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.

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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.

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.

Monday Monday…

So the Red Wings and USA both get it turned around on Saturday night, and how! No newsworthy, funny, or otherwise photos this morning because the computer I’m typing from seems to have a problem uploading them right now…

Plus the Yankees record another come from behind win and finally beat the Rays at home, this time in front of Sarah Palin, there as a guest of uber-fan Rudy Giuliani during her visit to New York. Ken Davidoff adds that it was arguably a bit of a statement win for them. We’ll see. They’ve got another one tonight, followed by three with Boston in Fenway, but frankly, with about 100 games to go, the real statement games don’t come until after the All Star Game, to put it kindly. Off the field, the Yankees could become the first team to stream games online within their regional market, if you’re willing to pay for the privilege.

The Magic had Game 2 of the NBA Finals in their grasp twice, and couldn’t finish the job, writes Mitch Lawrence, who uses the “cursed” word by reminding us of Nick Anderson’s missed free throws in 1995. They paid for it in OT and are now in big trouble, especially since to win the series, they now must go back to LA for a potential Game 6 (unlike the earlier playoff rounds, the NBA uses a 2-3-2 for the Finals). You can ask if Pau Gasol got away with goaltending at the end of regulation, but I think the Magic shouldn’t be making any rationalizations for badly missing a very makeable shot.

Lots of other good sports action this weekend. I went to Belmont for the first time, which I’ll elaborate on later and hopefully be able to post a picture or two. Bottom line, I didn’t fare well but at least I didn’t wager much in the first place! Props to Kent Desormeaux for an outstanding ride, culminating in Summer Bird’s explosive final surge evocative of what Calvin Borel on Mine That Bird (they both have the same sire, Birdstone, but different dams) did to blow away the field in the Kentucky Derby.

More later…

Go USA

The Yanks have a big one in Costa Rica tonight, starting at 10:00 ET. Normally, they would have played this game on Saturday with the second World Cup Qualifier next Wednesday, but because of the impending Confederations Cup in South Africa, their trip to Estadio Saprissa has been moved up.

It’s going to be a tough one. The stadium is known for its intimacy, with seats seeming like they are on top of the field. And but for some sturdy-looking barriers, it’s not absurd to think that pitch invasions would be a pretty regular occurrence when the crowd isn’t happy.

The U.S. has never won a qualifier in Costa Rica. If they turn history on its head tonight, they’ll be well on their way to next summer’s World Cup. Even a point would be a good result, with a home game against Honduras up next. That won’t be an easy one, since Honduras is currently third in CONCACAF (behind the U.S. and Costa Rica) but it’s a game you’d expect them to win.

By the way, America is now #14 in the world, for what it’s worth.


Also, this guy earns his 50th appearance for the U.S. tonight. Clint Dempsey seems to get better each year.

Ives Galarcep is live blogging. He also has a piece with more pictures of Costa Rica’s indomitable fortress. More commentary from me after the game.

Edit: Wow. 15 minutes in and it’s 2-0 Costa Rica. Two good goals, but who’d have guessed that one!

U.S.A.-Trinidad & Tobago Instant Reaction


Photo Source: U.S. Soccer/isiphotos
A 3-0 butt-kicking by the Americans in Nashville, headlined by that man, Jozy Altidore. Given a start after a strong appearance off the substitutes bench against El Salvador, he bagged a hat trick this time (and he’s the youngest USMNT’er to get one). Landon Donovan assisted on all three goals (extending his national team record in that category), and it wasn’t just the two of them who destroyed the Soca Warriors’ defense. Others like DaMarcus Beasley and Brian Ching were good, and this game could easily have been 4 or 5-0. Frankly, T&T knew it was lucky to be down only 1-0 at halftime. But they really didn’t improve in the second half, and the U.S. finally got its deserved second and third goals to make sure of victory and a continued hold on first place in the group heading into June’s pair of qualifiers.

The result wasn’t a huge surprise, given that the U.S. beat T&T 3-0 in Denver last year during the previous phase of World Cup qualifying, and that the Soca Warriors were missing several players, most notably suspended leader Dwight Yorke. Of course, most of us thought the U.S. would win comfortably in El Salvador last Saturday because even though road games in CONCACAF can be really tough (lots of noisy and tightly-packed stadiums, some of them with poorly conditioned fields), America certainly has the most talent in the region(at the very least they’re Mexico’s equal). That they had to fight desperately for a 2-2 tie just goes to show how unpredictable international soccer can be “on the day.” Tonight, full credit should go to the U.S. team and coaching staff, which came out with several lineup changes, altered tactics and on-field attitude, and put together they nailed it.

Costa Rica (away) and Honduras (in Chicago) are the two chores facing the U.S. in June before it plays in the Confederations Cup (in a “Group of Death” against Brazil, Italy, and Egypt), and then the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Even four points from those games should put them really close to wrapping up a top-3 finish in the group and the accompanying World Cup ticket.