U.S. heads to World Cup with players struggling for game time
As it was when both the U.S. and Mexico were involved in the World Cup qualifying tournament in November, those watching the USA-Mexico soccer teams in the CONCACAF region on Sunday were treated to the best of the group: a pair of fast-paced, exciting teams playing the game as it has been scripted in Mexico for far too long.
The USA-Mexico draw was not as good as a typical home game. In this case, the two sides were locked firmly at 0-0 in the first half. Although both teams made two chances or scoring chances, neither found a way to capitalize. This was not about a lack of effort. There was plenty of effort, more than in the U.S. team’s 3-0 win over Guatemala in the quarterfinals. If anything, that game suggested the two sides are as much alike as they are different; the team playing to win but playing with an attacking mentality.
A Mexican team that began the game with a midfield composed of veterans, like a U.S. team that had a starting lineup comprised by players that were largely unknown outside the region, would have seen an advantage against a team with more attacking skill; a team led by two players with over 100 caps and several who have scored at least once in the U-20 and senior World Cup levels.
The U.S. was the home team, but the result was not the result one would expect from a USA team that has a chance to play for a World Cup in 20 years, if the team can stay healthy enough and find the players in the right roles to do so. The U.S. team is clearly struggling to find the right way to play a match, from the U-20 to the World Cup, and it is fair to see why this team’s head coach, Bruce Arena, left after the World Cup qualifying tournament.
Despite the U.S. team’s inability to find ways to score, it