The United States got interim head coach Dave Sarachan a win over Mexico, something any American soccer figure will celebrate as long as they’re on this mortal coil.
But there was plenty more to discuss from a feisty, sloppy 90 minutes in Nashville.
The rivalry was, indeed, renewed
Diego Lainez — more on him later — battled hard with Eric Lichaj, and the fouls amplified as the match went on.
Matt Miazga then went chest-to-chest with the much smaller Lainez, gesturing his height advantage as several Mexico players got involved and Zack Steffen held back the Nantes center back, who was on yellow. All told, 18-20 of the game’s combatants came together during the incident.
Moments later, Mexico took it over the edge. Angel Zaldivar went studs-up with a sliding tackle to Trapp’s ankle and earned a sending off.
Yeah, the young Mexicans hate the young Americans (and vice versa). And both looks quite good and deep given their collective lack of experience. Let’s go.
Zack Steffen will need to drop off in a big way to lose the No. 1 shirt
The Columbus Crew backstop is going to be a big part of the USMNT’s return to glory if in fact the Yanks are able to pick up the pieces from the World Cup qualifying disaster.
There was a goofy free kick giveaway, but other than that Steffen was nearly spotless.
It stands to reason that Steffen has a great chance to win the gig if his club coach, Gregg Berhalter gets the full-time job. But even if that doesn’t come true, Steffen has been very good in almost all of his caps.
He shows good control of his box, is decisive, and light on his feet. It’s clear he’s directing the back line effectively, and it’s his gig to lose heading into next summer’s Gold Cup. It will also be interesting to see if he stays in MLS or goes back abroad following a failed stint at Freiburg following a terrific time at the University of Maryland.
Mexico has its own teenage sensation
Lainez was Mexico’s biggest threat on Tuesday, the 18-year-old calling to mind a similar debut from a CONCACAF teenager from the United States.
Yes, Lainez of Club America might be going tit-for-tat against Christian Pulisic for some time.
Just look at what he did to Wil Trapp in cueing up 20-year-old Edson Alvarado for what easily could’ve been 1-0 to Mexico.
This is the game that will push the panic button on the coaching search
While it’s fair to question the players used in his 4-5-1 (or 4-1-4-1), It’s not really Dave Sarachan’s fault that his team is unable to function with attacking efficiency.
That’s not an excuse for Tuesday, as Mexico was also working with a young squad and interim boss, but the dedicated USMNT observer wants to see a philosophy at work when their team is on the field.
And it’s just not there. We know that Earnie Stewart wants an aggressive, industrious team but that needs time and tactics that won’t come as an interim boss tries out new players (though these matches in a World Cup qualifying are ripe for experimentation).
Playing in other clubs’ World Cup warm-ups or entertaining Brazil in a money-making friendly is one thing, but there’s something about seeing Mexico on the other side of the field which will beg for full-time direction.