Unbelievable

Image Courtesy of The Guardian/Getty Images

Image Courtesy of The Guardian/Getty Images

So much for “just having fun,” eh?

4th Quarter Punts sums it up as well as anyone. Just a shocking result. Not the World Cup, but a statement win, all the same, and completely deserved, despite all the chances Spain created. Our defenders were immense, as was Tim Howard. We created maybe three good chances and converted two. So often in soccer, that can be the bottom line.

The reward is probably a rematch with Brazil, although since South Africa is hosting the Confederations Cup, you can’t entirely rule out another upset. Again, it’s all gravy since this isn’t World Cup qualifying or the Finals themselves, but if the players can ride the confidence a win like this supplies, who knows where things will end up come next June? Every fan can be proud of this moment.

One aside though, sympathies for the family and friends of prominent Iowa high school football coach Ed Thomas, who was shot dead this morning inside his school’s weight room. Four NFL lineman played under him, and he mentored countless others.

Advertisements

USA vs. Brazil Second Half

11:01- Landon Donovan moves to the wing. Conor Casey on for Beasley. Game restarts.

11:04- Best chance from the U.S. so far. Good interplay between Casey and Jozy Altidore leads to a shot which Altidore blazes over. Bornstein then tries to whip in a ball but doesn’t connect.

11:09- Nice passing from Brazil gives Robinho a scoring chance. He tries to lob Tim Howard, which probably wasn’t the best idea- Howard is definitely a good athlete and easily catches the effort.

11:11- Kaka makes space and fires a stinging volley from the edge of the box, but Howard palms it away. Sacha Kljestan takes down Ramires with a late challenge on the ankle after losing the ball and Dunga is fuming.

11:15- Red Card. Massimo Busacca thinks about Kljestan’s challenge for a bit, and decides that the U.S. midfielder has to go. Bad challenge to be sure, and another red for the Americans after Ricardo Clark was dismissed against Italy- this sending-off was hardly debatable, unlike Clark’s. Once again down to 10 players on the field. Benny Feilhaber, a native of Brazil, is getting ready for a possible appearance. Kaka shouts for a penalty after he goes down, but nothing given.

11:17- Feilhaber on for Altidore. Some American fans may not like this, but the one forward set-up has worked for the U.S. in the past. Either Feilhaber or Bradley could link to Casey up-front, as can Donovan or Dempsey.

11:20- Goal for Brazil. Maicon storms in to the box and scores from a tight angle, which undoubtedly will irk Tim Howard a bit. 3-0 and how many could it be for Brazil with 25 minutes still to play?

11:26- Kaka leaves to a standing ovation, replaced by Julio “The Beast” Baptista. Luis Fabiano goes as well, with Nilmar coming on. Not exactly calling off the dogs- Brazil’s team is usually far too deep for that. Decent free-kick from Donovan narrowly misses Bradley and Dempsey, who were ready to pounce. Brazil ends up making their final change now too, as Luisao replaces Lucio.

11:31- Game starting to peter out with 15 minutes left.

11:38- U.S. nearly scores, but Spector hits the underside of the bar. No protests from the Yanks. Baptista leads a counterattack and his shot is saved by Howard.

11:41- Bradley blocks a Robinho cross.

11:45- A few final thrusts from Brazil, but the U.S. defenders keep them at bay. Three minutes to be added on.

11:49- One last free-kick for Dempsey. He blazes it over the bar. That should do it.

11:50- Full-time. Brazil gets to six points with a 3-0 win, and is definitely in the semis. A win over Italy in the group finale would guarantee them first place in the group. A draw or win for Italy in today’s late game against Egypt would officially eliminate the U.S.; a win would also knock out Egypt.

11:52- Not the worst American performance we’ve ever seen, but arguably a step down from how they played Brazil, especially in the first-half, where they could’ve been 3 or 4 down before the break. That will undoubtedly alarm Bob Bradley, who knows his team should ultimately make it to the World Cup, but really has to step it up (or pray for a lucky group stage draw) if they are going to make any noise.

11:55- That’s it for this morning. If time allows, some deeper reactions on this one later.

USA vs. Brazil First Half

Starting Line-ups:

USA:
GK- Tim Howard
CD- Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit
FB- Jonathan Bornstein, Jonathan Spector
M- Da Marcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Sacha Kljestan, Clint Dempsey
F- Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore

Brazil:
GK- Julio Cesar
CD- Lucio, Miranda
FB- Santos, Maicon
M- Kaka, Gilberto, Felipe, Ramires
F- Robinho, Luis Fabiano

9:55- Teams out and the anthems well-played and sung.

9:57- Per Ives Galarcep, Carlos Bocanegra misses out for the U.S. again due to injury. Beasley returns in midfield, while Kljestan is preferred to Benny Feilhaber.

10:00- We’re off.

10:01- Corner to Brazil. USA clears the danger, led by a Donovan header and tackle.

10:04- Kaka steals the ball, but a defender knocks it away for a corner. Robinho takes but it misses everyone and rolls out for a USA throw-in.

10:06- GOAL to Brazil. That didn’t take long. Free kick whipped in, and Felipe Melo gets by Jonathan Spector for a nearly-free header. 1-0 to the Selecao. Dubious foul though in the build-up.

10:09- Spector’s defending wasn’t terrible, but Melo either out-jumped him or had a big height advantage to begin with. Couldn’t quite tell on the replay. Easy finish in the end though.

10:13- Robinho misses a half-chance as Beasley gives away position cheaply just outside the box. The other Americans had trouble defending the bouncing ball, but Robinho didn’t put a ball on target. Corner though, but Lucio puts a tame header into Tim Howard’s gloves. Now the Yanks need to settle things down fast. Bob Bradley clearly looks concerned (as seen on the tube). Not so for Dunga.

10:13- Kaka dribbles in and tries to center, but DeMerit clears it for a corner. Nobody wins the corner, but it’s eventually cleared to center.

10:21- Goal to Brazil, and it’s that man Robinho. Beasley fails to control a ball near the Brazil penalty area. Brazil goes out virtually 2-on-1 with only DeMerit back and Fabiano crosses to Robinho, who can’t miss this one and indeed fires home to Howard’s right. Good goal, but you really shouldn’t concede from your own corner kick, and Beasley is having a nightmarish first half. Brazil leads 2-0 and that’s probably game over. Now it’s an exercise in damage limitation. Minor scare for Brazil off the restart but Dempsey doesn’t get much of his head to a cross.

10:23- FIFA’s world feed drops out. Probably a satellite issue between South Africa and ESPN HQ in Connecticut. Meanwhile, the US Open is now in a weather delay as some of the course is unplayable.

10:25- Feed restored.

10:28- Fabiano makes some space but fires wide.

10:33- From a USA corner, Beasley crosses in, but it goes out of the box. Donovan finds Michael Bradley, but his feed is headed away. Onyewu hacks down Felipe Melo and is booked.

10:36- Finally an assured moment from Beasley as he knocks away a ball from a Brazilian midfielder. Robinho shoots well wide as the fans start to do a wave. Sambas later? Fabiano shoots low but right into Howard.

10:40- Maicon gets the ball in space as Beasley is caught ball-watching. His cross comes to Gilberto Silva, but he heads over the bar.

10:43- Just heard on air that the USA has attempted the most long balls in this tournament- and hasn’t completed very many. Is it a lack of experience as much as tactical skill? Not sure, but someone’s got to steady the ship and run with the ball a little. Maicon whips in a free kick, the ball falls to a couple of unmarked Brazilians but neither gets anything on the ball and it goes out for a goal kick. Poor defending, to be sure.

10:45- One minute of stoppage time. A couple more minor surges from Brazil but both teams probably pleased to head back to the locker room. For different reasons, of course.

10:46- Halftime whistle from referee Massimo Busacca, who also worked this year’s Champions League Final. Brazil leads 2-0. They deserve their advantage, but Bob Bradley has the right to question the defending and effort of several players in the U.S. squad. This wasn’t Brazil just dancing with the ball right over their opponents. Plenty of miscues from their opponents.