Smash Wednesday

Both teams were extremely lucky not to lose. Both teams should be very disappointed they didn't win. Both coaches started the wrong players, and couldn't get their substitutes involved the way they wanted to. Both teams showed a lot of young talent, and loads of huge, ugly, gaping flaws.

Since I don't care about Mexico, let's get them out of the way. Thank heavens Hugo can't coach. The United States back line had "Kick Me" just below the awkward curved Nike nameplates, and what does Sanchez do? Start Bautista and De Nigris instead of Cacho and Villaluz. That was a close one. If some Chivas defender named Jonny doesn't roll right by Drew Moor twice, one of the shakiest American defenses of the millennium throws yet another shutout against Mexico.

Say, what was Magallon doing with a US shirt on after the game? Everyone knows Mexico doesn't exchange jerseys. He must have bought one at Niketown before the game.

Mexico threw a lot of young talent on the field in the second half, and if they had any rhyme or reason, things would have gone pretty badly for the Red, White, Off-White and Blue. Can you imagine what would have happened if Hugo had given those great young subs actual directions?

As for us - okay, so Bob Bradley runs one of the longest camps he's ever going to, and that's the result? Fine, so five of the starters just hopped off the plane - what does that say about the guys who were there all month-plus? The opposite of positive, that's what.

If Michael and Ricardo were going to play as if, like the rest of us, they never expected to ever be on the field at the same time, then why start them together? It's a little harder to blame Bob for Bocanegra, Onyewu and Howard acting like they just met, since after all that was the same keeper and central defender setup that won the Gold Cup. But it's also the same setup that has looked shaky before. For some reason, every time they play together, they're like newly naturalized citizens earning their first caps before their first English class. I told Bob to put Jimmy Conrad in there, but did he listen?

I'm sure everyone's piling on the outside backs. I don't know if Corrales got his MLS gig or not based on Sweden and Mexico, but I do know no one's going to use a DP slot on him. I'm not going to worry too much, since he was just occupying space until Jonathan Bornstein comes back. Moor seems salvageable, because he's only 24, and my but that was a sweet assist to Jozy. Ever since Frankie Hejduk, we love us some outside backs that can push forward. If the nice people at FC Dallas would teach Moor the gentle and subtle art of freaking covering somebody, the United States can get some useful minutes out of the guy.

Or, we can convert Moor into a midfielder, get Hejduk back where he belongs (until someone better comes along, and I ain't seen that guy), and put Donovan in the middle where he belongs. We're in for another few months of people asking why Donovan disappears in important games. Well, in this case, because he was waiting for service from Michael Bradley, Drew Moor, or Ricardo Clark. What was Landon supposed to do? Short of outright mutiny and ordering the coach's kid to move up or over. Come on, we're a nation of 300 million people, one of us must be able to play right midfield. If not, let's find a country that does have one, and conquer it.

I didn't agree with John Harkes on a couple of issues. First, Bofo is a stiff, always has been, always will be. Second, I didn't think Clint Dempsey had a bad game. He had a bad second half, as Mexico figured out how to control the midfield and dried up the service. Altidore fought a losing battle to track back and get himself involved in the second half, Dempsey didn't. But Dempsey won the game in the first half with that incorrectly disallowed goal, didn't he? He was the most talented player on the field in the first half, by a considerable distance.

When Donovan and Dempsey were involved, they played with remarkable confidence and effectiveness. The key is to get them involved, of course. I don't know what percentage of that is in their own mercurial heads, and what percentage of that is the other nine guys, but turning over the middle to d-mids and hoping for the best isn't the way. If Donovan and Dempsey were only sporadically effective, I don't know what chance Bobby Convey had.

This wasn't the US extending an unbeaten streak. This was Mexico catching up with us. If Hugo ever figures out how to coach, we're in trouble.