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USA 1 : Japan 0


Well the US gets three valuable points today. A few observations:

For the third major tournament in a row (2006 World Cup, 2007 U-20 World Cup, 2008 Olympics) the US has come out in a 4-5-1. The fact that this has been done under three different coaches tells me its is the ideal formation for the US play with.

Memo to Bob Bradley: you have an assistant in Peter Nowak willing to make tactical changes based on the opposition. You need to learn to do the same. Nowak showed his maturity as a manager with his changes today.

Marvell Wynne was my Man of the Match. Michael Orozco also deserves mention for a solid effort.

Robbie Rogers was the best US attacking player today constantly finding space and making daring runs.

Sacha Kljestan’s play which was unsettled for about 35 minutes was actually quite good towards the end of the first half and on into the second.

Michael Bradley did a good job of fronting the back four and keeping the flow of play in the US’ favor early in the 2nd half.

Mo Edu’s confidence at the back despite his aggressive play which led to two PK shouts from Japan was very nice to see from a player whose experience is limited on the backline.

Freddy Adu tried to do too much instead of using his team mates. His great shot on goal in the 31st minute and his great move that created a penalty shout in the second half not withstanding, his quality was overall somewhat less than expected.

NBC’s decision to offer every match with high quality streaming video online has been a life saver.

Speaking of announcers, I loved the fact that Rob Stone and John Harkes mispronounced the names of Matt Leinhart and Brett Favre during the Barca-Red Bull match on Wednesday night. Having to put up with the names of soccer players being butchered all the time, turnabout is fair play!

Feel free to comment on this thread during the match.

Guzan reacts late to Lee’s attempt on goal. Needs to come of his line quicker in the future. Nonetheless, the US wins 1-0.

Four minutes of stoppage time.

Minute 90: Good defense by Edu on the touchline.

Brazil takes a 1-0 lead on Belgium. Hernanes the goal scorer.

Minute 88: With the US parking the bus thanks to the additions of Feilhaber and Szetela, Japan is taking the game to the US and for the second time in the last ten minutes Mo Edu commits a foul in the box.

Minute 83: Canada and Mexico did not qualify for this Olympics (Canada actually was closer to qualifying) but it can be argued the three best Americans in this match thus far play their club football in Canada or Mexico.

Minute 81: The Japanese who quite honestly deserve something from this match looking dangerous and pushing forward.

Minute 80: Jozy Altiodre is awkward and takes a bad touch as well when he’s in on goal.

Minute 79: Japan unlucky again as Mo Edu takes down a Japanese attacker in the box and no penalty is called.

Minute 77: T. Honda gets a yellow card for a smart professional foul on Altidore.

Minute 74: Jozy Altidore on for Brian McBride.

Minute 72: Morimoto who has played a good match taken off for Japan.

Minute 71: Honda does his best Adu imitation showing selfishness in the box when he had team mates in position to receive a cross.

Minute 68: Lee makes instant impact for Japan drawing a corner.

Minute 67: A penalty shout for the US, but a good non call in my eyes

Minute 65: Mo Edu just deflects a cross which almost finds Honda for an equalizer.

Minute 64: Michael Bradley enters the book on what should have been a non call.

Minute 63: Robbie Rogers with lots of time on the ball serves in a dangerous cross but Japan deals with it.

Minute 61: Japan has a decent chance off a corner.

Update from Brazil-Belgium, still scoreless in the 57th minute.

Minute 55: The match official after allowing lots of chippy play and elbows in the first half is now whistle happy. Go figure.

Minute 51: After a good few minutes of possession the US gives the ball up and Freddy Adu receives a booking. Interesting considering Japan has been demonstrating some cheeky play all evening and has yet to find anyone in the book.

Minute 46: GOAL! Stuart Holden finishes after a great run by Marvell Wynne down the flank! The Japanese keeper had a clean shot at that and did not make the save.

Japan has had the better of the first half play. Peter Nowak’s tactical change was justified but it hasn’t worked. Japan has exploited the space out wide and created far better chances than the US.

The official blows the half dead when Japan is about attempt a corner. You hardly ever see that and really very unfortunate for Japan.

Minute 45: The US breaks on a quick counter thanks to a great ball forward by Mo Edu. However Japan deals with ensuing corner well.

Minute 41: Freddy Adu fails to clear just outside hos own area and Japan just misses wide with a header. It should have been an offsides but the official misses it.

Minute 40: Marvell Wynne with a last second clearance.

Minute 39: Freddy Adu in the area is dispossed when holding the ball up waiting for help.

Minute 33: Freddy Adu with a nice piece of skill and shot that sails high.

Minute 29: Japan flying again and Brad Guzan has made two decent saves.

Minute 27: A lack of patience is how I would describe the US attack. Freddy Adu and Stuart Holden in the last few minutes have both had time to pick out a team mate and instead have shown a panicky instinct to just place a ball in the middle.

Minute 21: The US escapes on a bad touch by Japan’s attacker with an open net in front of him. Sacha Kljestan has had a number of bad touches and late reactions today thus far: not what we expect from a quality player like him.

Minute 15: The US is really settled at this point with Michael Bradley also playing well in the last few minutes.

Minute 12: Robbie Rogers is stimulating the US attack and all of a sudden the team looks settled

Minute 10: The US looks totally unsettled and disorganized. Not a good start, but not disastrous either.

Minute 7: A good tackle by Michael Orozco springs Robbie Rogers on a quick counter that almost amounts to a scoring chance for the US.

5:00 AM ET Peter Nowak has made the adjustment we had hoped for yesterday, dropping Jozy Altidore from the starting XI and going with a 4-5-1. Robbie Rogers has replaced him as a starter in the only change from what was anticipated.

4:55 AM ET: The NBC Olympic site has Brazil-Belgium live streaming video, so I’ll be keeping an eye on that as well.

4:45 AM ET: Telemundo is showing a pre-game show and a feature in Honduras. MSNBC is showing a re-run of Verdict with Dan Abrams from last night. Again proof of how much the English language media cares about world football.

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  1. Flash

    August 7, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Rogers made runs but how many of them actually produced chances?

    What good is a good dribble run if it doesn’t produce a good cross, shot or pass?

    Also, are people really going to ignore how badly Rogers neglected his defensive responsibilities?

    Holden was also pretty poor outside of scoring the goal.

    Kartik seems to want to crow about saying we should play a 4-5-1 and then seeing Nowak use it and us win, but honestly do you think that match feels like a win?

  2. Kiwi Yank

    August 7, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I don’t like this 4-5-1 as it puts a lot more pressure on our defense. This also forces our defense into making riskier challenges that could either lead dangerous set pieces, penalty kicks, fatigue, and unnecessary yellow or red cards.

    With so many players behind the ball, we had difficulty getting McBride into the match, and although the Altidore substitution changed that dynamic a bit, the majority of our play was based on clearing the ball out of our end and hoping that a forward pushing midfielder was able to connect with McBride or Altidore to threaten a counter attack.

    While I don’t like the formation, I thought the US players managed to execute it well against a Japan side that was unlucky not to score a goal or two.

    I don’t think that we would have been so lucky against the Dutch or Nigeria.

    After watching a bit of the Netherlands/Nigeria match, I’m much more worried about our smaller midfield getting physically pushed out of the next two games.

  3. Ryan

    August 7, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Mo Edu was my MOTM for the first 75 minutes of the match. He made some GREAT tackles both in the middle of the field and covering out wide after Wynne had made a run up field. He just seemed tired after that and I worry that’s where having so few defenders will come to hurt us.

    Rogers impressed me more as the game went along, but he and Orozco need to work better. I think Rogers was pushing up to far in the beginning and that was hurting their link up. His quick turn/cross towards the end was a great move by him.

    I wonder what the Micheal Bradley haters will latch on to as his many faults this game.

    The one thing for me was the refs inconsistency. For both teams extremely light contact in the middle of the field was awarded fouls but players were getting mugged closer to goal. I understand this is how you want games called, but I think he took both ends to the extreme.

  4. Jameson

    August 7, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Several points.

    I agree Nowak’s switch to a 4-5-1 was good but McBride much like the World Cup seems to have trouble in that formation. I know he’s a warrior and a leader but wouldn’t Jozy be a better choice against Holland?

    I thought Kljestan looked nervous and shaky the whole match. I would have brought him off for Benny at halftime.

    Holden and Rogers both found space well out wide on what was a narrower pitch than should be allowed for a tournament of this stature.

    Thank god was get JP and Celo for these matches. Can you imagine if NBC had placed some idiot who mispronounces all the names?

    You may like Edu’s game but he’s bordering on reckless and could get sent off in one of the next two matches.

    Three points = little or no complaints!

  5. Phillip

    August 7, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I really like Rogers on the wing… but he and Orozco don’t play well together.

  6. Johnathan Starling

    August 7, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Because Lou it was the only way we were going to get any announcers for Soccer. I think JP and Balboa will also be sticking to their other duties as well with ESPN and HDNet.

    Let’s be thankful we’re getting all the coverage to begin with. I rather like the crowd audio only feeds that we are getting with the online feed.

  7. eplnfl

    August 7, 2008 at 8:54 am

    I will take the win. Japan should of earned a point but that is their let down not ours. Missed the first half, but it did seem the US gave out a bit late in the game. Guzan appeared to have a very good game in the net. Good news for Villa fans.

    Wynne continues to do well when he puts on the Red, White, and Blue. On the whole he and the rest of the squad played hard and were not afraid to mix it up, which is rare for the US. Lets hope they continue in the next match with hard play.

    Thanks to NBC for the online coverage, watching the Netherlands game as I compose this. My question is why is soccer the only sports where we have the announcers calling the game in studio!

  8. kartik

    August 7, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Lou, Holden was okay but took his chance and struck it well. The Japanese keeper could have done better, but it was well hit and he made the run inside to compliment Wynne push up from the back along the flank. Classic counter attacking and a great goal. People ultimately will say Japan deserved three points or at least a draw. That may be the case but in tournaments like this if you can find a way to get three points, you take it and don’t apologize for it! We took our chance and now have a real opportunity to get out of the group of death in this tournament.

  9. Johnathan Starling

    August 7, 2008 at 6:43 am

    I have to say I am impressed with the quality of the streaming video on the NBC Olympic website. The only thing I can criticize (and it’s hardly that big of a criticism) is I wish the split video was just a little bigger.

    I also like the fact there is no audio commentary (at least on the games I’ve seen). There is something to just hearing the crowd noise only that is nice.

  10. eplnfl

    August 7, 2008 at 6:40 am

    I am awake. It seems that the US defense on the backline is keeping the game under control. I missed the first half. how was the score. Holden seems to be playing a great game.

  11. Jess

    August 7, 2008 at 6:40 am

    Altidore hasn’t played well in qualifying or in the friendlies and looks totally lacking in confidence honestly. I’d play Davies ahead of him.

  12. Johnathan Starling

    August 7, 2008 at 6:38 am

    As I go to check the scoreline of Italy/Honduras again, Serbia has equalized.

  13. Jess

    August 7, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Dunga is history if Brazil continue to struggle.

    Freddy better watch it. He’s carrying a yellow, and is to demonstrative in his reaction to every call.

  14. Johnathan Starling

    August 7, 2008 at 6:30 am

    Australia just took the lead on Serbia. Zadkovich finishes on the far post.

    Last time I looked into Italy/Honduras it was 3-0 to Italy.

  15. Johnathan Starling

    August 7, 2008 at 6:21 am

    A yellow for THAT, after all this referee has allowed in this match so far?

    All I know to say about that is…YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! (immediately starts looking for money for when John McEnroe sues).

  16. Johnathan Starling

    August 7, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Australia and Serbia are also still goal less. It to has been a chippy affair.

    Also don’t know if it’s just me or not, but Belarus has thrown Brazil off their game by their physicality.

  17. Johnathan Starling

    August 7, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Nice build, unfortunate from the keeper. However everyone knows my philosophy about a keeper not being able to hold onto a ball. You deserve what you get!

  18. Johnathan Starling

    August 7, 2008 at 5:59 am

    Rossi scores for Italy from the spot, makes me sick to my stomach.

    As for this first half, being exploited down the right. The spacing hasn’t been up to snuff and I’m disappointed that we have yet to really find a quality chance.

  19. abenco

    August 7, 2008 at 5:34 am

    Looks like they brought some superliga groundskeepers to take care of their pitch.

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