US 2-3 Brazil: Heartbreak
Dunga got his tactical changes right in the second half and Bob Bradley didn’t adequately make tactical changes to counter the Brazilians. Bradley’s tactics and subs resembled the scared, conservative changes of the last two qualifiers and the first two group games of this event instead of confident superior coaching he demonstrated in the last week.
Bradley deserves praise for the US run but his propensity to favor players he coached at the club level such as Sacha Kljestan remains a major shortcoming of his management style. Bradley will be the US manager for the World Cup in 2010 and perhaps beyond. Any calls to fire him need to end immediately. But his management style needs to evolve. The USSF will not fire Bradley so any discussion of it is further destabilizing the team.
Early in the match with the nation tuned in to football for change the US Men’s National Team had a unique opportunity to make history and win a nation over all at once.
Bob Bradley changed his tactical setup today leaving the flanks unmarked and packing the middle, which represented the opposite of what we saw against Spain. Allowing Brazil to penetrate up the flanks allowed the US to deploy a quick counter attacking scheme through the middle of the pitch.
Jonathan Spector exploited the weakness of Andre Santos on the left side whipping in a great ball to Dempsey that he finished.
Benny Feilhaber’s work rate was good in the first half, but he wasn’t winning the balls or challenging the Brazilians in the same manner as Michael Bradley would have been.
Landon Donovan’s work rate and flair have been remarkable all tournament long. His goal was well deserved for sure.
The second half started badly with Brazil exploiting the Americans lack of ability to defend wide. We didn’t make a tactical change to take away this option especially on the left side until Johnathan Bornstein was inserted in minute 70. This was a good substitution by Bradley but perhaps came too late.
Jose Francisco Torres would have helped today, but clearly he is in the doghouse and thus didn’t play a minute in this competition. Conor Casey doesn’t have the quality to do what Brian Ching can do holding the ball up at this level. That has shown whenever he’s been subbed in.
Bradley gets a look at Kenny Cooper in the Gold Cup and my hope is that he becomes Casey replacement as Ching’s backup.
This game was a bitter disappointment, but at the same time the entire US program was elevated in the last week. That is something we must take pride in.