U.S. Men's National Team Qualifies for World Cup, Mexico on Brink of Elimination

U.S. Men's National Team Qualifies for World Cup, Mexico on Brink of Elimination
Posted on September 11, 2013 by Tim

It was a stellar night for the Stars and Stripes.

The United States became the seventh team in 2013 to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil, and simultaneously plunged a dagger into Mexico's fading hopes of earning a spot in the 32-team tournament.

A pair of second-half goals (Eddie Johnson, 48th minute, Landon Donovan, 79th minute) were enough for fans and players to start booking tickets to South America.

A Banner Evening

While it's always sweet to knock down regional nemesis Mexico, last night's 2-0 win in front of a capacity, flag waving crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium was particularly savory not only because it reserved a spot in Brazil for the USMNT, but also cast serious doubt over El Tri's ability to qualify for its seventh straight World Cup.

The USMNT also reclaimed the top spot in regional qualifying with the win and a late Jamaican goal that secured a draw against Costa Rica.

Oh No, Mexico!

The 2-nil result (as Kick Republic predicted here -- Thanks, Clint Dempsey) likely sent Mexico spiraling into a best-case scenario two-game play-in series against New Zealand... a very long way from home. As of today the team holds the 5th spot in qualifying, a notch behind Panama and the opportunity to play New Zealand.

That definitely won't sit well with the folks at home. According to ESPN research, the Mexican football industry will lose upward of $600 million if El Tri fails to qualify for the World Cup.

Ouch!

How It Happened

Early on the Americans lacked any forward moving rhythm as Mexico was able to push the action for the first third of the match. Near the 15 minute mark, however, a crisp Landon Donovan cross into the box was sharply headed over the crossbar by Omar Gonzalez. The play seemed to shift the match's momentum and the Americans pressed the action throughout the remainder.

With Mexico pressuring high up field - a strategy that initially caused the Yanks some problems - the U.S. was able to consistently counter Mexican miscues.

The U.S. dominated the second half. Eddie Johnson punched in a header in the 49th minute, and Landon Donovan slotted a Mix Diskerud pass into the top of the net nearly a half hour later.

The Diskerud play came only two minutes after he was subbed-in for Johnson.

Klinsmann is certainly flicking all the right switches.

Time to Get Serious

Still there is room for improvement in the American locker room. For stretches last night they were disorganized and sloppy as they failed to take advantage of a Mexican side obviously lacking in chemistry.

And, once again, the USMNT got off to a slow start and had to be bailed out by superior goaltending. If the Americans make it to the knockout round in Brazil, their opponent won't be as forgiving.

Despite their struggles against nearly everyone this year, Mexico still managed to look dangerous at times with Gimenez and Dos Santos creating solid attacking opportunities. Early on the American back line failed to challenge the Mexican forwards.

The Bottom Line

It was a great night for the USMNT. Although the team needs to work on just about every facet of the game if it wants to make a big splash in Brazil. The good news is the qualifying is over and Klinsmann can play with the lineup in the remaining two games.

Grade: A- for America.

What are you thoughts? Give us a shout (or a tweet) @KickRepublic or Tim Gray @tngray99