BRENT LATHAM - Sunday, June 28, 2009
United States vs Brazil
Conferations Cup - Sunday June 28, 2009
Ellis Park Stadium
Getty Images
Luis Fabiano Celebrates
The United States came out blazing Sunday night in the Confederations Cup final in Johannesburg, but could not hold a big halftime lead as Brazil rallied to ruin the Americans' dreams of glory in South Africa.

The teams felt each other out for the first few minutes, as Brazil came forward but the US punched back on the counter with equal determination.

On just such a break, on ten minutes, Jonathan Spector carried the ball forward down his right wing and chipped a ball into the area for Clint Dempsey, who swept a running volley across the box and past goalkeeper Julio Cesar to give the Yanks a quick 1-0 lead.

Brazil looked anxious to get the goal back, and came forward through Robinho, who slammed an angled shot that forced Tim Howard to knock the ball out for a corner.

The US threatened again at the quarter hour when a corner kick produced a melee in front of goal that led to a Dempsey attempt, but the Fulham man found himself in an awkward position and could only kick the ball over the crossbar.

Brazil tried from distance on 22 minutes, when Felipe Melo, the scorer of Brazil's first goal in the first game against the US, struck a shot from about 22 yards right at Howard, who knocked the ball back from where it had come.

Two minutes later Kaka and Maicon teamed up to put the American goal in danger again. Maicon played a wall fro Kaka which the future Real Madrid backheeled into the right back's path. Maicon slammed an angled shot off Howard, but the US goal remained safe.

Twenty seven minutes in the US, which had been looking dangerous on the break through Landon Donovan and Charlie Davies, doubled their lead on an exquisite counterattack conceived by the pair. Donovan fed Davies on the wing, and the Hammarby man laid an exquisite return pass back into the path of the former Bayern Munich attacker. Donovan then chipped the ball over Felipe Melo and struck it past Julio Cesar.

Brazil would not be held back and Andre Santos soon forced Howard into yet another save at the near post with an overlapping run.

The Selecao continued to look dangerous when Robinho shot from range and Howard made his fifth save of the evening. With time running out in the half Maicon sent a dangerous ball across the box but no one could get on the end of it and the Americans would take their 2-0 lead to the locker room.

The second half would be a completely different tale, as the Americans were unable to continue to absorb the Brazilian pressure.

Just 39 seconds into the half, Luis Fabiano took a cross at the top of the box and turned with Jay DeMerit on his back. The Brazilian struck a hopeful shot which slotted past DeMerit and beat Howard to cut into the lead and give Brazil all the momentum they needed.

Fifty eight minutes in Lucio would force Howard into another save with a sharp header. Two minutes late a Kaka header went into the goal, but both the linesman and the referee refused to concede the goal as Howard quickly pushed the ball back out, and the Americans were momentarily safe.

The Americans then came forward to help relieve pressure and Donovan and Dempsey both went close with long range shots.

The game turned for good in the 66th minute when Brazil coach Dunga brought on two substitutes, Elano and Daniel Alves. While the Americans warmed up some subs for ten minutes, the fresh Brazilians came in wave after wave at the American goal.

Ten minutes later, just after Tim Howard had stoned an onrushing Luis Fabiano, and with Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Kljestan finally preparing to come on, Brazil tied the game as Luis Fabiano emphatically headed a loose ball into the US net past a helpless Howard.

In the 84th minute Lucio gave the Brazilian yet another title as he outjumped DeMerit and Dempsey on a corner and headed the ball in off the far post to break the Americans' hearts.

The US will now have to wait until at least next year for their first victory in an international tournament. Their second best finish is however, the best showing ever for the United States at a FIFA event.
Monday June 29, 2009 3:02 am
Players of the tournament for the US:

Donovan (please shoot more)

Feilhaber would be on the list if he had played more. I was very impressed with how he handled the physicality of Brazil. That was always my biggest question mark with him.
Monday June 29, 2009 2:04 am
All in all, a valiant and impressive showing by the Nats.I cannot be more excited about the World Cup!

I will be shocked if some of these players, given their performances, don't receive serious interest from bigger clubs: Davies, Donovan, Clark and Feilhaber.

Some questions: Is Torres not on the Gold Cup roster? Why? And why is Conor Casey getting so much playing time?
Sunday June 28, 2009 11:49 pm
if there is any one on this forum that think that was a good showing. then they must not love football...people BB or whatever u call him is a mess. this is the worst game the US played for me, they coach didnot know what to do next. playing against brazile u next subs are prep in the locker room you have to reinforce before they do, becaus ethey are coming after you. not the other way around. it would be worst at the gold cup and i even see haiti bring us on our knees.

IF for anything let this coach go he has run out of gas himself....

there is no prospect for this goldcup...

BB must GO now
Sunday June 28, 2009 10:50 pm
The USMNT reaching a Finals games in a FIFA tournament is awesome, but enought of the "It is great being here". We should expect to always be there. That said, the last week has been remarkable for the Nats.

But we had a chance! Where was the man on the far post on the third goal?

On to the Gold Cup.
Sunday June 28, 2009 10:38 pm
Just to be clear, I don't think Adu is a cure all. I have never see Adu show up consistently when he has to play against grown men -- including the MLS. He's just young and small. I have not watched Torres play enough to vouch for his touch, but if he is anything like Feilhaber, then they could have played some nice combinations in the middle.

My point is this: a tired Feilhaber was more effective than a rested Kleijstan. I think Sasha is simply in a severe funk. Any of us who actually have ever played at a competetive level know exactly what I am talking about. Every touch is fraught with risk, every pass seems like a difficult decision with an unsure outcome, and the confidence just erodes further. From my observations in other games, when Sasha plays at his potential, he has a nice touch on the ball. His confidence is simply in the pits and that was evident early on in the tournament. If Coach Bradley was trying to win some confidence back for him, the last 20 minutes of a FIFA final is NOT the time. An effective coach has to know his player's emotional and intellectual state -- not just his potential.

As for Casey, where do I start?

What I would have done ... as if anybody cares ; ):

-Leave Feilhaber in
-Leave Clark in (I would argue that Lucio wouldn't have been so wild and free if Clark was in)
-Take out Altidore, move Dempsey up top, and bring in Torres
Sunday June 28, 2009 10:19 pm
I'm sure that if Bradley had Edu, Bradley, Jones--even Ching--on the bench we wouldn't have seen the substitutes we saw. The remarkable thing isn't that he didn't play Adu--it's that he brought him to South Africa in the first place. He's rusty from an almost complete lack of playing in real games for two full years. Bradley was watching Adu everyday in practice--I'm sure if he thought he could have saved our bacon and used his defensive brilliance to slow the best attack in the world he would have used him. Complaining about not playing Torres is more legit.

Hats off to team USA--every member of the team! And here's hoping Adu shines in the Gold Cup.
Sunday June 28, 2009 9:36 pm
I have some questions for all of you calling for Adu, aside from the loss to Costa Rica when is the last time you saw him play(including training)? How many times has BB seen him play? While I agree he has talent, isnt it possible that BB knows something we dont?
Sunday June 28, 2009 8:06 pm
I'm glad to see you changed the title of the article. I read everything you post and agree with most but to say the US choked when playing a top five team is insane. Yes there were some bad moments and yes the defensive subs came just as Brazil scored (still trying to figure out why Bob went with them) but the team played well in the past 2 games. If they continue on this trend they will have their best showing at a world cup ever!
Mysterious Manager
Sunday June 28, 2009 7:34 pm
Thanks Duriseti, our thoughts exactly, well said. I mentioned BB's managerial moves vs Spain and nobody wanted to hear it, poor timing on my part I guess. While the subs may not have cost us the game they certainly were not helpful or timely, again. Notice how we never sub first, I guess we are never gassed first? In fairness to BB those guys checked in officially, then the game was tied while they were waiting, was he able to call them back or reassess at that point or was it too late? That being said in any scenario it has to be Torres for Benny if it is Benny, but not SK. Bornstein at midfield was also a head scratcher. Casey anywhere is still hard to believe. Remember this guy started SK and DMB last game vs Brazil, I almost turned it off immediately and wish I had by the end. Ultimately, most of the players did an unbelievable job throughout the tournament, if you recall we were taking Italy to the woodshed before the red card came out to save them.
Memphis Rogues
Sunday June 28, 2009 7:31 pm
"Choke Away Title"? That's absurd. USA went up 2-0 and near dominated first half. Brazil .. is Brazil. They came back. But the USA FORCED them to come back. The Stars and Stripes still had chances too. Close chances. What a story this team is!! After a hard start, Bob Bradley and company rallied to play in the final of one of the world's elite competitions. USA looked great for one half against World champions Italy, sucked wind against Brazil, scored 3 goals against Egypt, scored 2 goals against the #1 ranked Spain and sent them to the 3rd place match, and looked great for a half against Brazil - arguably the most dominant soccer nation on Earth.

That's 7 goals in the run of play against top teams. Plus one PK against ITALY.

Choke? Nah. That's too much. We all certainly want more; we want to win it all. That's a good thing. But everyone on all of these message boards has been saying the Confeds cup would be the test of the USA's and Bob Bradley readiness.

Stars and Stripes missed it by one goal.

Well done, USMNT
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