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What We Learned About US Soccer This Week

Brian Taylor

Posted on June 13, 2017 21:24

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3 in Denver and a road point in Mexico validated Bruce Arena and set the US back on course for Russia.

The United States got two big results from their last set of games in World Cup Qualifying and remain on track for qualification to next summer's World Cup in Russia.  Bruce Arena used what many would call his "Best XI" to take all 3 points in a 2-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago, but surprised many professional pundits and people with a Twitter account by making 7 changes to the line up he took into Estadio Azteca for the much anticipated match-up with Mexico.  But once again, Arena had the last laugh (or at least smug smirk) as that line up produced a 1-1 draw and the USA's 3rd ever qualifying point in Mexico.  

The game against T&T saw a frustrating inability to generate an attack until Christian Pulisic put the team on his 18-year-old back and scored a pair of goals to send the crowd in Denver home happy.  After making one change (Jozy Altidore for Bobby Wood) from the prior week's friendly against Venezuela, it appeared that Arena had found his core moving forward.

It would seem unfathomable that the US would take a "B Squad" into a road match against their biggest rival and the current Kings of CONCACAF, but 7 changes and a formation shift left a lot of pre-game questions.  Did Former Manager Jurgen Klinsmann fill out the lineup?  Why drop Tim Howard?  No John Brooks, no Clint Dempsey, no Fabian Johnson?  All guys who have big game experience.  Isn't DaMarcus Beasley 100 years old?  But once it got underway, the US came out and controlled the game and were rewarded when Michael Bradley chipped Memo Ochoa from 40 yards and sent a raucous contingent of American Outlaws who made the pilgrimage into a frenzy.

While US/Mexico games at Azteca typically feature Mexico controlling possession while the US sits on its heels and hopes to get something off the counter attack, this game saw the US attacking the Mexican goal continually, even after taking an early goal lead.  It was Mexico that was on their heels and forced to look for something on the counter attack, which they found on a 23rd minute equalizer from Carlos Vela.  From there, Mexico took control of possession, but neither team could find a winner.  The official stats show Mexico with 74% of possession, but don't let that fool you, the US played much of the game on the front foot and put pressure on the Mexican defense every time they had the ball.

After the game, the players said they had been training with this game plan since the beginning of camp, a stark departure from the Klinsmann era, which often featured players out of position in line-ups they hadn't practiced.  If you're a US fan, you have to be encouraged by the quality of play since Arena took over, but also the trust the players have in him.  If he has the player's trust, then in Bruce I trust as well.

 

Brian Taylor

Posted on June 13, 2017 21:24

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Source: FOX Sports

WATCH LIVE: World Cup qualifying: USA vs. Mexico (FS1)

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