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Archive for June, 2009

The United States National Team was the best team in the world for 45 minutes today. They went up 2-0 in the first half and played seamless attacking soccer. In the second half, the team came back to earth as Brazil played like Brazil can play. They struck early within the first minute of the second 45, and kept up the pressure bringing wave after wave of attacks against the American defense.

The final scoreline read 3-2 for Brazil, but the true victory was for the United States. While watching the trophy presentation, I expected to see a US team that was comfortable with second place, one that didn’t expect to win and saw all of this as merely an exercise in futlity against a strong Brazil squad that had already beaten them once. What I saw was something different. I saw a team that was dejected, and wanted to win. As Clint Dempsey won the Bronze Ball, the award for the the third best player in the tournament, I saw the pain of the loss was evident in his eyes. This is a victory for the United States. They have a team that has fire, and belief in themselves. They have a team that doesn’t want respect from teams, they want results.

This tournament got more press for the USMNT than ever before, making the non-soccer world become aware of the achievements of this team.

I am more proud of this team than any other. They fought, had heart, and did everything they could to win. Sure there are some things that need to be fixed but I can be happy knowing that this team did everything it could for the shirts on their backs.

Take heart America, this team can play!

US Soccer

Also, check out No Short Corners, a blog by Greg Seltzer, for some excellent coverage of the USMNT.

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David Ferreira

My beloved team, FC Dallas, gave up a draw in the closing minutes of the game on Wednesday against a Colorado side who were very beatable. If Dallas could have won this game, it would have proved last weekends beating of reigning champions, Columbus was not a fluke. Instead, the team had a lackluster effort that while still getting a point, only showed that this is not a playoff team, nor anywhere close to one. They seemed destined to draw that game from the start of the second half. They were just drifting, waiting for the hammer to fall. They didn’t have the fire or the passion, and I don’t know what it is going to take for them to get that passion, as these types of games are the ones to be pumped up for. When up 1-0 in a tough environment, and struggling to hold on; that is when a winning team shows their grit and determination in the face of adversity and fights for the win. Instead, they wilted, got tired and gave up.

Now you might say that it was a good result, that a tie on the road against a very good team is encouraging. If you say this, and believe it, you didn’t watch the game very closely. FCD was dominated for most of the game, and if it wasn’t for a beautiful assist by Kenny Cooper and a nifty finish by David Ferriera against the run of the play, this team would have really lost.

Colorado had chance after chance to win this game and it was their worthless finishing that helped FCD more than anything else.

Eric Avila didn’t get the start again, and came on midway through the second half to try to relive that spark that he had in last week’s game. His insertion and Brek Shea’s in the 45th minute didn’t do enough to turn the tide and maintain possession.

Jeff Cunningham started on the right wing only to come off at halftime to be replaced by Shea. In my opinion, he should not be a starter for this team. His first touch, passing and crossing are not efficient enough to make a difference in this league, and guys like Avila and Shea deserve a starting role over him. Cunningham is a proven goal scorer in the league with over 100 goals, but he is getting older and the league is leaving him behind in talent.

So, the question that remains is this: what happens to the rest of the season? Buzz over at 3rd Degree shows that we have to get 26 points in the next 15 games to reach the proverbial 40 points needed to reach the playoffs. From the first 15 games we have 14 points. I think the rest of the season is a wash. Unless something very magical happens, and the Hoops go on a streak that is one of the best the league has ever seen, I don’t see the team making the playoffs nor even getting close.

Coach Hyndman needs to figure out what he wants from this team, and begin to shape them. Let loose the dead weight and bring in his players that fit his system. I am willing to support him for another season as this is his first in any professional league and it takes time to learn the league, and how it plays, but if he doesn’t do it by the beginning of next season, he should be gone, as well as the Hunt Sports Group. They are a mess and are bringing down the team even more than the team’s horrid record.

But hey, miracles can happen right. Just look at the USA. They believed. Maybe we should too.

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South Africa Egypt US Confed Cup Soccer

The US Men’s National Team beat #1 ranked Spain today in the best upset of the tournament and one of the best games in US team history.

With goals from Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, the Americans withstood constant pressure and shots from the Spainards to finish the game 2-0 with their second clean sheet in as many games and will go to the final to face the winner of the Brazil/South Africa match tomorrow.

To read the match report, click here.

The players of the match for me were:

Landon Donovan: looked good under pressure all game and was great on both sides of the ball

Jozy Altidore: What a great turn and finish from the youngster. His stock is growing more and more as teams in the English Primier League take notice.

US Back Line: The four in the back for the US; Bocanegra (who started at left back), DeMerit, Onyewu and Spector withstood the best offense in the world and kept a cleansheet. A lot of that credit can go to Tim Howard, the American Keeper as well, but the defense’s close down play and teamwork were outstanding.

Thoughts:

With Bradley given an unfair red card in the 87th minute, the US will be without their fulcrum in the midfield for the final, but look for Benny Feilhaber who set up Dempsey’s goal to take his spot. He has had a great tournament and looks ready to take over, but he must stay away from turnovers like the one that allowed Guiseppe Rossi (TTR) to score in the Italy game earlier in the tournament.

I also expect the backline to remain the same as Bocanegra looked healthy and ready for the task. My only concern will be fatigue as Onyewu, Spector and DeMerit have played every minute of every game so far, and there isn’t much time to get them rest until the game on Sunday.

Lastly, it was great to see the Americans come out with a never say die attitude and the fortitude necessary to withstand Spain’s attack. They showed a lot of heart out there and deserve to be where they are.

I am not a huge fan of Bob Bradley, and don’t believe that these wins are anything that he has done that is different than any other game. These last two games have been owned by the players. They have stepped up and shown the world just where US soccer is, and where it can go.

Today has been a wonderful day to be a USMNT supporter. Take heart, grab a drink and forget your worries for the rest of the day. You can call for Bob Bradley’s firing tomorrow, today enjoy the win.

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Wednesday at 1:25 Central the USMNT will take on Spain, the #1 team in the world. They will look to continue their recent form and catch a very confident Spain napping to snag a victory and head to the Confederations Cup Final against the winner of the Brazil v. South Africa game. Here are some key matchups and some thoughts about the game.

To see projected lineups and more thoughts about the game, check out Soccer By Ives by Ives Galarcep. He is one of the best bloggers out there, and his insights are always spot on.

Matchups:

Jozy Altidore against Carlos Puyol: This looks like a great battle. Young Altidore has been showing   some very good time on the ball in this tournament and has been a handful for every centerback that has played against him. Puyol is a tenacious veteran who does his job very well and can normally take care of any striker in the game. Altidore will look to use his skill on the ball and his hold up ability to keep the ball and distribute to the midfielders for runs in the box. His turn against Egypt that created the first goal by Davies was magical.

Advantage: Puyol. I think he is too good and has been in the game too long. He has played against the best in the world (Cristiano Ronaldo) and made them pretty invisible in a match. I see him doing that here too.

Micheal Bradley and Ricardo Clark against Cesc Fabregas and Xavi Hernandez: The duo of Bradley and Clark did well against Egypt shutting down the midfield and controlling possession, as well as keeping Pirlo quiet for 3/4 of the Italy game. They are good open field tacklers and if they can keep their composure and stay away from the yellow and red cards they have a chance of outworking the European Champions. Fabregas and Xavi are two players that can create in the midfield and win balls better than nearly anyone in the game. They are fluid passers and know when to move up the field and when to stay back. I think their skill outweighs the Americans and have had a very good tournament so far. I don’t see that changing in this matchup unless Bradley and Clark can step up their game and outwork the Spainards.

Advantage: Draw. I see Bradley (who has been playing very well recently) and Clark stepping up and keeping up with the combination play of Xavi and Fabregas. It will be a great battle.

Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra against David Villa and Fernando Torres: I have to say that this is the best matchup of the day, and probably the most crucial for the Yanks. Gooch and Boca have to keep up with the speed and raw ability of Villa and Torres or the USMNT don’t have a chance of winning. Bocanegra will be coming off of an injury that has kept him sidelined for most of the tournament, so his fitness could be an issue. Oguchi Onyewu has probably played the best he ever has internationally and he will have to continue this run of form to keep up with Villa. Torres and Villa are two of the best in the world (notice a trend?) and can tear apart a defense that is unorganized and slow, so the Americans will have to be at the top of thier game.

Advantage: Torres and Villa.  I see one of them scoring at least once in this game, and that could prove the difference. The Americans are going to have to have the games of their lives to beat these two.

Thoughts:

To win tomorrow, the USMNT will have to play the best game they have ever played. They have the chance to win a game that will go in the history books as the best ever, beating the US v England game in the 1950 World Cup. The players know this, and they also have been playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulders which could prove to their advantage. Every player will have to have a good game. Bob Bradley will have to make the right subs and execute the correct formation. If any of these things are not correct, the US will lose and it could be a scoreline rivalling the Brazil game.

Spain will have to keep up their form and not let their focus slip. They have had a very easy tournament so far and the US will be their hardest game yet. They must control possession and keep the US on their heels. If they can do that, then they will get the chances needed to beat the young American side.

It will be a very exciting game…I hope. I don’t see the Americans trying to bunker like Iraq did against Spain in their 1-0 loss but it could be the strategy Bradley employs. Only time will tell.

My Prediction: My head tells me it will be Spain 2-1 with Xavi and Torres for Spain, and Landon Donovan for the US. My heart hopes for the other way around. 2-1 United States, with goals from Bradley, Clint Dempsey and David Villa.

The game will be on ESPN 360 and Univision at 1:25 Central

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Oguchi Onyewu, the United States’ best defender is reported to have signed with Fenerbahce of the Turkish First Division. He has been out of contract this summer after having a successful career with Standard Leige of Belgium. He helped them to two league titles in two years and was one of the best players in Belgium during that time.

oguchionyewu

His agent is playing down the talks as all agents tend to do, but it appears like this one is going to go through barring any complications.

At first I was very unhappy with this news. I feel like Gooch can play with the big dogs in the EPL and that kind of play will only strengthen his game, but a move to the surprisingly competitive Turkish league will see him get immediate playing time and good experience.

I trust that Gooch is making the right decision here.

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The Man

The Man

The US Men’s National Team came into the Confederations Cup looking to prove their worth and mettle against the superior talents of Brazil and Italy, but didn’t expect to get anything more than a possible three points against an Egypt team that had looked extremely average in World Cup Qualifying. What actually happened was that they looked pretty good against an average Italian team; uncomposed against Brazil, and ready for revenge against Egypt.

Looking back on the group play by the US, I feel like everything that happened was pretty natural. The team that played Egypt, Italy and Brazil was very young, with Kljestan, Bradley, Feilhaber, Clark, Torres, Guzan, Adu, Davies, Spector, Altidore and Bornstein all under 25 years old. They made brash decisions and picked up needless yellow and red cards, but showed passion and composure for two thirds of the Italy game, the last half of the Brazil game, and the entirety of the emasculation of Egypt.

This team is a team of the future. One that will look incredibly average at times, and in others will look like they can beat the best (or some of the best). Next year at this time, this entire experience will benefit this team beyond any friendly or WCQ. This team has learned how to fight. They care, and they read what the bloggers and journalists say about them. Over the last week, they have read what thousands of people have said. They don’t have any heart, and are overrated. They took this criticism to heart and showed what they are capable of.

I love covering this team as they have some passionate guys. Altidore, Bradley, Howard, and Landon Donovan drive this team. They care, and that’s why I love them.

My prediction against Spain is another spirited effort, but a loss. 3-1 Spain. I see the USMNT coming back against South Africa and handling them for a very encouraging third place finish.

So far, my man of the tournament for the US is Landon Donovan who has quietly had a wonderful tournament and played well against some very good teams. He looks dangerous, and if he could finish off more runs, he would be in my Tournament XI.

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Against the odds, the United States wins in their Confederations Cup match against Egypt 3-0 and Brazil stomped all over Italy 3-0 to set up the perfect scenario for the US to advance. The goals were scored by Charlie Davies, Micheal Bradley, and Clint Dempsey.

They will now face Spain, the #1 team in the world in the Semi’s while Brazil will take on South Africa.

It’s been a good day for US soccer.

More to come later hopefully. Match Report is here.

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