10 September 2013
Columbus Ohio continues to be the ultimate home field advantage for the United States as second half goals from Eddie Johnson and Landon Donovan provided the United States a 2-0 victory over Mexico. The result leaves the United States with one firm foot over the qualification thresh hold, with the other over it but not firmly on the ground yet.
To say the first half was a sloppy affair would be an understatement. The United States took half an hour to settle down, but Mexico had no bite to their attack. While it appeared early on Mexico may have had a plan 1a, it was a plan not too dissimilar to one fans have seen all throughout this final round of qualification. The most threatening chance Mexico had in the opening stanza actually came from a failed own goal chance from DeMarcus Beasley. From there, early Gimenez and Dos Santos efforts were saved with relative ease by Tim Howard.
After that, Mexico's predictable attack seen throughout most of this final round of qualification returned, rendering anything they did moving forward useless. While the United States still looked out of shape in the midfield, they slowly started to inch their way into the attack. Two first half counters, the first from Dempsey and the other from Donovan, were tamely blocked. However, as the first half came to a close, it was looking more and more like advantage USA then it was advantage Mexico.
The advantage completely swung in the United States favor just four minutes into the second half. Eddie Johnson worked perfectly off the Clarence Goodson screen before having the easiest look on goal. Corona abandoned his post for reasons no one will ever be able to grasp, and Eddie Johnson had an unmarked header right down the middle of the goal. The men on the posts could only look on as it went into the back of the net for a deserved American opener.
After the goal, in a move that I only consider waving the white flag of surrender, Mexico subbed off their player of the match. With Herrera replacing Gimenez in the 54th, Mexico's play got even more predictable. The US defense, looking as settled as it has been in this World Cup cycle, started picking off passes with ease. With the inclusion of Peralta for Arce 20 minutes from time, Mexico's attack became too rushed. With Mexico's desperation getting worse by the minute, the United States picked their spot to secure victory.
After a rushed throw in deep in the USA's attacking half, the United States struck. Diskerud made great use of his time on the pitch with a beautiful pick up and turn for the byline. Diskerud's centering pass got just enough of a deflection from Dempsey to get past Corona and through to Donovan. For the second time tonight, the United States had an empty net to shoot in, and Donovan didn't miss.
When it's all said and done, the final scoreline was about as accurate a reflection of play as possible. Mexico had no creativity in their final third, and all efforts on frame were easily handled by Tim Howard. Once the United States settled half an hour in, it was only a matter of time before they scored, and Corona gave Eddie Johnson the biggest target in the world to hit. Once Mexico took off their only player who tried to get creative on the ball, the game was over. The United States responded from a poor effort in Costa Rica with the most professional performance one could ask for.
Mexico is seriously in trouble. As of this writing, Mexico is 5 points off automatic qualification with two rounds to play. At this rate, Mexico/Panama is shaping up to be a winner take all to play New Zealand. While it would appear Mexico would be favorites over two legs against New Zealand, everyone thought just four years ago New Zealand didn't have a prayer to advance to South Africa. They proved many people wrong in that process.