Editorial (June 13, 2017) – The United States Men’s National Team got a huge draw against Mexico at the Azteca last night. Michael Bradley scored an absolute golazo and the Americans parked the bus with heroic defending for much of the second half. It wasn’t pretty but it worked.
USA Draw Against Mexico: Three Things I Noticed
Like any good USA-Mexico game, this match had a bunch of storylines. Both teams were coming off home victories. Mexico was looking to supplant their lead at the top of the Hexagonal. The United States were looking to use a make-shift lineup to get a draw. Here’s three things I noticed:
Michael Bradley And Geoff Cameron Stepped Up Big Time:
Fairly or unfairly, Michael Bradley is probably the most scrutinized player in the U.S. pool. He’s the Captain and has had his ups and downs in the last year. In my humble opinion, he’s also one of the most tactically misunderstood players. He showed up in this game. Bradley had a spectacular moment on the goal from 40 yards out. He was key on several defensive sequences and helped relieve pressure at times.
While Bradley had the goal, center back Geoff Cameron made a very strong case for Man of the Match. He was an absolute beast for 90 minutes in defense. He anchored a five man back line and made several fabulous defensive plays. He was responsible for Chicharito Hernandez for much of the night. Chicharito was held to one shot (none on goal) all night. He’s the best defender in the American player pool right now, and it’s not even close.
The Mexican Based Players Contributed:
Many were suspicious of this lineup and all the changes that Head Coach Bruce Arena made from the Trinidad & Tobago game to the Mexico game. Several of these decisions made sense given where the game was played. Omar Gonzalez and Paul Arriola both play in Liga MX. DaMarcus Beasley spent three years with Puebla as well. He’s also played in big games at the Azteca going back to the early 2000s.
All three of these guys have club experience playing at the Azteca for their clubs. Liga MX has a number of teams in and around Mexico City. In general, they’ve played a number of games in and around the city. They’re more accustomed to the altitude, the smog, and the crowd shenanigans.
Gonzalez could have done a better job in the air on both sides of the ball. Still, he made several key defensive plays. Beasley is an ageless wonder. It wasn’t pretty, but he took a lot of punishment for the team and defended admirably. Arriola adjusted well as the game went on. He wasn’t great, but had some good moments.
Kellyn Acosta Grew Up:
Kellyn Acosta has become the man for FC Dallas in 2017. He’s slowly developed a relationship with Michael Bradley in central defense. The Azteca might have been too big a stage for him. We saw several other younger players have some rough moments. Acosta didn’t do anything special yesterday (he could have helped out more to prevent the goal). But he adjusted as the game went on. He did well defensively with Bradley. He didn’t have a huge mistake or get carded.
This game showed the potential Acosta has though. He can contribute on both sides of the ball. He provides some stability unlike Jermaine Jones. He takes some responsibilities off Bradley’s shoulders. That allows Bradley to contribute elsewhere, like with the goal tonight. This kid is going to be a star and he might be the midfield partner fans have been waiting for Bradley to have.