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Egypt 0:3 USA: Bradley’s Changes Pay Off

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We’ve complained about the lack of character and urgency from the US team when compared to their predecessors. Previous US teams rose to the occasion against perceived world powers Italy and Brazil. This team did not.

But when facing a less formidable team in Egypt, this US team stepped up. The fighting spirit was special from the US today. The tactical change to bring in Charlie Davies was important, as was the fine work in midfield of the one and only Landon Donovan. The best player in US history can lift an otherwise journeyman bunch of players to great heights in a game like this. This is particularly true when Donovan is played in a central midfield role and is able to dictate play more like a traditional #10.

I do agree with the analysis of GOL TV’s Phil Schoen (on our podcast) and ESPN’s Adrian Healey, both keen observers of US soccer history as I try to be myself that this US team is among the weakest in the past 15-20 years. But Landon Donovan is probably the best field player the US has had and when he’s on his game he brings an element that the US has often lacked in the past. This team still has no comparable player to Claudio Reyna or Tab Ramos however, something we hope Benny Feilhaber, Freddy Adu or Jose Torres can develop into all though each of the three have their limiations.

Jozy Altidore has not been match fit but he was downright terrible today potentially costing the US a spot in the next round with his lazy runs and bad first touch. He did however turn well on the first goal to setup Charlie Davies scrappy finish. Otherwise Altidore was poor and Bradley needs to consider starting Davies up top with someone else against Spain.

The US were fortunate to face an Egypt team with nothing left in the tank. and without their best player Zidan. Zaki of course missed this tournament with an injury. Still Egypt pressed early and the US kept its shape well. Jay DeMerit’s insertion into the lineup for the injured and error prone Carlos Bocanegra has made a big difference in all three matches the US has played.

Brad Guzan was also outstanding today. I’ve previously chronicled my discomfort with the same keeper that gave away a silly PK (which he saved) against Colombia in the Copa America, handled the ball outside the box against Switzerland, was out of position twice against Barbados in a 1-0 win and got beat badly due to his positioning on El Salvador’s second goal in March. Today however, he gave perhaps the best performance from an American keeper in meaningful games since Kasey Keller against Italy in 2006. (Tim Howard’s lone extraordinary game for the US in the last three years was a friendly against Argentina)

The US will now play on both Wednesday and Sunday next week. Wednesday against Spain in the semifinal and Sunday in either the Final or the Third Place game.
















The US shocked Egypt 3-0 in the final group game of the Confederations Cup and thanks to other results moved through to the semifinals of the second biggest FIFA event. Jamie Trecker from FOX Sports and Dave Denholm from 710 ESPN Radio in LA have all the analysis of the game. Included in the topics discussed, the savvy tactical move by Bob Bradley to insert Charlie Davies into the lineup at forward, the good play of Brad Guzan, but also the concern that this result could cloud the USSF’s perception of the obvious shortcomings of the national team program as we prepare for World Cup 2010.

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  1. bayou

    June 22, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I’m reserving Donovan praise until I see how he performs against Spain. It’s one thing for him to shine against Egypt, but I want to see what he does against another top 5 European club before I roll out the red carpet for him again. I half expect him to disappear like he’s prone to do.

    As for Spain, they are simply awesome. I won’t say unstoppable, but they are damn close. The beautiful game, indeed!

  2. Darren

    June 22, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    congrats yanks on your advancement. the azzuri are finished!
    three lions would win this tournament if we were in it but good for the yanks. give spain a good game.

  3. Carlos

    June 22, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    This was definitely a bittersweet game since this win will most likely keep Bradley around for a while. All the negative press will suddenly change to praise but this team will still have a disastrous world cup. Get Torres and Adu on the field as soon as possible or let’s get rid of Bradley just as quickly.

  4. adam

    June 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I thought Guzan played very well and I would like to see him get a shot at Spain. I liked what I saw from the back four against Egypt and Spector might push out Cherunulo. I thought Dempsey played lazy but did push up and got the needed goal. I thought Altidore was horrible and looked pretty tired most of the game. I thought Donovan looked really good. He had a lot of pace but should have finished some of those runs himself. Ricardo Clark looked better than Klestan. My biggest concern against Spain is finishing. They will get one to two chances and that will be it. This could easily be a one goal game either way.

  5. CleartheBall

    June 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Great game. I loved the emotion from the players and Bob. I want to see more emotion from Bob from game to game. Landon was great. Always leave him on a wing. He’s our most effective player and he’s the best on left midfield. Leave him there. Deuce is much better up front. His work rate is not good enough on the wing. Keep playing him as a withdrawn forward (not Landon) with an experienced striker. Don’t play Altidore as a lone forward. His touch and ball control just aren’t good enough. Demerit and Gooch seem to communicate well and make a good team. Leave them together and bring in Boca on the left. I’m really excited about Jones and can’t wait to see how he pairs with Mike B. It seemed like Clark learned something. I saw a couple of instances where he could have gone flying in for a bad tackle, and he held up.

    As far as Casey goes, I love his toughness and effort. Unfortunately, he’s Ching, but not as good. When everyone’s healthy, Casey won’t get called in.

    Here’s hoping we see the passion against Spain.

  6. Angel

    June 22, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Well I did enjoy our National Team played with heart. finally Bob Bradley saw that Dempsey need to play at top and maybe he should start him with altidore as a left striker. and give a chance to Adu, torres or Benny to play next to Donovan. Adu did well in the friendly against Spain on the previouse meeting. And I hope Bob Bradley stop holding the Subtitutes he need to give other a chance.

    Here is something that I took from a Article from ESPN is about M. Bradley

    The younger Bradley’s voice brimmed with emotion as he talked about the significance not of the victory, but of the effort. It was a direct kick at the critics who’d said the team lacked fire. “We played with 11 guys for 90 minutes,” Michael Bradley said. “All the f—— experts in America, everybody who thinks they know about soccer, they can all look at the score tonight and let’s see what they have to say now. Nobody has any respect for what we do, for what goes on on the inside, so let them all talk now.”

    Let me know what you guys think about it.

  7. Jason

    June 22, 2009 at 2:00 am

    I want to congratulate the team.

    For the record, I am in the camp that still thinks Bradley should be let go, but I do take exception to the fact that the US backed into the 2nd spot from Group B. In my opinion, in sports, backing in is reserved for teams that fail to uphold their end of a scenario, and advances in a competition solely on the result of another game. To the US credit, they upheld their endo f the bargain, and when a 3-0 result was needed, they got. Better yet, all 3 goals were well taken and from the run of play. And the US had at least 3 other opportunities for goals as well (Donovan’s square ball attempt to Jozy, Bradley’s blast, and Jozy’s shot cleared off the line.)

    Thinking further, if the US should not have gone through based on their form from the first 2 games, who should have? Italy? The were only able to score 3 goals in the tournament, ALL after their opponent had been down a man for 30+ minutes. Plus, did they really play that much better versus Brazil? Scoreline says NO. Okay, so how about Egypt? Yes, there probably had the best form (other than Brazil) in the first 2 games, but they could not beat a team we all left for dead. In fact a 2-0 loss would have seen them through (the ultimate back-in), and they could not manage that. Yes, the US advanced on a technicality, but so did Barcelona.

    Finally, completely off the subject. There is a lot of opinion that Bradley has his “core” guys. Where does Conor Casey fit into this? Talk about a guy that before 2 weeks ago that was so far out of Bradley’s core that he did not even get a January call-in to camp. He must either show something in training.

  8. Jack

    June 21, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I was really impressed with Donavan today. He really worked hard. I was not so impressed with Dempsey even though he scored. It was a good move to put him up front late in the game because he sure doesn’t have any hustle on defense and gives away alot of balls. I agree with John Harkes of ESPN: Dempsey needs to sit. Or move him up to one of the striker positions. Bornstein works hard but he seems overmatched on the pitch.

  9. Robert

    June 21, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Thoroughly engaging game by the US today. The fan in me was so happy to get the result and a chance to see two more matches this week. The critic in me does not want the poor performances against Italy and Brazil to be forgotten however. Bradley still needs to be held accountable for some dubious tactics and player choices (No more Kljestan!)

    With Spain on the horizon, Bradley needs to start players that are willing to put pressure on the Spanish possession game. Casey, Dempsey, even Altidore will do little to disrupt Spain as they play kick-about. Start with Davies up front with Donovan as the second tier striker. Their speed will prove invaluable.

    We won’t beat Spain in a wide open game — instead pressure the ball at midfield with our striker tandem, defend the wide play with the wingers, and control the center of defense to prevent Spain’s give-n-go offense. Maybe we get the counterattack or set piece opportunity. Maybe we get the extra time or PK shootout opportunity. There’s no shame in playing the best team in the world to a 0-0 draw and taking a chance at the PK lottery.

    Looking forward to Wednesday!

  10. eplnfl

    June 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Quakes, I am normally Captain America but to say that we have played up to our potential lately and we have had a bad game or two is not accurate. We have under performed since this squad reformed for the Costa Rica game. We beat Honduras but did not dominate them and had to come from behind. Until today then we have had 3 terrible games. We could of and should have beat Italy and thats the trouble. Why didn’t we do that is the question. With our talent should we have had a draw at least in Costa Rica. The answer should be yes. Should we have seen a better effort against Brazil. Yes.

    Now this interesting enough and hasn’t been commented on. Have we seen our best players be those who didn’t have a lot of action coming into the qualification or cup games? Guzan was a fortress today. Was Tim Howard too tired? Should he have started after his extended club season. Jon Spector has become THE right back. He was out hurt from his club. Jay Demerit is playing due to an injury. Altidore who is learning his role the hard way sits for his club. Dempsey does not play a full 90 for his club. Did the depth of the US play a factor today. Yes, many said Egypt was out of gas today and had injuries. Too bad, we have injuries and played a tough schedule. Egypt didn’t show up. Thats their fault.

    I have to agree with Jamie Trecker that the issue is should we say thank you to Bob Bradley. He has done the job no one wanted. He has won one Gold Cup, has us in good shape to qualify for 2010, and we have gotten out of the best group in the Confed Cup. You couldn’t expect more! However, can he get the top performance every game starting next year in South Africa? The answer appears no based on what we have seen this summer. But before we say it’s over for Bob I ask all of you did Italy advance in 2006 and didn’t look good doing so but won the crown. Yes!

    So, lets spend our time now talking about do we start Guzan or Howard v. Spain. If Bob Bradley is the coach I want him to be I say start Guzan!

  11. chris

    June 21, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    OOOOOOOH. USA ,USA, USA, USA lets play the spaniards with balls and intellegence.

  12. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 21, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Quakes, some good points but we were not a man down against Brazil until the 59th minute and we were already out of the game. Italy you are right, the red card had a horrible affect whereas in the Brazil game, Kljestan’s red card was immature and done out of total frustration at giving the ball away and being so severely outclassed.

    Again that was the worst performance against Brazil in US Soccer history. As much as I am proud of our guys for today and pleased beyond end to be in the semifinals where we meet a team we match up with well, the performance against Brazil, the worst against them in the 20 + years I’ve followed the USMNT will always leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

    But good points otherwise.

    Ryan, send me a good US Soccer avatar and I will change it! (if I can figure out how to change it)

  13. Gods own Country

    June 21, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    I hate Italy.

  14. Gods own Country

    June 21, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    I am looking at the over all performance, and we have not beat anyone good. We beat up on small time teams from N. America and Europe.

  15. quakesin2knever

    June 21, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    eplnfl: “The issue for us and the USSF in Chicago is why Bradley can’t get the performance we saw today out of the team every day.”

    Uh, no. That is not the issue. Every team has ups and downs. You don’t panic and nuke the team based off one or two bad games like Kartik and company want. Statistical variance applies to sports. You need to read the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis. He should write a similar book about soccer. The season is long and you should look at the overall performance instead of zeroing in on the worst one or two games like Kartik and the critics do.

    For example, look at Italy. Italy is a good team (albeit a little old) and got smoked by Brazil 3-0 today. At least we were man down when we got smoked by Brazil. Every team has bad games. It happens. We were man down for both of our bad games in this tournament. So at least we have an excuse. If our team can continue to avoid those red cards we should be ok.

  16. Gods own Country

    June 21, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    first of all congrats to the team for pulling out this win.
    second, no one thought we could win against brazil and italy, and thats fine with me, i just want them to compete from minute one.
    i think the most problem people have with bob is that his line up and choice of people on the field, beasley and sascha should never be on the field against brazil and italy. sascha is only good for the B team not with the A team and I think Beasley is done with the A team.
    And please bob dont put jozy by himself up top. He is just not that good yet (he is only 19).

  17. Greg

    June 21, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Jack said:

    I think that Dempsey should not be starting at right midfield. He is just so lazy, and every single time he loses possesion of the ball he falls to the ground hoping to be bailed out by the ref. I know Clint Dempsey scored a goal but I do not think that one good moment wipes out how badly he has played for quite some time now.

    I agree 100%.

    Fire Bob Bradley.

  18. Jack

    June 21, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    I don’t think Landon deserves a 10 (more like an 8 or 9), he was a little to unselfish at times. He was our best player though and had an outstanding game. I think that Dempsey should not be starting at right midfield. He is just so lazy, and every single time he loses possesion of the ball he falls to the ground hoping to be bailed out by the ref. I know Clint Dempsey scored a goal but I do not think that one good moment wipes out how badly he has played for quite some time now.

  19. Kevin_Amold

    June 21, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Just listened to the podcast….really killed my buzz. If you’re still fired up about today’s game, I’d recommend listening to it tomorrow.

    That being said, this result is not vindication, but it’s encouraging. I almost get the feeling that certain people would have preferred us to lose just to prove their hunches about what Bob Bradley is/isn’t and what the USMNT are/aren’t. Some say that the result doesn’t change their mind about Bradley, but they certainly would have used a bad loss today to toss fuel on the “Fire Bradley” fire. What if we start showing more fight? What if we win at Azteca? Etc?

    I guess my question is, is there a point at which those that don’t like the direction of the Squad change their minds? I just think that they are just as stubborn in their opposition to Bradley as Bradley allegedly is with his lineups and formations.

    Not a criticism, just an observation. Big fan of the site.

  20. LI Matt

    June 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    HEY! No dissing the U!


    A footnote: today is the 11th anniversary of the Iran loss. Nice job marking the occasion 😉

  21. Ryan

    June 21, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Now if I can just get you off that damn UM avatar, we’ll be all good.

  22. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 21, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Ryan- Guzan was great today- good positioning- good distribution- and good good organization at the back. Better than Howard has been in a long time for the Nats.

  23. eplnfl

    June 21, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    I want to point out that Bob Bradley has taken a good amount of abuse by me and others. He earned it with performances that we all know where sub-standard. Today he showed many of us were right that the US has the talent to win at a high level. Ok, Brazil and Spain are a level above us, but we should have beaten Italy and Egypt is a quality team who gave Brazil a scare.

    The issue for us and the USSF in Chicago is why Bradley can’t get the performance we saw today out of the team every day. That is what is necessary in 2010. I’ll say more after I listen to the podcast.

    It was a great day for US Soccer however!

  24. Ryan

    June 21, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    And come on K, you were straight hating on Guzan before this game. He deserves a little more love than an end of post sentence that only appeared after editing to add in the podcast!

    Also, feel free to champion how well your boy Casey played holding the ball up at the end of the game. He did much more today than he had done in his last 2 appearances for the Nats.

  25. Ryan

    June 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    “Jozy Altidore has not been match fit but he was downright terrible today”

    “ALTIDORE 5”

    Oh yes, terrrrrible. 🙂

    This was one of the more enjoyable outings I’ve had at Nevada Smith’s after my previous trips saw Newcastle relegated, the US lose to Costa Rica and the US lose to Italy.

  26. David

    June 21, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I think the criticism of Dempsey in this game is a little harsh. He put two players through on goal with excellent through balls in the first half (the first to Bradley and the second to Donovan), and his header put us through to the semifinals. I definitely think his work rate can improve, but then again everyone knows the guy needs a rest. Overall though, I thought the attacking play of Donovan and Dempsey and the presence of Davies was the difference in this game. Now we just hope that BB doesn’t go back to a 5 man midfield with altidore up front against Spain.

  27. Joe in Indianapolis

    June 21, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Regardless of the critical analysis that is sure to follow from Kartik and company, you have to admit… this is the best you’ve felt after watching a U.S. game in a LONG time! Pure excitement!

  28. Jammer

    June 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    WOOHOO I can’t believe they advance. Crazy.

    Finally Bradley puts in an experienced striker in Davies. You can’t put your whole team behind a rookie with no club experience.

    Dempsey was lazy or tired but he showed why you keep him in, the US doesn’t have enough options to play without its #2 offensive player.

  29. Jon

    June 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Way too hard on Altidore’s performance. Guy was robbed of a goal by an obvious hand ball and won his fair share of battles with the Egyptian center backs. Could have had an easy tap in as well in the first half had Davies crossed the ball instead of shooting (though after Donovan passed away that one on one, I’m okay seeing a US forward being selfish in the box.)

    Back four was excellent today and has been good the entire tournament. I would seriously think about starting Demerit full time when Boca gets healthy and move him to left back. Clark was the weak link in the midfield, but he’s just holding the spot warm for Jones and Edu. Donovan was massive again today and Bradley had a very good match.

    Thought Bob Bradley was pretty good today, though I don’t understand holding on to the third sub when so many players were clearly gassed at the end. Torres for Dempsey would have made some sense at the point. Nice move by Bob, however, moving Dempsey up top–his work rate was poor in the midfield (as Harkes was correctly harping on), but did not hurt us up top.

    Above all else, there was heart today. Felt good to be a US fan…try not to rain on our parade, Kartik and Trecker. We all know the systemic problems with the USSF, player selection, development, etc. Eat some crow (mine tastes really good) and admit that this is the best win for the US in a long time, IMO.

  30. Dave

    June 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    ’bout time we played with some heart. i’ve been waiting to see davies get a start at this tournament.

    i’m happy as hell for the yanks. but disappointed that BB seat has gotten cold. but we probably knew gulati wasn’t going to fire him after 2010 anyways. atleast the yanks get two more games and the spain match should be a good one. even if we don’t win, third place seems winnable.

    egypt didn’t look composed like they use to but i guess credit that to the US’ pressure. we’re going to have to play spain with the same pressure we did against italy if we even stand a chance. can’t give them too much space to roam like new zealand did.

    can’t believe we actually made it out of this group. USA! USA!

  31. Kevin_Amold

    June 21, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    This site and I have both been very critical of the US as of late. I hope we’ll be as quick to give credit where it is certainly due. I don’t care that Zidan was hurt. Italy and Brazil didn’t care that we were a man down, they went out and got it done, and that’s what the US did today. Landon was brilliant, I thought Onyewu played very well also.

    Great performance all around. I’m very proud to be a USA fan today.

  32. park bolivar

    June 21, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Somebody tell me, how long has it been since Davies got his last cap?

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