28 June 2009

US 2-3 Brazil

Spector DeMerit Onyewu Bocanegra
Dempsey Clark Feilhaber Donovan
Altidore Davies

Dempsey 10’
Donovan 27’
Luis Fabiano 46’ 74’
Lucio 85’

So close and so far. My allegiances were far less conflicted in this match, and no surprise, the result was a bit different. But for a moment there…

The first half was stuff of dreams, even less believable than Victory. The second half was far less surprising, but all the more disappointing given where the US stood at the break. And those Liverpool fans who saw United come back against Spurs a couple of months ago will have felt some déjà vu.

Unsurprisingly, Brazil pressed the Americans early on, but the US was first on the board again, from their first attack. And again it was Spector to Dempsey, and a cross from the right back cleverly redirected with a right-footed volley past Julio Cesar.

Brazil stormed down from the field from the restart, with Howard making the first of countless fantastic saves on Robinho's effort. Two US chances from corners quickly followed after Davies' break, but it didn’t take long to revert to ‘all hands on deck,’ as it was for long stretches against Spain. Notably, Howard had to make two more stops, on Felipe Melo and Maicon, in the 25th and 26th minutes.

And then it was two, with an absolutely textbook counter-attack goal. Donovan broke following a corner and found Davies on the left. Somehow the striker got the ball back to Donovan (seriously looked like he had no angle), Landycakes checked back onto his left at the top of the box, steadied himself, goal. Holy shit.

And the US could have had a third in the 30th, but Donovan’s cross just too far in front of Davies and Altidore, who both looked like they’d beaten the offside trap. From there on out, it was all Brazil, with ESPN helpfully pointing out that the first half possession was 60-40 in Brazil’s favor. Howard made at least three more saves before the break, while Maicon’s deflected cross whistled across the face of goal on the stroke of halftime.

Unfortunately for the US, they suffered the worst possible start to the second half. 41 seconds in, and it’s 2-1. A cross in from Maicon, a wonderful quick turn by Fabiano, fooling DeMerit, and the lead’s halved. If they don’t let it that goal, there’s a chance. A full 45 minutes left with only a one-goal advantage is frightening.

The goal marked the beginning on an onslaught more furious than the one faced on Wednesday. If the possession was 60-40 in the first half, it had to be something like 70-30 in the second. If it wasn’t for Tim Howard, the second goal would have come a lot earlier, and the US would have lost by a few more. First, he stopped a bullet Lucio header at the back post in the 58th before controversy two minutes later when Kaka’s back post header looked over the line before Howard palmed it away.

Donovan and Dempsey shots from distance saved by Cesar in the 65th and 66th were the US’s lone chances during the blitz, while Howard kept the US in front when he took the ball off Fabiano’s foot with the striker through in the 71st.

But the dam finally broke in the 74th. It looked like the crossbar would keep Brazil out again after Kaka’s cross found Elano at the far post, but Fabiano was there for the rebound and his brace. 2-2 after 30 minutes of constant pressure did not bode well, and after DeMerit came up huge against Fabiano in the box, Lucio slammed home the resulting corner. Well, fuck. It was nice while it lasted. There was a glimmer of hopewhen Gooch headed over in the 88th, but it wasn’t to be.

Skeptics will wonder where the hell this team came from. Diehards will claim this is what the Yanks have always been capable of, and they even should have won. The truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle.

As said after the Spain match, it’s a hell of a lot different when you play without pressure. And although there were certainly nerves making the final, against Brazil no less, they still weren’t expected to be there and weren’t expected to win. At the same time, they haven't played as well as a unit in these last two matches since the ’02 World Cup. And the backline was the best I've ever seen from the US.

It’s almost better for the US’ World Cup hopes that they lost today. A win would have raised expectations too high and painted a big target on their backs. This provides incentive and proves they can hang with the big boys.

A win certainly would have caused a media stir, but this’ll still be headline news on ESPN and in local sports pages, and even soccer-haters like Jim Rome will be discussing it tomorrow. And the rest of the world will take notice. It may not be the long-hoped for tipping point for American soccer, but it’s another step in the game’s evolution on these shores.


muffins said...

Well said, Nate.

Shawn said...

Do you believe any US players earned themselves a chance to play in a big league in Europe? Altidore seems a sure bet for a move, but what about Donovan? Surely he's going to get better than a 2 month run off of Bayern's bench.

Anyone else? Feilhaber looked like a player whenever he got a chance. It'll also be interesting to see what happens with Spector at West Ham, he looked like a solid player throughout.

Anonymous said...

Top post nate...I wanted USA 2 WIN ;(

Mike Georger said...

Did Liege not want to keep Gooch around? If he had the choice between there and Turkey, not sure why he would go with the latter. The Belgian league (and country) are very much on the rise, that team is pretty damn good (as we saw this year first hand).

Anonymous said...

Enjoyable read(s) as usual, Nate. A couple of thoughts...

- LanDo had a wonderful past couple of games. As you mention, I was similarly pleased with his defensive effort. His goal today was perfect -- a great ball from Davies and a real calm & cool finish.

- Onyewu was another guy who had an impressive stretch. It seemed like he got to 95% of crosses in the box. It doesn't hurt that he's built like a freakin' linebacker...

- Bradley definitely would've been nice to have in the second half. Brazil still would've had a majority of possession but another defensive-minded midfielder certainly wouldn't have hurt.

I just wanted to see them compete against the better teams and they almost knocked off two top-five teams. Great great stuff the past few games...

Mike Georger said...

I was just looking at the official LFC boards and someone made the inevitable 'we should sign an American!' thread about Donovan. People were acting like the poster had committed an affront to God, absolutely hilarious stuff.

(Though as I said two years ago I'd take Dempsey as a squad player).

Mike Georger said...

Oh man, some internet outlets are reporting we let Anderson sign for Notts on a permanent deal. Really had hope he would break through. Guess it's down to Hammill then.

Mike Georger said...

Another brilliant article by Tomkins on the silly season.

Anonymous said...

Nate - I love 'Oh You Beauty' and would like to offer a couple of suggestions, which could improve the reader experience.

At the moment OYB has loads of depth (amazing articles) but it lacks width (on the screen that is).

By this I mean you can use a whole lot more screen real estate for the posts themselves.

In Blogger under the Edit HTML section, it's quite easy to make adjustments to the width of your blog / posts.

I've included some suggested widths below which is more in line with that of popular blogs. Also it might be an idea to increase the font size you currently use to the next level up ('normal' looks big in the post edit screen but on the blog itself the text is not big but perfectly normal and readable).

#header-wrapper {

#outer-wrapper {
width: 900px;

#main-wrapper {
width: 600px;

#sidebar-wrapper {
width: 250px;

(if you try the above, you'll see it gives you plenty of white space on the sides of the blog and also inbetween the posts and sidebar section).

Your 'Archives' & 'Subscribe' sections is something which you should move towards the top of your sidebar, it makes things much more accessible to people on the blog (also increases the pageviews for OYB).

Having 12 posts open on the homepage slows down the loading of the blog quite a bit, having 4 or 5 posts is sufficient given the frequency of your posting, but will increase blog loading times.

I don't mean to offend with any of the above, I just think your blog could be so much more than it already is.

Keep up the amazing work on your blog :-)

nate said...

Wow, thanks so so so much. Not offended in the slightest. Will be playing with those alterations.

Thanks again. The suggestions are really appreciated.

nate said...

So I went with 800px, 800px, 500px, and 225px, because the dimensions listed above felt a little bit stretched. Either way, it's a lot better.

I left the font size the same. This size just feels more normal, but I admittedly like the text smaller.

Long story short, thanks again to Anonymous, and I'd really like regular readers' thoughts on these changes and any other layout alterations.

Anonymous said...

@Nate - glad you liked it :-)

It might be an idea to move the Archives even further up (the logic being most people have screen sizes which will cut off the Archives from being seen when they first land on OYB.

An easy way for this is to remove some redundant stuff....

For example the 'about bit (on lfc, premier, soccer etc)' and your email address could go under the same link you use for "Why Oh You Beauty?" (just edit this older post to reflect contact details and a little more about OYB info).

Here's some code you can use for that blogger gadget which will make the link more prominent

Select html/javascript :-

"Why "Oh You Beauty?""

Anonymous said...

@Nate - damn that code didn't display properly at all and just gave you a link instead !?!

I'll email you the code later when I get home from work

iskoppa said...

@Nate, it looks loads better mate!!

@Anonymous, nice one geezer!

Mike Georger said...

I find this new wide format scary and confusing. I fear change!