Mexico stunned the soccer world in yesterday's 5-0 victory over the United States. It marked Mexico's first victory over the U.S. outside of Mexico since 1999.
The embarrassing loss for the American squad leaves us all asking this question: Has the United States taken a step back in international soccer?
No. At least it doesn't appear to be the case right now.
The U.S. played weak competition in the CONCACAF Gold Cup until the Championship game. Wins over Honduras, Panama, and Grenada did not prepare the Americans for a determined Mexico squad.
We should also note the absence of American stars Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Jozey Altidore, and Clint Dempsey; all of whom are playing for their respective club teams.
This still does not completely explain how the U.S. allowed five goals in the second half alone. In 45 minutes of play, the U.S. allowed more goals than in the four games prior to the Gold Cup Final.
For the second time this summer, the Americans have faltered in the final game of a major tournament. Previously the U.S. lost to Brazil, 2-3, despite having a 2-0 lead at the midway point.
Will the U.S. be able to compete against the best teams in the World Cup next year?
At this point, it doesn't seem likely. The U.S. team, although talented, is not quite mature enough to consistently play against Brazil, Spain, Italy, or Germany. Manager Bob Bradley has not succeeded in preparing the team for high pressure situations.
We shouldn't think of this recent loss as a setback, but more of a wake-up call. As of the moment, winning in South Africa will be a challenge.
But it's an attainable goal. In the next year, the United States has some big issues to work on.
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