Costly error hurts Souttar and Socceroos

Socceroos defender Harry Souttar’s bid to force his way back into selection calculations at his club side Leicester City suffered a blow with a costly error in Australia’s 2-2 draw with Mexico in Dallas on Sunday.

Having earlier given the Australians a 1-0 lead with a first-half header from a Martin Boyle corner, Souttar blemished his copy book with a late mistake that gifted Mexico an 83rd-minute equaliser through Cesar Huerta.

Rather than head clear what seemed a harmless long ball, Souttar let it go over his head, thinking it would be collected by Socceroos goalkeeper and captain Mat Ryan.

However, much to Souttar’s horror, substitute Huerta pounced to smash the ball past an exposed Ryan.

It wasn’t the finish to an otherwise good performance that the towering centre-back wanted as he desperately tried to prove to Leicester manager Enzo Maresca that he’s worthy of selection at the Foxes, where he is seemingly unwanted.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said the artificial playing surface at AT&T Stadium contributed to the defensive mishap, with the ball having held up rather than “skidding through” to Ryan after Souttar elected not to head it to safety.

“We’ve just got to do better,” said Arnold, who added that Souttar was “fatigued” towards the end of the match.

The mistake was also part of a horror finish to the match for the Socceroos, whose influential midfielder Jackson Irvine was stretchered off in the dying stages with an ankle injury.

“It’s a rolled ankle,” Arnold said in easing fears of a more severe injury.

“There’s a bit of swelling on it. No doubt he’ll be injured for a couple of weeks but he’ll be fine.”

Whether the artificial surface played a part in Irvine’s demise is unknown, however both sides had periods in the match where they struggled to cope with the roll and bounce of the ball.

“It was something I was quite stressed about for the last two days,” Arnold admitted.

“I had to make sure I got my selections right with players who’ve had a lot of game time because they’re stronger and physically more ready.

“It was clear to see it was a difficult service to play on. It’s completely different to what the players are used to. They’re used to playing on normal grass that’s softer. They will struggle to probably walk for five days after this.”

The Socceroos would be kicking themselves after a Martin Boyle penalty in the 63rd minute had doubled their lead.

It was one of three spot kicks awarded by American referee Rubiel Vasquez.

Two were given to Mexico. Santiago Gimenez hit the post in the 55th minute with his penalty after a handball offence from Socceroos’ midfielder Keanu Baccus before substitute Raul Jimenez made no mistake with his spot kick in the 69th minute after debutant Cameron Burgess fouled winger Uriel Antuna.

Jimenez’s goal halved Australia’s lead before Huerta’s late equaliser denied the Socceroos a victory as their preparations continued ahead of next year’s Asian Cup in Qatar.

“I’m very proud of the boys, the way that we played,” Arnold said.

“A couple of mistakes when you play against the top nations … you learn from them.

“If we’d played against lesser opposition we wouldn’t have got punished the way we did, so we learn from it, and we move forward.”

Former Central Coast Mariners star Sammy Silvera was also given a Socceroos debut when he came on as a second-half substitute for Boyle.


It was supposed to be a friendly game but there was nothing cordial about the exchange between Socceroos striker Mitch Duke and Mexico defender Edson Alvarez on the stroke of half-time.

Alvarez, who plays his club football in the English Premier League for West Ham, took exception the no-nonsense Duke raising his foot high when tackling him.

The pair then had to be separated after they butted heads, with neither willing to take a backwards step.

Referee Vasquez intervened to show Duke a yellow card for the initial tackle.

However, once Vasquez blew his whistle for half-time, Alvarez and Duke again clashed, with the experienced Irvine attempting to calm his teammate down as he argued with the referee.

Originally published as Socceroos blow two-goal lead in having to settle for a draw against Mexico

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