Thursday, February 08, 2007

Anything But Friendly

The ongoing rivalry between the Mexican national team and the US team cranked up another few notches this evening in favor of Uncle Sam’s army of underachievers, with a 0-2 win that will no doubt make it that much easier to strike that “interim” tag from coach Bob Bradley’s title. The first half was a dreary affair, with Mexico gaining a slight advantage in terms of possession and shot opportunities. But that all changed in the second half when the US came out reinvigorated and defender Jimmy Conrad headed one in off a Landon Donovan corner kick. Mexico looked far from giving in, though, and second half substitutions Omar Bravo, Jose Fonseca, and Adolfo Bautista all contributed to or had viable shooting chances. Then in the 90th minute the US cemented their win with a Landon Donovan goal off of a Ricardo Clark pass in midfield (which originated from a deflection off referee Mauricio Navarro’s feet!). A brutal finish to what ended up being a rather entertaining match.

And earlier today in Manchester, England, Steve McClaren’s inflated Three Lions braggarts failed to do anything interesting against the lads from Spain. Midfielder Andres Iniesta (who was subbed in early in the second half) scored a brilliant long-range shot in the 63rd minute, earning the FC Barcelona player his first goal for the national team in eight appearances and the game winner to boot. The quick-footed and even quicker thinking player has become one of my favorite members of Barca this season and I’m glad to see the youngster’s good form for the Catalans translate to the national team. I’d bet serious money that the majority of the crowd packed into Old Trafford had no idea who the crafty Iniesta was before the match. But by the end of it, many in the crowd were no doubt muttering the Pale One’s name in between their curses, shouts, and boos directed at McClaren and his reptilian smile. Spain victorious 0-1.


linda said...

I think our Casper is very much underrated, at least in England. In Spain people now think he's the saviour of the National Team (could well be true) and in Italy he taught Pirlo a lesson last season in the Champions League. But in England only a mention of the fact that he plays for Barca makes an impression at all, which is just wrong.

He's much better than a lot of other midfielders with bigger reputations, both Spanish and not.

(The same thing applies to Xavi, really. The poor man's Paul Scholes, my ass.)

Anonymous said...

If anyone has doubts about the unfriendliness of the "friendly" check this out:

Derek said...

There's no excuse for Sanchez's behavior after Donovan's goal.

But let's not forget Senor Donovan's ignorant and mean-spirited comments that only acerbate the rivalry:

"Some things you can shake off, some things dig deeper than soccer," said Donovan. "That's where you realize that for their country its more than that.

"I think that's what angers them about us. We have lives beyond soccer. For a lot of them they don't, players, coaches, people in Mexico, that's what they have. It's almost what makes it sweeter to beat them."

He also pissed on a Mexican pitch during training and shrugged his offensive behavior off. Not cool. I don't care what country you're from or who you are--the pitch is sacred.

I don't really see this rivalry simmering down anytime soon.

Lynda said...

I can't get any enjoyment out of the US v Mexico rivalry myself. With immigration from south of the border such a hot button issue in the US right now, too many of the comments I see online from US fans smack of racism and the worst kinds of nationalism. The behavior of Mexican fans and players are an oft-cited excuse but I don't really care about what they did or didn't do or say--US fans and players have the opportunity to rise above that level of ugliness but many have not taken it.

Bleah. The whole thing leaves a nasty taste in my mouth that I associate more with the problems we sometimes see in Europe with overt racism at soccer matches--not with American sports in this day and age.