Last night the USA punched their ticket to the World Cup by beating Mexico by a scoreline of... Dos a Cero (2-0). For those US soccer fans out there this was a very poetic scoreline for the US. The last 3 times the United States and Mexico have played a game in Columbus Ohio, the result has been the same. The Dos A Cero history and mindset goes back even farther than that, to when the USA eliminated the Mexicans from the World Cup in Korea... the scoreline again... Dos a Cero. The US weathered an early storm from the desperate Mexican side, but as the game wore on, it was clear which side was really in control. The first goal was a trademark American goal. Landon Donovan put a corner into the center of the box where Eddie Johnson buried it into the back of the net... the Mexican Keeper nowhere to be found. The 2nd goal was brought on by the new side of the American unit, Mix Diskerude using a great first touch to set up a perfect low cross that Donovan buried into the back of the net. This win was significant for a lot of reason other than just qualifying for the World Cup. One of the most prevalent was how quick things can change in the sporting world. At the beginning of 2013, no person in their right mind would have doubted who the real power in the region was. Everyone (even the Americans) knew that it was Mexico. The Mexican had been a dominant force in the first part of qualifying, winning all of their games. Likewise they had won the Olympic gold in London. The Americans on the other hand had limped into the final stage of qualification and had not even qualified for the Olympics. One ESPN analyst who gets a lot more respect than he tends to deserve (in my opinion of course) was saying Klinnsman was not the answer for the US, and with reports of strife within the ranks of the US camp in March, there was a real fear the USA might not make the trip to Brazil, or at best they would have to go through a play in game in New Zealand to do it. 6 short months later that same analyst is praising the USA and saying how he knew all along that the US was the best team in the region, and the reports of strife are a thing long in the past. The other big take away from last night... and the final round of qualification as a whole... is the depth in the USA. Most people heading into qualification saw an old team. The old manager Bob Bradley had a tendency to run out similar line ups every time his team took the field. While there is nothing wrong with that Klinnsman had taken a different approach in his time as manager, sending new line ups out nearly every time the Yanks took the field... the early results were not promising with the US having a rough go of things early on in his tenure. But what we have seen in the last few months has been a testament to the trial and error that took place 2 years ago. All of the same people who were doubting the young talent in this country are now praising the USA's depth as a team. And Klinnsman hasn't just used this youth in throw away games against small nations the US could beat in its sleep. Quite the contrary actually, Klinnsman has given players their first national team starts in the most important games. Matt Besler, who prior to January of this year was not on the map for being a part of a USA world cup side started his first qualifier (and earned his second cap) at Estadio Asteca. Alejandro Bedoya earned his first world cup qualifying appearance as a start against Mexico. Mix Diskerud got his first appearance in a friendly over in Europe. Klinnsman has tested his team and his players by fire and the result is a better team as a whole.
Klinnsman has adjusted the team mentality to. While the US spent a good deal of time absorbing the Mexican pressure, the Yanks spent a good deal of time applying it to. The US no longer goes into games against Germany, Italy, and other European sides with the mentality of just hoping to hang around and maybe shock the world. No, the US attacks, and even when we have seen the US go down early to teams, like Bosnia, we have seen the team battle back. More importantly in those games the USA when they draw level go for the win, rather than being content for a tie. Klinnsman, being a former striker and world champion with Germany, has instilled that mindset that you go for the jugular when you get the chance. The US has put some very good teams on their heals in both friendly and meaningful games. That is not to say their hasnt been plenty of bumps in the road (See losses at Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Honduras as proof), but the US has made great strides towards being a threat at the 2014 World Cup. Over the next year, Klinnsman will need to find more consistent performances from the team as a whole and keep key players healthy in preperation for the trip to Brazil to make a deep run that he and the american faithful hope for... but for now, let us just enjoy the moment and relish in the fact that we are going to Brazil
Thanks for Reading
-T.O. signing out