Martin O'Neill takes positives from Mexico defeat in New York

The Ireland boss said the game was ‘excellent preparation’ for Austria.

Martin O'Neill has seen his side lose a cumulative 8-2 in their last two visits to New York.
Martin O'Neill has seen his side lose a cumulative 8-2 in their last two visits to New York.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Joe Callaghan reports from the MetLife Stadium

THE NEXT TIME the FAI approach Martin O’Neill with the suggestion of a friendly in the wetlands of New Jersey, they’re unlikely to get a warm response.

The Ireland manager saw his side struggle mightily at the MetLife Stadium for the second time in the space of three years when they went down 3-1 to a much sharper Mexico on Thursday night.

In 2014 the scoreline against Portugal may have been more severe — Ireland were downed 5-1 then — but this was an equally chastening night Stateside.

“We were here three years ago and we played against Portugal who were going to the World Cup and they beat us well and Mexico have beaten us too so I don’t want to come back again,” O’Neill smiled afterwards in response to a question from a local reporter about his impressions of New Jersey.

“I would have liked us to have played better.”

At times it would have been hard for Ireland to have played much worse. O’Neill’s experiment with 3-5-2 is likely to be a short-lived one given how it backfired against a fluid Mexican side. Shane Duffy, Richard Keogh and John Egan never truly looked comfortable, not helped by a midfield that struggled to gain any foothold in front of them.

“We have to try it, that’s the whole point, that’s what I said in the last two or three days, let’s have a look at it, because we might have to do it at some point in our World Cup campaign, we might have to change systems,” said O’Neill, having aborted it in favour of a 4-5-1 shortly after the hour mark on Thursday night.

“You can play number of systems but you have to deal with situations. Mexico played much better than us, they deserved to win the game. As far as I’m concerned, it was great, I was delighted to take on, I thought it was great preparation.

“You are disappointed to concede goals at any given stage. You mentioned earlier what can we learn from the game, I think a great deal, all over the pitch at certain stages in the game Mexico dealt with the ball very, very well and I thought were much fitter than us.”

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Reverting to a back four finally settled Ireland down, particularly as Mexico began to tire. Stephen Gleeson’s consolation — in response to goals from Jesus Corona, Raul Jimenez and Carlos Vela — came when O’Neill’s side were more orthodox.

O’Neill, looking towards Sunday’s friendly with Uruguay and the crucial qualifier with Austria next Sunday, reached for positives afterwards, not all of which had been apparent to most observers of a one-sided affair.

“Quite a number of players have not played football for quite considerable amount of time,” he said.

“In terms of our preparation for the main game against Austria I thought it was excellent. Mexico were very good, they were good on the ball as befits a side like that. I thought it was a great workout, a great exercise for us.

“There are some who haven’t played for their club for considerable amount of time. I think that showed greatly, we’ve got the game on Sunday, we’ll see how they come out of that. In terms of getting 90 minutes, that was great for Duffy and if he’s come out of unscathed all the better.”

Watch: Here are all the goals from the Ireland-Mexico game

Experimental Ireland side outclassed by Mexico in New Jersey

About the author:

Joe Callaghan

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