Hola From Mexico!
The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Monday, July 18, 2022
MONTERREY, Mexico — I’m getting ready for the final match here in Monterrey tonight. This is Day 6 for me and I’ve got some cool projects in the books that you’ll be hearing about in the coming weeks.
It’s pretty much been a whirlwind, but forever grateful for the support and friendship from fellow travelers Steph Yang, Meg Linehan, Jeff Kassouf and Kevin Baxter.
The final is tonight, a rematch of sorts from the Olympics. You remember the Olympics? The United States fell to Canada 1-0 in the semifinals and the Canadians went on to win the gold medal, while the U.S. took home the bronze and a lot of disappointment.
There was handwringing over the team then, and there’s more now. People have been been messaging all week, essentially the same thing: The U.S. looks off. They’re not as dominant as they should be. What’s going on?
OK, well, here’s how I see it. First of all, we’re not giving credit to the rise of talent in the region. The CONCACAF region gets its share of knocks, often deservedly, but teams are getting better. Jamaica and Costa Rica have both improved leaps and bounds in just the past 10 years. Players, like Bunny Shaw, train and play at club teams abroad. The competition is getting better.
As a result, not every game is going to be Thailand at the World Cup.
The United States is full of new faces, and for many this is their first tournament that counts. So they’re finding their way. Its also clear that they’re still developing chemistry. Alex Morgan said as much when she spoke after the semifinal victory over Costa Rica. (See below!) And coach Vlatko Andonovski is clearly trying new things as a result. Game-planning for opponents is different now than in the very direct, uniform approach by Jill Ellis.
Also, the United States has always seemed to operate on a “marathon not a sprint” mentality. OK, yes, Thailand is a glaring exception there. Win and move on. The team is doing what it needs to in reaching its goal, and not flat-out dominating every game. While it might not be satisfying to some fans, it has been an effective tactic for the team.
But more than that, maybe the expectations on the United States are just unrealistic. Remember 2011 and just trying to qualify? Remember that loss to France in January 2019? Sweden at the Olympics? For every nearly every absolute blowout, there’s also a loss that was a total head-scratcher.
Anyway, we’ll see tonight against Canada. It will be interesting.
Wait, one last note. Monterrey is a fascinating city and the people are wonderful. The food is fantastic. The drawback is that it’s hot and humid during the summer but I was able to go to the Museum of Modern Art and see an amazing Pedro Reyes exhibit. And the folks from Tigres have been amazing and invited us to watch their men’s game against Club Tijuana last night. It was a blast. The women’s side is playing at Angel City on Aug. 10. Vamos!
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On to the LINKS!
Instead of transcribing the postgame interviews from the semifinals, here they are on videos! Hope you enjoy. Sorry about my clearly amateur video skills. Mal Pugh, Casey Murphy and Alex Morgan.