Homeward Bound: Ghana Sends States Packing

A little late, but “quick reaction” on the United States 2-1 loss to Ghana today:

The States with promise...

• The Yanks Tempt Fate One Too Many Times with Fatal First Frame Error

While a lot “went wrong” for the States on the first goal, the root of the goal comes down to a failure to protect the ball in the midfield by starter Ricardo Clark.

As soon as Clark made the giveaway and before the result, my mind immediately harkened back to Clint Dempsey’s June 6, 2009 turnover against Honduras in the qualifier last June in Chicago. On that play, Deuce tried to make a move in midfield, got dispossessed by Carlos Costly and the counter was on for Honduras….and successful.

In a game dominated by a tug-of-war in midfield, the Clark’s error proved costly as Kevin Prince Boateng blew through the States’ “defense,” worked a slow Jay DeMerit and shot near-side post beyond Tim Howard who, out-of-position, looked like he was expecting a pass.

It’s the type of play that the Yanks had seemed to eradicate from their play. It’s the type of play that the Yanks defense always has difficulty contending with, but there it was again today wreaking havoc on the Yanks’ World Cup continuation plan.

• No Space Down the Flanks, The Yanks Lack of Forward Movement & Finishing Stifled the Attack

Only flashes today...

TSG posed the question in our preview, “Can the Yanks Get Loose Down the Flanks?”

The answer, a unequivicable “No.”

Whether by design or not, the Yanks’ starting forwards, Robbie Findley and Jozy Altidore, could not gain space or, perhaps more importantly, clear and open space for Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey to attack Ghana’s defense.

In fact, it appeared that both Findley and Altidore were too narrowly focused in attack, lacked sophistication in their movement, and therefore compromised opportunities from the get-go.

With John Paintsil pinching in centrally, the Yanks desperately needed to work the outside flanks with their strikers–not the interior–to push Ghana back and create chances. Didn’t happen.

Altidore, as well, appeared to be running, or not running, on half a tank from the start.

Same troubles...

Findley lack of final ball creativity and execution once again did him in.

This–and a poor time to cite this–was the game that Charlie Davies was missed sorely.

• Bob Bradley Got This One Wrong

If you credit Coach Sweats with the comeback against Slovenia and the line-up that enabled the win against Algeria, then he must be condemned for some of his selections today.

Obviously, Bradley realized his Clark error–about 20 minutes or so too late–when pulling the former Dynamo player from the pitch in a rare 1st half substitution. The claim may be made that Clark was pulled because he had earned a yellow card, however it’s in Clark’s DNA to make poor tackles after making errors. The first mistake was having Clark in the starting eleven in a match that absolutely demanded that midfielders be able to play both ways.

Bradley also erred, in my opinion, in keeping a spent Jozy Altidore on the field. While Altidore thrilled and earned chances, too often his stagnation in the front of the pitch clogged the middle and helped Ghana shutdown U.S. possession.

Finally, the Herculez Gomez selection was poor in my opinion, against a physical and disciplined defense, Gomez does not possess the 1-on-1 game to create chances for himself against superior competition. There is no doubt in my mind that Edson Buddle should have been tried.


Bradley can be commended upon his insertion of Benny Feilhaber who–despite missing an outside-footed chip chance–played a phenomenal and calm game in possession. One can continue then with Feilhaber’s impact on the game in the midfield, that Stu Holden, able to play the middle or the outside, could have helped as well.

In fact, this game demanded Holden, however Bradley was out of substitutions.

Bob Bradley’s World Cup will be judged ad nauseum over the next few weeks, this game won’t be the highest rated.


• Clint Dempsey Shined

The Deuce from London had a stellar game from the States today. Needing carriage in the middle of the field, needing chances and not possessing world class speed with the ball, Dempsey was a revelation for the Yanks when they were out of ideas.

His efforts kept the Yanks in the game.

Michael Bradley also continued his world beater status. Steve Cherundolo came back down to earth on his wing, but Jonathan Bornstein was solid on his.

• The Yanks Got Bossed In Central Defense

Ghana has not scored from the run-of-play in World Cup 2010 coming into the game, the Black Stars ran right up the middle of the Yanks’ defense today, once on a fatal error and another time on beautiful piece of skill by Asamoah Gyan to account for their scores.

Beyond this the Yanks’ defense was surviving, but two errors were too much on the day.

• A Lost Opportunity, But Solid Effort

The World Cup. Every four years. The States had a beatable opponent today and they let a game slip. That said–and this may be the fan in me–the Yanks controlled the game for stretches and did their country proud.

74 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Soof on 2010/06/26 at 9:21 PM

    A solid effort indeed. Poor choices in the starting lineup (the error in starting hapless Findley deserves a mention) and a lack of strikers who can finish hurt us in the end, but this team gave it everything they had and played their part in the slow, sometimes bumpy, but still continuing rise of US soccer. For that, and the excitement they drummed up stateside, I thank them.


  2. Posted by FulhamPete on 2010/06/26 at 9:43 PM

    Everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, one mistake by Coach Bradley begat a GINORMOUS, yet somewhat predictable, mistake by Redcardo Clark that set the US down the path to defeat.

    I am a big Bradley fan after this world cup, and would love to see him stick around for another quadrennium. I think the tactical changes and the “what if” preparation for this world cup ranks with any manager in the world. However, when prepping this team for this game, I feel he chose to go with what he thought was working before the actual competition, rather than what was shown to work IN the competition.

    This defeat is Bob’s and Bob’s alone. Clark should never have sniffed the pitch again. Findley should never have sniffed the pitch again. Feilhaber should have become a rock in the left midfield in a 4-5-1/4-3-3 tripling with MB90 and Edu with LMFD and Deuce on the wings.

    This would have allowed MUCH more flexibility by bringing on Holden for a tiring BF or Edu combined with the BRILLIANCE of a substitution of a forward for a defender like against Slovenia, when the USA played essentially a 3-4-3, with Edu filling in at emergency CB.

    All this is after the fact, however. I have NEVER been so proud of my national team than I have been since June 12. I think that the heart, determination and resilience shown by THIS years squad will echo for years to come, and it will be THIS years squad that will be recognized for establishing the American style: Relentless, determined, sometimes elegant, sometimes brutish, but ALWAYS competing, and always a team to be proud of for playing the game the way it was meant to be played. With heart and passion having no rival in the world.

    GO USA! We’ll see you in Brasil!


    • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/26 at 11:41 PM

      “Redcardo Clark”

      I missed this before. Classic.

      If future editions of the team keep this one’s mentality, we’ll win a World Cup someday German-style.


  3. Posted by FulhamPete on 2010/06/26 at 9:44 PM

    Just posting for the emailed comments. My apologies.


  4. Posted by The Goche on 2010/06/26 at 9:46 PM

    I’d say maybe that the final take on this cup for me is proud of our guys, but that it showed very clearly how much further our program has to go.

    For a team to play with as much chemistry and heart and still lose in a very winnable Round of 16 game show what was missing.

    I was also sad to see so little Holden. I feel like he’s a big part of our future, but he could have been a big part of our present too. I expect to see a lot of him in the next four years.

    But I am proud of our team, enjoyed our cup, and feel that they did lots to soccer in our country. I honestly even think it’s a big step forward for us to win the group and not be satisfied.

    And honestly, other than Donovan’s goal against Algeria, the bad call against Slovenia may have been the best thing of the Cup for us. For us to comeback like that and then not win because of a bad call was outrageous, and it got people excited. The way we won the next game I think really cemented a lot of respect in our own country.

    Sure most Americans will go back to ignoring the game. But some won’t, and even the ones that do will remember this and maybe not be so quick to dismiss it in the future.


  5. Posted by s44 on 2010/06/26 at 11:18 PM

    Feilhaber helped because the continuing refusal to pass to Bornstein (didn’t cease until the very end) was killing any path of attack on the left. Benny came and forced another option on that side.

    Clark and the attackers were obvious blunders, but to be honest, Howard should have sat from the moment of the Heskey collision. He blew the first one today, and didn’t manage a single save-out-of-his-ass in the tournament. No one wants to rip on Tim because the injury wasn’t his fault (and because Hahnemann makes crosses an adventure), but he was subpar and cost us.

    I also think the two-old/tired/unathletic-CB combo was a mistake, but one we could have gotten away with if Edu and/or Hahnemann had started.

    “other than Donovan’s goal against Algeria, the bad call against Slovenia may have been the best thing of the Cup for us”

    No, it was a disaster that ultimately cost us a QF spot. We get 3 points there and we’re not gassed from chasing Algeria for 90+ minutes.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/26 at 11:27 PM

      Hard to comment on Howard sitting–I appreciate where you’re coming from, but I have no doubt that thd defense played much better because of Howard’s hollering.

      Watching Guzan during qualifiers the Yanks d play better with Howard.

      Second goal was just a phenomenal strike–1st opportunity shouldn’t have happened. Can’t blame Howard.


    • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/26 at 11:33 PM

      Forgot to mention that I agree with every bit of the actual post. Dempsey fought best through the empty tank: Dolo was poor, Altidore done, and Donovan saving for decisive spots that (thanks to poor overall motion) rarely came. Mike = machine.

      It’s too bad this is may be Dempsey’s only WC as a key man. Arena was too into his vets to loose him last time, and Clint’s game at 31 may make him a situational poacher… Maybe not, but if our attack is still based on Donovan (not unlikely), at 32 LD will need younger speed around him.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/26 at 11:35 PM

        I also have to wonder–and this isn’t usually how I comment–if Tim was on oral painkiller or just localized.

        Any sort of “blood thinner” or anti-inflammatory impacts your mind and I just wonder that–not usually my thing, but….


  6. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/26 at 11:49 PM

    Ricardo Clark, however, was a man in accepting blame:
    On his performance:
    “It wasn’t the best performance for me. I had good moments, but unfortunately one of my bad moments led to a counter attack and to a goal. A player of my caliber and my experience should not be making those mistakes.”

    On what he saw on the first goal:
    “I kind of got the ball stuck in my feet. I think they played it in the midfield and I got caught in my decision making and didn’t react fast enough. The guy stole the ball and it’s unfortunate because it led to a goal. I feel like I let my team down and I take full responsibility on that goal.


  7. Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/06/27 at 12:14 AM

    so what’s next?

    for both the MNT, and TSG…


  8. Posted by Gino on 2010/06/27 at 12:26 AM

    You can try to blame Bob for another flat start which led to ANOTHER early goal conceded, but ultimately the players on the field are culpable. Rico, way to man up and accept responsibility for ANOTHER early goal but fool me once….

    Bob seemed to revert to his WC qualification decision making for the Ghana game. The Bornstein gamble paid off but why was Clark allowed to repeat his customary errors as a starter? I also agree that Gomez was an unwise substitute. Buddle would have made much more sense against Ghana.

    Despite all the negatives stated above, the Yanks played better than I anticipated and had Ghana on their heels most of the second half. The Nats were dangerous and had they been better at finishing their chances, they could have made it to the Semi-Finals. I applaud their efforts either way!


  9. Posted by Mike on 2010/06/27 at 1:14 AM

    While starting Clark over Edu was a terrible decision, at the end of the day Ghana won because they have forwards who can create goals with individual brilliance and the USA does not.

    Ghana’s first goal was a nice strike — the forward had to control the ball, make a move at the edge of the box, and fire into the corner. I can’t see any of the USA forwards making that move. And the second goal by Ghana just came out of nothing; none of the US forwards have that level of ball control or cool finishing ability.


    • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/27 at 7:14 AM

      “at the end of the day Ghana won because they have forwards who can create goals with individual brilliance and the USA does not”

      This sort of broad statement is the sort of overreaction we don’t need. Before this game, Gyan was less likely to score than Heskey. Furthermore, you can’t say what forwards we do and don’t have because the two best scorers in the pool were glued to the bench (partly thanks to the Clark/Torres disasters) and starting preseason in France respectively.

      Ghana won because *on the day* their forward had a brilliant individual moment and ours did not. (Jozy came close.) Bob’s calculation that the midfielders should continue to bear the whole scoring load was a big, big mistake in light of D&D’s massive previous mileage.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/28 at 3:00 AM

        Welcome to tournament football – what happens “on the day” is all that matters. This isn’t the World Series / NBA best of 7.

        I still think it was a missed opportunity to make some progress** – you could have had a run to the semi’s without facing a “top 10” side. When will that ever happen again?

        **in this tournament and for US football on the whole. Just imagine what it would have done for the profile, and the multiplier effect it could have on the casual fan / young kids playing?


      • Posted by Mike on 2010/06/28 at 6:53 AM

        I was the one who wrote the original comment — and I didn’t mean my comment to be a broad statement. I just meant “on the day” their forwards finished hard chances and ours didn’t. If Jozy finishes his falling down chance in regulation, then we would be in the final 8 and Ghana would not.

        I’m trying not to overreact. I didn’t think we were out classed nor are we in need of a massive overhaul. On a different day the game could have easily gone a different way; it was a close game that needed extra time to resolve it.

        Germany, on the other hand… I don’t think they would have needed extra time to finish us off.


  10. Posted by kaya on 2010/06/27 at 2:37 AM

    I guess no one else saw this: Michael Bradley put Rico in the position of making that error by putting in a poor pass. He did it again in the 2nd half to Dolo, which luckily didn’t turn into another goal, but did produce a scary moment. All the guys with the exception of Dempsey looked tired today, and I thought it was obvious in Michael’s case.
    I have no idea what it is about this team that can’t figure out how to play defense in the first 15 minutes… I was beginning to believe it was a particularly weird version of rope a dope since the US came out so strong in the 2nd half… yet again, and it looked like they might actually be able to take the lead until they ran out of gas around the 70th minute. The lack of a technical touch just kills us. I was a little surprised on Benny’s inability to finish that outside-right foot shot, since he’s one of our players with a good touch, but I guess his weight was already too far back. But MB’s opportunity was straight at the keeper… like Findley’s, like so many. We spend a lot of extra energy on too many things because we have problems with fundamentals.
    I decided in the end that Coach Bradley was OK… but like everyone else, cannot understand his love affair with Clark. I could’ve sworn that Edu was obvious to start.
    The thing I didn’t guess is that Deuce would overcome what looked to surely be accumulated fatigue. I would’ve guessed Holden over his start, and put in Buddle for Findley. I just didn’t see how Findley would do anything for us against Ghana…
    Le sigh. The French seemed to be rooting for the US and L’Equipe adopted us as the role models for what Les Bleus should be =) At least I can drown my sorrows in excellent pain au chocolat this morning.


  11. Posted by chad on 2010/06/27 at 3:37 AM

    I am a huuuuge Dempsey fan and despite his obvious creativity and composure on the ball in the first half, I thought he sometimes slowed the attack down by taking a little too long to make a decision. But that’s just nitpicking. And after watching Edu’s movement after he came on, how does this guy not get penciled in as a starter every game Rangers plays?

    What is it with the 4-5-1 and other midfield-clogging defenses? 2 World Cups in a row and we really struggle against this kind of defense.

    The US did some wonderful things at this World Cup. And for me a big part of all things US Soccer is TSG. I just discovered TSG a few months before the WC got started—thanks for the education guys!


    • Posted by Jared on 2010/06/27 at 5:42 AM

      Edu has been very limited by injuries with Rangers. He has played well and scored some big goals for them when fit.


  12. Posted by T-Muck on 2010/06/27 at 5:06 AM

    If you guys re-watch the game, try and keep and eye on Jozy. Midway through the first half you can see him limping and trying to stretch out I believe it was his right leg if I remember correctly. I saw that and knew he was going to totally ineffective. 2 minutes after that Harkes was saying how Jozy wasn’t involved much at all.

    I think you can definitely put a lot of the blame for this on Coach Sweatpants. One of our critiques of him before the WC was always going to a select few group of players and not getting others how may have developed into better options more playing time (Torres, Holden, etc.). It came back to haunt him today by going back to his “bread and butter” by starting Clark, instead of the painfully obvious starting of Edu.

    With that being said, who do you think this is the last WC for? Boca, Dolo, DeMerit, Hahnemann, and Goodson deffinately, but what about guys like Donovan, Dempsey, Howard (he’ll be 35 next WC), Gooch, they’ll all be early 30’s


    • Posted by Jared on 2010/06/27 at 5:52 AM

      Coach Sweats definitely deserves some blame for being so rigid in formation and selection. He refused to alter the formation with the loss of Davies sticking with a speedy striker who can’t do anything else. He also picked Clark which was a move that was just beyond dumb. It’s too bad that he couldn’t see that our most successful lineup was some variation of a 4-5-1 with Dempsey pushed a little further forward. He would make that switch at the half but then not start with it even though it worked.

      Donovan (32), Dempsey (31) and Howard will still be there next time around. Whether Howard is the number 1 isn’t a definite but 35 isn’t that old for a keeper. Donovan and Dempsey if they stay injury free will be on the back end of their primes. I think Gooch will struggle to be there because of his major knee injury.


      • Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/27 at 9:23 AM

        The cliche is that keepers get better with age, which may or may not be true (look at Casillas this World Cup). Howard will likely be the starter in 2014, I doubt Guzan will progress enough to take it from him in 4 years.

        Donovan, barring retirement or injury, will definitely still be involved. Even if Donovan loses half a step, he will still be one of the faster players on the field given the level of pace he is coming down from, and he is hands down the most technically gifted player in America. That ability is not going to decline. It also helps that he has seen how hard Beckham works to keep fit at an older age. In short, Donovan will still be a starter in 2014.

        I think Bocanegra, Cherundolo, DeMerit and Beasley are done, but each of them had solid runs with the national team. Cherundolo is one of my favorite US players, he was solid for three world cups. As the fact that Bornstein started two games shows, outside back is a very hard position to fill, especially in the modern game. The odds are against both Bornstein and Dolo playing in another world cup, but you never know. We have a lot of good young defenders, but 4 years is a long time obviously. Onyewu has a lot of time to get fit, plus will be training with Milan. He will have every opportunity to start in 2014.

        *IF* Bob Bradley gets fired/resigns, I will be super interested to see if Michael Bradley sticks in the starting lineup. He played well enough, but there is also a lot to pick on about his game, so it will be interesting to see whether a neutral observer thinks he is our starting CAM or not.


        • Posted by Matti on 2010/06/27 at 10:58 PM

          I really think you’ll see better things from Michael Bradley in the future. He’s solid, consistent in the middle, plays with aggression, can shoot with power, can play primarily defensive/holding or attack from behind the front lines. I really see him as the center of the nucleus for WC2014 and possibly the captain. He reminds me kind of like a Gattuso with a better shot, and he was at his best in WC2006 in his late 20’s. Exactly where Michael will be in 2014. Now he just needs to find a bigger club to play for when he’s done in Germany.

          I just gotta throw this in, I really was not impressed with Jozy this WC. The guy can’t run and he never uses that giant noggin of his. It seems like the only way Jozy can play if you play the ball to his feet so he can use his body. He needs to get better at attacking in the air and moving to the ball. He just looked lazy out there. Probably the biggest problem was we were watching him grow in the WC, not the best situation.


    • Posted by s44 on 2010/06/27 at 7:20 AM

      This failure doesn’t make all the old erroneous criticisms about Bradley true. If anything, he gave Torres *too much* time — and the kid isn’t ready for his teammates’ style of play anyway. Holden was being run out at every turn from his Gold Cup breakout until de Jong injured him. You can say he was used too little in the Cup, but the only match really begging for his use was this one.

      It wasn’t that he didn’t “give other players a chance” — it’s that he just liked Clark too much. He also liked Torres too much, you realize.


      • “He also liked Torres too much, you realize.”

        Great point. Everyone likes to talk about his love affair with Clark because not many fans like his style of play and what that represents. However, because everyone was clamoring for Torres (including me) no one seems to kill Bradley for that mistake.

        It’s all relative. I think Bob had a fine World Cup. He outcoached Capello in the first game, made the necessary adjustments in the Slovenia and Algeria game and went for it (no one can call him “Bunker Bob” anymore).

        Earlier up, someone said that BB was too rigid with his formation, and I wonder if that’s because he remembered what happened in the last world cup when Arena changed the formation to a 4-5-1 just a couple games before the World Cup started. And we all know how that ended up…..


        • You’re being too hard on Torres. He’s a 22 year-old kid starting his first World Cup match. He made a nervous start, but so did Edu when coming on. Bob had the confidence in him to ask him to do something that he didn’t quite have the maturity to do: set a high tempo in possession and boss the match against a well-organized eastern European side. Frankly, Jr was the one that had the terrible first half against Slovenia, leaving Torres and the back 4 high-and-dry on both goals.

          If you’ve seen Torres play in person, his technical skills are at a level beyond anyone else in the side. Frankly, I would’ve liked to have seen him given a few more minutes against Slovenia because he was coming to terms with the match. Seriously, in four years, Torres will probably be the first name on the team sheet.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/28 at 7:55 AM

            Tuesday. You had me until 1st name on team sheet. That will go to Bradley, Holden or Gonzalez.


        • Posted by DanPA on 2010/06/28 at 8:29 AM

          Sure Torres didn’t shine, but nor did he play badly either.

          A combination of injuries (Edu, Jones) and Bob’s insistence on ‘his guys’ put him in a position where he head very little choice but to put out some untested central midfield combinations. Bob could have tried some other midfield parings over the last 2 years, but we really only ever saw Mike+Rico (and occasionally Sacha) with the 1st team. Throw in a fair bit of field time being given to above-average MLSers (may not be entirely Bob’s choice is Gulati is pushing MLS), who are clearly not international quality, in friendlies and Torres and Edu never got many game minutes with Mike.

          The point being, Coach Bradley took some chances and did ok with what he had, but his player decisions leading up to the world cup left him with severely limited options, even with our shallowish player pool.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/28 at 9:20 AM

            Something that TSG will comment on in the coming weeks is….

            …if the coaching staff, just like the American public, saw that Oguchi Onyewu was not fit–and especially after the Charlie Davies debacle–how do you not use the friendlies to get another player ready.

            And…if you were getting another player ready and his name was Clarence Goodson was he that poor of a second choice that the Yanks used to players in the middle without the youthful vigor of Goodson?


        • I like Torres and really enjoy what he brings to the team, but I just think that if we are going to blame Bradley for starting Clark in the Ghana game then we have to blame Bradley for starting Torres in the Slovenia game. That’s all. And if we are going to say that Bradley let Torres out to dry in that first half of the Slovenia game he did the same thing with Clark on Saturday a few times….

          I also think that Bradley did have “his players” that he was more lenient towards, but I don’t really think he missed great opportunities to play Torres. You go with what’s tried and true in World Cup qualification. Hell, Torres was even given a chance in both Costa Rica games.


        • I meant to say Bradley junior when talking about leaving Torres and Clark out to dry….


  13. Posted by DC on 2010/06/27 at 5:11 AM

    The team played with heart. They made it to the knock-out round. They went out fighting. Etcetera.

    It was great fun to watch but ultimately disappointing. This loss is on the manager — for getting the team sheet wrong with diastrous effect — and he should go.

    Feilhaber played very well. Wish Bradley had really brought Torres into the team in qualifying. Would have been nice to see a bit more of Holden.

    Michael Bradley had a good tournament. But anyone look at the individual statistics on Fifa’s website? Look how far down he is in passes and in percentage of passes completed.


  14. Posted by SuperChivo on 2010/06/27 at 5:17 AM

    I like the theme struck by Matthew and Pete, way too many naive errors and lapses in concentration but incredible effort and heart. This team is done and by the time we get to Brazil (already saving up the money for that one) we can expect that about 1/2 of the faces will be new. They have to continue to build upon the heart and drive that makes this team so special and improve upon discipline and skill.

    Rico turned the ball over in a bad location but Prince Boateng dribbled up the field unchallenged and put in an excellent but stoppable shot. As a team one player’s glory is everyone’s and, when one player makes an error, they all are at fault.


  15. Posted by Todd (not Boeckmann) on 2010/06/27 at 6:35 AM

    Sweatpants must go! How many frickin times must we be subjected to asinine starting lineups that 95% of the people in the stands can recognize are (as our Brit cousins say) shite.

    If the next time Ricardo Clark sniffs a starting lineup its in a friendly against Angola, it will be too soon. And can we please find the naked pictures of Bradley that apparently Findley possesses so that we can be spared ever seeing him on a MNT ever again?

    The window of opportunity for glory for the MNT doesn’t come along every time. It was wide open this time and Bradley pissed it away by burning all his subs on stupind lineup choices so that we had no tactical alternatives. Bozo the clown, (Or anyone at Mavis Winkles in Independence , Ohio) can choose better lineups than that. If he can’t get that right…GTFOH.


  16. Posted by Shchors on 2010/06/27 at 6:38 AM

    Excellent site! It is obvious that the US has glaring matchup problems with Ghana, a much faster and more muscular side, better than the US in the air, while at the same time possessing excellent shielding technique when in possession of the ball. The US relies on its own physicality to compensate for moments of less than stellar technique against more skilled but less athletic opponents. This physicality was negated by Ghana and save for Dempsey and Altidore, the rest of our team was coming up losers in one-on-one battles all day (Dolo and Donovan are clear examples). Therefore, that Ghana gave us problems in two successive World Cups comes as no surprise. Nonetheless, we can take comfort from in seeing that this 2010 US team was much better than the 2006 team in playing a quick passing style in order to break down the Ghana defense, which it did on five occasions, one of which resulted in the PK. I can forgive Bradley for starting Findley. As was pointed out on this site prior to the game, Ghana’s defense plays a higher line than any other team in the WC, due to its confidence in surviving sprints against opposing forwards when balls are played behind it. This high line by Ghana’s defense gives the five man midfield the option to press the opposing midfield and defense higher up the field, resulting in more clearances back to the Ghanian defense, or better yet, turnovers, which the 5 man midlfeld can jump on for easy chances in transition. (Ghana manufactured two chances through turnovers against Germany, but the Kraut goalie came up with the saves!) Thus, Findley’s role to threaten Ghana’s defense with balls over the top and, hopefully, resulting in their line backing up to create more space in a very congested midfield, is justifiable. On the other hand, Clark’s inclusion is hard to defend. True, he had fresher legs. But Edu had played a mere half against Algeria, and should have been expected to cover the gound defensively just as well. Moreover, we all know that Edu is more confident on the ball, as he proved during his three appearances as a substitute in this WC. Regardless, had one of the four other chances that the US created gone in (Findley, Bradley, Altidore on his back, and especially Feilhaber’s chip that was unbelievably saved) and had Howard been his usual reliable self, we could have been through. My final point is that until the US has 6-8 defenders playing in the Premier League, the Bundesliga, Seria A or La Liga, advancing out of group play in future World Cups will be a roll of the dice. In this World Cup, we managed to scrape through, despite playing with center backs from a relegated Championship team (DeMeritt) and a French League left back (Bocanegra). Of course, having a forward who scores consistently would have been nice, too. But even traditional powers come up short in this regard (see England, Italy, France, Germany in this WC, at least so far)


  17. Posted by Dylan on 2010/06/27 at 7:24 AM

    So what is our next competitive tournament? Next summer’s Gold Cup?
    Who are the young hopefulls coming up through the next Qualifying tournament?
    If I save $20 a week from no until Brazil will I have enough to go to WC2014?
    Who figures to be our #1 in the next couple years?
    Will Donovan figure to be our star playmaker for the next cycle? If not him, than who?
    I would think almost a completely different back line for the next cycle, anyone who stays?

    Just want to start some conversations going forward, I don’t really want to lament on what could have been.


    • “I would think almost a completely different back line for the next cycle, anyone who stays?”
      ———————————————————————————————————————————————-I think only Gooch stays, maybe Bornstein if we can’t find a quality left back cause in four years he’ll be 29 and in peak condition….


  18. Posted by s44 on 2010/06/27 at 7:24 AM

    “My final point is that until the US has 6-8 defenders playing in the Premier League, the Bundesliga, Seria A or La Liga, advancing out of group play in future World Cups will be a roll of the dice.”

    We’re getting there.

    This WC, we had a legit, in-form EPL starter who couldn’t get off the bench for our midfield (and, except for fatigue at the end, this was for completely legit reasons).

    When this happens at every position we’ll be a contender.


    • Posted by Dylan on 2010/06/27 at 7:34 AM

      I agree, we are getting there.
      We have a lot of talent, figuring out how to utilize this will be key.

      I feel like the story of our tournament, was missed opportunities. We have got to learn the gift of touch.


  19. Jozy’s opportunity in the second half, he was going to ground trying to win a penalty at the same time he’s trying to shoot. Pretty sure he’s strong enough to stay on his feet and finish there. Very similar to Gyan’s goal, really, and that was the difference.


    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/06/27 at 8:01 AM

      Spot on. I really don’t know where / why Jozy picked up this penchant for diving / grossly embellishing the last nine months. It has got to stop.


      • Posted by Dennis on 2010/06/27 at 9:34 AM

        Couldn’t agree more, this play was really frustrating. If Jozy doesn’t try to draw the penalty, he had a great angle to calmly pass the ball into the corner.


      • Posted by kaya on 2010/06/28 at 4:02 AM

        Think maybe that’s why the “3rd goal” in the Slovenia game was called back? I have a suspicion that’s why he decided to blow the whistle…. Jozy oversold that “foul.”
        I thought Deuce was pretty bad for acting, as well. The main difference that Jozy was always falling and getting back up, Deuce, otoh, went down less, but every time he did you swore he would have to go off on a stretcher.


        • That’s the suspicion – pure make-up call. However, that was a foul with Jozy taking a stiff-arm to the neck.

          Also, Jozy’s movement in the box is appalling – perpetually standing in a crowd at the far post praying the ball gets to him rather than getting across defenders to get to the near post where all that’s needed is a little touch. He’s one that you’d hope Klinnsy could get his hands on.


        • About the only thing that improved with Jozy’s time in England is his hold-up play.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/27 at 10:16 AM

      Altidore doesn’t have a left foot. Their body shape was completely different because of it.


    • Posted by Jon C on 2010/06/27 at 2:47 PM

      I don’t think he was trying to draw a penalty on that play. His foot got stepped on. I thought it was admirable that he even got the shot off.

      That said Altidore has picked up a habit of falling down too easily


      • No, his legs suddenly went out from underneath him after out-muscling the defender. It’s up their with one of Drogba’s least convincing performances.


        • I haven’t looked at since the game ended, but from what I saw of the replays here is what I surmised:

          Jozy pushes the defender away, but he since he has been leaning on the defender keeps leaning, which leads to him losing his balance and falling down….I think that if Jozy was trying to dive for a PK, then he would have asked for it after going down in the box and probably not even tried to shoot. I don’t remember him asking for a PK when he got up.

          I think this time it was just a simple case of Jozy losing his balance….


  20. Posted by tnnelson on 2010/06/27 at 8:28 AM

    i just can’t believe bradley could only find room for holden for 10 minutes this whole world cup. bradley made some good selections at some points, but holden is class and he barely saw the field. same goes for buddle, he should have been given a chance to start


  21. Posted by stevedubyapdx on 2010/06/27 at 9:50 AM

    No kidding…I read a post on a Hull City fan site (they’re probably the only people in the world who know Jozy better than we do) that said it best: “The lovechild of Altidore and Heskey would probably never learn to walk.”


  22. Posted by Dougs on 2010/06/27 at 10:08 AM

    Just wanted to stop by and also thank TSG for this site. Best site for knowledgeable, even-handed critical analysis of the US team. Thanks to Matthew and all the guest contributors. You made this WC much more exciting.


  23. Posted by Chris stone on 2010/06/27 at 10:47 PM

    Here’s the deal with what we have all seen with the US team: It all comes down to the Bob Bradley and Michael Bradley situation. Michael Bradley is a “Piano Mover” he’s a pretty good one and even scores a few goals, as we have seen. Coach Bob would like for Mike to be a “Pianist”, however it’s not going to happen, as the magic just ain’t there. Mike should be the defensive/holding midfielder/ball winner that he is. Coach Mike wants the best for his son and God bless him for that, but many of his personnel decisions (Ricardo?, Jose?, Maurice?) I think were driven to driven to enable Mike to be backed up in his defensive responsibilities and/or freed up to explore offensive opportunities. Clearly this did not work out for the US team, but did work out for team Bradley. Mike will likely now have the opportunity to move on to a higher profile team and he will have deserved it 100%.

    The answer to the US’s “lack of composure on the ball” “inability to maintain possession” in midfield has been right in front of our eyes for years: Benny. His performance at the 2010 World Cup: on the field for 3 halves plus overtime, US scores 4 goals and gives up 1 (+3 using the hockey plus minus analogy.)

    Benny transformed the team each time he stepped onto the field. As Martin Tyler asked John Harkes at about 60 minutes during the Ghana game “Why isn’t (Benny) starting? Johns said quietly “I don’t know.”

    Each time he touched the ball something happened, the save the Ghana keeper made on his little chip early in the 2nd half was absolutely world class. Have a look at the quick move Benny made at the penalty spot to free himself up for the shot, this is not the stuff we generally see from US players.

    Then, slowly and subtlety, the US stopped giving Benny the ball, at around 70 minutes, rewatch the game, you will see that once this happened the US momentum stagnated, and the team struggled to create and struggled to maintain possession. The “big name” stars for the US wanted to take over: it was not “Benny’s world cup”. It’s was Landon’s. Nice round of 16 finish.

    Why wasn’t Benny starting?

    The answer to me is that he would upstage the Michael the “piano mover.”Why all the turmoil in center midfield? Because it was all about finding the right complementary player for Michael Bradley, to try to
    enable him to be something that he is not and never will be: a creative player who sets the rhythm for the game and poses a dynamic threat. It is for this reason that Bob must go, supporting his son over the best interests of the US team. If I was Bob I hope I would do the same!

    It was clear to me all along as I sat there watching the US WC games, It’s got to be Benny! Am I the only one who sees it this way. It was the same at the Confed cup last year, bring Benny on and things start to happen.

    What do you think?

    By the way, love the blog, great writing, great insights.


    • Posted by kaya on 2010/06/28 at 7:06 AM

      I agree with you in that I don’t understand why MB isn’t the DMF role. I continually bemoan his lack of technical ability, but he definitely can ignite both the attack and fortify the defense by his sheer will power. I’ve always believed that BB has insisted on formulating the midfield around his son and it really annoys the hell out of me because this is where our team is the deepest.
      As far as Benny is concerned, I think a lot of people would agree he should’ve been starting based on his form in 2007, however, besides the game against Ghana, I’ve seen a lot of disappointing performances from Benny of late.


    • I still think Mikey Bradley’s best is to be had in a 4-3-3 with a holding player (Edu) and an organizer (Torres, Feilhaber). In fact, once Benny and Edu were on, this was very much how we were playing.
      But, Bob is very attached to the idea of a 2-man defensive shied in front of the back four, despite the fact that it rarely operated as such when it was Jr and Clark. Always one to stick with his guys, Bob allowed Benny to “play himself into form” during the World Cup. Benny was non-existent against Slovenia, somewhat better against Algeria and had his best match against Ghana. You can’t help but think a Bedoya could’ve made a positive impact that Beasley couldn’t since his focus went right back to selling diamonds after making the 23. Things were screaming for a true wide-player (not Holden – he’s the right-sided Benny) against Ghana, but with the wasted sub and none available our attack was far too narrow to get any kind of service into the box.

      But the fact was, the USA needed to drive on for the winning goal when they had the advantage but instead they let the initiative slip back and began, once again, playing not to lose. Bob’s substitution of Gomez for Altidore was just as big a mistake as starting Clark. We lost the thrust of our attack and invited pressure onto our midfield. I think the early goals are conceded because the team is coming out to keep things tight for the first 45 minutes (so they don’t spend the next 45 under pressure) but it just isn’t working – they’re tentative and scared of conceding so inevitably there are let-offs.


      • Posted by Jeremiah on 2010/06/28 at 8:51 AM

        Bob Bradley got the team sheet dead wrong against Ghana. He also sent out an injured center back for the first two games. I like Onyewu, but he was the player most directly responsible for all three goals we surrendered in the group stage.

        Michael Bradley is a very good player. He runs and tackles hard. He has a great knack for scoring goals. He’s got heart. But he is not particularly good or creative in distribution.

        The ability to play the intelligent ball and maintain possession through the midfield is crucial. Donovan and Dempsey are marvelous, but that is not their game.

        Right now we have two players who can possibly do it: Torres and Feilhaber. In my view, Torres is significantly better — despite the fact that Feilhaber showed better in this World Cup. Here’s hoping the next manager does far more with these two.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/06/28 at 9:26 AM

          I’m going to disagree with you here Jeremiah.

          If I’m the States coach, the last thing I want to do is get into a possession “punching match” with teams when the Yanks in possession were neither selected for it during qualifying, schooled on it through qualifying or had the better possession players (see comment about “selected for it.”)

          I think the US did a much better job in the counterattack and clearly when Bob Bradley tried to play a possession game against Slovenia to start his team was neither comfortable nor the players ready for it.

          That ultimately falls to the coach. One of TSG’s biggest gripes was starting Torres against a technically sound defensive team like Slovenia when he wasn’t ready. If you were going to use him, as a starter, he should have started at least….AT LEAST…one game before then.

          That was a gross miscalculation.

          In 2014, perhaps the Yanks will have nurtured more technically sound players to maintain possess and the Yanks can have that option.

          For my part, I would rather see the Yanks cultivate a striker who can finish. That not one of our strikers scored during the World Cup given their chances is a travesty. Had that happened, the Yanks are still alive in World Cup 2010 today.


  24. Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/06/28 at 5:42 AM

    I once again have to say thanks for the best purely soccer driven site I’ve found. Matt you set the tone with spiritd but respectful opinions that leaves room for disagreement without rancor. Great stuff.
    Great point above on MB that I have been sledgehammering at for the last 6 months or longer. If you analyze his strengths/weaknesses the best place for him is in a CAM role. He does not defend well enough for the CDM role nor does he play well with his back to goal.
    (I’m still numb from trying to find the logic algorithim that starts Clark in THAT role in THIS game but…time to move on)
    I think Bob’s biggest sin is in not pairing Edu with him earlier because it forces Mikey to play the CAM and stops him from playing flat and dropping back into that role. Edu’s strength is he commands that role and forces Mike into playing above him where he is most effective.
    Not a true CAM but with this team actually runs the play through the wide guys (LD and Deuce) so Mikey’s not called upon for 100% of the offensive play to flow through him
    I would actually enjoy watching a WC cycle with MB and a strong


  25. Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/06/28 at 5:52 AM

    MB and a strong CDM like Edu.
    I mostly continued my post to issue a public apology to Jonny Bornstein who played his ASS off on Sat. I have been one of his biggest detractor due to his obvious deficiencies in decision making and distribution but he may have been the sides most productive player overall and was surely the best defender. Excellent balls in from out wide and unfortunately no one believed in him on the left side of the pitch either because he could have provided service all day from out wide. He defended aggressively and with confidence after halftime especially. Good on you Jonny. And Bob should get some props for starting him as he acquitted himself well.
    But the Clark start erases any and all positive vibes towards BB after that.

    re Bob going forward, I think the MB and Clark decision make it clear that he is NOT the guy who is going to need to reinvent this side over the next 4 yrs. His inability to bring Torres/Holden/Goodson/Gomez/Buddle etc into this side contributed to the majority of the challenges they faced in ball possession, central defense and forward play in this tournament. For G-s sake Conor freaking Casey had a full runout thru 2009. All you need to know right there. Don’t hate him but he’s not the right guy to go forward.


  26. Posted by Matti on 2010/06/28 at 7:40 AM

    As far as the CM positions, I thought Edu filled in well to pick up the lack of defense in the Slovenia game where Torres was non existent. This forced Michael into playing more of a attacking role, which I think does excellent in making late runs and involved on set plays. But this is not his position. When I look down the bench, I don’t see any talent that could of filled into as a holding midfielder. Michael and Edu are great defensive midfielders, but the US squad was missing a ball distributor. I was hoping Torres could do the job and I guess so did Bob, but it didn’t work out. Our defense struggled in all 4 games forcing Bob to keep on Edu(but why Clark vs Ghana) and Michael. So the alternative was to bring in Benny and pushing Dempsey up top. Coach Bob hands were tied due to lack of talent on the bench. I don’t mind Benny, thought he was ok, but I’m not a huge supporter of Benny. If we want to be a top notch squad, the talent needs to grow. I rather dig deeper for great talent and think we to develop the players who can put great touches on the ball, distribute the ball, survey the field, become the general between the midfield and strikers.


    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2010/06/28 at 9:22 AM

      The Dutch are a great example of how Edu Bradley could play together. Neither DeJoong or V Bommel are excellent going forward. Both focus on closing down and owning the ball in the mid third and distributing to your withdrawn mids and flank players to dictate the offense (Kuyt/Schneider).
      Torres suffered from lack of exposure to the MNT and was thrown into a tough spot in my opinion.


  27. Posted by Mark T on 2010/06/28 at 9:35 AM

    Well…at least Gulati recognizes that the World Cup was a failure, the players need to be better and our forwards haven’t scored since 2002…that’s a start, right?



  28. Posted by DanPA on 2010/06/28 at 9:41 AM

    Gulati says: … needs more MLS!


    • In order to win, we need to get rid of the culture of winning and instill a culture of development. All coaching below age 12 should focus primarily on individual skills and should eschew 11v11 games. We need coaches that have a clue at the key developmental age levels of 12-17. This is the key to further development of the national team – is really all down to developing high-quality coaches in this age-range.

      There should be regional academies that are closer to home that pursue a standardized curriculum which ensures all top players having had an opportunity to play 4-4-2, 3-5-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1 systems in rather than a single national residency program. Winning should not be important. Within each academy, teams should be formed to play in one of the systems for 2-3 months, then disbanded, reshuffled and re-formed. Parity between these teams, tactical awareness and positionally flexibility should be the focus.

      We’ve gone as far as Project 40 type stuff is going to take us. We need a broader view of player development.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/29 at 4:30 AM

        Agreed WRT the focus on individual skills.

        However, I think small sided games such as 5 or 6 a-side is the way forward for U10s as you get more touches on the ball. And two-touch football as it encourages pass and move; making sure your first touch is spot on, and increases your awareness.


  29. Posted by Zo on 2010/06/28 at 9:45 AM

    So when is TSG going to give us some depth on the coaching discussion? If Bradley is a consideration, what can he bring that is new in the next four years? If there is better out there, who is it and how likely are those candidates to want a crack at US?


  30. Posted by Keller27 on 2010/06/29 at 4:58 PM

    No one can say that our time in South Africa wasn’t marked by success. All i can say is, for good or bad, all we accomplished we did in the name of the father, the son, and holy defence.


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