Running late - let's get this mother going!
No time for subtext, Dr. Jones... LB jr had a doctor's appointment this morning (he's fine), and we're ready for the off.
Big question: how can the US stop this Spanish team scoring? I still love the whimsy of their anthem.
SPAIN (4-1-2-1-2): Casillas - Capdevila, Puyol, Pique, Sergio Ramos - Xabi Alonso - Riera, Fabregas - Xavi - Torres, David Villa.
Subs: everyone else
USA (4-2-2-2): Howard - Demerit, Bocanegra, Onyewu, Spector - Clark, Bradley - Donovan, Dempsey - Altidore, Davies.
Subs: everyone else
Vuvuzelas at the ready!
Preamble: It's going to be a long day down the flanks for the US. Capdevila and Ramos LOVE to get forward, and the two guys in front of them, Riera and Cesc, are no slouches with the crossing either. Spain need to keep their shape and hope that the speed of the US team doesn't cause too much havoc in the space the wing-backs vacate.
And we're off!
1 min: Xabi Alonso has some time to spray passes around before it works wide left with some lovely one-touch passing. Riera's low cross is sidefooted away by Gooch.
3 mins: Pressure down the US end, naturally. Cesc gets bundled over by Bocanegra, and the Spaniards take it short. Fabregas has his cross deflected, and as it loops toward goal, Howard does the safe thing in tipping it over. Spain take the corner short, but Xavi's delivery doesn't find his man and a foul in the box gives the USMNT a breather.
Then the US break well down the left, with Altidore winning a corner off Puyol as he tries to square the ball into the middle. Corner doesn't come to much.
5 mins: Landy goes into the book! Seriously, an unfair call, but as 7 EPL players found out last season, you don't fuck with Xabi Alonso as it gets you stamped right into the ref's book. The two arrive at the same time for a loose ball, but Xabi gets the shit end of the contact and the ref rushes for his book. Before that, Casillas nearly screwed up a clearance to put Xabi/Landy in that situation, coming out of his box to shin it clear.
Then he does it again! The Spanish offside trap looks as effective as the Maginot Line (yeah, UFers, I read our email thread from this morning).
7 mins: CHARLIE DAVIES BICYCLE KICK ACTION! Bright start for the USMNT, who are playing with the proverbial "nothing to lose". Getting round the back of those wing-backs is always going to cause problems. As Altidore gets clear in the box wide right, he finds his man on the overlap and the cross reaches Davies in space 12 yards out, but he can't do anything more than bicycle it instinctively and it 's always heading wide. Still, I'm impressed with their fearlessness thus far.
9 mins: Screamer from Dempsey 18 yards out, but it's juuuuust wide of the post. Lots of confidence in all-white thus far today.
@The NY Kid - you don't get to explain the Maginot Line to us. It was rubbish and patently didn't work. Much like Sergio Ramos on defense. Or Damarcus Beasley anywhere on the pitch.
10 mins: Bradley loses Fabregas for a moment, and the mohawked milquetoast volleys from 25 yards, but it's always going over the bar despite the late dip in trajectory.
JP and Harkes are gushing over the USMNT so far, and rightly so... just as they gush a little extra, Spain go close themselves! Torres lurks at the back post and gets to a low cross before his marker, but it's always going wide. Dangerous for a second, there.
@The NY Kid - keep going until you're red in the face, mate. The Line was rubbish.
13 mins: USMNT trick of the day: longballs over the top for Altidore and Davies to chase, chase, chase. Not a bad gambit considering Ramos will always be further downfield, and Puyol's a bit old and thus, the chance to Vidic him (as Torres/Gerrard did during that 4-1 game at Old Trafford, oh yes) is definitely there.
15 mins: A Sepp Blatter sighting! Does anyone else hate him as much as I do? To a man, the least likable person involved in the beautiful game, with that crook Jack Warner a very close second.
Bradley's searching for Davies up the middle, but his pass is too strong. Still, nice to see 'em asking questions of that Spanish backline. After all, it's only human. They're prone to mistakes.
Offside flag goes up against David Villa as he's a step too quick in pursuit of a pretty-looking cross by Ramos. The USMNT are defending a high, high line, which is troubling considering the pace Spain has up front. There's being aggressive, and being foolish. Might be straying towards foolish with that line.
17 mins: ESSENTIAL TRUTHS WITH JOHN HARKES, Pt. 1 of many: "The US is not New Zealand." Indeed they are not. Do you say that because it's not 3-0 already?
Fuuuuck me, close for Spain. Somehow, Torres is completely unmarked in the middle as Onyewu and Bocanegra leave him a nice 10-yard circle of room in which to operate. He gets the ball, turns and shoots, forcing a good save from Howard, but then the linesman flags for offside. On the replay, he was on. C'mon, officials! First the Landy card, and now this. One thing is certain: that high backline is gonna be mauled if they don't switch it up.
@EbullientFatalist - no clue why they seem to think Sergio Ramos is a physical player. He's Spanish! Surely Bornstein could have handled that.
20 mins: Donovan tries to get Davies through on goal when he maybe should have taken a shot, and Spain clear. They break up the left via Villa, who gets to the touchline again and cuts it square, but one of those tall Sequoia-looking motherfuckers in the middle gets it clear.
21 mins: Donovan learns from his mistake 60 seconds ago, cutting in from the left, dribbling freely up the middle and shooting from 20-odd yards. It's wide of the post, but you knew that already.
In a flash, it comes right back down the other end, and some sloppiness from the US gives a couple of scoring chances for Spain... the move ends with Riera dragging his shot across the face of goal from a narrow angle.
Demerit clears another low cross from the left wing. While the US midfield is holding its own, the backline is awfully bunched up, allowing plenty of space for overlaps down the flanks. That, coupled with their dangerous offside trap being so high up the pitch, and I fear the worst. Still, as long as Spain stays scoreless, I guess you could call it successful.
24 mins: Riera looks for Villa in the middle, but Onyewu is there to knock it behind for a corner. Xavi to take.... he plonks it right on Onyewu's forehead and it's cleared, but only as far as Capdevila, and Spain get another corner as Fabregas lurks looking for the ball over the top. It's taken short, and kinda wasted. Once they hoof it upfield, Puyol fouls Davies at the halfway line to give his defenders a breather.
A NOTE OF THANKS: seriously, you guys are great for coming to UF during all this USMNT hullabaloo.
27 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL.... IN YOUR FACE, LA LIGA! What a move by the Villareal and Xerex reject Jozy Altidore... maybe the Spaniards will give him a run out when the domestic season starts again. The striker gets a yard of room in the middle to spin off Pique with his hip, leaving him for dust, and his shot is right at Casillas, who can only parry it in off his post with Puyol trying in vain to get back. Nice goal, that. What say you folk? Spain 0, USA 1
Well, that was something, wasn't it? Altidore gets booked for taking his shirt off during the celebration, but he gives not a flying fuck. How will Spain respond? Dellacamera is talking about "panic", which is perhaps a bit much considering there's an hour to go. I do, however, fear the gushing from the likes of Galarcep come tomorrow morning... honestly, that worries me more than the US losing 4-1.
30 mins: Spain picks up right where they left off, crowding the edge of the area yet finding no clear scoring chances. Ramos floats a beauty to the back post where Villa controls first-time, but Spector is there to block the shot. Spain do win a corner, and then another one as Spector(?) heads over. Xavi delivers to a US player again, and the Yanks clear.
CLOSE FOR SPAIN! From a broken play, too. Looked like a foul on Bradley in the midfield, but Riera takes it, shoots from distance, and the block falls to Villa. He takes a step to try and get some room, but blasts it over the bar from the edge of the box. Still, Spain keep pushing up the wings.
34 mins: It's been all Spain since the goal, and there's always the danger of trying to sit back and camp on a 1-0 lead, especially when you're angling for the upset. Mustn't forget how to attack, USMNT... so far you're hoofing it right back to 'em. Onyewu stoops low to head it out for a throw after the 2,475th cross from the left wing. Torres is caught offside from the throw, and is incredulous. I kinda am too, as that's kinda impossible.
@Mike Georger - yes, somehow they did. The linesmen have been very creative thus far.
36 mins: Free-kick for the US some 30 yards out as Davies gets bundled over. Donovan puts in a lovely cross to the back post, and Dempsey steals the header from Bocanegra, who was much better placed, to put it over the bar. D'oh. Coulda, shoulda been 2-0 if we're honest.
Boy, how Spain is missing some physicality in that midfield. Too many fleet-footed stepover kings there. Xabi Alonso can't do it all back there. They'd give all the paella in Catalunya for Marcos Senna right now.
As I type that, Spain comes close again! Beautiful passing opens up the right wing for Ramos, and he is able to find Torres unmarked in the box. He can't control, and also looks to pass instead of shoot, giving Onyewu enough time to lean in and knock it away for a corner that Xavi promptly wastes.
40 mins: Nice play by Altidore, who is giving the Spaniards all kinds of trouble on the ball. Capdevila plays it left-to-right to Ramos, and as he tries to cut it in for Xabi Alonso, Jozy is there to intervene and he takes a hard foul from the Liverpool man.
Seriously though: I know Altidore is still a bit rough around the edges and all, but why won't a Spanish club let him play? Is their racism still that bad over there?
Hard to keep up right now; Howard comes out of his area to clear the ball before Torres can reach it, and then Spain get a free-kick (didn't see what happened). Xavi tries to be clever and play it right across the edge of the box, but Donovan clears. It doesn't go far, and Spain set up another assault that almost pays off. Altidore gives it away and Villa gets it on the right via a lovely through-ball... his low cross for Ramos is denied at the last second by Bradley's hard challenge. Trying times for the USMNT since the goal -- they're defending on their heels and hoofing it clear every time, allowing Spain to reset and try, try again. Surely they can't hold the 1-0 lead?
45 mins: The Great Assault on Howard continues... this is becoming as lop-sided as that Assault on Precinct 13 (although Denzel did have some weapons eventually). Torres jinks inside his marker with ease on the right side of the box and shoots low with his left peg, forcing Howard to save with his calf. The ball bounces up and teases David Villa, who fouls as he tries to nudge a header goalward for one of the three Spaniards waiting at the back post.
One minute of stoppage time. And it's quickly gone.
HALF TIME: Spain 0, USA 1
Well, that was unexpected. The US are playing very well so far, at least in terms of scoreline. 25 minutes of positive, attacking football gave them the goal, and the final 20 have brought an avalanche of nearly-theres for the World's #1 team. Desperate defending at times, but Howard's goal remains unravaged by that scary assemblage of goalscorers in red shirts.
And we're back. My fingers are tired, but this game has lived up to my wildest dreams thus far. The Spaniards are quite flimsy in the midfield despite all their wonderful playmakers, and the USMNT are taking advantage.
Thanks also for the thank yous! Without you lot, we'd be nothing.
Bourbon glass = refilled
Plate of Nachos = refilled
And here come JP and John for more truthiness.
46 mins: Nice, ESPN. You missed the kickoff due to commercials. Had to squeeze one more Mike's Hard Lemonade shout-out in, didn't you?
47 mins: Donovan is, much as it pains me to admit, having a good game. Causing problems on the wings. His latest cross is blocked out for a corner, which he takes himself. It's a good delivery, and Dempsey tries the diving header, pushing it over the bar with Xabi Alonso's boot in attendance.
48 mins: Torres gets space out wide right and floats a dangerous cross to the back post, but Howard's there to punch it out for a throw. From the throw Villa gets some space to shoot, and it takes a wonderful diving save from the Everton man to keep it out. Corner, Spain... they take it short and Xabi Alonso has a crack from 25 yards, putting it just over the bar. Second half has begun much like the first ended.
49 mins: MAYBE A PENALTY BUT ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT! Onyewu came forward and left Demerit all alone to deal with David Villa up the middle. Villa tumbles in the box with Howard coming off his line, but he was always falling over.
50 mins: Spector does well to head yet another Ramos cross away from danger, but he hoofs it right back to the Spaniards and Xabi resets the attack. It's sloppy, but effective, defending from the US to keep their 1-0 lead. Sergio Ramos has set up camp on that right wing.
51 mins: Xavi has room to shoot in that space between Bradley/Clark and Onyewu/Demerit... his shot is deflected out for a corner that amounts to nothing.
Another corner for Spain as Spector blocks Riera's run and cross. Xavi takes it short and Villa gets it, controls it and volleys from a tight angle, but Howard plucks it out of the sky.
Harkes is right for once: every time the US clear, they give it right back to Spain so they can attack again. I'd say that the US has maybe enjoyed a minute of possession so far this half.
53 mins: As I type that, Donovan springs Davies down the right, but his cross is too long for Altidore.
54 mins: ANOTHER PENALTY FOR SPAIN BUT NOT REALLY! Looked like Xavi took a tumble, though in an offside position, under pressure from Donovan. On the replay, it looked like Landy did barge the tiny midfielder down, but the whistle remains quiet.
Riera has a crack from 20 yards, turning neatly inside Spector and shooting wide of the near post with Howard across to cover.
@J - no live feed of the Showdown in Chinatown, sadly. Fear not, as we have a quartet of correspondents there to do interviews, blog it, and also a UF first, some original video content! Stay tuned for Friday when we get the bulk of it up on the site.
57 mins: Howard saves well again from Villa, and the last minute or so has been all down the other end. Altidore's physicality wins the US a corner off Capdevila. Donovan to take...
... he floats it in to the middle, looks like Pique headed it clear, but it falls to Ricardo Clark who volleys it from 25 yards into that proverbial cliche, Row ZZ.
Thought: when will the US get their unfair red card? Soon?
59 mins: For all the shots on goal by the European champs, the US have survived to the hour mark with their 1-0 lead still intact. Squeaky bum time forthcoming.
Pique tries to get free up the right wing, even though he has no business doing so, and Bocanegra picks his moment to put a foot in and toepoke it back to Howard.
60 mins: The 10,118th corner for Spain. Xavi botches it again! Under pressure from Donovan, Xavi then gives up a throw-in. Breather for that US backline, but only for a minute.
61 mins: Wonderful shot by David Villa! Spector loses the ball from the throw-in, and Villa shoots just wide of the post from 20 yards.
NOT A PENALTY FOR THE US! The ball is hoofed forward and Altidore has time to control it. He wants to shoot from a narrow angle, but Puyol is there to tidy up.
63 mins: Villa's been rather wasteful today, missing with another effort and then failing to release Torres up the middle with the goal beckoning.
Ramos puts another cross in that finds Villa in the middle. He leaves for Riera who is galloping in behind him, but Spector's there to block. Assault on Precinct Howard continues.
65 mins: Seriously, are Spain going to score or what? The Siege continues as Howard makes two saves in quick succession, from Sergio Ramos of all folk, and then with the defense bunched, Ricardo Clark makes a tremendous block to keep out Ramos again. The US look exhausted, but still, their goal is virginal.
67 mins: Fabregas takes way too much time on the ball, cutting inside from the right with just one to beat. He dawdles an awfully long time before chipping a rather soft cross into the middle, and Donovan is there again to head it clear.
Del Bosque has had enough: Fabregas off, Santi Cazorla on. A true right-wing option now emerges for Spain.
68 mins: Torres is frustrated once more as the cross is too short and too soft for him to get to, and Bob Bradley's making changes himself.
69 mins: Subs for the USMNT: Charlie Davies off, Benny Feilhaber on. They need that midfield help to keep their shape. Parking the bus now becomes the obvious option, and I am stunned that 20 minutes stand between the USMNT and a massive, huge, enormous fucking upset. To be fair to Spain, they've been rather unlucky too, but that's nitpicking at this point. The US are defending like titans in the face of all this pressure.
70 mins: Donovan has room on the right to try and deliver a nice cross. He doesn't, particularly, though Dempsey does get clattered to the turf by Puyol as the ball comes in. No whistle.
If you're Del Bosque, what do you do subs-wise? Two more to make... David Silva? Sergi Busquets? They need some speed, and Riera is clearly exhausted and settling into that below-average form that he found with Liverpool after Christmas.
71 mins: Xabi Alonso's pass out right is too strong for Santi Cazorla to reach, and it's a USMNT throw-in. Then, Spain get to attack again, but Demerit is there to block off Torres from getting control of the delivery. Tremendous defending by Demerit again.
74 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL... and I cannot believe it! US strike again on the break! You can hear Harkes laughing in the commentary box as he moves away from the mic. Feilhaber gets it wide right as Altidore breaks up the middle... Sergio Ramos displays some absolutely shocking defending in controlling the ball and teeing it up for Clint Dempsey, who is right there behind him to nip in and tap home with Casillas a million miles away. Pique hugs the post, hoping for the ground to swallow him whole. Ramos is incredulous. Unbelievable! Spain 0, USA 2
77 mins Sorry the update is a little slow... having a spot of technical difficulty at my end.
Mata is on for Albert Riera, and he wins a corner off Spector. They do nothing with it again as the defense holds. Feilhaber then bundles down Santi Cazorla, but Villa puts the free kick right into Howard's arms. For all their bluster and pace, Spain is not really creating too many clear-cut chances. Villa and Torres have been well controlled by Spector, DeMerit and Onyewu today. Unbelievable stuff.
80 mins: Xabi Alonso has another crack from distance after Mata's cut in from the left, but Howard parries it away. All Spain still, and still nothing to show for it. They're lining up in the 6-yard-box for a chance to touch one home, but the US are holding firm.
85 mins: SORRY FOLKS! My computer is struggling under the weight of all these Spain shots on goal. Conor Casey replaces Altidore, and the Spanish assault keeps coming up empty. Capdevila heads over from an offside position, a couple more difficult chances, and then the inevitable... US RED CARD! They have to be consistent. He goes in late and low on Xavi, I think, and the ref shows a straight red. Bit harsh, that, and a tarnish on their titanic performance.
From the free-kick, Onyewu is there again to impede David Villa.
86 mins: The pattern continues: Spain cross, US deflect/head clear. Spain cross, US deflect/head clar. Spain cross, US clear.
Final sub for USMNT... the tireless, peerless Clint Dempsey off, replaced by Jonathan Bornstein.
88 mins: Time to start discussing the end of Spain's almost-record unbeaten streak and winning streak?
89 mins: Pique gets a yellow card for Chelsea-ing the referee. Respect the Ref = not dead just yet! Conor Casey chases the ball into the corner and looks to hold off Capdevila, but he can't. Spain break again up the left, but David Villa, who's been rather selfish and rubbish today in equal measures, is offside. Will this cut his price tag enough so that Liverpool can buy him on the cheap?
Three minutes of stoppage time.
90 mins: THE BUS IS PARKED! Epic defending at the back by the US today. This time, Howard skips off his line to rob Mata who was lurking at the near post. Today, the little pigs' house was made of brick, and the Big Bad Spanish Wolf was left a-knocking at the door.
I don't know how much credit Bob Bradley can take for this; simply put, his XI showed up today. I eagerly/not-so-eagerly await the USMNT soundbites after the game.
90 mins + 2: Still a whole lot of nothing from the selfish douche, David Villa. Seriously, he's been crap today. 40 seconds to go! Alexei Lalas has enough time to jerk off to completion before the live feed cuts to Bristol, CT.
FULL TIME: Spain 0, USA 2
Wow. Just, wow. Have a drink tonight, fellas, as you earned that one. Not only did they successfully defend, albeit desperately at times, against that frightening Spanish attacking corps, but they took their smattering of chances when prompted and made 'em count. Just, wow.
I repeat: wow. Holy fucking wow.
Thanks for playing along, folks. Gush at will! You've earned it! A stupendous, phenomenal win by the US today. We can kinda ignore those blips last week v. Brazil and Italy, not entirely mind you, but somewhat. Beating Spain counts at atonement, right?
Also, sorry the updates got a little slow at the end there. My computer was literally dying.