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Spanish Champions Make Short Work Of United States, 4-0

In their final preparation match for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the United States were outclassed by the 2010 FIFA World Cup winners Spain, as the visitors dominated 4-0.

The Americans came into this match simply wanting to stay healthy, while co-mingling younger, less experienced players with a few veterans. They were successful in the former; unfortunately Spain is not a team that you can expect to beat with a weakened side, and the visitors made life very tough for the US defense.

The first half was controlled with ease by the Spaniards. Their brand of football confounded the home side. David Silva, David Villa, and Xabi Alonso were fluid with their dribbles and synchronous with their passing. Spain appeared to open the scoring in the 9th minute as Silva popped in a cross from Alvaro Arbeloa, but Arbeloa was wrongly called offside by the assistant. Then in the 12th minute, Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo got behind the defense and caught US keeper Tim Howard coming out from goal. Negredo chipped over Howard, but the ball struck the woodwork and was eventually cleared to safety.

The crowd could feel the dam nearing its breaking point, and it did in the 28th minute. Silva was played into the clear down the left, as he had been several times during the early match. He found space, passed across the area to two open attackers. Santi Cazorla got there first and found goal to take the 1-0 lead. Negredo made it a two goal lead less than 5 minutes later, as he calmly shot the ball past Howard after a glorious long through by Alonso put him behind defenders Oguchi Onyewu and Tim Ream.

Cazorla scored his second on the night from nearly the identical spot as his first, in the 41st minute. Another Silva pass from the left deflected as it came through the area, but the ball teed nicely for Cazorla to curl it into the upper left corner. The crowd was left scratching their heads how the midfielder could be so wide open for the shot. For the Yanks, the only first half chance came as a ball rested to Robbie Rogers’ feet inside the 18. He hooded his shot a bit, which turned it well wide to the right and without good pace.

The halftime 3-0 lead for Spain may have understated the dominance the European giants enjoyed during the opening 45. After the break, the Americans made some substitutions, and afterward did enjoy more possession and a couple of excellent chances to score. The addition of Clint Dempsey to the attack opened things up, and the defense looked much better with the experience of Clarence Goodson and Steve Cherundolo. Unfortunately, the Spanish squad had one more goal in them, a connection between two second-half entrants. Borja Valero found Fernando Torres with a through ball behind the defense, and the Chelsea striker slyly slid the ball around Howard to close the scoring in the 73rd minute. The match closed at 4-0, with the Americans looking forward to getting the Gold Cup underway.

There’s not much one can draw from this match. Spain is nearly a La Liga All-Star team, minus one Leo Messi. For the Americans, the hope is that Landon Donovan’s illness isn’t serious, and that he’s ready for the Canada match Tuesday. Against a team like Spain, the odds of winning were small especially with the squad played by Bob Bradley. The American backline was gashed a couple of times on long throughs, and that is a concern. Another concern is Jozy Altidore. He has become an enigma for the United States, and doesn’t appear to be an adequate partner for Juan Agudelo up front. The offense was most dangerous with Clint Dempsey and Chris Wondolowski playing up front. It will be interesting to see how Bradley shapes the squad on Tuesday.

I’ll be back on Tuesday night to give you a recap of the opener against Canada. Go USA!

SQUADS:

UNITED STATES – Howard; Spector, Onyewu (Goodson 46′), Ream, Lichaj; Kljestan, Edu (Bradley 46′), Jones (Cherundolo 46′), Rogers (Dempsey, 46′); Altidore (Wondolowski 46′), Agudelo (Bedoya 65′)

SPAIN – Reina (Casillas 76′); Ramos (Capdevila 65′), Pique, Albiol, Arbeloa; Cazorla, Busquets (Soriano 46′), Alonso; Negredo (Iniesta 46′), Villa (Torres 46′), Silva (Valero 65′)

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. WSW

    June 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    How many players were from MLS?

    • Alan

      June 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm

      I think 4, including the ones used as subs. Wondo, Agudelo, Rogers, Ream.

    • Earl Reed

      June 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm

      If you’re questioning the reason why USMNT posts are on MLS Talk, this could be applicable over at the World Cup Buzz site. Unfortunately I don’t believe that site gets the traffic in WC off-years that this blog does. Just about everyone who follows MLS has a stake in the USMNT, either as an American or with a player or two on the team.

      To answer your question, I count 4.

  2. Tuttle

    June 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    We have the personnel to put together a good, if not great, squad. I don’t think we have the coach for it though. The 4-4-2 we play is old and tired and we really don’t have the players for the German-style 4-2-3-1 we sometimes attempt.

    Maybe I’ve been watching too much Italian ball, but I think I’d try something like the 3-5-2 that Samdoria and Napoli run with this lot. We don’t have any truly world-class wing-backs, strikers or distributors, but we do have some good, if somewhat slow, defenders, a couple or three holding midfielders worthy of the name and at least one defensive-minded wide midfielder worth two shakes; Plus two truly quality attacking midfielders/crossover strikers that might do in lieu of a real striking pair.

  3. Alex

    June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    What a frustrating game to watch. The defense just begged to get screwed over. Spector was horrible. Sack Bradley. We need a coach with experience and knows the possession game. As soon as the us gets the ball they do a quick sloppy counter attack and lose the ball just as fast.

  4. Robert Hay

    June 5, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Earl –

    I’d be interested to hear you (and the commenters’) thoughts on some of the positives of the first half. After watching it, I was hard pressed to find anything of value from Bradley’s perspective. Ream and Gooch looked terrible and the midfield was unable to pass the ball forward.

    What does everyone think?

    • Earl Reed

      June 5, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Hmm positives, nobody got hurt. I think Juan Agudelo showed a lot of work ethic, especially coming back the way he did on the third goal. To me, it was a real slap towards Jermaine Jones, who did little to protect the back line. I thought Robbie Rogers was also pretty good, would hopefully be used the Guadeloupe game and also as a sub off the bench.

      Offensively, I thought Edu and Lichaj had some decent dribbles, but didn’t know what to make of them at the termination of the runs. But there was little opportunity going forward. Spain has become very adept at the Barcelona press.

      If I had to break the Barcelona press, I’d start by trying to force the forwards to work every blasted second they’re on the pitch. They want to press up the pitch, so let them. Play 4 corners with the defense, make them run all over. It seems like teams are way too worried about making the most of their little possession and trying to attack too quickly. Make Villa and Co work at it. They have to tire eventually, and when they do you can then start to work on stretching the midfield.

  5. Alistair

    June 5, 2011 at 10:29 am

    After three goals I damn near threw the T.V. outside.

  6. Chris

    June 5, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Spector was horrendous! Silva tooled on him the whole match! Makes you wonder how this guy keeps getting calls up to play for the national team.

  7. Abram

    June 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Do you think any of the Villareal players on the Spanish team looked at Jozy and thought to themselves, “hey, that guy looks really familiar. Where have I seen him before?”

    • Earl Reed

      June 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      They probably thought, “I feel sorry for that team, he sucks.”

      • Alan

        June 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

        Yeah, Altidore is a tad on the overrated side. I definitely agree that Dempsey/Wondo created the most chances.

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