Mexican U-20 National Team at IU, in-game analysis

MEXICO 2, INDIANA 0 (FINAL)

Funny scene to end the game: as injury time wore on for a good five minutes, the Mexican coaches kept pleading and pleading for the game to end. At every little stoppage they’d hop up off the bench and walk toward the nearest official, pointing at their watches.

Then, Jesus Manzo scored. Suddenly, all that extra time didn’t seem so bad. Now the coaches danced and hugged and raised their hands toward the sky.

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With only a few minutes left, Mexico makes a change at keeper. Interesting move. I’m headed down to the field. More after the game and a few interviews.

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With less than 10 minutes left — including stoppage time — Indiana starts really pressing. Brad Ring — best leg on the team — is the latest to blast from deep. His shot curls past the post, harmlessly.

The Mexican’s are trying to win this thing by using their considerable depth. They’ve made replacements at most of the positions.

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Indiana earns another corner kick, and they pack the field trying for a goal. But Weaver’s serve is long, and Mexico manages the rare odd-man rush.

Castillo manages to break past Alston, but his shot squirts wide. I’m not sure if Cain, who had charged on the play, got a piece.

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The teams are trading chances now in what has been a fabulous example of this game that American’s still don’t quite understand — or embrace.

Castillo found himself with the ball on his foot to the right of the net, and his high shot for the far corner seemed bound for the twine.

Until the rising fist of Chay Cain knocked it away. Athletic, impressive save, that.

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Billy Weaver can’t score on a penalty kick, as Indiana remains absolutely snake-bitten. The Hoosiers, you may recall, lost their last two games of last season — including an NCAA Tournament game to Bradley on this field — in penalty kicks. They also lost in penalty kicks on this field in the tournament the year before.

Eric Alexander’s work in traffic — he’s got the best ball control on the team — led to the penalty kick. He fed Weaver darting into the box, and Weaver’s man shoved him from behind.

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Noshcang continues his strong play, as he’s able to work past a defender on the right. His centering feed finds Neil Wilmarth charging, but Wilmarth’s shot dribbles off his foot and ends up tangled in Baez’s legs after the keeper lays out.

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A free kick by Weaver slices in toward the net and gives Baez trouble.

And Indiana keeps coming. Tyler McCarrol, a redshirt freshman, makes a brilliant move to cut along the goal line. But once again no one is there to get on the end of his cross.

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Wilmarth again gets to a ball and sends a cross through the box. No one there.

A resulting corner kick by Billy Weaver seemed to be headed for traffic, but the Mexican keeper jumped through and found the ball.

At the other end, Mexico works for a shot from 18 yards, but its hit right at Cain.

Alexander counters at the other end, blasting a shot from 20 yards toward goal. It sails high.

Thrilling soccer right now as the sun sets orange and purple behind the south goal.

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Weaver opens the second half with a brilliant chance. Indiana has really had the better of the offensive chances but it’s been the same story for the Hoosiers: no finish.

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Well, this is precisely what didn’t need to happen.

A Mexican player was fouled during stoppage time and went down hard. I didn’t see the play and I’m not sure what happened, but it appears as though Eric Alexander may have caught him up high.

As he rolled on the ground and play was stopped, tempers flared. The Mexican keeper, Miguel Baez, charged into the pile and the teams spent a good minute barking at each other while the officials tried to keep control.

The Indiana students began chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.”

Such patriotism is moving.

In all the wrong ways.

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Mexico can strike so quickly. Indiana was really controlling the pace of the game, and it took all of five seconds for Mexico to forget that and burst through for an excellent chance.

Antonio Castillo ran onto a ball on the left side and went one-on-one with Rich Balchan — who’s had some time with the U.S. Under-20 national team. The two battled and Balchan played it well, preventing a shot. But Castillo worked deep into the box and tipped the ball toward David Pujol. He had a point-blank shot and launched it too high.

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Indiana is now controlling the game, as it has had the better of the chances.

Forty minutes into the half, John Mellencamp (no, not that one) broke into the middle and tried for the far, upper corner. But his shot hooked wide of the net.

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Kevin Noschang darts down the left side, running onto a great ball off the foot of Eric Alexander. He manages to slip a shot pass a chasing defender, and it eludes the stretched-out keeper. But it skips past the far post.

Noschang is an interesting story within the context of this game. He’s got almost unlimited physical potential. He’s probably the faster player on the field right now, and he’s got good height and unbelievable agility. What he doesn’t have is touch. His feet still seem uncomfortable with the ball.

The Mexican players, on the other hand, seem to control the ball like it’s on a string.

You can tell Indiana players have to think about where they’re going to move the ball; for Mexican players, it just happens. And in a game that unfolds as quickly as this one, that means everything.

Noschang with a point blank chance, again created by his speed, but he pushes it wide.

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Adlard’s free kick from about 22 yards out gets past the wall of Mexican defenders but doesn’t challenge the keeper.

Antonio Castillo comes back with a shot over the Indiana goal. Arnold Martinez is quickly becoming a pest that Indiana doesn’t have a way to handle. He’s short — let’s give him 5-8 — and fiesty on the left side. He’s battled Kelly and Eric Alexander, two of Indiana’s more physical players, and created that latest scoring chance.

Subs in for Indiana: Billy Weaver replaces Andy Adlard in the midfied, Neil Wilmarth takes over for Michael Roach up top.

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MEXICO 1, INDIANA 0 (11:43)

Daniel Kelly, another IU player with international experience, is victimized by one of Mexico’s quick attackers, as Moises Herrera darts in an strips him of the ball to the left of the net. Herrera broke in alone with a good angle and slipped a shot under a diving Cain.

Kelly is making the adjustment to playing back. He spent time last year, as a redshirt freshman, at midfield and forward. He’s been asked to solidify a position that lost three starters (Charley Traylor, Greg Stevning and Ofori Sarkodie).

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Couldn’t be a better day for soccer. It’s about 80 degrees. The sun is beginning to set behind a sparse clouds. There are at least 5,000 fans here, and they’re still coming.

Mexico has controlled the last six minutes of play, culminating with the first corner kick of the match. A deep feed did manage to find an open Mexican player off the corner, but the subsequent high header landed safely in the hands of IU keeper Chay Cain.

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Trecolores is on the run now. They tried for a feed through middle to Moises Herrera, but Kevin Alston — who has more international experience than an IU player on the pitch — makes the play and seals off Herrera while taking the ball.

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Daniel Kelly flies up the right sideline from his spot on the back line to create the first real chance of the game. But his cross is knocked out, and Indiana can’t sustain the attack.

Most of the play so far has been contained to the midfield, not all that surprising for a game that pits teams of players who don’t know each other all that well.

Now Arnold Martinez gets daring for the Mexican team and dances through the middle to create a shot for Luis Ochoa. His effort rolls on the ground and wide.

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Awesome. The teams stream out of the locker room together, World Cup-style.

The starting lineup for Indiana is going to look something like this.

Chay Cain in net.

Kevin Alston, Dan Kelly, Rich Balchan and Tyler McCarroll on the back line.

Eric Alexander, Andy Adlard, John Mellencamp and Brad Ring in the midfield.

Michael Roach and Kevin Noschang at forward.

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The Mexican fans, all decked out in green or red or white or all three and many carrying noise-makers of some sort, are still filtering in. They’ve come from across the whole region for this annual fiesta at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

To me, this is one of the better events to come to Bloomington all spring. I know there was some sort of bike race here a few weeks ago, but this is such an interesting scene. The Mexican fans are so passionate.