These Photos Sum it Up

When I left you following Brazil’s domination of the U.S. national team, I definitely didn’t see this coming on Sunday afternoon. And when I turned on the game midway through a Father’s Day party (in case you’re wondering, it was very pleasant, despite the cloudy skies, and my Dad liked his present), I could believe a 1-0 lead for the Americans (as good as the Pharoahs have been in the last couple of African Cup of Nations, they haven’t translated it to other international theatres, and also missed absent goal-threats Mido, Mohamed Zidan, and Amr Zaki). Even, albeit barely, a 3-0 Brazil lead over Italy which they held on to. Boy was Marcello Lippi steamed about that afterwards… Not this though, even after I heard the final whistle blow. Heck, the players themselves were more than a little surprised afterward.

Image courtesy of ussoccer.com

Image courtesy of ussoccer.com

But led by the two men located on this photo’s left and right sides, they will be playing Spain on Wednesday in the first Confederations Cup semifinal (Brazil plays South Africa on Thursday). Yes that’s right. The current #1 team in the world, Euro 2008 champion, unbeaten in 35 straight games, the last 15 of which have been wins (games decided on penalty kicks technically go down as ties). Considering where the U.S. was on Wednesday, vis a vis where they hope to be next summer, don’t sweat it. For the players, work hard and show what you’re capable of. To the fans, cut out the attacks on Bob Bradley for a little while and get behind the team. As this blogger muses, can we really be sure of anything after Sunday’s results?

The other photos sum up the U.S. Open. You’ll remember that I wanted to live blog some of it. Well, the weather basically killed that idea!

Image courtesy of Wichita Eagle/AP

Image courtesy of Wichita Eagle/AP

But big props to course superintendent Craig Currier and his legions for getting the course playable each morning so that we could crown a champion today.

Image courtesy of whatsinthegolfbag.com

Image courtesy of whatsinthegolfbag.com

And if you expected the man seen above to win, please tell me some lotto numbers to play this week. But after a bad start to his round last night and this morning, he sure did hold the nerves in during the inward nine, punctuated by a decisive birdie-par-par finale. Also, despite their costly bogeys late, Phil Mickelson and David Duval deserve a lot of credit for how well they played this week. Mickelson, of course, has other matters on his mind, while Duval might finally be back among the golfing elite after several years in the wilderness. Even though Tiger Woods never really factored, he still managed to finish sixth, and was actually the only player to shoot three rounds below par. If he gets back to making a few putts, look out in the Open Championship or PGA. Yep, he’s just that good some weeks.

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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.

Rain Check Monday

And it did pour for a little while this afternoon here on the Island!

But no witty weekend recap due to a lot of work earlier today- congrats to the Penguins (who surprised me a little by winning Game 7 in Detroit) and Lakers (whose coronation was no surprise at all) or reaction to the U.S.’ loss to Italy, done in by one of their own (sort of). Good effort from our men though against one of the top 5-6 teams in the world, and if they can avoid going down a man against Brazil and keep something in the tank for the second-half, they just might be able to put up another fight against the Selecao later this week.

I’ll leave you with this image until I blog about it more at-length tomorrow or Wednesday. Have fun, gentlemen! It’s not that difficult, umm… right? That’s what this blogger thought
about two years ago. Oh wait, that was under pristine conditions and without 30,000 or more fans plus several million TV viewers… oops.