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Miazga taunts Mexico as USMNT grow up

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Matt Miazga didn’t endear himself to many in Mexico during the USMNT’s 1-0 win against El Tri in Nashville on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

During the second half of the victory the Chelsea and U.S. men’s national team center back mocked Diego Lainez’s height visibly in a heated exchange which angered many.

What did the center back, currently on loan at Ligue 1 club Nantes, have to say about the incident?

“We talked a little smack. It’s part of the game. It’s mental warfare,” Miazga told reporters. “We got in their heads. They got a red card right after it. It took a toll and we won the game.”

Angel Zaldivar, the man who was sent off shortly after Miazga making fun of Lainez, seemed to have a few words directed his way by Miazga on his way off the pitch too.

“You see what their values are. They don’t know how to win,” Zaldivar said. “They poked fun, tried to play a dirty game that honestly we don’t think is how you should play. That’s their game.”

A lot of USMNT fans do not seem to have a problem with Miazga’s actions and put it down to being part of the game.

Lainez certainly did as he said he “wasn’t offended by Miazga” and that “football players are different sizes and have different skill sets.”

But is there more to this here?

Despite having an average age of 23 years and five days, the USMNT were actually more experienced than their Mexican counterparts on Tuesday and Miazga seemed to be trying to rattle their cages. The U.S. didn’t play well in the first half with Lainez in particular a bright spot for El Tri as he skipped past Wil Trapp effortlessly in one incident to set up a golden chance for the visitors.

Miazga’s actions were gamesmanship and it had the desired impact. That is a sign that this young U.S. team are growing up fast, as they’ve had to under Dave Sarachan’s guidance over the past few months with more huge friendlies on the horizon.

Were Miazga’s actions classless? Let’s keep things into context. He was trying to put one of Mexico’s brightest young talents off his game anyway he could. The New York Red Bulls product probably wouldn’t do that kind of thing to a stranger on the street (one hopes) and this kind of things happen in the heat of the moment of a rivalry battle. He was just targeting Lainez, a small, skilful player who was a headache for the USMNT on Tuesday.

As Lainez himself said: “It’s football.”

Adams hands USMNT win over Mexico

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Tyler Adams was born on Valentine’s Day, and Tuesday might be the day he made USMNT supporters fall in love.

Following a decent performance against Brazil, Adams scored a second half goal as a young USMNT beat a young Mexico 1-0 in Nashville.

The USMNT next faces Peru and Colombia on Oct. 11 and 16, respectively.

[ MORE: 3 things | Player ratings ]

El Tri weathered early U.S. possession on a wet field, with the most notable battle that of USMNT left back Eric Lichaj and all comers on his side of the pitch.

The Yanks had some trouble clearing a dangerous 14th minute free kick. A corner kick soon followed, and Zack Steffen acted quickly to slap Edson Alvarez’s header over the bar and collect the second corner. He’d corral a header five minutes later.

Gyasi Zardes drew a free kick on the edge of the Mexico 18 in the 27th minute, and Kellyn Acosta had two cracks at it but missed the second wide of the near post.

Steffen gave away a free kick on the right edge with a risky effort to collect a long ball, but Diego Lainez’s low shot was easily turned away by the wall. Lainez then set up Alvarado with a shimmy past Wil Trapp, but Alvarado was unable to get much on his in-tight shot to Steffen.

The Yanks got a rare bit of attack in the 40th minute, but Weah’s penalty shout was denied before he lashed over the bar moments later. An injury to McKennie then gave way to Julian Green.

Zardes laid off for Weah in the 42nd minute, and the PSG teen forced Hugo Gonzalez into a low save.

[ MORE: Richarlison scores beauty for Brazil ]

Weah and Green were especially energetic in the second half, and a Zardes hustle play won the Yanks a 61st minute corner.

Zardes then lunged but couldn’t reach substitute Antonee Robinson‘s inviting cross to the near post.

Matt Miazga then went chest-to-chest with the much smaller Lainez, and there was a meeting between 18-20 of the players on the field as the Nantes center back gestured his difference in height.

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.

Adams then put the Yanks ahead, darting into the box to get his first USMNT goal. There was a bit of redemption for Robinson, too, who earned the assist as a sub after a tough Friday against Brazil.

USMNT player ratings vs. El Tri

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The United States got interim head coach Dave Sarachan a win over Mexico, something any American soccer mind will celebrate as long as they’re on this mortal coil.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

Who shone for Sarachan, and who didn’t? Read on.

Starting XI

Zack Steffen  — 7 — Very good aside from a dicey adventure at the edge of his 18. Clearly the No. 1 at age 23, although a new coach may challenge that.

Eric Lichaj  (Off 56′) — 7 — Very physical and committed performance from the veteran Hull City defender despite playing out-of-position as a right-footed left back. His future is an intriguing one given his age (33) at the next World Cup.

Matt Miazga  — 8 — Perhaps the man of the match, along with his partner and Steffen during a first half where the back line was often left under pressure.

Cameron Carter-Vickers — 7 — Strong night for the Tottenham Hotspur youngster, who was especially busy from minutes nine to 40.

Shaq Moore (Off 85′) — 6 — Improved as the game went on, and had a few standout moments. He needs to play well when given the chance given the amount of right back prospects behind him (and No. 1 DeAndre Yedlin).

Wil Trapp — 5 — A step back from a rock solid job against Brazil. Probably wasn’t a great call to have him as the lone CDM in a 4-1-4-1, although three of the four attack-minded mids are CDMs by trade.

Tim Weah (Off, 90′) — 8 — Bring me Weah with a healthy Christian Pulisic, McKennie, and Adams in the same XI, please and thank you.

Weston McKennie (Off 40′) — 5 — Left early due to injury but joined the cluttered midfield in doing little to keep the ball from Mexico. A bright first eight minutes or so.

Tyler Adams — 8 — The night’s goal scorer — yes, from New York on 9/11 — is going to bring in a mint for the New York Red Bulls one day (November to RB Leipzig?). Good hustle.

Kellyn Acosta (Off 85′) — 6 — Not poor considering he was played out of position. That’s not new for him with the USMNT.

Gyasi Zardes (Off 80′) — 6 — Strong in hold up play, a hopeful performance as he looks to get his USMNT career back on track.

Substitutes

Julian Green (On 40′) — 8 — His introduction changed the game, as the daring and energetic Greuther Furth man shows he’s not done growing as a player.

Antonee Robinson (On 56′) — 7 — What a redemption from Friday night’s struggles, showing why the left back is well-regarded at Everton. Nice assist on Adams’ goal.

Bobby Wood (On 80′) — 6 — Feisty and fine.

DeAndre Yedlin (On 85′) — N/A —

Cristian Roldan (On 85′) — N/A —

Marky Delgado (On 90′) — N/A —

Three things from USMNT’s win over Mexico

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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.

[ MORE: Recap | Player ratings ]

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.

FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT-Mexico meet in Nashville

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Two young CONCACAF rivals meet Tuesday in Nashville, as the USMNT looks to give interim manager Dave Sarachan a win over Mexico.

Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. ET from Nissan Stadium, and Sarachan is ringing in a number of changes as expected.

[ FOLLOW: USMNT twitter ]

The Yanks are winless in three outings against El Tri, who lost 4-1 to Uruguay last week.

Zack Steffen, Matt Miazga, Tyler Adams, Wil Trapp, and Weston McKennie are repeat starters from Friday.

LINEUPS

USMNT: Steffen, Lichaj, Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Moore, Trapp, Weah, McKennie, Adams, Acosta, Zardes.

Mexico: H. González, Abella, Ayala, Edson, Alanís, Arteaga, E. Aguirre, V. Guzmán, Alvarado, Lainez, Zaldívar.