Giovani dos Santos
Watching the Gold Cup Final on Univisión is a somewhat unsettling experience. Aside from the alarming lack of HD, it’s a bit like being a non-Cubs or non-White Sox fan and watching a game on WGN: the announcers are so patently biased that it renders their analysis pointless. The Univisión announcers were clearly rooting for Mexico from the beginning, apparently unaware that a good number of Americans (and Canadians) can speak Spanish. But that is, in reality, just the latest in a long line of weirdness by Univisión’s announcers.
The real problems with the game were two-fold. First, the referees were terrible. They missed calls left and right, most egregiously when a penalty was called on Heaps (it was Giovani dos Santos who was committing the penalty) and when not one but two Mexican attackers were clearly offside on Mexico’s second goal (see edit below). Get those calls right and it’s 1-0 for Mexico in the 70th minute, not 3-0. Not only that, but Jay Heaps’ second yellow was complete uncalled for. That only continues a recurring theme: CONCACAF officials, in general, and Gold Cup officials in particular, are terrible.
Second, the US played a monumentally bad second half. I don’t know what happened but everything went wrong. The back four, in particular, were terrible. They were burned time and again by Mexican attackers, esp. Giovani dos Santos (who looked like a real attacking player for the first time in two years), and their offside trap was painfully ineffective. I sincerely doubt that any of them will be suiting up for the US anytime soon.
That brings me to the midfielders. Stuart Holden played the entire match too narrow. He has speed and skill and should have been wider to create space for Kyle Beckerman and, more importantly, Brian Ching. Ching and every other forward was also ineffective. I doubt Ching’s World Cup hopes were helped by this match.
In the end, even a heavy 5-0 loss isn’t that big a deal considering that the US fielded a B-team and nobody really cares about the Gold Cup. I was, however, disappointed that so few US fans were at Giants Stadium. Mexican fans badly outnumbered them. For shame! Can any hard and fast conclusions be formed from this match or this tournament? I’m reasonably certain that none of the US defenders will play for the national team again anytime soon. I’m also reasonably certain that Brian Ching’s World Cup dream crashed and burned. More players hurt their causes here than helped though some will surely recover. I only hope that the A-team, which will be called up for the 12 August qualifier in Mexico, knows they have to avenge this loss.
EDIT: 29 July 2009, 1:15am
Thanks to reader Greco, my understanding of the offside rule has been enhanced. As is clear by the illustration, the Mexican attacker in the offside position did not play the ball until he had re-established his position onside. That makes his touch legal and thus the goal stands. I stand corrected and in debt to Greco for his pointing this out.
And, for those are masochists (or for Mexico fans to revel one last time), the video highlights: