The United States let a valiant second half comeback go for naught off a late set piece, and Mexico claimed a crucial three away points in a 2-1 decision at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus on Friday.
What went wrong? Well, obviously, the equalizer, and also poor implementation of a questionably-chosen formation. Yet the Yanks also saw a cohesive performance from strikers Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore.
All of that is a part of the three things we gleaned from a stinging loss to Mexico.
3-4-3 held much tinkering
With Geoff Cameron missing, Jurgen Klinsmann started the Yanks in a 3-4-3 with Timmy Chandler, John Brooks, and Matt Besler at the back (It looked like a 3-5-2 to many of us, but Klinsmann set the record straight after the game).
It wasn’t good. Hindsight’s 20/20 and Klinsmann should get some grief for thinking this time it would work despite past struggles, but the midfielders allowed a lot of room for Mexico’s attack-minded midfielders to turn, dribble, and fire.
Once Miguel Layun belted Mexico in front, Klinsmann went to a 4-4-2. It was certainly the right move to correct a wrong, but the players didn’t do much justice to the 3-4-3 effort.
The two part, though…
Klinsmann resisted the urge to stick Altidore alone up top, or to play three across the front, and the partnership between Altidore and Bobby Wood paid off big time.
The Yanks struggled to get the ball to either in the first half, but Altidore still had some quality moments in opening 45.
The second half was a different story, as Wood raced off the hold-up play of Altidore on several occasions including the goal. Later, Wood nearly belted Altidore’s chest-pass of a Michael Bradley free kick home in the 75th minute.
Gut punched… again
The USMNT had a knack for giving up late goals earlier in Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure, and the Rafa Marquez winner came in the 88th minute.
Somehow, no one was directed to mark the back post. Marquez slipped John Brooks and Jozy Altidore failed to move with the ex-Red Bulls man (video below).
This was a Mexico team that looked set to pack up and go home after the U.S. equalized, but the Yanks left the door open far too long.