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US 1-Nigeria 2: Valiant Effort but the US Eliminated

Post Match:

Sure the US is eliminated but they can hold their heads high for a gutsy effort down a man for almost the entire match. The biggest disappointment is that Holland, completely undeserving to advance does so because of yet another great escape with a PK call on a suspect foul by the Japanese defender. Today the US defended as well as could be expected although Michael Parkhurst was still a little slow to react at times, and Robbie Rogers was uncomfortable playing out of position. Michael Orozco’s red card was harsh but you can understand why the referee made the decision he did. However, what was unjustified was the Dutch victory over Japan, a result that eliminated the US.

Not the result anyone wanted, or at least anyone who reads this site. I’m not going to lie: this is a major downer considering this team not only played well enough to advance but potentially could have been dangerous even against an Argentina in the knock out stages. One piece of positive news to come from this is that Bob Bradley can now consider picking Michael Bradley, Freddy Adu and maybe one or two other guys for the critical World Cup qualifier a week from today in Guatemala. With the Olympics behind us and MLS ongoing, the focus shifts to qualifying. One or two slip ups and it could be fatal. Right now, I have less confidence in guys like Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley than the kids we’ve just witnessed fight so valiantly for the US shirt. (Albeit a shirt with the US logo whited out per IOC rules)

No doubt we need to improve our depth. As I mentioned the other day in a post, I do not believe Major League Soccer is helping the US National program along the way it did in the initial few years of the league’s existence. The fact that MLS also serves as the marketing arm in the US for your biggest national rival, Mexico does not help matters either.

However, this tournament showed more technical play than we are accustomed to from the US. Some of that is due to the USSF Academy in Bradenton but more of it has to do with good technical coaching in European leagues that these guys play in. The maturity level of some of our players needs to improve, but they are much further along than the US was for example following the 2000 Olympics where I maintain the side was fortunate to get out of the group stage, and really did not deserve to defeat Japan in the Quarterfinals. Also at that time the US was struggling in World Cup qualifying. With these U-23 kids forming the backbone of the US team going forward, and the “lost generation” as I dubbed them two years ago led by Landon Donovan beginning to fade into the wilderness, the US’ potential is limitless. (I will state that the last two years have convinced me that Donovan need not be so easily grouped in with his contemporaries like Carlos Bocanegra, Bobby Convey, DaMarcus Beasley and Taylor Twellman who currently represent a whole lost generation for the national team.) The kids are alright and can help steer forward the US ship which has quite frankly not advanced in the past few years and has taken on water. The failures of our domestic league do not help but the strong Academy setup being implemented by the USSF in addition to the increase in interest European clubs are paying to American youngsters will continue to grow the game and our national side.

More analysis of today’s match and the future for the US on today’s American Soccer Show which airs at 2pm ET/11 am PT on CSRN and is as always available via ITunes after about 4 pm ET.

Second Half

Stoppage time: Dax McCarty’s free kick is cleared.

The US must score as Holland’s game has gone final

90th minute: Charlie Davies takes a great shot but a good save by Nigeria.

89th Minute: Great free kick by Dax McCarty and a great header by Charlie Davies goes right off the crossbar.

88th Minute: Sacha Kljestan scores on a PK. Too little too late.

87th Minute: The US miss on two very good chances.

Japan was absolutely robbed as the PK call came when a Japanese defender won the ball and Ryan Babel did a nice job of acting.

80th minute: Victor Obinna scores a goal with his right foot after taking on Michael Parkhurst with his left and shuffling away. Brad Guzan had no chance.

79th minute: Good long ball by Dax McCarty trying to find Charlie Davies but dealt with well by the Nigerians.

77th minute: Davies replaces Holden.

When is Peter Nowak needing a goal going to put Charlie Davies on?

74TH Minute: Marvell Wynne whips a nice cross in and Nigeria almost puts it in their own goal!



68th Minute: Dax McCarty replaces Danny Szetela

66th Minute: Brad Guzan saves the US after Benny Feilhaber almost scores an own goal.

61st Minute: Chance for the US, Holden swing a nice free kick in but the Nigerian keeper comes up and saves it.

59th minute: The US misses a golden chance as does Japan. Not good.

Japan just got robbed by the Dutch goalkeeper. Darn, that could have changed things for us.

Minute 54: Obinna comes close to curling a nice shot just inside the far post

Minute 52: Stuart Holden has a horrible touch on a great chance.

Holland is closing in on a goal against Japan, meaning the US must score a goal here and continue to defend well.

Minute 49: Good free kick from Stuart Holden, Brian McBride gets his head to it but the Nigerian keeper makes the save.

Minute 48: Benny Feilhber draws a foul.

Benny Feilhaber coming on for Jozy Altidore. I’m sure we’ll see Charlie Davies in the second half if the game remains 1-0.

What changes should Peter Nowak make at halftime? Down a man and a goal, with a poor defender in Robbie Rogers forced to play left back, what changes should the US make?

First Half:


Stoppage Time: Rogers beat again and Nigeria should have scored from a corner. Danny Szetela clears and perhaps keeps the United States alive, just barely in this tournament.

Minute 45: Horrible defending by the US and Nigeria really being wasteful again. It should be 2-0 now.

Minute 44: Guzan makes a save after Obina uncorks a long distance effort after a bad US giveaway.

Minute 42: Some possession for the US here but Nigeria defending well with the extra man.

Minute 39: GOAL Nigeria. Ogbuke sets it up taking Michael Parkhurst to school and Nigeria finishes it.

Minute 38: Dangerous ball swung in by Sacha Kljestan but the Nigerian keeper deals with it.

Japan just had a great chance that they couldn’t finish.

Minute 35: Hand ball? Jozy Altidore gets away with one outside the area.

Minute 34: Great run by Marvell Wynne but a poor cross at the end leads to an easy Nigeria clearance.

Minute 33: Obassi turns Rogers and should have finished that chance. Really much like the game against Holland, Nigeria is being wasteful thus far. Speaking of wasteful Holland has already created more chances against Japan than the did against the US but have yet to score.

Minute 32: Marvell Wynne loses possession leading to a great chance and a reflex save of the highest quality by Brad Guzan.

Minute 31: Stuart Holden lucky not to get a yellow card on Keita for studs up challenge.

Minute 29: Marvell Wynne makes his worst mistake of the tournament thus far reading the play incorrectly, but recovers and the ball goes over the endline for a goal kick.

Minute 27: Okoronkwo tests Guzan from distance

Minute 26: Good clearance by Marvell Wynne

Japan has controlled the last ten minutes or so against Holland but failed to capitalize.

Minute 24: Some good defending by the US but then a poor clearance by Stuart Holden gives Nigeria another chance but an errand shot means the US escape danger for now.

Minute 22: The US is having some trouble defending particularly Danny Szetela whose start quite frankly surprised me as the holding midfielder.

Still 0-0 Holland and Japan.

Minute 19: The US get several players forward but Jozy Altidore’s cross is behind Brian McBride.

Minute 18: Guzan makes a big big save on Obuke, who snapped a nice header on goal.

Minute 16: Pressure coming from Nigeria, but Michael Parkhurst clears well.

Minute 13: Jozy Altidore and Stuart Holden misread each other on what could have been an opportunity.

Minute 11: The US misses a great opportunity to score as the Nigerian keeper, Vanzekin bobbles the ball and no US attacker can get their foot to the ball inside the 18”.

The Netherlands has controlled the first few minutes of the match against Japan from Shenyang.

Minute 7: Tactical change to adjust for Orozco’s sending off: Robbie Rogers moved to the back, and Jozy Altidore now playing in the midfield.

Minute 6: The US looks shell shocked by the call and appears to be disorganized.


Minute 1: A nice long ball played to Jozy Altidore who possibly is called for a foul but to be honest I am not really sure what the call is. The whistle blew before the ball went out over the touchline.

Pre Game:

Shep Messing trying to explain the importance of this game to Alex Flanigan, a typical American sportscaster who sees this as a completely foreign sport is somewhat amusing. Flanigan is a veteran of the NFL Network where some of the talent there seem uncomfortable when discussing College Football because that too is like a foreign sport to many who never leave the Northeast U.S.

Peter Nowak has tapped Danny Szetela and Jozy Altidore to replace the suspended Michael Bradley and Freddy Adu. The US will play a 4-4-2 today.


Wynne – Edu – Parkhurst – Orozco

Rogers – Holden – Kljestan – Szetela

McBride – Altidore

Here are Nigeria’s starters:

GK: 1-Vanzekin

D: 2-Okonkwo, 5-Adeleye, 15-Ambrose

M: 6-James, 8-Kaita, 10-Promise-capt, 12-Ajilore

F: 7-Ogbuke, 9-Obinna, 11-Okoronkwo

US is describing the atmosphere in Beijing has being a whole lot different than Tianjin was for the first two matches. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is up to interpretation.

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  1. Marcelo Balboa

    August 14, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    BTW, the team looked real sharp with athletic tape over the US Soccer Federation patch.

    I could probably get that jersey with just a number from Eurosport practically overnight – what gives?

    They couldn’t get jerseys with an American flag as the crest? (Like almost every other team has.)

  2. Marcelo Balboa

    August 13, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    I don’t like it.

  3. IZZY

    August 13, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    This is the worst I have ever felt after a US game. Many of my friends feel the same way.

    This is a horrible one to absorb.

  4. Rafael

    August 13, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    u know kartik usa has had tough loses before but never one like this. between sunday and this and also dutch bringing its own refs for today we were done. i like orozco. he will bounce back. why did nowak wait to bring davies until late? why is feilhaber still on the team?

  5. Daniel F. US Open Cup

    August 13, 2008 at 11:47 am

    What really ticks me off Kartik is that Orozco should have known better to keep his emotions in check. He should’ve known that the ref is looking for an excuse to show his red card for an flagrent fouls just like that elbow he threw TWICE!, at the Nigerian. Down ten men for about 86 minutes even I knew wasn’t going to get the precious point our boys needed with a speedy & physical side that Nigeria is.

    This really makes me sad. This was our kids chance to really improve and move on to the Quarterfinals and one of them had to blow his top and throw his elbow twice at the opposing player. Obviously they are improved, but still it doesn’t mean you have to create a brain fart and put your side down ten men & get eliminated.

  6. kartik

    August 13, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Our depth isn’t there yet, but you see the acceleration in the progress of some guys, which never used to be the case for our U-17/U-20 stars. Marvell Wynne has benefited tremendously from playing for John Carver and he more than deserves to supplant Drew Moor as the second choice right back when Frankie Hedjuk finally does call it a day.

    Putting Feilhaber on instead of McCarty or Davies at halftime is what I am looking at as the one real mistake Nowak made in this tournament.

    Benny’s temper and his lack of linkup with team mates did not help us. I like Dax and was actually surprised Nowak didn’t throw him on early and try him at left back allowing Rogers to continue in his natural position.

    All talking points I guess for DD and me later today.

  7. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 7:31 am


    We don’t have the depth we need… yet, but you can see how much better this was.

    As AZ said… the same result in 2002 and people are calling that team legendary.

  8. eplnfl

    August 13, 2008 at 7:17 am

    I missed the first half and can’t comment on what went on there. To say I am highly disappointed by the result is an understatement. This result after a similar fate in the last WC can only make one wonder if the US has any future on the international scene.

  9. kartik

    August 13, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Phillip, I agree.

    I am so sick about this, and even sicker about Holland getting a completely undeserved victory. We still should have advanced even with a loss.

  10. KZ

    August 13, 2008 at 7:01 am

    The call that went against Japan was awful. Just terrible.

    Moreover, the Dutch did nothing to win that game. I began watching that game exclusively around minute 65 and have to tell you after watching that and the Netherlands game against us, they will lose 5-0 to Argentina.

    We deserved to advance. But truthfully we could have and should have been eliminated in the 2002 World Cup in the group stage so it is a case of what does around comes around I guess.

  11. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 7:01 am

    you know what Kartik… after seeing Orozco’s “elbow” from the other angle… he shouldn’t have been ejected for it

  12. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 6:29 am

    that was a bullshit call in the holland game

  13. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 6:23 am


    WHAT A SAVE!!!!

  14. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 6:22 am

    come on robbie! run with it!

  15. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 6:09 am

    btw kartik… if you remember back to the u-20 world cup… Wolfgang Stark is the referee that the Chilean players went absolutely insane over after their match against Argentina

  16. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 6:05 am

    altidore’s still not 100% with his ankle. hopefully he can get healthy

  17. kartik

    August 13, 2008 at 5:49 am

    Japan is playing well from what I can tell, but we cannot count on that. Holland needs the match and will take chances in the 2nd half.

    We may need to insert Charlie Davies at halftime and try and counter more.

  18. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 5:48 am

    netherlands and japan
    0-0 half time

  19. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 5:40 am


    parkhurst? what was that?

  20. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 5:24 am

    how long before nigeria sees red? they got 3 in their first two games… i gotta believe one comes there way if we can keep them frustrated

  21. bandeeto

    August 13, 2008 at 5:20 am

    … at least a good shot on goal.

  22. bandeeto

    August 13, 2008 at 5:19 am

    HORRIBLE back pass by szetella! That cost us a goal!

  23. kartik

    August 13, 2008 at 5:15 am

    Maybe Dax McCarty comes in at halftime and plays outside on the left side?

  24. bandeeto

    August 13, 2008 at 5:11 am

    Parkhurst is used to playing a 3 man back line. If anyone can hold it together, I bet he can.

  25. bandeeto

    August 13, 2008 at 5:10 am

    Wow, our boys are showing some fight!

  26. bandeeto

    August 13, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Who do we have on the bench?

  27. Phillip

    August 13, 2008 at 5:08 am

    well… at least this card was deserved

  28. bandeeto

    August 13, 2008 at 5:07 am

    So dissapointing. This was developing into a good game.

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