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Comfortable 2-0 Victory For US Over Northern Neighbors

In the months since the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Jozy Altidore has been a source of much frustration for United States men’s soccer fans. Tonight he showed America why his Coach Bob Bradley continues to have faith in him. Altidore notched a goal and set up another as the United States overwhelmed Canada 2-0 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan to open the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The US had at least one surprise starter in the squad. Tim Ream, a rising star for Red Bull New York, earned his first cap in a major competition starting at central defense. While Altidore wasn’t a surprise inclusion in the squad, there were those who thought that he had not been competitive in recent matches for his country.

The New Jersey native proved them wrong. In the fifteenth minute, Altidore ran onto a through ball placed perfectly in the area by Landon Donovan. Altidore surprised Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld by turning and shooting from about 14 yards, and the ball skittered away from the keeper into the net, and gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead.

The United States dominated most of the first half, allowed by a passive Canadian team to enjoy too much time with the ball. Canada only attempted three shots in the opening 45 minutes. Dwayne DeRosario’s curling shot from 25 yards slid just past the far post, and was the Canucks’ best opportunity to equalize before the half.

In the second half, Canada came out inspired. For ten minutes, they enjoyed possession in the offensive half, but could not manage a shot on net before the Americans added to their lead.

The 55th minute saw Altidore nearly pick up his second, on a beautifully weighted cross by Michael Bradley. He mistimed his jump and could not put his head to the ball. 7 minutes later though, he received a pass from Donovan into space in the area. Altidore struck a low cross for striker Juan Agudelo, who couldn’t get full contact on the ball with his foot. As it continued through the 6 yard box, Clint Dempsey slid and his foot knocked the ball past Hirschfeld to give the US a two goal cushion.

From that point forward, the game became an opportunity for US keeper Tim Howard to shine. In the final twenty minutes, he managed to stop three high-quality Canadian shots. Two of those were blistering strikes from substitute Ali Gerba, the second a hard shot from 7 yards that should have found goal if not for Howard’s quick reflexes.

The match came on the heels of a lackluster defeat to Spain in suburban Boston over the weekend, eliciting worry from supporters and pundits alike. The Yanks asserted themselves against an opponent that, while still formidable, missed standout holding midfielder Julian De Guzman.

As for Ream, the young defender, his night was mixed. He made several quality defensive plays, but he was also beaten a couple of times by the gifted Canadian forwards. But as with any player learning the ropes, it always helps to have some experience around you, and players like captain Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson, and Steve Cherundolo did just that. While he had his struggles, all in all it was a successful foray for Ream into meaningful international competition.

The US is now second in Group C, a goal scored behind Panama first in Group C, better on goal differential than Panama. They will face the Red Tide on Saturday night, in a match to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

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  1. Short passes

    June 8, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Thanks for helping to make my point about pundits being more interested in tactics/formations than in skills — “playing direct” is not a skill, it’s a tactic! Whether the US plays direct or not, is not the issue, it’s that US players can’t trap tightly or pass accurately under pressure. When they play #76, they look like champs.

    • Earl Reed

      June 8, 2011 at 10:52 pm

      You’re right that it’s a tactic. But tactics tend to tell the tale as far as a team’s strengths and weaknesses. To say a team plays direct typically indicates that they feel that they have a weakness in midfield versus the opponent, and so they try to circumvent that area of the pitch. In this match, they didn’t play as direct as in the Spain match, which is understandable…they were severely outmatched in the center of the park against Spain. Our midfield is more gifted than Canada’s, and thus we were able to work wall passes and ball control in order to open space to connect the defense with the forwards.

      It sounds like you want the “pundits” to come out and say, “The US sucks and doesn’t have the talent to compete with the big boys.” We seemed to do alright against Spain in the Confeds Cup.

      • Short passes

        June 9, 2011 at 12:46 am

        Earl, No, I wouldn’t expect you or any other pundit to be that honest– after all your livelihood is riding on your promotion of the sport and your access to the “powers” would be seriously impacted. However, it would be nice if sometimes you and your brethren would actually admit that there is a serious basic skill deficiency in the US player pool. Instead we have a steady stream of breathless commentary about formations and tactics. And please stop using the Confed Cup win as some kind of validation that the US has arrived. Remember the example of the monkeys at the typewriters who would eventually create Shakespeare’s plays !! Well you just saw a real life soccer example of that at the Confed’s Cup. Best of luck !

        • Tim

          June 11, 2011 at 11:02 am

          You would have fit in just fine in this last weeks South Park

  2. Tuttle

    June 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Not sure if we should be too excited that we whipped the 50th best team in the world after being mauled by the very best team. But we did look pretty good.

    I think our defense to midfield connections, which was about the only decent thing we had against Spain, ate Canada’s lunch. We were really playing a 4-1-3-2 there for a while with Bradley able to push up and make some forward distributions. Our right wing looked impressive too with Cherundelo making some excellent runs. I was also heartened to see us defending forward rather than the epically lame half-field defense Bradley tried to run last time he trotted out a 4-2-3-1.

    I’m starting to wonder if they should put Holden or Edu in next to Jones in holding midfield with this formation and push Bradley up into the central attacking midfield spot.

    • Earl Reed

      June 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      Right now I think we need positives. This match was a nice confidence builder. It would have only been better if we had finished more of our opportunities.

      Their formation was 4-4-2 when organized in defensive mode. Offensively, it would be called 4-2-2-2, with Donovan and Dempsey playing _inside_ attacking midfielders, Bradley as a deeper-lying playmaker, and Jones as protection for the defense. If we didn’t hold to the whole “fullbacks are backs” nomenclature, it was more 2-4-2-2, Bocanegra and Cherundolo as wingbacks.

      If Cherundolo and Donovan ever give solid crossing service to the forwards in the box, this team would be very dangerous.

  3. short passes

    June 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    US “passing and possession was impressive to watch” —— LOL LOL LOL

    • Alan

      June 8, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      What game were you watching? You can’t honestly say that the US has not improved greatly over the years here. They might not be Spain, but they were impressive and will continue to get better.

      • short passes

        June 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm

        Alan, You are obviously a young, enthusiastic US soccer fan and I don’t want my “old fart” cynicism to warp your outlook but I have watched US soccer for 30 years and in that time it has improved from “pure crap” to “just crap”. MLS has been a positive influence but even it remains under the thrall of a soccer establishment that values primarily size and strength, the good old English virtues. Just listen to the announcers, coaches, soccer pundits, and your buddies and count the number of times that “skill” comes up in their comments. It’s all about “getting stuck in”, “keeping shape”, picking the perfect formation, and motivation. Why is Jozy looked upon with such favor? Because of his awesome foot skills? LOL. It’s because he is big, strong, and fast. One last comment — completing passes against the 76th ranked team in the world isn’t an accomplishment to be shouted about. If you want to see great passing and excellent ball skills, watch “la liga”, not Barca and Real Madrid but Valencia, Villareal, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao, Athletico Madrid, etc. I really hope that you maintain your enthusiasm. You’ll need it!!!

        • Alan

          June 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm

          Yeah, you know nothing about me. I watch plenty of La Liga and one of my favorite teams is a La Liga team (not Barca or RM). Thanks for the soccer lesson though.

        • Earl Reed

          June 8, 2011 at 6:28 pm

          I can agree that the American game is still a little too direct. The US was at their best building the attack early in the 1st half. There was a great series of passes that freed Michael Bradley beautifully towards the box, and unfortunately he ran out of ingenuity at that point. The direct game can be effective at times, but we were much more effective at generating attack when we freed up Dempsey, Donovan, and Cherundolo into space through the build.

  4. Lars

    June 8, 2011 at 2:09 am

    Can’t take any article seriously that keeps referring to JDG as standout. He hasn’t been good since 2007. Really guys, he’s not good at all. I watch him every 3 or 4 days playing with TFC and he’s sucked with Canada ever since the 2007 Gold Cup.

    Trust me, Dunfield was an improvement over JDG out there today.

  5. Alan

    June 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Oh, and as far as the Panama/Guatalupe game goes, Guatalupe was really unimpressive. Panama scored 3 because of how bad they were. The US should be able to beat both teams easily.

  6. Alan

    June 8, 2011 at 12:00 am

    A fantastic game that I am glad I had the opportunity to attend. Altidore and Dempsey really shined, as did Howard. Their passing and possession was impressive to watch. They obviously cared about this one, unlike the Spain friendly.

    • Robert

      June 8, 2011 at 1:12 am

      I think I saw you in the stands Alan.

      • Alan

        June 8, 2011 at 1:17 am

        Oh yeah. You picked me out from all 28000+ people without ever seeing my face? Impressive, lol. It was a good time.

        • CTBlues

          June 8, 2011 at 7:47 am

          It was an utter shame that there was only 28k fans at a match that was in a major metro area and close to the Canadian border. This shows how nobody wants to go to Detroit and that match should have been in Seattle. If you put that match in Hartford Connecticut it probably would have sold out the 40k stadium and would have cost CONCACAF a lot less to use. They wouldn’t have to put down that god awful pitch beacuse the field is actually grass and would have drawn people from Conn, NY, and Mass.

          • Earl Reed

            June 8, 2011 at 8:15 am

            Yeah, and I read a tweet yesterday that said the owners of the Pontiac Silverdome are petitioning for a new MLS Team. Granted a midweek fixture isn’t the best gauge of interest, but if you want a market to flourish you’ve gotta get at least 35-40K in there for this match…as you say, especially given the proximity for Canadians.

          • CTBlues

            June 8, 2011 at 8:36 am

            Detriot is lucky there is no religation in US sports because there is no way there would be any pro sports teams left in the city minus the Red Wings.

          • Sancho

            June 8, 2011 at 10:08 am

            Come on! What about the Pistons?! Let them there!

            P.S.: I don’t root for the Tigers but they are not bad either…

          • Robert

            June 8, 2011 at 10:08 am

            Mexico 80,000 fans! MEXICO MEXICO MEXICO!

          • Alan

            June 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

            Too bad none of you know what you are talking about. The Lions suck but that is it. The Tigers were close to winning the World Series 5 years ago and the Pistons won the championship back in 2004 I believe (I was in the military and not in the state at the time). As far as soccer goes, we don’t get much exposure here. No MLS team, only the occasional soccer on ESPN. Also, the economy here is currently one of the worst in the nation, so paying for tickets to a tournament that doesn’t get much exposure to us is a hard sell. That doesn’t mean that a team couldn’t make it here eventually (or maybe a NASL team), and that sure as hell doesn’t mean that every team will get relegated. As far as Detroit sports teams go, please don’t talk about what you don’t know about. Thanks.

          • Earl Reed

            June 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

            Alan, I know I wasn’t meaning any disrespect to Detroit. I want to see soccer grow in every market in this country. Unfortunately it’s the ones in power who seem to make it difficult for alternative markets to flourish. The path to becoming a new MLS club is extremely narrow. Detroit should definitely look to get either USL or NASL to start attracting a fanbase.

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