The Big Game between Mexico and the United States may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean attention should shift away from CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. What happens in tonights' Hexagonal fixtures between Panama/Honduras and Costa Rica/Trinidad & Tobago will put the final standings into greater focus with only four matches remaining.
Michael Bradley grabbed the headlines with his sensational strike against Mexico on Sunday, but for many, the United States Man of the Match was Geoff Cameron, the 31-year-old defender placed at the heart of the USA's three-man back line.
With Mexico controlling nearly 75 percent of possession in the match, completing 177 passes in the final third (as compared to 75 for the U.S.) and launching 25 crosses, you immediately get an idea of how important Cameron was in repelling Mexico’s frequent forays forward and completely disrupting their attacking rhythm.
Three games: 14 goals scored, zero conceded. All things considered, that should be enough for a successful international break. Given Italy’s history of playing badly throughout qualification rounds, this high-scoring shut-out round of fixtures seems almost entirely positive, it’s not quite that simple.
The United States escaped the Azteca with a valuable point thanks to a sensational goal from Michael Bradley before Carlos Vela leveled for Mexico, the match ending in a 1-1 draw after 90 thrilling minutes in Mexico City. The result saw the U.S. climb to third in the Hexagonal table, and Mexico further solidified their spot at the top.
A lethal counterattack from Mexico started with a Guillermo Ochoa throw and ended with Carlos Vela cutting in from the right before firing a shot inside Brad Guzan’s near post. In between, there was a lot of understated brilliance from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
Chicharito controlled Ochao’s throw inside Mexico’s own half and immediately drove at the American defense. With Kellyn Acosta looking to close him down, Chicharito delivered a devastating nutmeg before playing it wide to Vela.
United States captain Michael Bradley put his side up at the Azteca with a world-class finish in the sixth minute. Bradley won possession in the midfield, created a little bit of space for himself, saw Guillermo Ochoa well off his line and sent a magnificent effort into the net from distance.
What a chip from Michael Bradley!
A lot of people like to moan about international football, but it can be really fun if you approach it with a no f**ks given attitude — just follow the example set by San Marino’s social media team during their qualifier against Germany. If you didn’t follow any of Saturday’s UEFA qualifying, here’s what you missed.
#1. Norway And Martin Odegaard Won’t Be At The 2018 World Cup
A year out from the World Cup, the final stages of qualifying are at their halfway point. As is normally the case, Europe is proving to be the most difficult region to advance from. If the group stage were to end today, Portugal and Italy would have to square off against other second place teams in a two-legged tie just to qualify for Russia next summer.
Portugal defeated Latvia 3-0 in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a brace for the reigning European champions. 21-year-old Porto striker Andre Silva, whose name will become synonymous with transfer speculation this summer, added Portugal’s third with Ronaldo laying on the assist.
Ronaldo’s brace made it a staggering 18 goals in his last 11 matches for club and country. For the season, it’s 53 goals in 51 games. Those kinds of numbers stopped making sense a long time ago.
Hugo Lloris might have Attention Deficit Disorder. The France and Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper picked the wrong time to go on a little adventure, knotted 1-1 with Sweden at the end of a World Cup qualifier. He adventured so far out that when he misplaced his pass he was unable to get back to his goal before the ball rolled in. Sad!
Hugo Lloris, what are you doing??