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2019 September Friendly Recap - USA 0-3 Mexico: If Sisyphus was about a soccer team...

If I may pose a question: What are we doing?

United States Men’s National Team v Mexico: Training Session Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team took a DNA test, turns out they’re 100% being coached by the brother of a USSF executive.

Going into the match, there was much expectation about seeing Josh Sargent start and watching a first choice centerback pairing of John Brooks and Aaron long. Instead this happened:

It’s just a friendly though, which does raise some questions, I’m sure Wil Trapp was up for this and Gyasi Zardes absolutely was the right call at striker and that I’d have chosen to watch what transpired even if I wasn’t obligated to so I could write this recap. Who wouldn’t want to see two players from the 4th worst team in MLS this year start against Mexico? Of course, the last time these sides met, Gregg Berhalter was out-coached by Tata Martino and did things like use his last sub while down a goal on Daniel Lovitz, so this seems pretty inline with what’s happened before.

OK, here’s how it went in the first soccer game played in New Jersey that didn’t include the overwhelming stench of garbage in weeks. Mexico had a plan - it was to press the US. The US also had a plan, it was to break the press. Even when that didn’t work every time they tried it for 45 minutes, they kept trying it. Mexico scored a goal on a turnover about 20 minutes in and the Thirteen Stripes had no answer going forward. In the second half, the US tried to mix up the building out of the back with playing long and that was only slightly less of a failure for the Americans.

If that sounds bleak, it should. Mexico was well organized, they anticipated what the US would do in the game, and knew what to do when they gained possession. The Americans were uninspired, did not make the right adjustments, and were outmatched by an El Tri side that seemed to even take its foot off the gas with 30 minutes left in the game and still managed to score two goals after doing that. In the end 3-0 was probably a fair score if not the US getting off easy in the match.

Gifs of bad turnovers and Pulisic having to do everything in the attack by himself

As the first half got underway, it was almost immediately clear what the US would do and how Mexico would handle it. The typical buildup for the Americans involved a short, predictable pass from Zack Steffen to a centerback who usually had an El Tri player immediately step to him, forcing a rushed pass to a teammate, mostly Wil Trapp, who rushed a pass that was intercepted. The time Mexico didn’t press, Sergino Dest walked the ball down the field and sent a solid effort toward Jonathan Orozco’s goal - after that they pressed a lot more.

Mexico scored in the 21st minute thanks to the Ajax academy product getting nutmegged by Tecatito and an unmarked Chicharito putting the ball in the net:

Then it looked like a Meadowlands Miracle might bring the USMNT back into the game thanks to nothing more than blind luck and hard work from Christian Pulisic who chased down a lazy backpass that forced Orozco to made a last ditch tackle about 40 yards from his goal.

After another turnover while failing to build from the back, the US almost went down 2-0 but didn’t thanks to a mis-hit from Tecatito:

Pulisic again almost provided a moment of individual brilliance as he controlled possession in central midfield giving Weston McKennie a chance to make a run down the right. After dishing to the Schalke midfielder, Pulisic found space at the edge of the 18 yard box and sent a pass to Alfredo Morales that the fabled Bundesliga starter put a wide, weak shot on.

The first half mercifully ended at 1-0. Here’s a chart showing how bad the US was at passing the ball out of the back with the plan very clearly to shuffle it between the centerbacks to Wil Trapp. This shows Zardes’ positioning, but it also shows how nothing worked.

Then there’s this:

To which I have to say: ;aksjdg;akshglkjvcnm

The second half began with the US seeming to focus more on working the ball down the wings rather than breaking lines with passes from Wil Trapp. The result was promising as the US stopped losing the ball in their own third for the most part.

Then there was a slap fight between Alfredo Morales and Hector Herrera near the hour mark. Once everything calmed down, Berhalter turned to his bench to bring in Miles Robinson for Walker Zimmerman and Tyler Boyd, who was starved for the ball for most of the game, for Jordan Morris.

USMNT fans’ hopes and dreams were realized when Daniel Lovitz checked into the game for Dest. Perhaps more promising though, (except it wouldn’t be) Zardes was pulled for Sargent in the 67th minute.

Despite playing out of the back not doing much to get the attack going, the US kept at it. Having grown comfortable with the fact that the American attack wasn’t leading to much of anything, Mexico even stepped back a bit. Still, they managed a coup de grace when a backpass left Steffen with the option to send it long or play it out of his goal and, despite the team being way too disorganized for that to be the right choice, that’s what he did. Erick Gutierrez pounced on Steffen’s bad pass and made the game 2-0.

Alfredo Morales almost scored a cluster goal for the USA, but the best chance of the night to that point for the team hit the bar. Then Mexico ripped apart the American defense to score again.

Luckily, the US pushed forward as the game wound down and a Sebastian Lletget pass found Jordan Morris. The Sounders forward was fouled in the box and Josh Sargent stepped up to inevitably miss the penalty; an event that is less aggravating because it didn’t go in the net, but because of the commentary about if he should be on the team or not that it will produce.

The game ended as the US lost 3-0 to Mexico in the House that Mark Sanchez built. It was an overall exasperating game - from the lineup to the team’s inability to adjust to what Mexico was doing to the team repeatedly making the same mistakes throughout the game. A process is one thing, but stubbornly clinging to something that is failing won’t help the team get to where it needs to be.