Monday, June 29, 2009

USA Put On A Show

My phone was ringing asking me if I could believe what was happening.

I was getting text messages...people were shocked.

The USA was leading Brazil, 2-0 Sunday in the Confederations Cup Final in South Africa, and friends of mine that never professed to watch the game on television, even when I was broadcasting a Fire match, were watching. All this despite the fact that the Sox/Cubs game started at the same time.

I have given up years ago trying to convert my friends to fans of the game. There are enough people that love the "beautiful game", that you can always find someone to discuss it with, especially once you post something on a blog, or Facebook.

The USA played so miserably in the first two games of the tournament with losses to Italy and Brazil, by a combined score of 6-1. Everyone expected a close game against Egypt, and the Red, White and Blue would be on their way home.

It didn't work out that way, as the USA scored a 3-0 win over Egypt, and advanced after Italy was blown out by Brazil.

The win over Spain was amazing. The top team in the world, going down for the first time in three years, in 35 matches. Next was Brazil. The USA had already lost 3-0 to Kaka and company, and looked bad doing it.

An early goal by Clint Dempsey, on a great service into the box by local kid, Jonathan Spector, and the USA was shocking the world...again!

Landon Donovan and Charley Davies showed their speed up top, and on the counter attack, Donovan's goal made it 2-0. This, just moments after Alexei Ramirez belted a two run homer off Carlos Zambrano. It was looking like a good day.

But Brazil came back, as you knew they would. Three second half goals, including on just two minutes into the final 45, and the USA would have to settle for second place in the tournament.

People had been screaming that maybe Bob Bradley isn't the right coach for this team. That he was not putting out the best possible lineup. Everyone has their opinion on lineup changes, not just baseball fans.

I feel Charley Davies, with his speed, was the key to the USA'a success in the tournament. It also allowed Landon Donovan to use his quickness and skills around the top of the box. Jozy Altidore is a great talent for a 19 year old, but he needs to run. He needs to run after everything up front. Every ball that is fed to him, no matter how wide. He needs to work for the entire game, and then, he will be fine as the forward up top with Davies.

Michael Bradley was unable to play in the match after receiving a red card versus Egypt. That was the third red for the USA in the first four games. They can not do that next year in the World Cup. I am not a big fan of Ricardo Clark, Sasha Kljestan or Pablo Mastroeni in the midfield, but I don't know that there is anyone else to play that spot.

On the back line, I feel Spector, Jay DeMerit, (from Green Bay, WI), and Bocanegra do a good job. Oguchi Onyewu played well on balls into the box.

I was fortunate enough to travel to Germany for ten days during the World Cup in 2006, and had the time of my life. Going to fan fests in Frankfort, Cologne and Munich, drinking beers and watching soccer with people who passionately love the game.

I will not be able to make the tournament next year, unless a broadcast entity needs someone to broadcast the game or carry a cord on the sideline, but after the USA's play against Spain and Brazil, I can't wait for the tournament to begin.

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