June 28, 2009


Brazil shows why it's Brazil (Gabrielle Marcotti, 6/28/09, SI)

[I]n the first half Sunday, Brazil looked fairly dazed, shell-shocked by the U.S.' one-two punch of Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. If the first goal was a function of some not-so-tight marking (a fact which made Dunga blue in the face), the second was the result of a perfectly executed U.S. counterattack. Donovan to Charlie Davies, back to Donovan, André Santos turned inside-out, ball in the back of the net. It was textbook stuff, intelligently and accurately executed.

Dunga may no doubt have been tempted to change things around at halftime. The thunder-and-lightning combination of Jozy Altidore and Davies was giving his defenders -- particularly Luisão -- fits. Meanwhile, Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu were effectively shackling Fabiano while, in central midfield, despite the absence of Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark and Benny Feilhaber were forcing Kaká into uncomfortable positions.

Then, barely after the second-half kickoff, came Luís Fabiano's goal, a gorgeous swivel and shot which halved the U.S. lead and swung the momentum decisively the other way. The timing of goals does matter and, perhaps, the worst possible time to concede is either side of the break.

Brazil ratcheted up the pressure, Tim Howard was called to make a number of fine saves (the kind which deservedly won him the goalkeeper of the tournament accolade, despite conceding nine in four outings) and you got the sense it was just a matter of time before the Seleção broke through. Kaká's header should have been the equalizer -- Howard palmed it away after the ball had crossed the goal line -- but the goal wasn't awarded. No matter. Fabiano's strike made it 2-2 after Robinho hit the crossbar with the U.S. goal under a full-fledged siege.

U.S. head coach Bob Bradley had no cards left to play at this stage. With Altidore off the pitch, there wasn't much punch left and, in some ways, Lúcio's winning header was predictable. There was only so much of a battering the admirable Onyewu-DeMerit partnership could take before eventually crumbling.

"Look, we played well, we gave them a very good fight," said Dempsey after the match. "It's just that they created more chances and scored more goals and deserved to win. Sometimes you just have to accept that."

US coach Bob Bradley made himself unfireable in a tournament that demonstrated why the US would benefit from an upgrade.

There's no shame in losing to Brazil, but it was a game the US could have, maybe even should have, won. He waited too long to bring on subs, when we could have used fresh legs, and because they came on immediately after the Brazilians tied, he ended up taking off the two guys who might have gotten a third for us--Altidore and Feilhaber--while bringing in a very uncertain Klestjens, who got burnt repeatedly, including on the play that set up the winning corner, and made almost no decent passes. Midfield was always going to be a problem with his son suspended for the game, but Jose Francisco Torres would have been a better choice if you insisted on removing Feilhaber and Davies should have come off instead of Altidore. If nothing else, they lost on a set piece which Altidore had cleared two of earlier. Dempsey should have been in Davies spot from the start.

A win here would have been a nice surprise--well, a shocker really--but the game they have to win is in Mexico in August. The talent level of this squad is high enough that no more excuses for losing to inferior teams--like Italy--should be accepted. America ought to be one of the teams mention as a threat to win the 2010 World Cup.

Selecao comeback ends U.S. dream (ESPN SoccerNet, June 28, 2009)

Brazil, which won its third Confederations Cup title, looked like a beaten team in the first half, creating little and being constantly stymied by the United States defense and goalkeeper Tim Howard.

But Fabiano started the comeback in the 46th minute as Brazil's "Beautiful Game" burst into life. The striker collected a pass from Ramires before turning and shooting past defender Jay DeMerit for his fourth goal of the tournament.

He added a fifth in the 74th, heading in a rebound after Kaka's cross was kicked against the crossbar by Robinho.

Dempsey, who also scored in the 2-0 semifinal win over Spain, gave the Americans the lead in the 10th minute by redirecting a cross from Jonathan Spector. Donovan added the second by finishing off some nice passing play with Charlie Davies on a fast counterattack in the 27th.

Brazil battle back to down US in cup final (The National, June 29. 2009)
The defending champions Brazil fought back from 2-0 down to beat the United States 3-2 and win the Confederations Cup for the third time after a hugely entertaining final.

The Americans, who shocked the European champions Spain in the semi-finals, looked set for another huge upset when goals by Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan put them 2-0 ahead at half-time.

Brazil rallies to defeat U.S., 3-2: The Americans surrender a two-goal lead as Brazil avoids an upset to win its second consecutive Confederations Cup championship.
By Grahame L. Jones, June 28, 2009, LA Times)
Producing the best soccer it has played in recent memory, the United States men's national team came within a whisker Sunday of pulling off its second staggering international soccer upset in just five days.

After shutting out Spain, the world's No. 1-ranked team, 2-0, in midweek, the U.S. was leading Brazil by the same score at halftime in the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Americans still held a 2-1 advantage with less than 20 minutes remaining.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 28, 2009 4:46 PM
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