3/26/22  USMNT vs Panama Sunday 7 pm FS1, How does US Qualify for the World Cup Sunday?  Italy out of WC

We Came, We Saw, and we Brought home the point !   Azteca stadium – the place where Mexico has only lost 2 times in over 30 qualifiers, a place where Mexico teams of past years have been invincible has been broken.  The US should have won this game and credit to the US Manager Gregg Berhalter who went for the win.  This was the best team we could put on the field for this game – yes right back Sergino Dest, midfielder extraordinare Weston McKinney, winger Brendan Aaronson and GK Matt Turner were all out injured – but Pulisic, Musah, Weah, Adams were all on for the start along with Steffan in the net and a surprising start for Ricardo Pepi in the #9.  No issue with the starting line-up and the US really outplayed Mexico in the first 45 minutes – as 2 very good shots on goal were turned away by the legendary Mexican GK Ochoa, including this gimme for Pulisic . See the Full hi-lights.   The insertion in the second half of Gio Reyna and Jordan Pefuk – looked to pick things up in the 2nd half.  They included these bits of magic from the Dortmund mid – Gio Reyna’s magical Run with announcer  –    in Slowmo   Very Maradona like

Then of course was this horrific miss by Jordan Pefok after a spectacular feed by Reyna – this was a marvelous sub by Berhalter and a devastating miss looking much like a 5 year old missing a tap in that honestly any forward at any level could not help but make and lets just say he missed.  This would have been the game winner – a 1-0 win at Azteca the FIRST EVER in qualifying .  Looking ahead the 0-0 tie gives the US the point and all but assures the US will qualify for the World Cup with a win on Sunday at home vs Panama at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1.

Shane’s Starting Roster for Panama Sun

Ferreira

Morris//Acosta//De La Torre//Reyna

Adams

Jedi Robinson//Robinson//Zimmerman// Moore (should be Joe Scally)

Steffan

I like bringing Pulisic off the bench after halftime – not sure it will happen but Morris on the wing to wear them down until half – then Pulisic scoring early in the 2nd half. De La Torre in for a tired Musah and Reyna starting for Weah who is suspended for yellow cards. You could argue Reyna was the best player on the field (even if only for 30 minutes.) I like Ferriera in the false 9 role seeing as both our #9s failed to produce in Mexico. The defense held steady and will sub in the newly arrived Shaq Moore for yellow carded Yedlin – stinks that he didn’t call on Joe Scally the starting right/left back for MGladbach.

But I am not going to question – Berhalter at this point – he made all the right moves in this game. Just as he has during the last 2 rounds of qualifying for the most part. He has us on the brink of qualification and more importantly he has shepparded in a new American Soccer team – a young and exciting team that has moved past Mexico in CONCACAF and will take us to new heights in this game I love. We beat Mexico because we are better than Mexico – our players are better, our coach is better – we didn’t hang on for dear life so like many times in the past – we were the better team – had more chances – should have won 2-0 a statement that would have sent shockwaves across North America. Yes Canada is top of table – but the US will go further than the Canada in this World Cup -take that to the bank. The US wins this game vs Panama 2-0 – dos a cero – maybe 3 – 0. Reyna and Pulisic score.

GOALKEEPERS: Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest; 7/0), Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City; 26/0)

DEFENDERS: George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld; 6/0), Reggie Cannon (Boavista; 24/1), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 22/3), Shaq Moore (Tenerife; 13/1), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes; 3/0), Jedi Robinson (Fulham; 23/2), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 18/3), James Sands (Rangers; 7/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami; 72/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 26/3)

MIDFIELDERS: Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 49/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig; 25/1), Gianluca Busio (Venezia; 8/0), Luca de la Torre (Heracles; 5/0), Yunus Musah (Valencia; 13/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 31/0)

FORWARDS: Paul Arriola (FC Dallas; 43/8), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; 7/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 44/10), Jordan Pefok (Young Boys; 9/1), Ricardo Pepi (Augsburg; 10/3), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea; 46/18), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund; 10/4), Tim Weah (Lille; 21/2)

Full qualifying scenario below –  by Academy Coach Mark Stumph from Carmel FC

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but 1 pt at Mexico, while symbolically cool – doesn’t really do much to change the US’s fate.  The bigger surprise result was Panama’s draw with Honduras.  That now puts the US in a spot where a draw with Panama assures them at least 4th place.  Costa Rica’s win over Canada keeps the US in the danger zone.  C-Rica play @El Salvador (who has nothing to play for).  A win there would set up a showdown with the US.  The good news is that the US has already beaten Costa Rica, so a tie in the standings should go to the US.  That gives us a little breathing room.

So, here are the scenarios:  a win vs Panama locks us in to at least 4th.  Combo that with Costa Rica not getting 3 pts at El Salvador and we are locked into at least 3rd.  That’s the great scenario.  If Costa Rica does win, the US would be 3 pts up on them playing a head to head with probably some complicated tie-breaker scenarios going on that should favor the US in most cases.

A draw vs Panama also locks us to at least 4th.  If Costa Rica gets 1 or 3 pts @ El Salvador, we would need at least a draw in the Costa Rica game to hold 3rd place.  A subsequent loss to Costa Rica could knock us to 4th.  Great scenario here – a US tie and Costa Rica loss locks the US into at least 3rd spot.

A loss vs Panama is bad.  Really bad.  That would put us in a situation where we have to at least tie Costa Rica to stay ahead of them.  A loss to Costa Rica would put the US in a spot where they would need help from Canada (@Panama) to achieve 4th place. Bottom line – we cannot lose to Panama at home on Sunday

Concacaf WCQ Games Today

5 pm Para+                            Canada vs Jamaica

6 pm Para+                            El Salvador vs Costa Rica

7 pm Fox Sport 1              USA vs Panama WCQ

So a little bit about the trip – first things first Mexico City was a real treat –the mixture of old Spanish architecture and food vendors literally on every corner was pretty cool.  I thought the city was safe and clean and very metropolitan and of course my buddy Oscars’s family – brother, cousin and Tias were wonderfully accommodating.  Yes Tia cooked meals for us twice a day and they were great.

AZTECA

As for Azteca – I will start by saying the traffic getting into the stadium was horrific – think LA El Trafico on steroids – the drive normally takes an hour and took us 3 – so bad we missed the first 20 minutes of the game.  But upon arrival and getting into the stadium – the reduced crowd was compounded by the new rule requiring all tickets to have been registered with your name, phone and contact info online before going in.  This had never been done before and the Mexican fans were slow getting in because they were all on their phones in disbelief when they were denied entry.  Trying to sign up.  It made for a late arriving crowd that was still 30 people long even when we arrived.  The other thing was that the police presence was almost overwhelming.  Riot gear – horses, cops on every corner of the stadium in force  (now they were all nice and friendly unlike most US cops I have encountered in those situations )  – but I think that combined with the reduced  capacity and of course Mexico’s horrific play – simply zapped  the energy  from the stadium.  I went in thinking UF vs Bama, Ohio State vs Michigan – and instead got FL vs South Dakota State or Notre Dame vs Navy – simply not a big game atmosphere.  In fact I sat around the 40 year line front row level 2 above the benches – but the US AO section of around 1000 people up high in level 3 – -definitely could be heard in the stadium – of course not as loud as the boos and calling for the firing of Tata Martinez.

Crazy times. And a bit disappointing with the crowd intensity – but still its an experience I will never forget – I came in saying I would take a 1 -1 draw – a win for both teams. But after the game – I really felt the US deserved the win –and Mexico – lets just say this is the weakest Mexican side I have ever seen.  I truly expect them to fire coach Tata Martinez after qualifying before the World Cup. 

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BIG GAMES ON TV

Sat,  Mar 26

5 pm ESPN+                            Charlotte vs Cincy

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Indy 11 @ Louisville City

7 pm  Para +                           Anglel City vs OL Reign NWSL

7 pm Para +                            NC Courage vs Orlando Pride NWSL

11 pm Para +                          San Diego Wave (Morgan) vs Portland Thorns (Rapino)

Sun,  Mar 27

5 pm ESPN                             Portland Timbers vs Orlando City

5 pm Para+                            Canada vs Jamaica

6 pm Para+                            El Salvador vs Costa Rica

7 pm Fox Sport 1              USA vs Panama WCQ

Tues,  Mar 29

1 pm        ESPN+                     Senegal vs Egypt

1 pm ESPN+                            Nigeria vs Ghana

3:30 pm ESPN+                       Algeria vs Cameroon

7:30 pm Fubo TV                    Bolivia vs Brazil

7:30 pm Fubo TV                    Ecucador vs Argentina

7:30 pm fubotTV                     Chile vs Uraguay

Wed,  Mar 30

9 pm Para+                         USA @ Costa Rica

9 pm Para+                            Panama vs Canada

9 pm Para+                            Mexico vs El Salvador 

Saturday, April 9

7 pm USWNT vs Ubekestan at Lower.com Field in Columbus: Tickets

Indy 11 Season Schedule

Shane and my buddy Oscar in Azteca for USA vs Mexico

USA


How will USMNT line up vs Panama in possible World Cup-berth clincher?

U.S. men’s soccer team eager to forge new path on cusp of World Cup 

The American Outlaws 1000+ were loud and proud at the top of the stadium in the Endzone – could hear USA chant as the game ended.

World


From Euro glory to World Cup disaster — What happened to Italy?

Mancini tells Italy we ‘must raise our heads’

Mancini eyes exit after Italy World Cup disaster

Bale slams Spanish critics after Wales heroics

Kane rescues England, Spain scrape home as World Cup build-up continues

Eriksen scores on Denmark return as England, Germany, Spain win

Eriksen scores emotional goal following his return to Denmark
Returning Messi scores as Argentina take unbeaten run to 30

Tchouameni heads late winner as France edge Ivory Coast

Salah sets up win for Egypt over Senegal, Slimani stuns Cameroon

How will USMNT line up vs Panama in possible World Cup-berth clincher?

Nicholas MendolaFri, March 25, 2022, 11:38 AM·3 min read

The United States men’s national team could qualify for the World Cup by the time the final whistle blows on Sunday’s home qualifier with Panama, this we know.Over-simplifying: Should Costa Rica drop points against El Salvador at 5pm ET, the Yanks can sew up a spot in Qatar with a win from their 7pm kickoff.

Who will be on the pitch if and when that happens requires some guess work.

[ MEXICO vs USMNT: Three things | U.S. Player ratings ]

By now there are few certainties when it comes to Gregg Berhalter’s lineup choices. The man who Initially viewed Tyler Adams as a right back now sees the RB Leipzig midfielder as so important to the center midfield that he removed him with 10 minutes left in an ascendant but scoreless match rather than trust the player take a yellow card and miss the next match through suspension, a risk inherent when the player was put on the pitch in the first place.Coaches evolve, players, too. We go on.So Adams will start against Paraguay. Christian Pulisic is a virtual certainty, too. After that, given Berhalter all of the injuries and illness within the squad and the trust he showed in Aaron Long and Erik Palmer-Brown by inserting them into a crucible for hottest 10 minutes of what’s essentially the side’s biggest derby? Well, who knows what’s going on. We do know that Shaq Moore has been called up to give Berhalter depth behind DeAndre Yedlin after Reggie Cannon tested positive for COVID-19. Surely, with all due respect to Moore, Berhalter is hoping he’ll plug the new call-up into a final match at Costa Rica that will only be about positioning on the table, but who knows?

Can recent USMNT vs Panama matches tell us anything?

The answer to the heading? Not much.Berhalter’s gone up against Panama twice since late 2020, beating Los Canaleros 6-2 in November 2020 in Europe and losing 1-0 in Panama City five months ago.The second carries more weight, with the Yanks out-attempted 8-5 and failing to put a single shot on target. That was a heavily-changed side and Berhalter could name up a maximum of six starters from that match to this XI. There are another six on the bench, but suffice it to say that his XI in Panama was absent Adams and Pulisic as well as Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen, John Brooks, and Miles Robinson.Neither Brooks nor McKennie will be available come Sunday, and you won’t see more than a half-dozen players from the 6-2 friendly win either.

How will the USMNT line up versus Panama?

Presuming Zack Steffen is no worse for the wear following a physical night against Mexico, he’ll likely be back between the sticks in Orlando.Adams and Pulisic are no-doubters and Giovanni Reyna’s turn off the bench at Azteca would’ve opened eyes even if he wasn’t being saved for a start against Panama.If DeAndre Yedlin’s slight limp was normal wear-and-tear, it could and maybe should be an unchanged back four, and it seems counterintuitive to put in Cristian Roldan or Luca de la Torre over anyone to start in the midfield versus Mexico. Gianluca Busio might make some sense as a wildcard.If the front three gets changed, perhaps Paul Arriola will get a nod but that would mean either Pulisic, Reyna, or Timothy Weah is not starting. Pulisic is Pulisic and the other two didn’t go 90 in Mexico, so we may see a nearly unchanged XI after all. The likeliest removal would be Ricardo Pepi.

Steffen

Yedlin — Zimmerman — M. Robinson — A. Robinson

Adams — Acosta

Musah

Pulisic — Weah — Reyna

USA v. Mexico, 2022 World Cup Qualifying; What We Learned

The trip to the Azteca stadium is the scariest leg every cycle for USMNT in World Cup Qualifying. Yet, the US went into the match and went toe-to-toe with Mexico for a scoreless draw. Here’s What We Learned.

By Adnan Ilyas@Adnan7631  Mar 26, 2022, 11:30am    

If you had offered me 4 points vs. Mexico at the start of World Cup qualifying, I would have absolutely taken it. After that Azteca game, however, I’m feeling that the US were unfortunate not to have taken all 6 points. Which is crazy!

The trip to the Estadio Azteca is, of course, marked as the most difficult fixture for the United States Mens National Team at the start of every qualifying cycle. It’s not just the general quality of the Mexican national team; a trip to the Azteca means dealing with long travel times (often including time zone differences), poor air quality, and limited altitude acclimatization (the stadium sits at 7,200 feet above sea level). Every match in the Estadio Azteca is a severe test of adaptability and physical and mental stamina for the away team.

For each previous visit to the Azteca, the USMNT has aimed to merely hold a deep defensive line and hope to get a goal against the run of play. And, frankly, that’s been decently effective in recent visits, with the US unbeaten in the 3 previous matches in Mexico. But that’s completely different than going to Mexico and choosing to impose the game on Mexico. And that’s exactly what Gregg Berhalter had his players do on Thursday. The team went in and pressed Mexico, choosing to try and stifle their ability to play out across the whole field. It was a risky decision, one with serious chances of backfiring. But the team went and did it. Don’t be fooled by the goalless scoreline; the USMNT created two tap-ins that they just didn’t manage to score. The US controlled that game by playing the familiar style of pressing and possession that we’ve been seeing throughout qualifying.

The US–Mexico Rivalry Has Changed

When the USMNT beat Mexico in their home qualifier in Cincinnati, back in November, I asked Gregg Berhalter how the rivalry between the two teams had changed from back in his days as a national team player (Berhalter played vs. Mexico in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, as well as in both legs of qualifying vs. Mexico). Here’s what Berhalter said:

I think fundamentally it hasn’t changed much, right? It’s two teams that, that understand what the rivalry means, understand that… how important this rivalry is for the region. You see when the teams are on the field, in the Nations League Final or the Gold Cup final, both teams want to win. And they want to compete. So… from that stand point, it hasn’t changed. What I think about our age, our, you know, the youth we have in this generation coming up and having to compete against Mexico, that’s an experienced team. And you know, these guys just keep going and they are relentless.

I think, from the standpoint of the intensity of the matches, I believe Berhalter. But looking at this most recent match in the Azteca, I can’t help but suspect that the relationship actually has changed since 2002.

It used to be the case that, at home, the USMNT won their qualifiers v. Mexico thanks to gutsy displays built on organization and physicality. Meanwhile, Mexico owned the right to say that they were the ones who truly played the beautiful game, and especially so in El Azteca, their fortress in mountains. But I think that’s changed. You just can’t look at Gio Reyna make this run, take on — and beat — all these Mexican players — in the Azteca! — and say that the US is the one without flair and style.Look, it’s definitely a stereotype that the USMNT’s of the past couldn’t play proper soccer. But the USA’s performances in past US–Mexico games were decidedly not displays of sophistication. I mean, in the 2002 World Cup match, the most definitive and iconic of all the dos-a-ceros, Gregg Berhalter himself punched the ball out of the penalty box and got away with it! These past matches were showcases of pragmatism, not aesthetics. But you can’t say that about these most recent two qualifiers v. Mexico. In both the home and away matches, the US took the front foot, asserting themselves on Mexico. The team successfully pressed Mexico to the point of suffocating their midfield. The US created chances from possession. Yeah, the team didn’t win this time, but I think the days of saying that El Norte can’t play real fútbol are over.And the results as of late reflect that. The US won three straight matches in 2022 in home soil, and now they’ve added a draw in Mexico to that list. And, while the team hasn’t managed to actually win in the Azteca in qualifying, this is now the third straight qualifying match in Mexico that they US has drawn. Add in the one friendly the team’s played in Mexico (a win), and the US is undefeated in 4, spanning a full decade. At this point, I am quite happy to declare that El Azteca is no longer a fortress, especially after considering Mexico’s recent record in World Cup qualifying (and how infrequently their national team actually plays their otherwise anymore).But this isn’t merely a mark of a turning of the tide in the rivalry. This isn’t merely the US having a dominant spell; there’s really something that’s changed with the relationship between the two teams. Take a look at the second part of that Berhalter quote.

What I think about our age, our, you know, the youth we have in this generation coming up and having to compete against Mexico, that’s an experienced team.

Berhalter highlighted the team’s youth. And I think that’s a huge part of what’s changed. Gio Reyna was out there clowning the experienced Mexican defenders, at the age of 19. Reyna could be doing that against Mexico for the next 15 years. Almost the entire core of the team is between 19 and 23 years of age. We could have this collection of talent for the next decade. And there’s now a full pipeline of players coming up, layers who are potentially just as technically gifted, tactically astute, and athletic as the current USMNT core. A full pipeline of talent that is every bit talented enough to assert themselves over Mexico.

The Math

So here’s the big question: How does this draw affect the USMNT’s qualification hopes?Here’s what the standings currently look like:

The US sits in 2nd with 22 points, three behind Canada and tied with Mexico. Costa Rica moved up into 4th place with 19 points, while Panama slipped to 5th with their draw v. Honduras. The top 3 automatically qualify for the World Cup, while the 4th place team has to go through a playoff vs. New Zealand.

With 22 points and a game against each of Panama (at home) and Costa Rica (away), the US sits in control of its destiny here. A win or a draw vs. Panama would guarantee that the US finishes ahead of Panama, and thus, in 4th place at the worst. A win vs. Costa Rica, independent of other results, would guarantee the US automatic qualification, while a draw would most likely give the US a minimum of 4th place (Costa Rica would need to beat El Salvador by at least 7 goals in their penultimate match… and that’s not happening).

Beating Panama and drawing Costa Rica would most straight forwardly give the USMNT automatic qualification, putting the US at 26 points and out of reach of either Panama or Costa Rica. As already stated, a win vs. Costa Rica would guarantee a World Cup berth, even if the US loses to Panama. If the US beats Panama, the team will still finish above Costa Rica and no worse than 3rd so long as Costa Rica does not overcome the 7 point gap in goal difference in their next two games, including the match vs. the US.

There are more scenarios depending on other results, but it would be tedious to go through all the possible permutations. The short of it is that the US needs to win at least one of their remaining games and for Costa Rica to drop points (whether v. the USMNT or El Salvador) for the US to be guaranteed a World Cup spot. Ideally, the US beats Panama while Costa Rica draws or loses to El Salvador, giving the US qualification with a game in hand. Given how difficult the away match in Costa Rica has historically been for the US, it would be far more straight forward to just win vs. Panama and maximize the chances of qualifying before the final match.

closing Thoughts

Congratulations go to Ricardo Pepi for playing in this match. While he wasn’t particularly effective in his 60 minute outing, that match must have been an absolutely huge deal for a Mexican American. And he deserves credit for his work rate and effort.

The gamble of going for a result vs. Mexico includes the question of how fit the team is to play vs. Panama on Sunday. The Estadio Azteca fixture is notoriously draining and it can affect a player’s fitness well after the match. On top of that, there was the risk of suspensions through red cards and yellow card accumulation. Indeed, we’ll be missing DeAndre Yedlin and Tim Weah through yellow card accumulation. The USMNT needs to win vs. Panama and that’s going to require evaluating fitness and rotating. The good news is that Panama looks beatable. They’ve dropped points in 3 of their last 5 matches, including a draw at home v. last place Honduras. After a strong start, their away form has dropped considerably. And they’ll be desperate to win vs. the US, potentially forcing a stoic defensive side into playing a more open game. Meanwhile, the MNT has depth and has played particularly well at home throughout qualifying. In addition, the USMNT’s youth potentially gives the team a quicker recovery time.

Costa Rica looks beatable. Look, I don’t want to have to count on getting a historic first result vs. Costa Rica. I’d rather see the USMNT take 3 points over Panama while Costa Rica drops points, securing a USMNT advancement. But Costa Rica has to go all out for three straight games and I’m not convinced that their collection of aging veterans will have enough gas in the tank by the time they play the US.

A lot of people were/are upset that the USMNT hadn’t already locked in qualification before this window, but that’s unreasonable. It’s reasonable for people to be anxious about whether the US qualifies or not, especially given that we didn’t qualify last time. But expecting the US to dominate so utterly is simply unrealistic. Qualifying is tough and chaotic and fans need to understand that. The USMNT has thus far done well and are on pace to qualify.

USMNT player ratings: Adams, Zimmerman defense will Yanks to Azteca point

CB Zimmerman was Man of the Match for his play along with CB Miles Robinson. The duo has yet to give up a goal in Qualifying – 7 games now.

Andy Edwards Fri, March 25, 2022, 12:30 AM

The USMNT picked up a point at Estadio Azteca on Thursday, playing bitter rivals Mexico to a scoreless draw in 2022 World Cup qualifying.The USA was wasteful at one end of the field, but resilient and unbreakable at the other end. As far as performances in Mexico City go, there won’t be many better. The result, on the other hand, should have been.Here’s a look at who stood out (for better or for worse) for Gregg Berhalter’s side, with some bonus commentary from PST’s Nicholas Mendola (italicized)…

GK – Zack Steffen: 7.5 – For a goalkeeper making his first international start since mid-November due to injuries, and having made precious few for his club side during that same time, Steffen was reassuringly confident on Thursday. He faced seven shots on target (saved all of them), showed both the short- and long-range distribution which once separated him from Matt Turner as the incumbent no. 1. As has been the case throughout World Cup qualifying, having two international-caliber goalkeepers is a good thing, not a bad one. Actually we have 3 + Horvath is better than we give him credit for – OBC

RB – DeAndre Yedlin: 6.5 – It really pays to have a backup right back with 71 caps on the squad, just in case the starter gets injured days before a crucial rivalry game. Yedlin stepped into the team with Sergiño Dest (hamstring) out, put in 80 hard minutes and helped to keep Jesus Corona incredibly quiet (zero shots, just one key pass).

CB – Walker Zimmerman: 8 – With Raul Jimenez dropping into midfield in an attempt to pull the center backs out of position — either for Jimenez to play them in behind, or to create space for diagonal runs behind from the wings — it was imperative that Zimmerman and Miles Robinson be on the same page. One had to know when to go with Jimenez, while the other would stay. They handled that assignment rather well (zero shots, three key passes for Jimenez).

CB – Miles Robinson: 7 – Robinson had a rough start in the opening 15 or 20 minutes, but he settled in nicely thereafter and was continuously in the right place at the right time to make a key interception or clearance.

LB – Antonee Robinson: 6.5 – Offensively, Robinson was dangerous and always willing to throw himself forward. Defensively, there were a few hairy moments where he was caught out of position and/or ball-watching, thus freeing Lozano to run at the other Robinson one-on-one.

DM – Tyler Adams: 8 – Midway through the second half, there was a 10- or 15-minute period in which Mexico were quickly growing into the game and putting the USMNT under ever-increasing pressure. Perhaps Adams sensed that was his moment to step up and singlehandedly keep the score level at 0-0. He made three defensive plays in a matter of moments — tracking back into the left back position on a counter-attack, and twice stepping forward to win the ball or break up a Mexican attack with a foul. Because there were no shots (let alone shots on target) resulting from these moments, it gets lost in the chaos of USA-Mexico, but each was yet another prime example of Adams’ indispensability to the USMNT.

CM – Kellyn Acosta: 7 – Every team in the world — club or country, doesn’t matter — needs a Kellyn Acosta in their squad. With Weston McKennie (broken foot) out until this summer at the earliest, away to Mexico is a tough spot for most backups to step into, but Acosta had already played Mexico four times in his USMNT career (once in Mexico) and might have been the coolest head on the field. He provided the one thing the USMNT needed most against El Tri: stability in central midfield.

CM – Yunus Musah: 6.5 – Musah was less influential than he has been in games against CONCACAF’s not-giants (to be expected), but he remains 19 years old and at no point did he not look like he belonged on the field. He was made to track back and battle more than he’s done in the past, and he showed there’s more to his game than slick dribbling and combination play.

RW – Tim Weah: 6 – Weah lasted just 60 minutes and was scarcely involved in USMNT possession or build-up. Again, that was to be expected given 1) Mexico’s stellar wide attackers, and 2) attack-minded DeAndre Yedlin playing right back behind him. Weah was committed defensively — a hugely necessary contribution — though his yellow card means he’ll miss the game against Panama.

LW – Christian Pulisic: 6 – Pulisic had the first half’s best scoring chance in the 35th minute, but he somehow managed to put his shot in the one spot on the planet where Memo Ochoa could save it (below video). It’s hard to look past that moment, given the quality of the chance and the rest of the USMNT’s performance. He had another half-chance to start the second and forced Ochoa to make a (slightly) more difficult save.

CF – Ricardo Pepi: 5.5 – Pepi remains the USMNT’s best prospect at center forward — and these games are important for his development, no doubt about it — but the Yanks got very little from the 19-year-old on Thursday. The reality of the situation is that Berhalter doesn’t currently have anybody better or more reliable to select, and so Pepi must learn on the fly.

Sub – Gio Reyna: 7 – Reyna came on for Weah right on the hour mark and immediately looked to get on the ball, run at defenders and cause chaos. His long dribble through midfield seemed to indicate the 19-year-old (it’s so easy to forget just how young so many of them still are) is finally fully recovered from his torn hamstring and can potentially be a game-changer in the final two games.

Sub – Jordan Pefok: 5 – A painful miss that conjured memories of Chris Wondolowski against Belgium in 2014.

USA vs. Mexico, 2022 World Cup qualifying: SSFC Man of the Match

It was a substitute that stole the show.

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Mar 26, 2022, 10:05am PDT  

The United States Men’s National Team walked out of Estadio Azteca with a draw Thursday night against Mexico, with both teams remaining scoreless on the evening. The USMNT had several great chances to take leads in the match and possibly steal 3 points on the road for the first time in Mexico, however fate only allowed them to bring a point to Orlando.

There were a couple notable performances that the SSFC community really enjoyed in this match. However, one player was leaps and bounds above the rest. Gio Reyna, for his efforts as a substitute in the match, earned a 7.83 average rating and the SSFC Man of the Match.

Reyna made a huge impact on the match in his short amount of time on the field. He had one long play that was described by Gregg Berhalter as Maradona-esque, while he almost set up Jordan Pefok for what could have been the golden goal that would have beaten El Tri. Those 2 plays, coupled with his overall play, put him over the top.

The ratings for all the players, along with the referee and head coach Gregg Berhalter:

Gio Reyna – 7.83

Walker Zimmerman – 7.12

Zack Steffen – 6.92

Tyler Adams – 6.90

Antonee Robinson – 6.89

Tim Weah – 6.53

Yunus Musah – 6.35

Miles Robinson – 6.26

Kellyn Acosta – 6.22

Christian Pulisic – 5.94

DeAndre Yedlin – 5.73

Aaron Long – 5.63

Erik Palmer-Brown – 5.60

Jordan Morris – 5.18

Ricardo Pepi – 4.99

Jordan Pefok – 3.74

Gregg Berhalter – 6.14

Shane with the Mexican flag girl – in Azteca after the 0-0 tie
Ochoa Big Head – after the tie !

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