Mexico wins thriller

The Second Striker still doesn’t believe Neymar to Real Madrid is almost a done deal. Most of the discussions seemed to take place right before, if not during, the Copa Libertadores final. And immediately, he will play a key role for Brazil in the Copa America in July, leaving little time to talk.

Joaquin became the seventh signing of the summer for Malaga. Much like Van Nisterlooy, he is getting old but is cheap. Meanwhile, Toulalan and Bouananotte could stay in Malaga’s midfield for quite some time. And again, more targets have emerged- Santi Cazorla and Daniel Aranzubia.

Also, River Plate were relegated to the Argentine B division amidst riots in Buenos Aires. And Manchester City are back in the lead in the race for Alexis Sanchez, as the bidding war reaches £50m. Seems Barca would have pulled the trigger earlier if they really wanted him.

So that leave us with yesterday’s exhilarating Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Mexico:

-For the first thirty minutes, Bob Bradley was a genius. He kept Mexico guessing to the very end if Donovan or Adu would start. Then he started Donovan up top, throwing Mexico’s defensive game plan apart. Donovan and Dempsey switched back and forth, and Adu got an assist as Mexico fell apart. But after that, nothing went right.

-Even before the Cherundolo injury, the U.S. back four was beaten well and often. They couldn’t take care of the long-ball threat posed by Javier Hernandes, who remarkably failed to score, being kept onside several different times by just one player (often Lichaj). But they had even less control over Barrera, who scored twice, and Dos Santos, my man of the match, while Guardado was allowed free rein as soon as Cherundolo was injured. Bornstein is getting a lot of blame, and he should take some, but nobody expected him to play well. Who should be blamed? Let’s start with Howard, Goodson, Bornstein, Bocanegra, Lichaj, M.Bradley, and J.Jones. None of them did great defensively and since we don’t know Bob Bradley’s defensive game plan, we can’t give or take away extra blame to any. Now imagine if Vela had been playing…

– And that is why Mexico has got onto my early list of WC 2014 teams to watch, teams with a lot of young talent that could go a long way:  Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Mexico. (Early, early pick: Argentina over Germany in the final.)The attackers and attacking midfielders for Mexico: Giovanni Dos Santos and Carlos Vela, two team leaders at WC South Africa, despite their youth. Playing time is a problem right now. They both should be getting more at Spurs and Arsenal, respectively. Jonathan Dos Santos, Giovanni’s younger brother, currently on Barca’s books. Chicharito, of course, and Erick Torres, who could be even better. Del Negris, the Gold Cup’s second leading scorer. And don’t forget players like Barrera and Guardado, both inspired yesterday.

-Mexico also had defensive problems, and the winner was the team that used the other’s problems better. The U.S. did have enough chances to get 4-4, but Mexico could have won 7-2.

-Typical CONCACAF: Really easy for the favorites (these two porous defenses allowed four goals between them before this game) but at the same time so physical. The injuries played a huge role in this final.  Rafa Marquez may have a big problem.

-And what about Giovanni Dos Santos’ incredible fourth goal! Kept the ball away from Howard and the USMNT defense in a move worthy of Leo Messi. That wasn’t the best part. The sweet chip into the upper left corner of the net, the only place it would have gone in, in the same move, was barely believable.

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