10 August, 2011

The Professor Blogs LIVE

Fortunate circumstances have allowed me to make history with our first ever LIVE blog during the Mexico/USA match from Philadelphia, starting now. I will update this post with my reactions to the match as it happens. The broadcast I am watching features the commentary of Pablo Ramirez and Jesus Bracamontes on Univision.

The starters are taking the field for national anthems. I see Carlos Bocanegra, Tim Howard, Steve Cherundolo, Landon Donovan, Edgar Castillo, Kyle Beckerman, Edson Buddle, Michael Bradley, Michael Orozco, Jose Francisco Torres, and Jermaine Jones. Mexico seems to have most of their first team on the field, including Andres Guardado, Pablo Barrera, Carlos Salcido, Gerardo Torrado, Memo Ochoa, and Rafael Marquez, but I did NOT see Giovani dos Santos, though I believe he is on the bench. Chicharito isn't here. Klinsmann looks nervous. I was expecting more of a poker face.

5:00 Edgar Castillo is the left back. I'd love for him to be the answer at that troublesome position. Michael Orozco has never impressed me and just completely hacked his man after getting beaten at the center back position. Guardado and Salcido almost made us pay on the free kick but Jones broke up Salcido's run to the goal.

10:00 Michael Orozco should come out at halftime. He is clearly our weakness on defense. The announcers just reminded me that Orozco is probably starting because this is his home field with Philadelphia Union. Michael Bradley is the offensive center mid, props to my boy Mr. X for calling that one. Landon is on the right wing and Torres is the left wing, with Jones and Beckerman at defensive mids and Buddle alone up top.

15:00 Michael Bradley is all over the place, making the plays on defense and then making excellent passes on offense. Total football. The problem is, no one other than Landon Donovan can do anything with the ball when Bradley finds them with a perfect pass. I'm looking at you, Kyle Beckerman. Beckerman sucks and doesn't belong on our first team. Meanwhile, Pablo Barrera is eating us alive. Before the game, Univision showed analysis of Barrera and Guardado destroying us in the Gold Cup final. Barrera is doing it again.

17:00 Andres Guardado sent a nice cross and Peralta (a surprise starter at forward for Mexico) volleyed it into the net for a 1-0 Mexico lead. Peralta appeared to be marked by Michael Bradley, just not very well. Shame on you, Bradley! Your fault!

20:00 Guardado finds Barrera, those two are giving us fits. Barrera gets the cross off but Cherundolo (the shortest guy on the field) heads it out. Part of me wants to accept that Mexico is better than we are, but then I remember that Orozco, Castillo, Beckerman, and Buddle are starting today, and I feel better.

25:00 Landon got fouled to set up a free kick in a great position. Torres kicks it right into the wall. Then Torres makes up for it by drawing another foul. Landon is taking this one. Looks for Bradley's head, cleared by Juarez. Jones controls the clearance. but we lose it. Still no shots for the USA.

30:00 Mexico's left back Carlos Salcido has just made a couple of good runs. I just remembered that Carlos Salcido is the guy that made Fulham get rid of Carlos Bocanegra as their left back. Quite frankly, Fulham made the right choice. Cherundolo just fouled Guardado right outside the penalty area, and Sinha Naelson inexplicably (and childishly) attacked Cherundolo, who laughed. The referee quickly broke it up. Guardado didn't seem upset at all, so I don't know what Sinha's problem was. Sinha took the free kick and wasted it, shooting wide of the target.

35:00 Cherundolo is right in Guardado's shorts, but it doesn't matter. Guardado found the open man Torrado, who switched fields for Barrera, who then laid it off for Peralta, but fortunately for us, the shot was weak and Howard caught it easily. Chicharito would have finished it off if he had been starting instead of Peralta.

40:00 Guardado got beaten by Cherundolo's touch, and fouled 'Dolo. Guardado laughed and it looks like those two are enjoying the friendly competition. As bad as Beckerman is, that's how good Jones is playing today. Jones is outstanding. He just sent a long ball to Torres that started a really nice rally involving both outside backs, Cherundolo and Castillo, making runs to Mexico's 18 and finally ended with Landon getting a shot on goal easily saved by Ochoa. Four of our five midfielders looked really good on the play: Jones, Torres, Bradley, and Donovan. Who is missing? Beckerman didn't touch the ball and has done nothing the whole game.

42:00 Juarez just got a yellow card, the first caution of the game, for sliding into Beckerman, who was also sliding, and quite honestly the collision looked to be just as much Beckerman's fault as Juarez. The difference was Beckerman was trying to play the ball and Juarez was trying to kick Beckerman's inner thigh area, not the ball.

Halftime - Buddle and Beckerman have to come out, those guys have done nothing. Orozco settled down quickly and isn't as bad as I first thought, but Beckerman is worse. Guardado is down injured, I didn't see what happened, but since he has been Mexico's best player, this could be a blessing. Holy crap what is that mess on Brek Shea's head? He isn't starting because of that haircut alone. Time for a beer.

45:00 Just checked during halftime, and that was 27-year-old Oribe Peralta's first goal for the Senior National Team. He plays for Santos Laguna if you were wondering. Univision's analysis just showed that the USA had ten players in the box when Peralta scored his goal. Everyone except Buddle. Yet, it wasn't enough. Again, Peralta was marked by Bradley, just not very well. I'll report the halftime changes as soon as I notice them.

50:00 Beckerman still sucks. He just got nutmegged by Marquez, and then when he eventually got the ball back in our own half, Guardado came up behind him and nearly stole it. Buddle just played a nice give and go with Michael Bradley but Bradley couldn't get past the defenders. The announcers seem to think that Robbie Rogers will check in soon. No subs yet for either team, surprisingly.

52:00 Whoa, I thought that was a goal. Rafael Marquez, completely unmarked on a corner, headed the ball right into the net, but it was the outside of the net. Looked like a goal at first but went wide.

55:00 Giovani dos Santos is the first substitute of the game, replacing Sinha. Good, because Sinha had a bad attitude and doesn't seem to understand this is a friendly. Gio is much more skilled, so this is a good move for Mexico.

57:00 WOW! Carlos Bocanegra just headed a Landon Donovan corner kick right on target! Memo Ochoa got down quickly to make the save, otherwise this game would be tied.

60:00 Two subs in for the USA. Brek Shea and Juan Agudelo replace Jermaine Jones and Edson Buddle. I like it except that Shea should have replaced Beckerman. Jones was playing great. I'd expect Shea to switch places with Torres since Shea is naturally an offensive left wing, Torres is more of a defensive wing.

62:00 sub for Mexico, Omar Arellano replaces Oribe Peralta at forward. And I was right about Brek Shea playing offensive left wing in the 4-2-3-1 (which would be left forward if you want to call it a 4-3-3).

65:00 Salcido just tore up our entire team, we dropped ten men in the box again. Salcido still managed to find Arellano for the shot, but it was way off target. Yellow card to Rafael Marquez. Agudelo got a great ball in the corner from the midfield (sorry, didn't see who sent the pass) but couldn't control it.

69:00 Francisco Rodriguez replaces Marquez at center back. Francisco Rodriguez plays for Stuttgart, Jurgen Klinsmann's first club.

70:00 ha ha, Brek Shea and Gio dos Santos, the tallest and shortest players on the field, just battled for the ball. Shea won it and Gio tripped him from behind after the fact. The referee saw it and called the foul. A 5'5" guy fouled a 6'5" guy.

72:00 Christian Bermudez checks in for Pablo Barrera. Agudelo was taken down in the box, the Univision announcers think it could have been a penalty but the referee said play on.

74:00 Robbie Rogers comes on and scores a goal with his first touch. Brek Shea beats the defenders on the left side of the penalty area and passes across the face of the goal. Rogers was unmarked because the defenders were all headed over to pick up Shea, and Rogers tapped it into the net. The game is now tied 1-1. Brek Shea has been the difference maker.

76:00 I forgot to report Robbie Rogers is on for Michael Bradley. Rogers is playing on the wing and Landon Donovan is the central midfielder.

83:00 Whoa! Landon passed to Shea, who blasted a shot from about 25 yards that Ochoa had to sprawl out to save. Definitely the second big save from Ochoa, the first being on that Bocanegra header on a corner kick. Ricardo Clark has just entered the game, replacing Jose Francisco Torres at defensive mid. Torres was outstanding as an attacking wing today and definitely deserves a spot on the team.

85:00 Gio dos Santos tried to work his magic. Bocanegra slide tackled the ball away and Shea won the loose ball, but then Castillo fouled. When we blocked the free kick, one of our defenders (sorry, didn't see who) sent a beautiful long ball to Rogers. Rogers had the ball past the last defender, Torrado, who pulled down Rogers from behind. Torrado got a yellow card and Univision's Jesus Bracamontes very clearly stated that it should have been a red card. Rogers left the field with an injury. The replay shows who sent the long ball, looked like it was Juan Agudelo, although I might be mistaken and it might have been Ricardo Clark. They look similar and wear jersey numbers 18 and 15, respectively.

90:00 Man of the match is Brek Shea, in my opinion, if not Memo Ochoa, who has made at least three huge saves. I told you Brek Shea is on fire. Rogers is back in, found Clark in the box with a great pass. Clark got the ball to Agudelo but Agudelo couldn't control it.

Se Acabo'! Univision named Memo Ochoa as their Jugador mas Valioso. However, anyone who saw the game will agree that Brek Shea was a game changer. Jurgen Klinsmann should consider this game a success. They are showing replays of the goal and Brek Shea used his strength to hold a defender off while Robbie Rogers got open. We have no other player who can do that, maybe Jozy Altidore but Shea has better footwork.

Other successes: Edgar Castillo at left back, Michael Bradley as offensive center mid. Look for a 4-2-3-1 when qualifying starts, with Dempsey at right wing, Shea at left wing, Landon at center mid, and Bradley back at defensive mid. Jones, Edu, or even Jose Francisco Torres can be his partner. But who will be our forward?


  1. I switched to ESPN2 for post-game commentary about the USMNT, and I'm pleased. Alexi Lalas called out Kyle Beckerman for not being good enough compared to these other players, and then John Harkes called out Edson Buddle for being way over his head as a lone forward.

    Those two players will not make the team. Strangely, I agree with Lalas and Harkes.

  2. Nice job! I'm at work, so couldn't watch. Ran to the waiting room to catch the end and see goal highlghts. That was a great play from Shea. Considering the lineups and that the US played a lot of fringe players, this is certainly a success for JK. Again, see my comments on the US vs Mexico roster entry if you wanna go back and see his press conference via a link.

    -The Godfather

  3. Did you guys catch this?

    To summarize: Edgar Castillo, starting for Club America, asks why Jonathan Bornstein played left back in the Gold Cup final when Edgar Castillo was available? I have to agree with him.

  4. Old Coach says:
    We also started watching on Univision as ESPN2 had the last 2 innings of a LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME. Anouncers much better on Univision, but idiotic as they were, they spoke English on ESPN2. These anouncers also agreed on that it should have been a red when Rogers got taken down. They also questioned if a PK should have been called in favor of the US when Agudelo went down in the box, but they admitted that Cherundolo was lucky to not have been red carded for his sloppy swing at Guardado (who had been holding his arm).
    You did not mention the pass back to a wide open Clark at the 22 yd line who shot wide of the goal by 22 yds. Interestingly, he was the only one of my "OMG why is he on the squad" to see time. So maybe at practice Kleensman saw what we all have seen about the other OMGs.
    Other note: the formation posted on TV was a 4-4-2 with Buddle and Donovan as the 2 fwds and Bradley as the right mid. Univision announcers insisted that JK had said he wanted LD as a fwd so he could score more; but it was obvious in the first 0 to 3 minutes that Buddle was the lone striker, LD was the R. mid and Bradley was as usual a central mid. In his defense, he was groin to groin wiht Peralta but Peralta just stuck out a super long R. leg on his goal. The ball bounced off his foot into the net but it was not really purposefully directed precisely into the L. lower corner just out of Howard's reach--a lucky goal that was not a gross error by Bradley.
    Castillo made mistakes but looked young, so maybe a future for him on the L. with Lichaj R.
    Ohter thought: the announcers really wanted for Torres to do well and they overplayed what he did well and ignored when he screwed up. I doubt that he will be the future at L. wing for us. And why is L. footed Rogers playing on the R.? We need a good center defender as Bocanegra ages--can I volunteer Bradley for that? It worked for Lothar Matheus.
    Final note: JK did not use all the subs available. He wanted to win or at least do the best the team could. Good!

  5. Prof, you know the reason why Bornstain (pun intended) played left back... Great write up though. Ironically, Yahoo Sports had some serious issues with the calls. They thought Jones and Torres did not play great, even though I agree with your call.

    Oh, and as an side, good call with Univision. Anyone else that tried to DVR ESPN2 found out they missed Mexico's goal and the first 20mins because of a blowout 12-6 Little League game... *sigh*

    Back to the game, Bradley does horribly at holding mid and that's where he sees his cards return. Which would you choose at OMC, Landycakes or Bradley? Simple answer is that Landy is more dangerous there so Bradley... bye bye. Besides, it was correctly noted several times by Jorge Ramos (ESPN Deportes) and others that there was a huge disconnect in midfield with Bradley dropping way back into the box instead of connecting Buddle to the rest of the team. Could be a little of the reason why Buddle was so ineffective (aside from him sucking).

    All in all, a good game. No serious hype because Klinsi didn't win his first game in, but no blowout loss either. I was hoping to see Hamid play, but what are you going to do in a close game like that? I do like how our front line is forming though... Shea (OML) Landy (OMC) Dempsey (OMR) Altidore or Agudelo (FC) and please no more Clark... he still sucks. He had two guys on easy through balls late in the game and took wild shots outside the box into the upper deck instead.

  6. Oh and the yellow on the takedown? Horrible call that it wasn't a red. All the announcers on ESPN were calling for it, even my wife saw it, so how did the ref settle for a yellow?

  7. Old Coach, I like that Bradley to DC idea for some sick reason.

  8. When Bocanegra eventually retires, I'd like to see Bradley Jr at sweeper, behind Oguchi Onyewu (don't forget about Gooch!) so I'm seeing a 4-1-2-3 with Castillo, Bradley, Gooch, and Lichaj in the back line from left to right, Edu as holding midfielder because Jones will be retired by then. Landon and Stuart Holden at playmakers behind the three forwards, Shea, Jozy and Dempsey from left to right. Don't forget Stuart Holden in there somewhere. Juan Agudelo, Jose Francisco Torres, Charlie Davies, and even Freddy the Midget can come off the bench at any of the five offensive positions, but probably won't be first teamers in 2014.

  9. Old Coach says:
    Early on in the game Barrera got the ball near midfield on his R sideline behind Castillo. In a foot race, Castillo could not catch him even though Barrera had to dribble. Bradley who was about level with Castillo, but more central also chased and DID catch up to Castillo to stop the advance. Is Castillo slow, or is Bradley faster than we thought? Torres was nowhere around.


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