Nostalgia : México x USA world cup qualifier at Azteca March 27 2005 Part 2/2


1st Half:Finally the ball is in play. Mexico started with their usual short passing game, passing the ball around in the midfield. US was more than prepared for that, cutting off any long passes. The temperamental 'Cuau'Cuautehmoc is getting frustrated already. Mexican coach spewing up smoke with is cigarettes and generally shouting a lot of instructions. Since I was so close to the dugouts, I could listen to some and really cant post such stuff here ;-).
The game is getting fragmented in the midfield, precisely what US wanted. Mexico trying to attack up the middle and US packed in that region. Borgetti and Fonseca are not getting the service. The lone American forward hasn't touched the ball even once in the first 15-20 minutes.
Home fans getting nervous. Jeering every whistle that goes against them.
The referee underlined his authority brandishing a couple of yellow cards, one on each side. Cuau got one of them. He is uttering all kinds of swear words at the referee. The fans around me were like "Tranquilo Cuau,Tranquilo"(Cuau, please take it easy man). Everyone knows that he is the most talented player of the 22 on the field. But its his temper or the lack of it that worries every Mexican fan and player alike.

20-25 min passed. 0-0. Mexico have their first corner. Nothing comes out of it. But slowly Mexico seem to be gaining the upper hand in the game but not visible or tangible enough to convert it into a goal. The seem to have adjusted to the 4-5-1 of US. And since the altitude effect is gonna kick-in anytime, Mexicans started playing clever. That is use the width of the field, making the US players run around them. But since the ball is in midfield US players really cant commit and try to win the ball. If they win that's fine but if they lose the 1-1 then they are in a serious pickle.
And the Mexicans started attacking in waves. Too often these rivalry games get bogged down in the midfield area owing to cautious approach of the coaches. But Mexico have found there swagger 20 min into the game and they laid a siege on the US goal.
Minute 25-30. 0-0 but the home team dominated the games last 5-10 minutes and it seemed as its a matter of time before they are on the score sheet. On the otherhand US players are visibly getting tired for the lack of oxygen and committing little errors in the marking. Half-time cant come sooner for them. And there you go goool !!! Borgetti strikes 1-0 Mexico. Uh huh. The flag is up. Offside :(. If that lineman listens to all the swearing that happened, he will never work another game ;). Saw the replay on the big screen and he made the right decision. But sorry Mr. Lineman we cant take the swear words back.
Borgetti and Mexico were not to be denied after 2 minutes when Borgetti heads home from close range after a badly taken corner, the ball falls to Fonseca at the byline, who has no other option but to lob the ball back into play which finds the head of Lozano who heads it laterally and wrong foots the US keeper, to find Borgetti all alone to head it in.
La pelota esta en el fondo (the ball is in the[back of the net])
Goooooooooooooooooooool1-0 Mexico !!!!!!!!

The crowd celebrate. the trumpets which went silent for a while are back in full flow. Drums. Songs. I high-fived with about 10-15 people around. And started singing with
them in my broken spanish. I loved it. Well taken goal after a poorly executed corner kick.
Play resumed. Mexico having the ball all the time now. Nothing working for US. Their star player Landon donovan is nowhere to be seen.
Minute 34-35 and a piece of genius from Cuau. from the near side at the half-line in the midfield, cornered by a defender hits a long diagonal pass, which at first seemed like another aimless pass but his vision is impeccable. He finds both is central forwards open near the US box. the pass was inch perfect and carved up the US defence like swiss cheese. And seeing Fonseca and Borgetti with the ball they entire US defence is drawn that side. leaving the near side all open. Borgetti passes it across to Zinha who makes no mistake in a 1-1 with the goal-keeper, skimming the ball over the hapless Kasey Keller.
Dos a Ceroooooooo Mexico (2-0 mexico)
It was a beautiful move. and the cool finishing of Zinha was the icing on the cake. US in total disarray now. This is the reason why Mexican coaches bear with Cuau. He can change the game in a couple of minutes. Mexico has a few more chances to increase the lead but poor finishing does them in.
Mexican coach needlessly gets sent off for arguing with the 4th official. So Jorge Campos (remember the goalkeeper from 94 and 98 world cups with flashy jerseys, polka dots in fluorscent colors) the assistant coach takes over.
Fast approaching half-time US get their 1st or 2nd corner of the game and nothing comes of it.
HALF-TIME: Mexico 2 - 0 USA
4 minutes of madness from US and mexico score a brace. Mexico in complete control of this game now. US has never won a game from 2 goals down against any decent opposition. You can expect Mexico to play some cattenaccio now and frustrate the US even more. But if US can pull one back quickly, we will have a match on our hands. But they need to get out of this 4-5-1 and go with a 4-4-2 which gives more options to attack.
I had some sodas and chips and all the good trash-food. After all the shouting, I needed that break badly.
2nd HALF:
As expected the US made a change and now they are in the more attacking 4-4-2 formation. And that could be seen right away, as they came out of the tunnel with purpose and vigor and a determination to turn it around. It wont be easy though. Mexicans will set up shop in the midfield and use their superior ball skills to keep possession. All in all a tough situation for US.US wins a few corners, Mexico defended them well.
Minute 55-65:
seemingly out of nowhere US halve the deficit. Donovan muffs an easy chance to shoot but luckily for him the ball bounces to Eddie Lewis in the mexican box who slots it home on the far left-corner of the net.
Goooooooool USA!!
2-1 Mexico.
The few US fans rejoice. Beer, Soda and assorted liquids came raining down on them. I am happy my section is far away from the US fans :-). Jeers and trumpets again.Osama chants again. Crowd is angry with Mexican defence also now. After a while the crowd settles down.
Around minute 70, after US has made all their 3 allotted changes, Mexico change their formation and with that the complexion of the game as well. In come Ramon Morales, and Alberto Medina and out go the goal-scorers Borgetti and Zinha. Its the 4-3-3 now a la The Netherlands. 2 speedy wingers with fresh legs on the left and right. With Fonseca as the lone striker. The US right and left backs were already tired and now have to chase these two hares who just entered the field. That effectively killed any chances of US comeback as these the full-backs have to be worried of the wingers and cant commit themselves to make attacking runs. Medina was on the near side to me and he won the ball everything against his marker.
If not for their poor finishing, Mexico should have scored 4-5 goals. But its a lot of fun to watch the tactics of your team just killing the other team. US didnt have any significant attacks after that.
FULL-TIME Mexico 2 - 1 USA
Woohooooooooo!! Mexico won Ole!
I think US lost the game before they even kicked-off. With their formation and tactics. When you play not to lose, more often than not you lose. A happy ending for me and La Aficion. They slogan proved right that the Giant is still alive. And the pride of La Aficion has been restored. Now the sights are set on the world cup. La Aficion wants more. Wants to exact revenge at the WC 2006. There is no chance of both teams falling in the same group at WC 2006. But there are ample opportunities that they meet in the 2nd round like they did last time around. Mexico wants to reverse that result. The team is much younger now and has some good playmakers and good defenders. Rafa Marquez can stabilize the first third of the field. And Borgetti and Fonseca in front could be a dangerous proposition against any team.
Spent close to 600 pesos (55 USD) for everything and I had the experience of my life. Took more than 2 hours for the trek back home but its all happy. Sharing jokes all along the travel with people around. Took a lot of pics, will post them as soon as I can scan them. (I am too tired of the Mastercard commercial cant plagiarize that now ;-) )

-To their credit the US restored parity when they beat Mexico 2-0 at Columbus Ohio last month.
-Both teams have since qualified for Germany 2006.
-US could have issues of depth in squad. Their first team can compete but not much else after that. This was perfectly illustrated when US got thumped by Costa Rica 3-0 the past weekend.
-Mexico needs to go in with a positive attitude. And Cuau please keep the antics off until after the WC.
-Mexico need to be careful not to rush in any of the enthusiastic youngsters from their U-17 championship side. The game that grown men play is much less forgiving and could destroy a promising career even before it takes off.
-I expect one of the 2 to be a surprise semi-finalist. I hope that its Mexico.-I hope all "play-not-to-lose" teams are eliminated in the first round of the WC. Woohoooo!!! one such side, Greece wont make it there :-)
Hasta la Vista

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