn’t had enough time to train together.
I also want to mention, I just came out of the press conferences, separate press conferences for Tata Martino and Gregg Berhalter, but the same word being used. A lot of intensidad from Tata in his talking about the U.S., and then Gregg saying first thing, “Intensity. That was how we won this game.” He was impressed with their effort in the first half, but especially in the second half, he feels like they wore them down in the second half of this game and gave themselves the opportunity to get the goals. It still took Christian Pulisic coming on.
Well, that’s where I wanted to jump in. The super sub Christian Pulisic, the best player was being the best player. It’s great to see him in that form. He flashed in that sub appearance in the Champions League for Chelsea. To see him really take advantage of this opportunity and be the best player, was super encouraging to me as a Chelsea supporter and as an American supporter. Landon, I’m curious what your thoughts were on Christian Pulisic’s appearance.
Yeah. You know what that goal reminded me of, guys? That, to me, looked like a Clint Dempsey goal. When I saw it, it just looked like Clint. It was inside your guy, taking a chance, bang in front of goal and he smashed it home. You don’t think of Christian as that type of player. But I’ve said this consistently about him. He does not have a weakness in his game. There’s nothing he can’t do on the field. That’s why it’s frustrating when he is injured, right? That’s why it’s frustrating when Gio’s not here, right? That’s why it’s frustrating when Weston got into trouble or when he’s injured. These are special players who can change the game in an instant. It was really fun to watch him come in after he’s been out for so long and make an impact. I was really happy for him.
Grant Wahl: Christian Pulisic, by the way, showing off a t-shirt after his goal that said, “Man in the mirror.” Now there’s a story here. He’s not just a Michael Jackson fan, everyone. Memo Ochoa, the goalkeeper for Mexico, had said this week, “Mexico is the mirror in which the United States wants to see itself.” That ticked off this U.S. team. Gregg Berhalter talked about that yesterday. Lack of respect. Clearly, Christian, or someone close to Christian, put a t-shirt together at some point today.
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