Archive | World Cup notebook

Algeria players, coach sing Yanks’ praises

Posted on 24 June 2010 by ASN Staff

Algeria’s head coach and several of the team’s players showed themselves gracious in defeat yesterday, after their team was eliminated from the 2010 World Cup at the hand of the U.S. Men’s National Team. The result, a 1-0 decision in the Americans’ favor, is being hailed as a watershed event for U.S. soccer. Several members of the Algerian contingent came away impressed as well.

“It’s a team that is very organized, very well prepared physically and which has extraordinary courage and spirit,” Algeria head coach Rabah Saadane said of the U.S. nats. “We saw that last year at the Confederations Cup…It’s a football that is very physical, very American.”

“It’s a team that works very hard…they have a lot of unity…we lost against a very good team,” said defender Nadir Belhadj, who last year played for Portsmouth in the English Premier League.

“It was difficult; the USA has a very good team,” added Glasgow Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra. “They play on a very high level.”

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Donovan, Bradley lead rally to salvage point from Slovenia

Posted on 18 June 2010 by ASN Staff

Well at least we can say we told you so. The U.S. Men’s National Team, who were supposed to be the favorites coming into their match against Slovenia, found themselves down two goals at halftime and needed a frantic endgame to salvage a point at Ellis Park Stadium. The draw nevertheless leaves the U.S. only marginal hope of advancing to the elimination round, pending the outcome of tonight’s England v Algeria match.

Still, the U.S. can take heart from a tremendous effort and another “moral victory”. The Yanks even appeared to snag a winner a few moments from time but a phantom offside call nullified what would have been the winning goal from Maurice Edu.

Carlos Bocanegra discusses the play in question here:

The game started fine for the Yanks. A few minutes in, Michael Bradley played a pretty ball between two Slovenia defenders into the path but a little too deep for Robbie Findley. Bradley especially seemed to be finding his feetBut just as the U.S. seemed to be getting comfortable, Slovenia’s Bojan Jokic suddenly found himself with acres of space about 25 yards in front of Tim Howard’s goal. None of the three U.S. players who were in Jokic’ vicinity challenged the Chievo man, who ran a few steps and unleashed a drive past a frozen Howard into the top right corner of the goal. 1-0 Slovenia.

The U.S. reaction took a little while but was powerful once it did happen. Slovenia goalkeeper Samir Handanovic burst off his line to clear a Landon Donovan cross that was bound for the head of a wide open Clint Dempsey. Handanovic then robbed Jose Torres on a directly-taken freekick, this time from the other side of the field. Findley found himself with space and time on a breakaway but wasted the opportunity. Slovenia defender Miso Brecko cleared a cross-goalmouth pass from Dempsey a split second before Donovan could deposit it into a wide open net.

A few minutes later, Oguchi Onyewu was caught flat-footed, which kept Zlatan Ljublijankic onside. The forward, who earns his money for Gent of the Belgian league, slotted the ball past Howard. 2-0 Slovenia.

At halftime Bradley brought Benny Feilhaber and Maurice Edu for Jose Torres and Robbie Findley, respectively. Dempsey moved into Findley’s vacant spot at forward with Edu moving into the holding midfielder role. The move paid almost immediate dividends as Landon Donovan found space on the right wing and slammed the ball past Handanovic. The USA were back in the game.

Bradley brought them level, putting a half volley into the roof of the net. 2-2.

U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report

FIFA World Cup group stage: United States vs. Slovenia, June 18, 2010
Venue: Ellis Park – Johannesburg, South Africa
Kickoff: 4 p.m. local time
Attendance: 45,573
Weather: Sunny and dry, 57 degrees Fahrenheit

Scoring Summary:

SVN – Valter Birsa 13th minute
SVN – Zlatan Ljubijankic (Milivoje Novakovic) 42
USA – Landon Donovan (Steve Cherundolo) 48
USA – Michael Bradley (Jozy Altidore) 82

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Steve Cherundolo, 15-Jay DeMerit, 5-Oguchi Onyewu (9-Herculez Gomez, 80), 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 8-Clint Dempsey, 4-Michael Bradley, 16-Jose Torres (19-Maurice Edu, 46), 10-Landon Donovan; 20-Robbie Findley (Benny Feilhaber, 46), 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used: 6-Jonathan Spector, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Stuart Holden, 12, Jonathan Bornstein, 13 -Ricardo Clark, 17-Jozy Altidore, 18-Brad Guzan, 21-Clarence Goodson, 23-Marcus Hahnemann
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

SVN: 1-Samir Handanovic; 2-Miso Brecko, 4-Marko Suler, 5-Bostjan Cesar, 13-Bojan Jokic; 8-Robert Koren (capt.), 9-Zlatan Ljubijankic (7-Nejc Pecnik, 74; 20-Andrej Komac, 90+4), 10-Valter Birsa (14-Zlatko Dedic, 87), 17-Andraz Kirm, 18-Aleksandar Radosavljevic; 11-Milivoje Novakovic
Subs not used: 12-Jasmin Handanovic, 16-Aleksander Seliga; 3-Elvedin Dzinic, 6-Branko Ilic, 15-Rene Krhin, 19-Suad Filekovic, 21-Dalibor Stevanovic, 22-Matej Mavric, 23-Tim Matavz
Head Coach: Matjaz Kek

Stats Summary:
USA / SVN
Shots: 14 / 7
Shots on Goal: 6 / 4
Saves: 2 / 4
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 18 / 15
Offside: 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
SVN – Bostjan Cesar (caution) 35th minute
USA – Robbie Findley (caution) 40
SVN – Marko Suler (caution) 69
SVN – Andraz Kirm (caution) 72
SVN – Bojan Jokic (caution) 75

Officials:

Referee: Koman Coulibaly (MLI)
Assistant Referee 1: Redouane Achik (MAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Inacio Candido (ANG)
Fourth Official: Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh (MAS)

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Howard ready to go and Yanks will need him

Posted on 15 June 2010 by ASN Staff

The United States Men’s National Team faces Slovenia Friday in a crucial group stage match that will go a long way toward determining their chances of advancing to the elimination round. The team’s best player, goalkeeper Tim Howard, has been cleared to play according to a statement from the U.S. Soccer Federation. This is a good thing because the Slovenian attack could present a difficult challenge for an American defense that looked porous in the 1-1 draw with England.

Slovenia’s 1-0 victory over Algeria probably could have gone either way, with the North African side having many of the better chances. But a gaffe by Algerian goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi on a shot from Robert Koren led to the only goal of the game. Slovenia can expect no such favors from Howard on Friday. But that doesn’t mean they won’t get their chances.

Milivoje Novakovic, the 6’4 striker in the services of FC Cologne in Germany, scores nearly every other game for the Igralci and didn’t score against Algeria so…you do the math. Zlatko Dedic is a workmanlike forward who also earns his paycheck in Germany. He seems to have an aptitude for finding soft spots in between defenders. And the American centerbacks have not exactly proved efficient at marking the last couple of games. Then there’s Koren, the only guy U.S. soccer fans will likely have heard of for his stint at West Bromwich Albion. With Steve Cherundolo the only American defender to turn in an acceptable performance against England (and then some, he was actually excellent), you can expect these guys to get their shots.

That said, none of them are particularly fast, which suits the Yank defenders. And Oguchi Onyewu can certainly match Novakovic for size and brawn. Plus the Slovenian defense looked susceptible against Algeria–despite having two Serie A guys, Bostjan Cesar and Bojan Jokic. Landon Donovan should have more room to operate than he did against England. Hopefully Bob Bradley has learned from his mistake of starting Robbie Findley and will go with Herculez Gomez instead. But don’t be too sure.

With a victory the U.S. is as good as through to the elimination round. A draw would leave everything to play for in the final against Algeria. A loss would put the Americans in a spot of needing help to advance. In such instance, Slovenia would book an unlikely spot in the elimination round. But they’d also be in excellent shape with a draw. Bottom line: Expect another close one.

And oh yeah, expect some goals. Full prediction to follow later in the week.

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Rustenberg and the lessons learned

Posted on 13 June 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

Howard was the man against England ©ASN

“England starting to get a little lackadaisical?” This is, no joke, a line from my match notes, right before Robert Greene’s gaffe gifted the U.S. Men’s National Team the equalizer at Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium. There would be no more goals on the night. The 1-1 score held up as final. On a chilly night in South Africa’s North West province, 38,646 spectators (5,354 short of a sellout, which explains why this guy was able to procure a ticket at half of face value 30 minutes before kick off) witnessed a thrilling match that certainly held up to expectations.

England were probably better on the night–perhaps even clearly better. But it would be incorrect to say the draw flatters the U.S., who once again made up for their technical shortcomings with resolve, workrate and what the French call a certain esprit de corps (group morale, pretty much). And of course terrific goalkeeping from Tim Howard.

Problem is, these have always been the U.S. team’s strengths. And its weaknesses–a slow, error-prone defense and lack of creativity in midfield, primarily–were on full display as well.

So a great leap forward, this was not, even though many in South Africa came away impressed from the Yanks’ performance. It was nice to hear the kind words, but the bottom line is Bob Bradley’s team face the same old questions entering a crucial date with Slovenia at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park on Friday.

These are (in no particular order):

  • How healthy and in-form is Oguchi Onyewu really? His performance against England was mixed, at best.
  • Who is Jozy Altidore’s attacking partner? It obviously shouldn’t be Robbie Findley, who might have surprised England once or twice with his speedy runs but otherwise contributed little. This of course is a perfect lead-in to the next question
  • Why won’t Bradley play Herculez Gomez? What, is he not scoring enough goals or something?
  • Who plays left back? Carlos Bocanegra isn’t up for it, though he had some nice tackles and worked hard, as always. Why doesn’t Jonathan Spector start at that position?
  • What’s with Bob Bradley’s substitution policy? Why wait until the 77th minute of a tied game to go to the bench? And then do it for another forward? And why only two subs?
  • Besides Landon Donovan, who can create chances for the American forwards? Michael Bradley’s passing was too slow and too predictable last night. One would like to see more of Stuart Holden. Maybe Freddy Adu should have made this team after all? Maybe we shouldn’t go there

These questions are unlikely to be answered during this tournament. But they remain the crucial roadblocks to sustained international success by the U.S. national team. The responsibility is not all Bradley’s because many of these things are due to lack of depth or come back to inadequate technical training at the youth level. The new Major League Soccer academies should go a long way toward changing that.

But how long will the growing legion of USA Soccer Nation remain? Ultimately Bradley is going to have to answer to these things. Or at least demonstrate he is familiar with the material that make up the answers. If the U.S. fail to survive the group stage (still a distinct possibility at this point) he’s a goner; U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati has effectively said as much. But if the Yanks sneak into the elimination round and go nowhere can it really be considered progress?

We’ll just have to wait and see. The next 10 days should be very interesting.

U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report

FIFA World Cup: United States vs. England, June 12, 2010
Venue: Royal Bafokeng Stadium – Rustenburg
Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. local time
Attendance: 38,646
Weather: Clear and cool, 57 degrees Fahrenheit

Scoring Summary:

ENG – Steven Gerrard (Emile Heskey) 4th minute
USA – Clint Dempsey 40

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 15-Jay DeMerit, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.); 10-Landon Donovan,13 -Ricardo Clark, 4-Michael Bradley, 8-Clint Dempsey; 20-Robbie Findley (14-Edson Buddle, 77), 17-Jozy Altidore (11-Stuart Holden, 86)
Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 9-Herculez Gomez, 12-Jonathan Bornstein, 16-Jose Torres, 18-Brad Guzan, 19-Maurice Edu, 21-Clarence Goodson, 22-Benny Feilhaber, 23-Marcus Hahnemann
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

ENG: 12-Robert Green; 2-Glen Johnson, 6-John Terry, 20-Ledley King (18-Jamie Carragher, 46), 3-Ashley Cole; 7-Aaron Lennon, 8-Frank Lampard, 4-Steven Gerrard (capt.), 16-James Milner (Shaun Wright-Phillips, 31); 10-Wayne Rooney, 21-Emile Heskey (9-Peter Crouch, 79)
Subs not used: 1-David James, 5-Michael Dawson, 11-Joe Cole, 13-Stephen Warnock, 14-Gareth Barry, 15-Matthew Upson, 19-Jermain Defoe, 22-Michael Carrick, 23-Joe Hart
Head Coach: Fabio Capello

Stats Summary:
USA / ENG
Shots: 13 / 18
Shots on Goal: 4 / 8
Saves: 6 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 8
Fouls: 14 / 12
Offside: 2 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
ENG – James Milner (caution) 26th minute
USA – Steve Cherundolo (caution) 39
USA – Jay DeMerit (caution) 47
ENG – Jamie Carragher (caution) 60
ENG – Steven Gerrard (caution) 61
USA – Robbie Findley (caution) 74

Officials:
Referee: Carlos Simon (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Altemir Hausmann (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto Braatz (BRA)
Fourth Official: Eddy Maillet (SEY)

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USA v England will have Brazilian officiating crew

Posted on 07 June 2010 by Nathaniel E. Baker

FIFA has named the referees for the first 16 matches of the 2010 World Cup, with a Brazilian crew named for the USA-England match on June 12 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa.

Carlos Simon, who officiated in both the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups, will be the referee. According to FIFA’s media kit, Simon does not speak English, which means he will not be able to communicate with England’s players, at least not verbally. (Unless I am wrong with my assumption that none of them speak Spanish or Portuguese, listed as Simon’s only spoken languages). U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra speaks Spanish, as do several of his teammates, including Landon Donovan. A slight advantage for the Yanks, perhaps?

Cue the English tabloids. It turns out they’ve had target practice with Simon before. In a 2006 game between Germany and Sweden, he was criticized for sending off Sweden’s Teddy Lucic for a second bookable offense. He also controversially grinned at Lucic after pulling out the red card. According to The Independent, Simon is a bit of a flight risk.

Simon also refereed Italy-Ghana and Spain-Tunisia in the group stage of 2006. In 2002, he did two group matches, England’s 1-1 draw with Sweden (links to BBC match report) and Mexico vs. Italy (another 1-1 draw). He also did the 2007 Copa America, though no matches involving the U.S.

The full crew for June 12:
Referee: Carlos SIMON (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Altemir HAUSMANN (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Roberto BRAATZ (BRA)
Fourth Official: Eddy MAILLET (SEY)

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Yanks drop Aussies in final World Cup tune-up

Posted on 05 June 2010 by ASN Staff

Edson Buddle ©Mike Murphy/ASN

The U.S. Men’s National Team played won an uninspiring friendly match against Australia in the final World Cup tune-up for both teams on Saturday. Edson Buddle notched a brace for the winning Yanks and Herculez Gomez (again!) found the scoresheet in stoppage time for a final 3-1 score. Both sides seemed to be playing the match in second or third gear. Still, head coach Bob Bradley left Landon Donovan in the game for the entire 90 minutes, needlessly exposing the team’s best field player to injury on a shoddy pitch. Vote in the poll on Bradley’s substitution policies:
[polldaddy poll=3303842]

Match Facts

U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team vs Australia Friendly
Date: June 5, 2010
Venue: Ruimsig Stadium; Roodepoort, South Africa
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. local (8:30 a.m. ET)
Weather: Fair, 66 degrees

Scoring Summary:

USA – Edson Buddle 4th minute
AUS – Tim Cahill (Luke Wilkshire) 19
USA – Edson Buddle (Steve Cherundolo) 31
USA – Herculez Gomez (Landon Donovan) 90+3

Lineups:
USA: 1-Tim Howard (23-Marcus Hahnemann, 46); 6-Steve Cherundolo, 15-Jay DeMerit, 21-Clarence Goodson (5-Oguchi Onyewu, 61) , 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.) (12-Jonathan Bornstein, 55); 10-Landon Donovan, 13-Ricardo Clark, 4-Michael Bradley, 8-Clint Dempsey (9-Herculez Gomez, 82); 20-Robbie Findley, 14-Edson Buddle (7-DaMarcus Beasley, 78)
Subs not used: 18-Brad Guzan, 2-Jonathan Spector, 11-Stuart Holden, 16-José Torres, 17-Jozy Altidore, 19-Maurice Edu, 22-Benny Feilhaber
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

AUS: 1-Mark Schwarzer; 8-Luke Wilkshire, 2-Lucas Neill (capt.), 3-Craig Moore, 11-Scott Chipperfield; 19-Richard Garcia, 13-Vince Grella, 4-Tim Cahill (16-Carl Valeri, 46), 5-Jason Culina (22-Dario Vidosic, 61), 23-Mark Bresciano; 9-Josh Kennedy (17-Nikita Rukavytsya, 71)
Subs not used: 12-Adam Federici, 18-Brad Jones, 6-Michael Beauchamp, 7-Brett Emerton, 10-Harry Kewell, 14-Brett Holman, 15-Mile Jedniak, 20-Mark Milligan, 21-David Carney
Head Coach: Pim Verbeek

Stats Summary:
USA / AUS
Shots: 11 / 14
Shots on Goal: 6 / 6
Saves: 5 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 8
Fouls: 10 / 6
Offside: 4 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Clint Dempsey (caution) 37th minute
AUS – Craig Moore (caution) 37
AUS – Vince Grella (caution) 76

Officials:

Referee: Addul Ebrahim (RSA)
Assistant Referee 1: Luyanda Somi (RSA)
Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Reezers (RSA)
Fourth Official: Daniel Bennett (RSA)

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