Mexico's confusing game plan vs. U.S. 

August, 15, 2012

When the embarrassment wears off for the collection of El Tri players who will forever be known as the group that lost the first match against the United States on Mexican soil, they'll realize it wasn't so bad.

Mexico dominated possession, dominated the passing statistics, dominated the game really, but could never get a solid scoring chance against the United States until the final flurry against goalkeeper Tim Howard in the waning moments of the 1-0 defeat. The United States' goal was scored against the run of play, but the scoreboard is the only thing that ultimately matters, so nobody will care whether it was a deserved loss or not.

And really Mexico deserved to lose because it could do nothing with the possession that the U.S. allowed them to have. Mostly, Mexico played a game focused on the flanks. It's no surprise that the most touches of any player came from left winger Andres Guardado (83). The second most touches came from right back Severo Meza (81).

The problem is that Mexico had a lousy 28 percent cross connection. You don't beat a team with tall center backs by sending long crosses into the box. It's a silly strategy for any team. Even more so for Mexico.

Yet for some reason this seemed to be El Tri's game plan. In the 2-0 friendly win against Brazil in June, when El Tri played its possession game plan to perfection, Mexico attempted just nine crosses (completing none). Against the United States on Wednesday, Mexico attempted an astounding 39 crosses, completing just 11. To what end?