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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

El Tri With The 'Home Field' Advantage Loses Again

Since 1999, Mexico has failed to win a game or score a goal on North American soil. Tonight, in front of a festive pro-Mexico crowd in Glendale, Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium, Coach Bob Bradley placed another nail into the El Tri coffin. Hopefully, he sealed his fate as the "coach," rather than the "interim" one, of the US National Men's National Team.

Mexico dominated possession, but finished very poorly. With goals by Jimmy Conrad, (who had a fine game) from an excellent corner taken by Landon Donovan, along with the latter on an excellent solo run late in the game, El Tri was defeated once again. Mexican legend Hugo Sanchez lost his coaching debut, and may be criticized for the play of his team. They created several goal-scoring opportunities, but were not able to capitalize. The goalkeeping of Tim Howard was excellent. The defensive play of left fullback Jonathan Boorstein of Chivas USA will bode well for the future. Ironically, his mother was born in Mexico.

Landon Donovan seems to have a special place for this opponent. He raises his game to levels that many wish were evident against everyone else. The rest of team played with organization, preparation, good tactics, and determination. The game was a "friendly," but when these two rivals take the field, it becomes a fierce derby. Especially when the home team is the visitor. This only happens in the United States, and it is a credit to the American players that they still defeat a very capable opponent.

Landon Donovan had the following comment after the game:

"The sportsmanship _ it would be nice if you guys (reporters) and the Mexican press talked about it, because it's really poor," Donovan said. "When we lose to them there, we shake their hands and say, `Good job.' There's none of that reciprocally, and it's kind of disappointing." (1)

This was also a veiled referenced to what Mexican keeper Osvaldo Sanchez almost did to Eddie Johnson. After the goal of Donovan, in disgust, Sanchez attempted to slide tackle Johnson from his blindspot. Fortunately, no contact was made. It was a red card foul that was not given. The laws of the game punish intent as much as the actual result. After the game, on Telefutura, Sanchez said that "I lost my head after that goal. I hate to lose. I didn't mean anything by it." His words didn't match the image that we saw. Jens Lehmann of Germany did a similar thing to Alberto Gilardino after Alex Del Piero scored the second Italian goal in the World Cup semi-final. He kicked Gilardino after the play was over, and no foul was called.

Every team has their bete noir. For Mexico, it is playing the USA in the land of the gringo. As former US great Eric Wynalda said, "Nothing is better than beating Mexico."

Reference

(1) U.S. Beats Regional Rival Mexico 2 - 0 by Steve Goff of The Post. 08 February 2007.

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