Sunday, September 6, 2009

A FIFA International Labor Day Weekend in Football - US, Mexico, & Brazil Win

It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States and a FIFA International Break around the world. Despite the International Break for World Cup Qualifiers, there were still some league matches in the US, Mexico, and Brazil. Thankfully, the Houston Dynamo, with 3 players called up to the US National Team, had the weekend off.

Speaking of those countries, all three had crucial qualifiers this weekend. The US hosted El Salvador at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Saturday night. Despite the need to pick up 3 points, the US started flat and El Salvador's Christian Castillo scored the match's first goal in the 32nd minute. El Salvador's early lead was what it took to wake up the US National Team in general and Landon Donovan in particular. While Donovan did not score a goal, he did what a great 10 Shirt does by making both of the US's goals possible. In the 41st minute Clint Dempsey headed a Donovan free kick into the net and in first half stoppage it was a long cross from Donovan that Jozy Altidore headed in for the game winning goal.

Altidore had a goal called off in the 58th minute for because either Altidore nudged a defender or for a foul by Dempsey, there are conflicting stories as to the cause of the whistle. Jose Francisco Torres got his first national team playing time since the loss at Costa Rica earlier this year. Torres came close to getting a goal with a header in the 89th minute, but Miguel Montes managed to make the save and stop the bleeding.

Later Saturday evening, Mexico put CONCACAF and the rest of the world on notice that its National Team was back as it picked apart Costa Rica at Saprissa Stadium, 3-0. It was a big night for Giovani Dos Santos who scored Mexico's first goal and helped set up the other two goals. Meanwhile, Honduras beat Trinidad & Tobago 4-1. After last night's matches, Honduras and the US both have 13 points and Mexico and Costa Rica have 12 points, meanwhile El Salvador and T&T each have five points. Many are predicting that Costa Rica, which still has to play against the US in the US, will likely fall into the fourth position, which means playing against the 5th place team from CONMEBOL.

Speaking of CONMEBOL, the biggest match of the weekend was Argentina playing Brazil in Rosario, Argentina. Argentina has been struggling in its effort to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals, and last night was no improvement as they lost their first home qualifier match since 1993. Brazil secured its place in South Africa 2010 with a 3-1 victory over their biggest rival. Meanwhile, the Albiceleste need to come out strong at Paraguay on Wednesday and finish up qualifying with matches against Peru and Uruguay in October. Argentina owes some thanks to Colombia for beating Ecuador, 3-0, keeping Ecuador from moving past Argentina in the CONMEBOL standings.

One of the week spots for the US National Team Saturday night was its back line, who's trouble clearing the ball in the second half made for some very tense moments. However, word came out this weekend that Edgar Castillo, who was born in New Mexico but has played for Mexico, is no eligible to play for the US National Team. If Bradley is smart, he'll bring Castillo in to shore up the back line for the final qualifiers against Honduras and Costa Rica.

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