If you missed the first 60 minutes of this game than you didn’t miss much. The US could get nothing going offensively in the first half. We literally came out to start the game with 4 defensive midfielders because, well, US soccer. It was so bad in the first half of this one that the US literally only had 4 touches within Mexico’s penalty area in the first 45 minutes. That’s not great.
While Mexico started the game much brighter and more creative the reality is it felt like watching two families who knew they were supposed to dislike each other, but didn’t know why. Both teams looked tepid and scared. That all changed in the second half when Matt Miazga, channeling his inner Clint Dempsey, added a new chapter to the US-Mexico rivalry and the rest is history. Before we get there, let’s break down your first half highlights and lowlights in this 1-0 victory for the United States.
The first half belonged to a blossoming Mexican starlet of 18 years of age, Diego Lainez. Rumor has it that Manchester United was at El Tri’s game last weekend to scout Lainez for a possible move across the pond. This kid looked calm, cool, and up for the task. He created opportunities by moving inside, drifting outside and pulling our defenders apart. He is one to keep an eye on as this rivalry moves forward. The Club America midfielder has talent!
Diego Lainez leaves Wil Trapp in his dust #USAvMEX (via @UnivisionSports) pic.twitter.com/X0YEuvZwVE— Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) September 12, 2018
So yeah, the first half, super boring. I don’t have much to say about it. The US looked like they had four defensive midfielders on the field, which they did, and Mexico looked like they had 10 new starters from the team that played over the weekend, which they did. It wasn’t great.
The first half did provide this moment of controversy for us however, when Zack Steffen seemingly carried the ball in his hands from inside of the box to the outside of the box. No card was issued and it only resulted in a free kick. Did he? Didn’t he? Hard to tell.
Zach Steffen living very dangerously there.....#USMNT #USAvMEX pic.twitter.com/ZwHO78SbWa— #ThankYouDeuce (@JogaBonito_USA) September 12, 2018
The biggest lowlight of the first half was the incessant need for Mexican fans to shout homophobic slurs at opposing goalies. It’s time to move on Mexico and spare me the standard argument that it doesn’t mean what everyone knows it means. It just makes you look worse. I lived in Mexico, hablo español y sé que es homofóbico! Well, that’s it for the first half, forgettable at best.
The second period is where we saw the rebirth of the rivalry within the hearts of the young teams. These are guys that haven’t been through CONCACAF qualifying in the Azteca, or watched Mexico raise a Gold Cup trophy on American soil. It took a good 60 minutes before both teams realized they didn’t like each other and wanted to do something about it.
Enter Matt Miazga, the soon to be captain of the US men’s team if Pulisic doesn’t start showing up to these games.
In what can only be described as Deuce 2.0, Miazga gave us the latest and greatest gif of the rivalry when he reacted to Diego Lainez’s late challenge on a ball. Miazga, sick of the Lainez yipping at his heels decided he was going to remind Lainez of his uh, stature.
MATT MIAZGA LOVES US SHOWED IT BY PROVIDING THE GOOCH STARE DOWN FOR THIS GENERATION pic.twitter.com/bHcMTFrNPu— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) September 12, 2018
And this one.
Here's a rare video of Matt Miazga looking for the captain's armband that will be his for the rest of eternity pic.twitter.com/GhkmFCIJkE— Cameran Alavi ⚽ (@camtotheyams) September 12, 2018
Well Lainez’s teammate Ángel Záldivar must have taken exception to Miazga’s taunting because it took him only 2 minutes after the scuffle to earn a straight red card from referee Ricardo Montero when he went studs up with both feet on Wil Trapp. The 5 minute of sequence of Miazga taunting Lainez and Záldivar going studs up on Trapp turned this entire game on its head and for the first time all night the game finally had passion and grit.
#Mexico go down to 10 men. Ángel Zaldívar given a straight red card for a clumsy over the ball tackle on Wil Trapp.#USAvMEX #USMNT #ElTri pic.twitter.com/Zm4ekL0Csc— #ThankYouDeuce (@JogaBonito_USA) September 12, 2018
The US did not take much time to capitalize on Mexico going down to 10 men, with the backline moving to 3 defenders and the US pushing more numbers forward into the attack. It paid off only 4 minutes after the red card was issued when Antonee Robinson whipped in a low rolling cross to New York Red Bulls youngster Tyler Adams who made a 40 yard run to get there. It was the seminal moment of the night with the US finally breaking the deadlock and doing so in true Patriot Day fashion, by a New Yorker.
USA!— ESPN (@espn) September 12, 2018
19-year-old Tyler Adams scores the USMNT's only goal in their friendly win over Mexico. pic.twitter.com/kC75XE89Sa
This game was ugly. The tactics were subpar and the attack looked lost at times. The US won by doing what it has done for decades, by playing hard nose defense and waiting patiently for an opportunity to strike. The problem is that I don’t want us to play like we have for decades. We are a nation of over 300 million people. We have every imaginable resource at our disposal that any of the elite nations of football have. The US is not where it needs to be in terms of developing young attacking midfielders. Defensive midfielders and center backs are plentiful, but give us a true #10 that can be an artist on the field. Until we can figure that out we will continue to be predictable and somewhat boring.
Also, hire a coach already. Why is it taking so long? If you are shooting for the moon and waiting to hear back from Pep Guardiola that is one thing. If you are deciding between 2 or 3 MLS coaches, get on with it already. Matches that matter will be upon us soon enough and this team lacks an identity that it sorely needs.