It's Not Just Cute Anymore
Posted by kpking3032 (3109 days ago)
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In 2001, when the USA beat Mexico in World Cup qualifying, it was kind of a novelty. It felt a lot like when Utah and Boise State rise up and smack the big boys in the BCS around. It's great while it lasts, but it's not going to last....right?
Something odd started to happen after that night in Columbus in 2001; USA Soccer never looked back, and the U.S has not lost to Mexico on U.S soil in a decade.
Even still, some of the wins were a bit fluky, like Landon Donovan taking a ball that was deflected off of a referee, and streaking in to score, or Benny Feilhaber (who has done NOTHING of note since) connecting on a wonder strike to beat Mexico in the Gold Cup in 2007.
Tonight's 2-0 win over Mexico should be seen as a new chapter in United States soccer. For the most part, the U.S dictated the entire pace of the game, and made Mexico lose their cool, to the point where their captain, Rafa Marquez, took a ridiculous challenge on U.S goalkeeper Tim Howard, and was given a red card for his efforts (Howard is arguably one of the five best goalies in the world).
12 of the 18 players on the United States roster play overseas, and many of those 12 play on huge teams abroad. Landon Donovan with Bayern Munich, Tim Howard in the Premier League with Everton, and DaMarcus Beasley with Scottish giants, Rangers.
For the first time in the history of the USA/Mexico rivalry, the United States had more international-caliber talent on the field than Mexico. Players with dual Mexican and American citizenship, like Jose Francisco Torres, are choosing the United States over "El Tri."
A loss to the gringos used to cost most Mexican bosses their job, but Mexican boss Sven-Goran Eriksson was nearly resigned to the fact that a win in Columbus would be an unexpected bonus.
This team isn't going to storm into South Africa in 2010 and win the World Cup, but, in a relatively small amount of time, the United States has become the most dominant team in CONCACAF (North American, Central American and Caribbean nations).
The Under-20 and Under-18 American teams are forces in any international tournaments that they compete in, which means this isn't just a golden era, it's sustainable dominance.
On March 28th, the United States plays El Savador in the next qualifying match. The games are two hours long, and there aren't commercials (although you do have to deal with Alexi Lalas' idiocy at halftime), so it's not asking a lot for you to watch.
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Erickson commented 3109 days ago
I'm cautiously optimistic, but wonder how well we'll stack up against the real giants of the sport. It seems every time we get some momentum from our qualifying results, we go and face a good European team and get smacked around. Are we doing anything differently to help prepare for that experience?
kevinccp commented 3108 days ago
As Kpking pointed out, so many of our players are overseas, which is where they need to play (think about how much foreign competition has caught up in bball, thanks to the NBA). Donovan doesn't start for Munich, but gets to practice and learn from Toni and Klose. The key is the continued development of young players like Freddy Adu (19 yo), Jozy Altidore (19 yo), and even Michael Bradley (21 yo).
2010 luckily isn't in Europe where the Americans are historically terrible. It's not an unreasonable expectation for the Americans to make the second round next year.
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