Philadelphia, PA - The Klinsmann Era officially kicked off in the City of Brotherly Love as Jurgen Klinsmann made his United States Men's National Team (USMNT) head coaching debut against bitter CONCACAF rivals Mexico at the Lincoln Financial Field.
In front of 30,138 fans, both squads took their respected rivalry to a new level as they tied 1-1 on Wednesday night. While a win would have been satisfying for either side, both sides demonstrated how serious they are about their squads. In the end, the fans were treated to a highly competitive and attacking match.
This was their first meeting since the Gold Cup final, where former USMNT head coach Bob Bradley coached his final match as his team was humiliated 4-2 against a young juggernaut Mexican team.
With the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) sensing a need for change, Jurgen Klinsmann was hired to implement his coaching philosophy in hopes that it will jump-start a struggling USMNT who has not lived up to their potential following their World Cup elimination to Ghana last year.
Wearing their "Indivisible" red jerseys without the player's names, Klinsmann fielded Tim Howard (GK), Edgar Castillo (D), Carlos Bocanegra (Capt./D), Michael Bradley (M), Michael Orozco Fiscal (D), Steve Cherundolo (D), Kyle Beckerman (M), Jermaine Jones (M), Edson Buddle (F), Landon Donovan (F) and Jose Torres (M) as his first official U.S. starting lineup.
And wearing their green home jerseys, his counterpart, Mexican head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre fielded a proud El Tri team of Guillermo Ochoa (GK), Carlos Salcido (D), Rafael Marquez (Capt./D), Gerardo Torrado (D), Pablo Barrera (M), Israel Castro (M), Hector Moreno (D), Efrain Juarez (D), Antonio Naelson (M), Andres Guardado (M) and Oribe Peralta (F).
Even though this match was considered a friendly, there was nothing friendly about the first half between both squads. With the USMNT wanting revenge and the Chicharito-less Mexican team wanting to continue their CONCACAF dominance, both teams battled each other aggressively.
From the beginning of the match, both squads were committed to advancing the ball with intentions of taking the early lead. Along with their attacks, both teams responded by trying to out-muscle their oppositions. Even though the United States came out spirited, Mexico demonstrated their poise to weather out the storm.
Mexico took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute after a beautiful passing sequence of Andres Guardado passing to Antonio Naselson, who passed it back to Guardado, who then crossed to Oribe Peralta—who finished it off with a beautiful instinctive tap to the far post. Despite being down a goal, the USMNT retained their composure and continued to play aggressive football.
After 28 minutes of hard play, tempers flared when USMNT Steve Chereundolo was called for a foul on Mexico's Andres Guardado. Within seconds, both players were jawing at each other and Guardado's teammates Antonio Naelson and Gerardo Torrado took turns shoving Chereundolo, with both squads confronting each other until order was restored.
Despite Mexico going into the half leading 1-0 and having a corner kick and shots on goal advantage, the Klinsmann-led USMNT demonstrated a passion and energy that's been missing for a long time. In a half, this team demonstrated their potential to win.
In the second half, both teams continued to aggressively attack the net. At the 53rd minute, it appeared that Mexico had taken a 2-0 lead of a Rafa Marquez header, but it turned out to be a side-netter.
With the score still 1-0, the United States continued to attack and take control of the second half. While they missed some opportunities to tie the match, fans of both squads cheered and jeered loudly throughout the second half. With less than 20 minutes remaining in the match, USMNT player Robbie Rogers substituted Michael Bradley.
A few minutes later, Rogers justified the substitution as he scored the equalizing goal in the 75th minute—which was assisted by fellow substitute Brek Shea. Following the goal, both squads continued to attack and it was evident that neither team wanted the match to draw.
The United States had their best chance in the 85th minute when it appeared that Robbie Rogers had passed Gerarado Torrado for a possible fastbreak goal. Resorting to a dirty tactics, Torrado grabbed Rogers' arm and jersey and took him down. That, however, merely resulted in a very controversial yellow for Torrado. With another chance to score, the United States was unable to advance the ball past the wall.
While the match concluded in a 1-1 tie, it was evident that a new chapter was written in the United States Men's National Team. By attacking the ball and playing aggressively on defense, it'll be interesting to see how the USMNT evolves over time.
For Mexico, they demonstrated that they're a young team that's not going to be content with their Gold Cup win. They want to win and they want to win in convincing fashion. While their rivalry with the United States may be bitter and heated at times, both squads demonstrated a mutual respect for one another.
With the Klinsmann Era officially up and running, many soccer fans will look forward to seeing both teams battle it out in the future.
Cesar Diaz covers Soccer for LatinoSports.com. He also writes for 5 Points Press & USSoccerPlayers.com ; your source for American Soccer news brought to you by members of the U.S. National Team. Easily accessible, you may reach Cesar at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter at @CoveringSoccer.
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