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Spain 0: USA 2- ONE FOR THE AGES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Periodic updates here during the game and remember our post game show available at about 8pm ET via ITunes and this website:

Final Player Ratings

Howard   8

Spect0r  7

DeMerit 9

Onyewu 10

Bocanegra 7

Clark  8

Bradley 6

Donovan 9

Dempsey 8

Davies 9

Altidore 8

Feilhaber 7

Casey  5

Bornstein 7

Tactical Breakdown: The US reverted to a traditional 4-4-2 today and it paid dividends. Oguchi Onyewu back in his natural left centre back position was amazing. We hear from the International Football press about the best centre-backs in the world on a daily basis, but today Gooch had a game in high level international that few centre-backs have had in recent years. Rico Clark was tremendous as a holding midfielder and Michael Bradley played well until his late red card, often times drifting back to cover space vacated by Johanthan Spector and Carlos Bocanegra when they pushed forward. Bocanegra had some shaky moments at left back but his instinbcts for the position are still the best of anyone in the American pool.

Up fron Jozy Altidore’s work rate and strong physique reminds me of the job Emile Heskey has done often unsung for England through the years. For much of the last two years I have been disapointed by Bradley’s player selections but integrating Charlie Davies into the lineup, a change I called for last summer has tranformed the team and the way the US attacks the opposition. It was late, but the move not only saved Bradley’s reputation with many pundits like myself but has also now put his US team in the position no American team has ever been before: in line to win a major international trophy.

As we discussed yesterday on the site big European national teams traditionally struggle outside Europe in big tournaments. Today reinforced that theory: Spain looked like a typical European side unable to cope with the elements, different style of play, altitude and smaller pitch size all at once.



Howard; Spector, Onyewu, DeMerit, Bocanegra (Capt); Donovan, Clark, Bradley, Dempsey; Davies, Altidore

  • Of note this is the first start at left back for Carlos Bocanegra since the 2006 World Cup against Ghana.
  • Sacha Kljestan contrary to my prediction and worst fears is not starting on the right side in this match.
  • Early reaction on Twitter is upbeat with Bradley’s lineup. Sacrificing Bornstein’s speed down the flank is a risk but evidently Bradley feels he needs Bocangera’s vocal leadership and target stature on set pieces. Bradley has also determined as many of us have that Jay DeMerit has played too well in this tournament to be put back on the bench.


90 + 3: Spain has run out of idea here

90 + 2: Bornstein with a critical clearance.

90 + 1: Howard comes off his line for a vital save

Minute 90: We’ll have three minutes of stoppage time

Spain in very classic Southern European style is hamming upo every bit of contact looking for calls.

Minute 89: Bornstein for Dempsey

Minute 88: Spain closing in on a goal here. The American legs are dead.

Minute 87: Bradley’s reckless foul results in a red card. Harsh but still clumsy, reckless foul.

Minute 85: Spain corner results in nothing

Minute 83:  Spector almost doesn’t clear. Conor Casey for Jozy Altidore

Minute 82: Spain continuing to press. Howard has made a few great shot stops in the last several minutes.

Minute 80: Mata wins a Spanish corner

Minute 79: The US again under intense pressure here

Minute 78: Feilhaber with a foul in a dangerous area. A big chance for Spain here

Minute 77: DeMerit with another good clearance

Minute 76: Altidore does well to draw a foul on Sergio Ramos


Minute 73: DeMerit with a vital tackle!

Minute 72: The US beginning to hold the ball a little better with Benny in the match

Minute 69: The US really struggling. Benny Feilhaber coming on for Davies. Good work from Davies but he’s gassed. The US will now re-organize in a 4-5-1.

The US has gone into a shell, bunkering and Spain will get a goal sooner or later here.

Minute 65: Howard under siege and making remarkable saves

Minute 64: Bradley covers the space vacated by Spector well.

Minute 61: Altidore and Puyol collide in the Spanish area, but no call.

Minute 60: Ramos wins a corner for Spain

Minute 58:  Clark too high on the shot from distance.

Minute 57: Altidore wins a corner for the USA

Minute 56: Howard with a save on Villa

Minute 54: Xavi with a chance, US counter attack fails

Minute 52:  Howard with another good save on Villa at the back post

US giving away possession far too cheaply early in this second half.

Minute 50:  Spain back on the attack putting the US under pressure.

Minute 48: Howard with a huge save on Villa

Minute 47: The US is attacking early and Donovan wins a corner.


HT: Spain 0-1 USA: The US has been heroic in defense with Rico Clark and Oguchi Onyewu making timely tackles and clearances. The move of Carlos Bocanegra back to left back for the first time since the Ecuador friendly in Tampa back in 2007 has paid off thus far.

Minute 45: The US looking very shaky at the back. The shape of the defense has fallen apart and Spain is being wasteful with chances.

Minute 42: Spain showing a certain lack of composure like Mexico does in CONCACAF when behind. Quick to the ground and looking for calls.

Minute 41:  Xabi Alonso with a rough foul on Altidore

Minute 39: Torres in a great goal scoring position but Fabergas places the ball behind him and Onyewu clears it out for a corner.

Minute 37: Bocnegra in perfect position at the back post to receive Donovan’s service but Dempsey gets to the ball first and send it harmlessly over the bar.

Minute 36: Captivela goes in the book for a foul on Altidore

Minute 32: After a questionable non foul call in midfield Villa has a great chance but misses the target.

Minute 31: Ramos finds Villa on the back post but well dealt with by Spector

Minute 27: ALTIDORE SCORES!!!!!!!!!! Great service from Dempsey!

Minute 25:  The US handling the pressure here very well.

Minute 22: Several good Spanish chances.

Ricardo Clark has been tremendous for the US thus far

Minute 21: Strong clearance by Onyewu. Donovan tansitions to a counter attack and take a whack from outside missing badly.

Minute 18 Torres off sides. I’m not sure about that one.

Minute 14: Finally a stalemate in the midfield after a high flying start to this match.

Minute 11:  Fabergas finds Torres at the back post but just wide. Spain finding space now and exploiting the gaps.

Minute 10 Cesc Fabergas just over the bar.

Minute 9: Dempsey misses from distance. It’s all USA here early!

Minute 8: Davies flicks a header on in the area but Jozy fails to make the run

Minute 7: Altidore’s first touch still looks clumsy, but Davies knocks a great bicycle kick attempt just wide.

Spain is already having lots of trouble with Charlie Davies speed up front.

Minute 5: Donovan goes in the book

Minute 4: US Draws a corner

Minute 3: Bocanegra deflects a Fabergas shot and it almost results in an own goal

Minute 1: Onyewu deals wll with a Spanish cross into the area

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  1. The Gaffer

    June 27, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Nice to hear Brits calling in last night to the World Football Phone-In Show to publicly comment on how impressed they were with the performance of the US team.

    The Gaffer

  2. eplnfl

    June 27, 2009 at 7:51 am

    A word on the red cards, I was listening to the 5 Live World soccer show last night and it was suggested that the red cards we are seeing maybe intentional on the part of FIFA.

    The theory seems to be that the cold weather gives an advantage to a team like the USA who will stay fresher in the cold weather and can play tighter defense for a full 90 minutes. The idea is that in warm weather they would get worn down and a team like Spain or Brazil would then slip in a goal or two and win by their normal 3 to 1. etc. . Stranger things have been suggested but I do believe the colder weather had an effect on Spain and Brazil and was a bonus for the US which had a cold night in Chicago before they left for SA.

  3. Heading for the Pies

    June 26, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    The consensus on this site and others was that the USA was terrible against world champions Italy, but I don’t think that was the case. On a good day Howard saves both of the goals from outside the area, and the US was playing a man down. (That card was marginally acceptable; Bradley’s red card means that tackling is now forbidden.) USA was steamrolled by Brazil with the exact score that they steamrolled Italy–the difference was the USA hit the crossbar twice when down to ten men — better than Italy did with 11. Brazil was in a mood–no shame in that score.

    The Egypt and Spain performances were magnificent–and with the addition of midfielders Maurice Edu, young and a starter for Rangers, and the veteran Bundesliga star Jermaine Jones, who got tired of waiting for Germany to pick him,–the US’s defensive depth is potentially excellent. Howard is strong.

    If you are really tight at the back with an excellent keeper you can advance in international tournaments. You don’t have to be lovely like Spain. I was thrilled by Spain’s Euro history because they play the game the best way. But I’m not underestimating the potential for a disciplined and able defensive unit to beat expectations.

    The worst part of the victory was that Bradley, coming from the front and winning the ball with studs down was shown a straight red card. I don’t have a clue about that call, but I’ve never seen it made against Spain or Brazil in an international tournament.

    As an Englishman typically skeptical of the US team since moving here, I am very impressed with everything I see and finally have a major tournament final to watch one of my nations compete in!

  4. LFC USA

    June 26, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    US soccer is getting better, notwithstanding Derk’s strong opinions. It’s not because of population numbers, it’s the immigrants who do come from a soccer culture. Unfortunately Freddy Adu was over-hyped up because of his age. But, there are other examples of “immigrant” players and first generation US born players especially coming through that are providing the quality players the country needs. Examples of crrent internationals:

    Benny Feilhaber (one of my favourite) born in Brazil; Austrian Jewish
    Gooch Onyewu (first generationUS, Nigerian)
    Jon Borstein (1st gen, Mexican, Jewish)
    Charlie Davis (1st Gen, father is Gambian)
    Sacha Kljestan (1st Gen, ethnic Bosnian Serb –former yugoslav)
    Jozy Altidore (1st Gen, Haiti)
    Jose and Guillermo Torres (Mexican-US; dual citizens)
    Maurice Edu (1st gen, Nigerian)
    Ugochukwu Ihemelu (born in Nigeria)
    And -Rossi (father Italian, mom American – chose Italy though)
    Spector (2nd gen – half German – who took an EU passport to play in Europe)

    It’s not just Mexican immigrants, there are African, South and Central Americans, and European immigrants whose kids have the “culture” of football. As long as these immigrants continue to look towards the US to make a life for themselves, and the better players continue to seek playing opportunities abroad then US football will continue to get better.

    And actually, it’s not true that Americans don’t care about the National Soccer Team. They don’t care when a US team is NOT winning. As soon as the team wins important matches, everybody knows about it. Good lord, Disney’s ESPN hasn’t stopped replaying the Spain-US highlights. The final is now going to be broadcast on the main channel, ESPN and not ESPN2. Americans just love to win (anything) – just as much as they don’t actually care about cycling, they just liked the fact that Lance Amstrong lorded it over everybody. It’s the American way.

  5. El Tri

    June 25, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Good job US Soccer. Good for CONCACAF. Now we beat you at Azteca but we are happy for you today.
    US soccer does have good level since 8 years back, the Brazil game and Italy game didn’t really reflected the USA level due to the ejections, US is a very dangerous team and very tough physically and mentally than most trainers and people think or know and if they can play with the level and intensity when they always play Mexico then they will come up big winners, they just need to avoid any ejection! I picked US to win 3-2. 2-0 is much better though.

  6. Eric

    June 25, 2009 at 11:17 am

    If I was Bradley I would keep the back four the same from here on out. Spain didn’t look dangerous on any dead ball plays or corners. I thought Micheal Bradley was gased and for that matter so was Clark. I think Altidore should have received a PK in the second half of this game. He was completely taken out in the box without the ball being touched. I think Spain has some real concerns in the back because they have no height and didn’t really mark real well throughout the tournement. I think Brazil would absolutely destroy Spain on set pieces. I’m anxious to see what South Africa can do against the Samba Kings. The crowd will be amazing and i’m guessing it will be super cold something Brazil isn’t really use to. Brazil will still win but the differing styles of play will be fun to watch. Hopefully it is a close game.

  7. Lars

    June 25, 2009 at 8:12 am

    All the Canadians I spoke to are happy with the US win. The US is my third favourite national team in the world in football…it’d be second but i have a family connection to Brazil…I’m extremely happy with the performance of the US MNT in this tournament. CONCACAF should be respected!

  8. RedWhite&True

    June 25, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Great win for our boys. And Joey Clams …. you are small and hateful.

    This was a great win for us and we don’t need to see what some some Canadian fans write on a forum. By the way, most Cdns I spoke with today are happy we beat Spain.

  9. quakesin2kNever

    June 24, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Good point Kartik. I think the fans have a lot to do with it. When they play in Europe they have an army of 50k fans traveling with them to every game. Not so on other continents.

    ““Will this win get us the respect in Europe that we deserve?””

    I think it will only help a little. Other than Fullhamerica, most European clubs and fans have a strong ingrained negative stereotype about American players. It’s unjustified discrimination and prejudice but it’s tough to break that with just one or two wins on the international stage. The Europeans need to start seeing American players stand out during club seasons as well in their own European domestic leagues. Which is tough since they never play a lot of our players in their domestic leagues. Fullhamerica is helping to break that cycle. We’ll see if other teams follow suit.

  10. Fridley 17

    June 24, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Oops. Time and again he did NOT provide cover for his fullback.

  11. Fridley 17

    June 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Dempsey was still a liability in this game until they moved him up top. Time and again he did provide cover for his fullback. Compare his play on one side of the field to Donovan’s. Embarassing. Maybe he should be an international striker, as he frequently is on his club team.

  12. Derek

    June 24, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    What an amazing win!!!!! Onyewu and DeMerit have been amazing, Boca at the left was a good tactical move by Bob Bradley. This should be the back line going into the 2010 World Cup. I thought Bradley and Clark were also very good today. Bradley’s passing was on all game. To bad about the red card. Can we appeal that?

  13. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    European nations have continued to struggle in competitions outside Europe. Today the Spanish once again proved that Europe’s best cannot cope with

    1- speed from the opposition
    2- physical play
    3- altitude
    4- cold weather
    5- smaller pitch sizes
    6- hostile crowds

    As I said on this blog yesterday several factors pointed to Spain not performing at the high level anticipated by the European press. Even if they had gotten by us I can guarantee you they would have been comprehensively beaten in the final.

  14. RaiderRich

    June 24, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    “Will this win get us the respect in Europe that we deserve?”

    I doubt anyone in Europe will be convinced, but hey, apparently the team feeds off that.

  15. eplnfl

    June 24, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    First of all, Kartik, just grade everyone a 10 for today.

    Should we doubt anymore that European coaches sit on American talent and somehow manage to avoid using their talent. Fulham sign Altidore now!

    Do we doubt any longer that MLS produces world class talent.

    Will todays win become the mental positive for this era of US players that gets them over the hump when they face out of region giants. Italy, Enlgand, and France will now all appear beatable.

    Will this win get us the respect in Europe that we deserve.

    Boy, I’m still happy!

  16. vic

    June 24, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    ESPN should have the broadcast team live on sunday in South Africa!”

    Uh, dont you mean “ABC should put the Espn broadcast live on Sunday”?

  17. Casey

    June 24, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    UNBELIEVABLE……What a tremendous win for the Yanks today. Outstanding performance from Gooch and Demerit. I wonder I much of his free agency and looking for a new club has impacted Gooch’s motivation and play throughout the tournament. I think he is a great player but i don’t expect him to be the amazing central defender many people are making him out to be. GREAT WIN…. NOW LETS GET THE HARDWARE

  18. Kevin_amold

    June 24, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    The stars and stripes protected the shield today. Fabulous result. Tough card against Bradley. The US have had three clumsy challenges that resulted in red cards, but in my opinion none were DESERVED, although I suppose you give the referee the chance to make a bogus call by committing a tackle like that. Why have those decisions gone against us three times?

  19. Justin

    June 24, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Michael Bradley’s red card should not take away from his performance today. I thought a 6 was way to low. Covered a lot of ground, broke up Spain’s rhythm and play all day long. And it was Bradleys defense steal and outlet to Feilhaber that helped get the second goal going. I would say at least a 7 for his performance.

  20. LI Matt

    June 24, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Tactically speaking, one thing that really struck me was how many times Spain launched high balls into the US box. Like it hadn’t occurred to them that one US centerback has at least four inches on everyone in their lineup, and the other one plays in the English Championship and faces Route One teams week in and week out.

    Guess that goes under “losing composure”.

  21. RaiderRich

    June 24, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    OK… question time…

    If we lose to Brazil in the final, are we still going to be satisfied with just beating Egypt and Spain?

  22. Joey Clams

    June 24, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Bullshit. Theyr’e small and hateful.

  23. RedWhite&True

    June 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Joey Clams stated:

    And there’s this from the people with whom we are forced to share our league. Remember: they’re our partners and our destinies are shared.

    We are not forced to share our league with Canadians. We sought them out and thank god we did. Without Toronto FC we wouldn’t have had the success in Seattle and probably not expansion franchises in Philly, Portland, and Vancouver.

  24. RaiderRich

    June 24, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Hmm… maybe if we slag off our team more often, we can get more performances like this. Remember how we were all calling for Bradley’s head earlier?

    Frankly this deserves a place in U.S. sports history right next to Notre Dame snapping UCLA’s 88 game win streak because it was that type of upset.

  25. quakesin2kNever

    June 24, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Just got back from the pub! On such a high right now. Gonna be wearing my USA jerseys around town a lot the next few days.

    I think Howard’s ranking should be bumped to a 9… he was basically under siege the whole game, having to make numerous saves back to back to back only seconds and minutes apart.

    Bocanegra did well but made a couple of sloppy mistakes letting balls go out and giving up possession (none as bad as beasely a couple games ago though). He was rusty and it showed a little, but not too bad.

    Dempsey really stepped up today. Gooch and DeMerit both played outstanding. Everyone was laying all out for 50/50 balls, hell, we were even winning balls that were like 10%/90% in the other team’s favor. Everyone was. From Ricardo to Spector to Donovan to Dempsey. This is the fire and passion we like to see.

  26. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 24, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Sean, I seriously doubt that’ll be the tone of the next podcast. What will be discussed is how the international media will potray the conquering of Spain by a team they consider to be a “minnow.”

  27. Sean Mills

    June 24, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Not bad for one of the worst US MNTs in the last couple of decades. Should I even bother listening to the upcoming podcast, or am I going to be subjected to even more wailing and gnashing of teeth about how the US has ruined their chances in the 2010 World Cup by having a great win, and having to hear a litany of complaints about what is wrong with the US team. I would rather enjoy this victory, so if that’s going to be the tone of the next podcast, count me out.

  28. Gods own Country

    June 24, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Even though I just got suspended from work for skipping out early to watch this game. I could care less, I am so happy now.

  29. Mitch

    June 24, 2009 at 5:05 pm


    The defense was strong today. Gooch was world class!!!! Howard is probably bruised and his hands swollen 3x normal size! WOW my heart is racing, I cant sit still….my co workers think I am a mad man…..WOW!


  30. Angel

    June 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    I so Happy happy for my Country and my Team is about time people notice that we can too be on the big stage. This will give a Jail free card for Bob Bradley. Still not buying it. But this time around he know how to make the Sub at the right moment. His Statics paid this time. WOW WOW what can I say I love USA and this what I wanted to see two team given us a good show and our Team USA give all they had and play with heart. Now lets not get our head so big and is time to make another history and that at the Azteca Stadium and upset Mexico at home…. YAHOOOOOOO VIVA USA,

  31. Joey Clams

    June 24, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    And there’s this from the people with whom we are forced to share our league. Remember: they’re our partners and our destinies are shared.

    Good job, Yanks. THAT’s the fight we need to have.

  32. Mario V.

    June 24, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    The Yanks are here!!!

  33. Dave

    June 24, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    boca—gooch—demerit—spector = one solid ass back line. US soccer’s gonna get some major exposure both in the US and around the world.

    Dos a Cero! Dos a Cero!

  34. Robert

    June 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Proud of the defense, bodies thrown all over the area. Howard and the backline won this game. Go USA! Bring on Brazil!

  35. eplnfl

    June 24, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    ESPN should have the broadcast team live on sunday in South Africa!

  36. BayVol

    June 24, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    MVP of the match is Demerit….the whole defense was amazing

  37. Dave

    June 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    what a crazy week and a half of soccer. we all went from being piss as hell to being on top of the world right now.

  38. eplnfl

    June 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Proud to be an American!

  39. Jesse

    June 24, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I’m worried about how cheaply we are giving up possession when transitioning out of our own end. Demerit and Bocanegra are giving up the ball much too easily, and trying to spring a counter attack every time, especially in the last 10-15 minutes. They need to settle down and hold a bit more of the possession, or Spain is going to eventually break them down.

    With that said, GREAT HALF!!!!!!!!!! C’MON BOYS!!!!!!!!

  40. Daniel Feuerstein

    June 24, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    I think Benny can. He can hold the ball for a good time.

  41. Daniel Feuerstein

    June 24, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Kartik. Do we have someone on the bench who can do that?

  42. Daniel Feuerstein

    June 24, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    The boys can’t tire themselves out to allow Spain to get that equalizer & or win the match in the second half. Stay composed and confident. Improve the communication on the field & don’t over lap the ball or go an extra step and get put out of position.

  43. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 24, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Does anyone think we’ll see a tactical change or two in the second half to get someone in the center of midfield to hold the ball?

  44. Jack(from Vegas)

    June 24, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    The us needs to maintain better possesion, if they can keep spain closer to 60% I think we will win, not as many longballs, sub in feilhaber to help manitain the possesion that we do have.

  45. Joey Clams

    June 24, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Minute 42: Right on. David Villa is a punk.

  46. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    June 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Yeah Quakes good point- those are guys that can hold the ball and would be good subs in a tight match.

  47. BayVol

    June 24, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    May the force be with them.

  48. quakesin2kNever

    June 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    This is exactly the lineup I would have chosen. I would also bring Torres/Adu/Feilhabr in as subs.

  49. Mike H

    June 24, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    I think Bocanegra played left back against Ecuador in March 2007 (in Tampa Bay), but my mind might be off on this one.

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