Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dos a cero o Cinco a cero?

So just some quick musings here so I can get everything on paper prior to the match, in order to maintain what little credibility I have (which is 0, I believe...).

First off, I did just iterate the "Power Rankings" for the Hex I've got. Here's how the table looks.

Costa Rica

Interestingly, you'll note Costa Rica and the US are tied, while Mexico and Honduras are tied. At this point I don't think there's much question that the US and Costa Rica should hit the auto-qualify spots, the only question may be in what order do they do it.

The bigger race, of course, will be Honduras and Mexico. I think Mexico has the harder schedule, playing teams #1 and #2 away. Sooooo, if we wanted to make predictions, I'd go out and say that Costa Rica, the US, and Honduras auto-advance and Mexico wins up in the #4 spot playing (and probably beating) New Zealand.

The bigger pill, of course, is the falling of Mexico. Now, is a weak Mexico good for CONCACAF? Objectively, I'd argue no, we want a Federation full of strong teams and with 4 slots to potentially fill, I think Mexico has a much better chance of beating New Zealand than either Panamda or Jamaica. But as a USMNT? Let Mexico crash and burn. That's what a rivarly is.

He's a chart illustrating performance over the last 7 matches. Actually goes back a little further than that, including qualifying in past rounds and Gold Cup performances. Basically, this is rankings over the last 9 "ranking periods", covering a total of 13 games played.

And now the fun stuff. Tonight I think I want to see the US play tight, compact, and defensive. We don't need a win here, and with injuries and suspensions I don't want to see us playing risky. We'll be in our own house and should be able to dictate the game somewhat. Mexico is the one who needs to come in and get a result. I'm always weary of teams who recently fire their coaches, as they seem to have a great first "prove yourself" match afterwards (see Columbus v Houston for a great recent example).
Mexico is a dangerous team and their lack of results I think has been more teams coming and taking a cuatious approach at Azteca rather then actual poor performance. The US was hammered while away in Mexico and, honestly, a bit lucky to escape with a point. Turn that draw into a Mexico win and I bet the Hex looks a whole lot different today. 10 games isn't a lot.
So, yes, I'm advocating we get back to "Bruce-ball" or "Bradley-ba;;", stay tight and compact in the middle, keep numbers behind the ball, and pick moments for a fast counter against a Mexico team that's really going to need to come in and play open. Heat could be a factor as well. A second half couner running at tired Mexican legs could well be the winner.
My prediction?
A gritty 1-1 draw, which will almost be enough to get the US auto-in.
Isntant-Classico? I doubt it. But these games are always fun.

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