Columbus Karma: Another 2-0 Win over Mexico Clinches World Cup Berth for the USA
Soccer fans well aware of trends fattened their Bovada accounts last night.
For the fourth consecutive time, the USA men's national team defeated their Mexican rivals in Columbus by posting a 2-0 result, and with a little help from Panama, clinched their seventh straight World Cup appearance.
While Mexico stormed out of the gates and controlled the first 20 minutes, Jürgen Klinsmann's charges held steady. Playing without four starters -- Michael Bradley was injured and three others were serving yellow-card suspensions -- the German tactician's replacements held true to his system and ultimately did their bet to stem the tide.
That's how the run of play remained until help arrived in the form of an Eddie Johnson header in the 49th minute, and then Landon Donovan's 57th international goal in the 78th minute sealed the deal.
This victory put the Americans in position to celebrate a sure trip to Brazil in 2014 if Honduras couldn't manage a victory in Tegucigalpa. And they couldn't. Their Panamanian visitors salvaged a tie when Gabriel Torres craftily lobbed in a volley for his second goal of the match during stoppage time.
Meanwhile, for what it's worth, Costa Rica failed to beat Jamaica. Perhaps still recovering from the hangover of their coveted result over the USA on Saturday -- the gamesmanship was excessive, caused by their indignation at their snow-covered loss to the Yanks in Denver last March -- los Ticos simply didn't have it in them at Kingston, which was amazingly snow-free. The Reggae Boyz held them to a 1-1 draw, thus keeping their flickering hopes alive for a fourth-place finish and a playoff with New Zealand for the final World Cup slot available to the CONCACAF region.
Ironically, they're in a battle with Mexico for it. El Tri is better termed La Plaga Negra right now. Its camp is in total disarray, which wasn't aided by the firing of coach José Manuel de la Torre on the eve of the Columbus match. Mexico and Panama both stand at 1-2-5 with two matches remaining; Jamaica is a nearly-hopeless 0-4-4 with their next challenge being the Americans in October. That's when the drama will crest for Mexico and Panama, as they'll square off against each other.
So now Klinsmann has additional time to hone his team for the task ahead next summer. The creative striker who blended his skills well within the mechanical German system began his reign as USA coach amid skepticism that his methods wouldn't translate well, but those doubts have been resoundingly overcome. Among other things, a recent 12-match winning streak put paid to that matter.
The man who led Germany to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup has shaped the Americans in his own image, combining the flair of Donovan and Bradley with the workmanlike discipline so well displayed by his four replacements in Columbus.
He'll need much more of that and then some out of his squad next summer. But at the moment, no one is betting against him finding it. And right now, that includes the American fans who back their beliefs with their Bovada accounts