|A professional performance from the USMNT broke Panama's hearts on Tuesday.|
Ending the Party
As a US fan, you would be forgiven if you found it easier to cope with a loss on Tuesday night if you knew it eliminated Mexico. The same logic applies to the US players and coaches. Some bought into that logic – namely Eddie Johnson who stated that in a perfect world, Mexico would have been eliminated. Others including Jurgen Klinsmann and Kyle Beckerman did not. Beckerman bought into Klinsmann idea of World Cup spots being up for grabs when he talked about having to play hard despite the game not meaning anything.
"A couple of the guys were asking just to take it easy on them," Beckerman said after the game. "The USA is guaranteed to be in the World Cup but who's in it, nobody knows."
Landon Donovan also spoke about the competitive nature of this squad before the Jamaica game and how Klinsmann created an environment in which there are really no outfield players that are guaranteed a spot in Brazil if they stay healthy. Unfortunately for Panama, the byproduct of this environment was that the US pushed for an equalizer even if it would save Mexico from a catastrophic elimination.
All in all, it was a commendable performance by the US B-Team. The back four conceded twice but given the circumstances, most back lines will concede as it gets very difficult to hold off a desperate team at home in sloppy conditions. The midfield did not dominate the game but they weren't overran either. They used their numerical advantage as a way to to force Panama to go wide with their buildup.
Jozy Altidore put in a tireless but fruitless performance which allowed for Terrence Boyd and Aron Johannsson to finish the job against a worn-down backline. Boyd's short near post run allowed Graham Zusi space to get a free header while Johannsson took advantage of the Panamanian centerbacks not closing down on him to score the game winner.
We are seeing Klinsmann successfully infuse a European mentality into an American sporting ethos. The professionalism and pragmatism that Klinsmann's German footballing background is now being tied into the American's gritty resolve. In simpler terms, the US is still playing hard but now they are playing smart. The game in Panama was proof of that as they kept themselves in the game while waiting for the hosts to punch themselves out which they did shortly after retaking the lead seven minutes from time.
A professional performance under circumstances that would allow for some slipups. Exactly the opposite of what is going in Mexico.
Stinking it Up
Tuesday night was the second-worst scenario Mexico could have envisioned with the US having to save Mexico from themselves as El Tri faded in the second half for the fourth straight time since September.
Perhaps more comical than their performance was the FMF's reaction to Tuesday night's loss as reports from Mexico indicate that Victor Manuel Vucetich has been fired. Although Vucetich did not get Mexico into the top three, he got them into a winnable playoff against New Zealand which was the most straightforward and the most realistic scenario for Mexico coming into the final two World Cup Qualifiers.
Not good enough in the eyes of the club owners who are in charge of making these decisions for the FMF. The blame is solely on their shoulders for turning what a fiasco under Chepo de la Torre into the complete farce that it is right now. Miguel Herrera, Club America manager, looks set to be the one inheriting this mess but Herrera might be smart enough to have left himself an out by maintaining his role as America manager.
Perfect sense for Herrera since he does not deserve to be unemployed based on the incompetence of others. The FMF's club owners are capable of paying the salary of any manager they are interested in hiring. However, the FMF's egotism and incompetence makes them the type of boss that no manager would want to work for.
And no player would want to play for as well.
ONE GOAL ContributorChristian Araos (@Christian_Araos)