That was a long pre-amble. This post is my analysis of the defeat of the US Men's National Team at the hands of (feet of?) Mexico in the final match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in front of a largely pro-Mexican crowd of over 90,000 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The popular soccer press and the blogosphere are rife with knee-jerk reactions lambasting defender Jonathan Bernstein, calling for a replacement to coach Bob Bradley, and even questioning the credibility of USSF President Sunil Gulati. In this post, I will attempt to portray with evidence what went wrong with the US defense, and how the US allowed the Mexicans to score four goals after leading the game 2-0 a mere 23 minutes into the game.
I am not saying that Bornstein had a great game or that Bradley's tactical choices were masterful; I am merely pointing out that blaming the last defender or the positional counterpart of the goalscorer is an easy and lazy way to react to a loss. It is understandable when casual fans do this, but it pains me that two days after the final, not one soccer writer has attempted to really analyze this rather excellent soccer match from a technical perspective. Hence this humble attempt at providing such an analysis.
As far as analyses of soccer matches go, please note that this is the "easy" kind of analysis -- breaking down what happened in a 30-second span of play and explaining who was at "fault" -- as opposed to the more difficult analysis that explains what happened over the course of 90 minutes or over the course of a season why a certain player or certain team is successful. Read Tim Hill's blog for various examples of such brilliant analysis.
The analysis below uses snapshots from this YouTube video and this one of game highlights, mostly from the latter. My original analysis was conducted with DVR from HD transmission, with replays and pauses, apologies if the video snapshots don't adequately express the ideas. I am grateful to Aravind Sivakumar, with whom this analysis was conducted jointly; he is also the one who knows a thing or two about actually playing soccer on the field rather than from the armchair.