Welcome to the latest stop for the Jurgen und seinen Menschen Grateful Guests World Tour. After wearing out their welcome in Italy, we smash and grab in Azteca- breaking the curse of that stadium. After watching the first half again tonight, I felt like posting a few key observations. I'll go through the 2nd half tomorrow. 1. What 4-3-3? The US was flat 4-4-2 for most of the first half, frequently moving to a flat 4-5-1. Luis Castillo played well, yes, but he was closely shielded by Landon Donovan for much of the half. In fact if you go back and count up the times Mexico got lose against our left side, most resulted from times when Landon tried to get forward into the attack. I'm tempted to grade Castillo down a bit (looked poorer when left unshielded) and Landon up a bit (making Castillo look good on defense took a lot of effort and helps explain his ineffectiveness in the attack). 2. Everybody knows Edu can't defend under pressure as a CB, right? Not. I'm eating crow here. He played well, very well, in his positioning. In fact, Edu was supposed to be an upgrade in possession and passing out of the back while being suspect in his defending. Quite the opposite-- excellent positioning all the first half but some really, really sucky passes. 3. Possession soccer is winning soccer, right? Not really. We did nothing with possession when we had it because we were defending too deep and Mexico was leaving players back to take away our counter. Mexico really did nothing with possession when they had it because we were defending deep and they left players back to guard against our counter. Torres had a bad game, but he was in an impossible situation- no CM behind him who could be counted on to possess allowed Mexico to double team JFT at every turn. With Landon playing so deep, we had no linking play at all. To me, this was JK's only big coaching error- JFT can't be the possession player on a defend-and-counter team. 4. Perhaps, just perhaps, Jurgen can really coach. Mexico is very dangerous in the attack when (1) they have space AND (2) they can keep the ball on the ground through the middle. We funneled their attack to the wings and forced in crosses where our big CBs (and big F. Johnson at times) ate up those crosses. US defenders stayed back from Mexico- allowing them to hold and move the ball but not pass into the middle or dribble into the middle. Mexico bit and got nothing out of it. They did get off a few decent long-range shots (which is the book on what to do against us) but their shots sucked. Whether by design (laying off the right players) or luck, Mexico wasn't able to lure us out of our shell by shooting from distance. Shape discipline won the day for the US. For all of Mexico's possession, they really weren't able to do anything useful with the ball. 5. Oh Danny Boy. I'm not sure what to say about Danny Williams. He's terrible going forward. Really, really terrible. Mexico virtually stopped defending him (focusing extra effort on JFT and Landon instead). And yet . . . Italy 0 - 1 USA . . . Mexico 0 - 1 USA- both games with three defensive mids and Danny Williams at RM. Perhaps there's something to this, but I'm not sure. In Italy, it took Dempsey's brilliance to score. In Mexico, he was off the field when we scored. I think JK needs to look at whether we can be just as defensive with Mike Bradley in Danny's place.