Could it get much worse for the USMNT? The difficult loss to Italy was dominated by the New Jersey boy, and yet, this time, the US have no such straw man available unless we suddenly find out that Kaka was born in Kansas City.
Gut check time. Stand up and be counted. Can Bradley's Boys minus the terrier-like Ricardo Clark do enough to stifle this Brazilian attack? Can they get something against the sieve-like Selecao defense?
We could be in for a high-scoring game. I feel like if Jozy found his left foot somewhere amid his luggage, the US can score against Brazil. It's just a question of whether they can keep the scoring down in their half. To that end, the mantra is simple: don't give Kaka and friends acres of midfield space to shoot from distance.
Join us for the fun after the jump. Oh, and the vuvuzelas! We're not sick of those, right?
Preamble: Thoughts on the final score? I can't bring myself to watch the 30-minute pregame show, which will undoubtedly involve Rece Davis and Alexei Lalas using some ESPN technology to display their alarming lack of knowledge about what's going on. I also pray that Tommy Smyth has nothing to do with things today. He's like a cliche-ridden, clueless Irish vuvuzela.
Preamble: Of course, I relent and tune in. Harkes and Lalas are all over the lack of pressure in defensive midfield, and of course, they show the goals again. Not much xenophobic rage toward Rossi. Yet.
STARTING LINEUPS and BENCHES and such:
USA, USA, USA, USA (4-3-2-1 ish, maybe just a 4-3-3-): Howard - Bornstein, Demerit, Onyewu, Spector - Beasley, Kljestan, Bradley - Donovan (c), Altidore, Dempsey.
Subs: Bocanegra, Casey, Pearce, Davies, Wynne, Califf, Guzan, Adu, Torres, Feilhaber, Robles, "Clark" (he's suspended, but still listed).
THE SAMBA KINGS OF BRAZIL (4-1-2-1-2): Julio Cesar - A Santos, Miranda, Lucio (c), Maicon - Gilberto Silva - Felipe Melo, Ramires - Kaka - Robinho, Luis Fabiano.
Subs: Kleber, Elano, Victor, Daniel Alves, Luisao, Josue, Julio Baptista, Kleberson, Pato, Nilmar, Gomes, Juan.
I'll go ahead and say it; with the rather secondary string being run out by Gunga La Dunga, there's a chance of a draw here. Three new faces at the back, a midfield of mystery, although they naturally left in their three best attackers (though even that's arguable... no Pato sightings for more than 15 mins at a time?)
Preamble: There's been a bit of discussion in my brain lately about how the US can improve in international soccer, and I'm thinking they need to cut the bullshit regarding co-opting other countries' styles and try to define one of their own. After all, all nations have a style that's inherently theirs. Italy have catenaccio, Brazil have this kamikaze style, Germany have their ruthless organization, South Korea have superior conditioning to 99.99% of other teams.... USA needs one. What should it be?
It's national anthem time. We know the US one, natch... I'd never noticed before how jaunty the Brazilian ditty is. Sounds like something Sousa left behind on vacation. Or maybe a b-side from Peter and the Wolf.
I recognize this Swiss ref, Massimo Busacca, from somewhere. Champions League? Controversy? Someone do the research for me, please.
T-minus 1 minute: Jozy looks ready and primed to disappoint.
And we're off! Vuvuzela! US in all white, Brazil in Yellow and Blue. Me in shorts and an old Sonic Youth t-shirt now lightly soiled with baby puke.
2 mins: Ramirez hops inside Spector and gets impeded by Bornstein. The free-kick gets knocked into the box and Onyewu heads it out for a corner. Donovan nuts it away and Brazil foul on the loose ball in the attacking third. We get a reminder that Brazil scored three goals via the set-piece. Good to know.
@Tuffy -- you've got the right idea. I mean, how can the USMNT try all this quick passing and whatnot when they haven't nailed the basics? Coiled snake sounds good. Or maybe FDR's Big Stick thing.
4 mins: Robinho sighting! He was invisible during the Egypt match. Not that he just did anything of note. Just a quick close-up.
USMNT defending on their heels a bit. Some good passing down the right by Brazil, who have started brightly. Kaka wins a corner, but Robinho's delivery is tragically bad and US clear with ease. Still, all the action in that Yankee defensive third.
6 mins: Bradley with a foul/not-foul on Ramires, and Maicon delivers....
GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and credit to the US for holding out longer than New Zealand against Spain. Maicon's delivery is whipped right into the six-yard box, Howard stays on his line, and Felipe Melo nips around the back of Spector to bang it in with his noggin. Killer start for the Selecao. Not sure how much better the US could have defended that. Spector had zero chance. USA 0, Brazil 1
JP Dellacamera tries gamely to draw parallels to the Costa Rica and Honduras games in which the US went behind early in both and battled back. Has the mightily drunk JP noticed THE US ARE PLAYING BRAZIL??
@Whizalen -- it is not the Washing Machine shirt, though I wish it was. It's one from their Dirty/E.V.O.L days... a black shirt with white "Sonic Life" written across the chest and some big glowy cross thing beneath it that looks like it was drawn by Lee Ranaldo's child. I dig it though.
@Keith -- sorry Sir... I get my Roosevelts confused. I also get all the Jackson 5 members mixed up.
11 mins: Another dangerous free-kick whipped in but US head it clear... only as far as Luis Fabiano. He gets to the touchline and cuts back for Robinho, but his shot is whiffed on. Beasley put his defense in danger there with some sloppy play. That, coupled with Bradley's fondness for fouling, and it does not bode well. I eagerly await Donovan's pithy post-game comments dragging his teammates through the mud.
Also, someone noted in the comments -- the free-kick that led directly to the goal should never have been, but them's the breaks. Ramires sold it, and Bradley looked clumsy enough.
Brazil waste their 12th corner of the game. A couple of minutes ago, Landycakes had a bit of a run down the other end before being crowded out by four Brazilians.
15 mins: Naptime efforts to subdue my son have failed, and so I have acquired a sleeping baby across my chest while I rest the laptop precariously on my lap. Kaka ghosts behind Kljestan and gets to the touchline once again, but his cutback is blocked out for a corner. Brazil waste it, staying true to form thus far in this game.
Does the USA have a midfield?
@NY Kid -- fair enough. I thought Spector totally lost Melo, not that he wasn't physical enough. I guess that's even worse though, right?
18 mins: The USMNT finally get into Brazilian territory, with all the urgency of the fellas from Swingers trying to get to that party in the Hills with that chatty redhead and the bottle of Glenfiddich. It doesn't last -- Brazil break, 3-on-3, but it breaks down at the top of the box as Robinho and Luis Fabiano suffer a communication breakdown.
Really, at this point I'd just love to see a US player put a massive challenge in on someone, just to remind Brazil that they're actually playing another team.
GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and some half-hearted attacking by the US gets 'em caught out woefully at the back, and it's DeMarcus again who's making the gaffe. He totally fluffs on receiving the short corner from Donovan. Brazil break with Ramires, and he squares inside Spector, the last man back, for Robinho, who has the easiest finish under a sprawling Howard. That's just fucking sad. USA 0, Brazil 2
23 mins: THE BRAZILIAN POTENCY HAS BROKEN THE LIVE FEED! Dellacamera and Harkes try gamely to keep things going. The US take a decent corner (not taking a short one again, I bet), but it doesn't amount to much. Brazil pour forward themselves and force Bornstein into a silly giveaway, but the US finally get it clear.
Seriously though guys, it's probably best we can't see what's going on right now? Right?
I wonder what's going on right now? Beasley has fucked up again?
WAIT! THE LIVE FEED IS BACK! NO MORE GOALS CONCEDED! It resumes like the game began, with Brazil in comfortable possession and the US just watching them knock it up down, side to side, up down side to side.
28 mins: This is just dire. Disjointed, desperate rubbish. US try to get something going with Donovan, Altidore and Dempsey, but it's easily broken up. Then Bradley gifts possession to Brazil in the midfield (deja vu, anyone?) and Luis Fabiano triggers an attack, eventually cutting outside and ending his best chance to shoot. His shanked effort took a deflection, didn't it?
We're fast approaching moral victory time. You can bet Bob Bradley is flipping through his Book of Sanitzed, Inoffensive Cliches with which to gee up the fans after 90 minutes. One wonders if he'll erupt like Bob Knight in the dressing room at half-time. Or at least have the balls to make a few lineup changes. Shit, Beasley should be shot out back and converted into glue.
@Precious Roy -- I reckon he wants the entire Everton backline. Leighton Baines, Lescott, even an ACL-crippled Jagielka. And Leon Osman in front of that lot would be nice too.
32 mins: USA win a corner! The big men amble up from the back. Decent delivery but it's nodded clear. Kljestan picks up the rebound and it's crossed in again, and headed away again. Donovan gets that rebound and finds Bradley, whose cross is also decent but is also headed clear. Then Gooch breaks up the not-too-bad passage of play by his countrymen by scything down Felipe Melo with a Barton-esque lunge and earning himself a yellow card.
35 mins: Bornstein gets stuck in and nuts Maicon in the face as they go for a header. No foul. Just good, fearless effort. Still, Brazil knock the ball around with ease. Only 52% possession for Brazil thus far? Really? What the fuck have USA done with their 48%?
A ridiculous dive by Gilberto Silva over Kljestan's leg challenge gets 'em another free-kick in US territory. They spread it wide, and when it does come back in, Robinho shoots comfortably wide of Howard's near post. The US clear, and it comes right back in the form of Luis Fabiano, who forces a decent save from Howard.
Seriously, did the US bring a midfield today? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me... is there any midfield home?
38 mins: Maicon has a free, unimpeded run down the right and swings in a decent cross but there's nobody home. US counter with Spector cantering down the right, working hard to overlap Landycakes, but he's gassed from the sprint and turns in an abysmal daisy-cutter cross that Lucio sidefoots away from danger. Bit rubbish this.
Question of the Now: How will Bradley/Gulati/US Soccer spin this performance?
Beasley watches the ball in central midfield and fails to notice Maicon, alone on the right wing. Maicon gets it and puts in another menacing cross, but Gilberto Silva heads powerfully over the bar from 8 yards.
At this point, I'm more tolerant of the incessant vuvuzela drone than the play of the USMNT thus far. Utterly spineless. No tenacity or effort in midfield. More ball-watching than on a gay porn film set.
Brazil attack again with Maicon getting tons of work down the right, but no dice.
42 mins: Onyewu needlessly trips Robinho in the right corner despite having defensive help and the Brazilian seemingly trapped. Maicon delivers another neat cross, it flies over to the back post but whoever that was at the back volleyed it a mile over the bar. Seriously, memo to Bob Bradley: bench half these fuckers for life. I don't believe Sasha Kljestan has touched the ball yet (taking a throw-in doesn't count).
44 mins: Brazil knock it around on the right side as they begin to phone it in. Bornstein fouls someone and gives Maicon another free chance to cross. He does, but it's nodded clear in traffic. Wish some of these USMNT'ers would go and play in rush-hour traffic, so poor they have been.
One minute of stoppage time. Massimo Busacca is a merciful ref.
HALF TIME: USA 0, Brazil 2
Harkes reckons the early goals helped Brazil. No shit, Sherlock. They're probably not done scoring, either. Back in 10, when I've managed to get this sleeping baby to stay asleep in his less comfortable rocker chair contraption.
In the meantime, a poll ginned up by the NY Kid between wrist-slitting motions after his nation's dismal first-half effort.
Oh, and I can't help but point out u75's early comment about how DMB in the midfield means he'll be good. Though knowing the man, I'm assuming it was sarcasm?
Rece Davis calls it an "inauspicious start." That's perhaps the kindest possible way to say it in a way that won't get you fired and banned from doing live TV ever again.
48 mins: And I'm back, with a slight delay due to diaper-changing. US get a free-kick in Brazil territory but the Selecao clear.
Mercifully, a sub for USMNT: Beasley off (and presumably lying dead in the locker room), Conor Casey on.
The switch almost paid off; Casey found Altidore in the box, but young Jozy blasted his shot into outer space. Really should have done better. Should do better at shooting in general, considering he's a striker. Hat tricks against shit CONCACAF teams don't count.
49 mins: Better from the US. Bradley finds Bornstein out wide left, and his cross forces Julio Cesar off his line to collect. Not bad, that.
LB jr. is still lying asleep across my chest. Have I mentioned how difficult it is to breathe consistently with a 9lb child across your lungs? If I set him down, he'll scream and I'll probably miss the 3rd Brazil goal. Blogging requires maximum effort. Nothing but the best today!
51 mins: At the risk of jinxing, USMNT have learnt something at half-time and actually started pushing forward. Brazil are equal to it for now. Bradley fizzes a shot over the bar from 30 yards in an effort to match De Rossi's effort the other day. Same kinda position on the pitch.
You see a lot of shots of the turtleneck'd Dunga on the sidelines, barking instructions.. where the heck is Bradley? Shrouded in shadows and guarded by Satan's minions? Or perhaps hiding under an umbrella a la Steve McClaren?
Spector can't reach a long pass down into the right corner, and Brazil collect themselves. Donovan then fouls Robinho quickly after the restart. The US are pushing more, and will leave themselves open to the counter now that their wing-backs are galloping up and down the flanks from box to box.
As I type that, Brazil do break; Luis Fabiano lays off to Ramires in the middle, and he finds Robinho unmarked far left. The Citeh striker takes a touch and tries to bend it in top corner, but Howard's tall enough to leap and grab.
Jozy slips on a US counter as Bradley tries to play him onside over the top. Bit of a metaphor for the US efforts thus far today.
55 mins: Kljestan completes the double-play of losing the ball and then putting in a nasty foul on Ramires. Busacca waves advantage and play on, which Kaka does. He trots towards goal, creates some space and shoots, forcing a good save from Howard. Ramires is still down, and Dunga is mad as hell and is not gonna take it anymore on the sideline. On come the medics with the stretcher brigade.
Um, wow? Busacca gives Kljestan a red card for that shockingly late tackle. Bit harsh, that. But hey, cheer up, USMNT, you now have your greatest excuse should Brazil march on and score plenty more!
Which begs the question: just who is filling this US midfield for the final game?
@Steve -- thank you sir. I think I'm taking the Rossi approach and will groom him here before shoving him back to England to play for his daddy's country. Dual citizenship for the win!
Sub for the US forthcoming as Bradley takes his pre-game notes and strategy, smothers them with BBQ sauce, and devours them in seconds.
60 mins: Here comes that sub: Altidore off (booooo), Feilhaber on....... 4-4-1 time! Bradley is good at this substitution business. It's damage control time.
Brazil adopt the lion-playing-with-his-supper approach, content to bat it around laterally without much menace.
62 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL GOAL, and we will blame that on there being just 10 Americans left. Brilliant move by Brazil, cued by Ramires who has miraculously recovered. A lovely one-two between Ramirez and Kaka frees Maicon, who's had a good game, inside the box, and he shoots high from a narrow angle and through Howard's grasp. Good. Night. Nurse. USA 0, Brazil 3
BIG IMPORTANT QUESTION FOR THE COMMENTS: Where does this current incarnation rank in comparison to other major eras of US Soccer? We're talking 1950 USA, 1990 USA, 1998 USA, 2002 USA... in history, where do we put this sorry bunch?
65 mins: A nice flowing move by Brazil finds Maicon unmarked out wide, but no-one is there to meet his cross but Landon Donovan. I wonder if Landy wishes he had a German passport? He's seeing the best years of his generation wasted, ruined, etc etc loosely quoting Allen Ginsberg there.
IMPROMPTU COMPETITION TIME!!!!!
67 mins: Time to channel your rage productively, folks. Gimme your best angry man longform unedited rant about US Soccer in the comments, and the best one, chosen by me, a self-loathing Limey, will win a random soccer book from my sizable collection of soccer books. It's also a cynical move by me to keep you all here, because no matter how bad the USMNT does today, you are absolutely not allowed to turn it off.
69 mins: The vuvuzela orchestra finds another notch above "supremely irritating" as Brazil get on some subs. Kaka and Luis Fabiano off, Julio Baptista and Nilmar on.
Possible chance for the US there, as Donovan's free-kick from wide left is whipped in menacingly, but Bradley cannot rise high enough to meet it with his forehead. Goal kick to Brazil.
72 mins: Final sub for Brazil: captain Lucio off, Luisao on.
Another Brazilian free-kick is floated right into the thick of the box, but Howard comes out to gather. Still, Brazil have possession immediately from Howard's kick.
Onyewu hoofs it long for Conor Casey to chase, but he's never reaching that. Goal kick, Selecao.
76 mins: The 75th minute comes and goes without that moral victory goal by the US that Ebullient Fatalist was predicting (see: 10.21am)
Brazil knock it about with ease. Dempsey's tried hard in midfield but has absolutely no help. As much as I loathe him, Donovan's run just about every blade of grass today too, although with little to show for it.
80 mins: Howard collects another cross/shot and throws out, cueing a bit of a run down the right with Donovan. He finds Dempsey, who gets it back to Landy wide. When the return pass comes back in, Dempsey just about keeps possession until Julio Baptista chops down Feilhaber. From the free-kick, USMNT pass it forward a bit and Feilhaber shoots into that proverbial Row ZZ from 35 yards. Dour.
83 mins: ALMOST THAT MORAL VICTORY GOAL! Spector's been pretty good today, and he overlaps Donovan on the right and the pair of them start something; Spector megs his marker to find Donovan at the touchline, he cuts it back for Spector who finds Feilhaber at the top of the box, but Benny's shot whizzes against the underside of the bar and somehow stays out (though it coulda been in, we have no clue and no-one contested the call). Then Brazil, in a cruel twist, counter with a 2-on-1 and almost score a fourth via Julio Baptista, but his final touch lets him down and Howard falls on it.
You have to think Bradley will name a completely different XI for the final group game, just to try some things out, right? Or will he stick with his preferred lineup in the hopes they can claw a meaningless draw with the Egyptians?
87 mins: Dear God, just end this already.
Dempsey wins a free-kick as he knocks it past Luisao and gets barged down. Think Donovan is taking it? What difference does it make?
89 mins: COULD HAVE BEEN 3-2 IF THE FIRST ONE COUNTED! Donovan's delivery is nice, and Conor Casey ploughs a header off the crossbar. Bradley looks upset on the sideline, the first time I remember him being off his feet and on camera all game long. Now he has three things -- the two crossbar shots and the dubious red card -- to use in an attempt to save his job after the game.
LB Jr is waking up, and I'm glad he stayed asleep for this entire game. His tiny, impressionable mind should not have been subjected to this horror show.
90 mins + 2: Brazil have a free kick front and center some 20 yards out, and they spend an eternity lining it up. Can this be the last action of the match? Julio Baptista winds up and boots it a mile high and wide. He's rubbish.
Bradley then blasts one over the bar. BLOW THE WHISTLE.
FULL TIME: USA 0, Brazil 3
Thank the gods that is over. My internet crapped out for a minute there, and LB jr finally woke up, but shit... an awful morning's footy if you are a US Soccer fan. I can guess that most of you who were pre-game aren't now.
The US needs a complete overhaul. Like Norwich. Like Newcastle. Rebuild this shit from the ground up. Dead weight needs to be cleaned out.
Not sure if we're liveblogging this afternoon, or who is doing it, but I'm hoping we do. In the meantime, go enjoy a liquid lunch. Hearing Bob Bradley being interviewed makes me wish I had a gun that would reach from my couch to that pitch.
Thanks for playing along, folks! You were all excellent. I was hoping for some rants though. That wonderful soccer book is getting returned to the bookshelf until our next impromptu commenter competition!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
C'mon dude, finish your chances