CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Friday, June 18, 2010
Slovenia vs United States
World Cup - Friday June 18, 2010
Ellis Park Stadium
With sour memories of last year's Confederations Cup final in Ellis Park still in their minds, the Americans took a page from Brazil's book and nearly overcame a two-goal halftime deficit, only to be denied the win by a controversial decision to reverse a late Maurice Edu strike.

The Dragons jumped out to a two-goal lead in a first half of equal ball possession, but the Americans took control of the second half thanks to goals from Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley. Malian referee Koman Coulibaly would prove to be the author of the final scoreline, disallowing the Edu goal due to an apparent foul.

Within touches after the opening whistle, the game took a tense turn when an inadvertent elbow from Clint Dempsey nailed Zlatan Ljubijankič in the head, requiring attention from the medical crew, but not quite a yellow card from Coulibaly.

The American offense came to life first in the 5th minute after Michael Bradley fed Robbie Findley with a fine through-ball, which the Real Salt Lake man took to draw a corner. Donovan's ensuing corner found Bradley at the front post but the Mönchengladbach midfielder couldn't get a good touch on the delivery at the front post.

The Slovenians responded in the seventh minute after José Torres, who replaced Ricardo Clark in the starting 11, brought down Milivoje Novakovič 30 yards out on the right side. Valter Birsa sent in a free kick for Ljubijankič but the 6'4" striker nodded over the bar.

In the ninth minute the Americans held their breath when another Birsa delivery from the right side slipped in between Ljubijankič and Demerit, and bounced out of bounds.

Four minutes later, starting striker Jozy Altidore tried to rev up the American attack with an individual burst through the middle to Dempsey, but just a touch too far for the Fulham man.

Just when it looked like the US offense was getting organized, Birsa took the game into his own hands in the 13th minute. Receiving a pass from the left side, the unmarked Birsa stepped up to the top of the box and fired a left footer with visible ease past Howard for the 1-0 lead.

The Americans responded four minutes later with ball work down the left side to Findley, who tried to find Altidore in the box but a pair of Slovenian defenders were there to stave off the drive. Bradley followed that up with a solo effort from 35 yards out that sailed over the net.

Slovenia saw their second major opportunity of the game in the 22nd minute after Birsa beamed a free kick from the half-line at Howard. With Novakovic darting into the box, the Everton keeper did well to stick with the ball as the Slovenian slid past and missed by inches.

The US offense organized good ball movement in the 28th minute that culminated in a Donovan cross from the left that Dempsey got a head on, but not enough to direct it towards the net.

They continued their pressure with another drive downfield on the right in the 35th minute leading to Altidore bursting past Bojan Jokić, and drawing a foul from Boštjan Cesar and a yellow card from Coulibaly's pocket for the Slovenian.

Torres stepped up for the free kick from edge of the box on left and fired straight at Samir Handanovič, but the Udinese keeper parried the shot away.

Making his first World Cup start, Torres said he had the backing of Donovan to take a rip at goal.

"(Donovan) told me to smack it," Torres told YA following the match. "On my free kicks, I'm going to go for goal. It was a good chance."

After Donovan's ensuing corner was headed out, Jay Demerit came forward from the backline to header from top of the box, but missed to the left by inches.

Following another Donovan corner into the box, Findley picked up a yellow for an apparent handball in the box, his second of the tournament deeming him ineligible for the Algeria match. Replays confirmed that the ball struck the side of Findley's face, but Coulibaly still showed the striker yellow.

The biggest chance for an equalizer came after Altidore flicked to Dempsey on the right flank, and threaded a pass through the box. Donovan stepped up at the back post to tap it in, but Mišo Brečko got a foot on it and deflected the shot out.

The Slovenians followed that missed opportunity with a goal to take the winds out of the Americans sails. Following two quick passes, Ljubijankič received the ball from Novakocic on the left side and slotted past Howard with a right footer for the 2-0 lead that was taken into the locker room at the half.

Coach Bob Bradley made two substitutions at halftime in hopes of fueling a comeback with Benny Feilhaber stepping on for Findley, and Edu for Torres. Dempsey moved up top on the left with Altidore.

Just minutes after the re-start, Donovan jumpstarted the comeback, collecting a centerfield pass and shaking off Cesar on the right side.

Entering the box, the LA Galaxy striker contemplated a pass through, but instead stepped up and fired into the roof of Handanovič's net to halve the lead.

On all gears, the Americans continued their pressure in the 51st minute when Donovan airmailed a free kick from 40 yards out on left side that a sliding Onyweu could not catch up to at the back post.

Birsa responded with a 40-yard free kick in the 52nd that required a leaping punch from Howard. The Auxerre midfielder crossed the pitch for the corner, which captain Robert Koren launched over the bar.

The US looked to challenge Handanovič again in the 58th when Altdiore shook off Suler and was off to the races but the Gent defender did well to catch up and arrive to the ball first.

Altidore had another shot at the 70 minute mark off a Donovan free kick from 22 meters out which took a deflection and fell at the penalty spot. The Villarreal striker spun on the loose ball for the strike, but straight at Handanovič's gloves.

Coulibaly displayed another yellow card for Andraž Kirm after tripping Steve Cherundolo, setting up a 40 yard free kick from Donovan that Feilhaber nimbly redirected towards the net from the top of the box, but again right at Handanovič.

Following Nejc Pečnik's entry for Ljubijankič in the 74th minute, Dempsey fired a loose ball in a crowd of white shirts through that Bradley could not get a toe on. Jokić picked up the fifth and final booking shortly thereafter for a foul on Donovan.

Slovenia sat back for much of the second half with only half-hearted drives until the American offense came alive after Bradley brought on Herculez Gomez for Onyewu in the 80th minute.

The Americans got the equalizer they were looking for in the 82nd minute courtesy of Bradley. A long ball from Cherundolo on the right side met a well-struck header from Altidore at the top of the box, and fell to Bradley in pursuit for the scoop into the net and the all-important equalizer.

Just a few minutes later, the Americans believed they had surged into the lead when Edu smashed home a Donovan free kick, but Coulibaly was pointing in the box signaling a foul.

"I didn't see a foul or anything," Donovan remarked after the game. "I just saw a normal free kick and a goal."

The elder Bradley shared his understanding of the play after the match as well.

"Players were holding our players," the US coach said of the disputed play. "One player had his arms around Michael (Bradley) and he was just trying to break loose from being held, and a foul was called. I don't know if that's accurate but that's what I've heard."

The affair ended on that controversial note, followed up by the equally surprising scoreless draw between Algeria and England in Cape Town. In spite of the disappointing call, players maintained a positive outlook with the result and the upcoming match.

"I think we deserve to win the game at the end of it all," Feilhaber noted. "We got the draw and that was very important to keep us alive."

With just two points, the U.S. will need a win over Algeria next Wednesday to ensure advancement to the next round.
Double T
Tuesday June 22, 2010 5:58 pm
Why is T-Ho getting a pass on both goals? The first one went right over his head and he sisn't even react. The 2nd one he even acknowledged he was out of position. I know he has saved our bacon in the past but he could have stopped both goals. Not all shots are someone in the midfield's fault.
Monday June 21, 2010 5:52 pm

Freddy went to the Greek team from Belenese, a second division Portugese side, who he never got playing time with. Probably should pay attention to the players career before you send them to the world cup based on unfullfilled potential. Freddy might make it some day, but right now I agree with BB that he wasn't ready. Freddy playing well with Altidore at the Olympics has no bearing on the world cup if you don't develope further. Altidore is developing while Freddy remains stagnant.
Monday June 21, 2010 3:29 pm
I think coach Bradley has overall done a great job. But I think he is responsible for the US not beating Slovenia, by starting Torres instead of a defensive center middie.

The first goal is really important in the World Cup (or in any league). Slovenia has people who can score, if we don't have defenders. Torres was in essence a defensive center middie, given that he received the ball so deeply. So where was a defender when Birsa got the first goal? Clark or Edu would have been there, and he wouldn't have gotten the uncontested shot, since their assignment is defense first.

Torres has his skills, but you use them when you need to slice open defenses late in the second half when you need a goal. When you are starting a World Cup game, you make sure the other team doesn't score first, or you should.

I still like Bradley (the coach, and the player). But the result of this game is because he didn't take Slovenia seriously enough as a scoring threat.
Monday June 21, 2010 12:40 pm
Generally, I agree with the statement "the referee doesn't determine the outcome of the game." But that statement is generally true, such as in offsidses, obstruction, etc., not always true. Consider the call to not award a PK for Germany's hand ball when the US played them a few cups ago. Of course this referee determined the outcome of the game by making that call!

My prediction is that the US and England will advance, but it has been an unpredictable tournament.
Monday June 21, 2010 2:45 am

Your point on Torres is most interesting thing to come out of this game. If he just "not ready" or is the team "not ready for him?" It seems like it might be that one of our best eleven players, but just doesn't quite fit with the team at the moment. That being said, his strike on the set piece was encouraging. Either way, he's still just a kid (22), and his time will come.

Also, did anyone notice that unreal, running away from the goal, turn on a dime, ROCKET from Jozy? It was parried well by the Slovenian keeper (who, to be fair, had a great game), but WOW, that was one of those plays that makes you think Jozy can and will be special. I hate when people rag on him, HE'S 20! And already great at drawing fouls. Those who say he doesn't deserve to start are crazy, blind, or racist.

Anyway, I don't really have anything else to say. Just freakin' beat Algeria, please.

(Also, seriously, Adu?? The kid was outstanding in the U20 a few years ago, but he needs to learn to play with MEN before he can play in a major international tournament. And he still has time, he's only TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD! Everyone on the team deserves a spot over him. Well, except Bornstein.)
Sunday June 20, 2010 4:59 pm
Let's heed the wise words of Alf Ramsey to his England players during the break before the extra time period in the 1966 final against West Germany: You've won it once, go out and win it aagain.

I'd say it the same to our boys. Go out and defeat Algeria to vindicate yourselves!
Saturday June 19, 2010 11:52 pm
Dude couldnt disagree with you more. Freddy this year didnt play for a portuguese team?! He did play well for a greek team that made it to the playoffs and did record goals and assists during the season. He got jobbed plain and simple. If you think that ricardo clark, damarcus beasley, jonathon bornstein, goodson or findley deserved to go before him you are delusional. Freddy actually played really well with altidore in the olympics. Bradley was afraid he would make other players look mediocre and does not play bob's obviously over- defensive style. When he starts for us in 2014 and people start saying.."how come they didnt pick him for the 2010 team" you will realize that he got screwed cause people were jealous of his undeserved fame. It only hurts our team this year.
Mike Klein
Saturday June 19, 2010 8:30 am
The ref screwed us. As John F. Kennedy, "life is unfair."

Algeria and Slovenia are very different teams. Slovenia was tough, crafty, and not afraid to attack. Algeria succeeded at parking the bus against England, and couldn't get a goal off Slovenia.

I fancy our chances. I also fancy Slovenia's.
Charlie G.
Saturday June 19, 2010 2:15 am
Just looked at the official FIFA highlights video of the match - hmmm, there's a mysterious segment missing, can you guess which play ?

OK, we've demonstrated we can play from behind...please, please, let's put a stamp from the start on Algeria, my heart can't take another one of these.
Friday June 18, 2010 11:48 pm
i think the "foul" happened at the top of the screen. DeMerit goes in with his hands extended before the contact happens down low with Bradley and Bocanegra.

still think its a bad decision but thats my educated guess...
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