DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN AS US RUN ENDS
RECAPS
EXTRA TIME
CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Saturday, June 26, 2010
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United States vs Ghana
World Cup - Saturday June 26, 2010
Royal Bafokeng Stadium
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Two ghastly defensive errors ended the US' World Cup hopes, as their spirited run came to a screeching halt, eliminated for the second successive time by well-organized Ghana.

Continuing a trend in this appearance in the tournament, the US found themselves down early after a Kevin-Prince Boateng tally, before yet another comeback with a Landon Donovan penalty, but an immediate gaffe in extra time was too much for the Americans to overcome.

In his starting eleven Bob Bradley opted to continue with Jonathan Bornstein instead of Oguchi Onyewu in the backline, and Ricardo Clark in the midfield instead of Maurice Edu, a choice that would prove to be costly.

The squads moved the ball forward in the opening five minutes with the US channeling up the right side with Robbie Findley and Landon Donovan for a cross that found no target.

Ghana responded four minutes in with the first shot of the game after Asamoah Gyan found Samuel Inkoom on the right, but the FC Basel striker was off-target.

The Africans jumped out to the lead in the fifth minute following a horrific Clark giveaway in the midfield that popped out to Kevin-Prince Boateng. The Portsmouth forward streaked down the left side, eluded Jay DeMerit, and slotted past a helpless Tim Howard for the early lead.

In frustration, Clark who also coughed up England's goal in the World Cup opener, was incredibly lucky to just see yellow a minute later for a foul on the goal-scorer from Portsmouth.

The US tried to organize offense and created another opportunity in the 12th minute, but Jozy Altidore was unable to get a good foot on his blast from 25 out.

The Ghanaians dominated possession and dictated the tempo for much of the first quarter-hour. Focusing their offense on Andre Ayew put pressure on left back Steve Cherundolo, who saw yellow in the 18th minute after a studs-to-thigh foul on the Arles midfielder. The ensuing blast from Gyan from the corner of the box was punched away by Tim Howard.

The US tried to work their way down the field with a breakaway in the the 20th minute, but Ghana foiled their attempt. Two minutes later, a Boateng foul on Cherundolo set up a Donovan free kick from right side, leading to a Michael Bradley cross from left. Wigan Athletic backup keeper Richard Kingson stood strong in goal and was there to pounce on the dangerous delivery.

Still looking for another goal, the ever-dangerous Boateng got off a pass to the right in the 28th minute after drawing DeMerit and Cherundolo. Kwadwo Asamoah was there for the cross but just a a touch too strong.

Just past the half-hour mark, coach Bradley made a rare early substitution turning to Edu to stand in for the brutal Clark.

"We go through the same process before every game," coach Bradley said after the match. "We felt that fresh legs in the center of the field would be a good idea."

"I was concerned about the card. I told him that the decision was solely based on the card. Ricardo is such a good man. He felt badly about the ball he lost, and I simply said 'that's part of soccer.'"

Neither side looked threatening until the 35th minute when, after a series of giveaways, Dempsey found Findley for a shot in the box that Kingson kicked to safety.

Asamoah posed a threat of his own a few minutes later, getting past DeMerit after a long goal kick and unleashing a shot that required a save from Howard.

The US looked for more ideas to break through the Ghanaian defense, but a free kick set piece from 40 yards out failed to find a head.

The first half came to a close with a clear advantage for Ghana who outshot the Americans 9-4.

For the second half Benny Feilhaber entered for Findley, thus shifting Dempsey up top with Altidore, as the US had started for the second half in the game against Algeria.

The US came out of the gates on all cylinders with a drive downfield and a near miss. Donovan crossed in for Altidore in the penalty area, who laid off to Feilhaber at the goal box, but Kingson got a hand on it.

"Benny's was a great chance, but he's having to stretch forward," Tim Howard later said about the chance. "Nothing was set forward for us perfectly."

In the 53rd minute Bornstein pulled off a nice feed through the box, but no one there for the taking. Their next time down the field US surged forward again with Donovan swinging in a cross, but too high for Altidore and to fast for Dempsey at the back post.

The pressure finally paid off for the Americans just over the hour mark after Dempsey nutmegged John Mensah cutting through the box. Twenty-year old Jonathan Mensah caught up with the Fulham midfielder, but brought him down and earned a yellow in the process.

Landon Donovan stepped up for the penalty and coolly pinged inside the right post for the vital equalizer.

Largely transparent in the second half, Ghana finally orchestrated an attack in the 68th minute and earned a Bocanegra yellow for a foul. On the ensuing free kick, Asamoah unleashed a blast that Howard cradled with ease.

Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac swapped defenders in the 73rd minute with Lee Addy entering for Hans Sarpei.

The Black Stars indeed did not look like they were through, moving forward with an Asamoah delivery in for a Gyan header over the bar.

The US then saw a few big chances to take the lead. In the 77th minute, Altidore spotted Michael Bradley slipping through the defense onsides for a shot, but Kingson managed to cover.

After Stephen Appiah entered for Boateng a minute later, Bornstein found Altidore with a long ball who, while muscling down John Mensah, managed to get a shot off while on the ground that dribbled inches from the right post.

With the end of regulation in sight, Ayew received a yellow for tripping up Altidore while sprinting down the sideline, and earned a yellow from Kassai's pocket.

Herculez Gomez came on for Altidore with the start of the added extra time, in hopes of jumpstarting the US offense.

Yet, Ghana only needed a three minutes to find the go-ahead goal courtesy of Asamoah Gyan. Outrunning his Rennes teammate Bocanegra, Gyan shook off DeMerit and fired home a left-footer beyond the reach of Howard for the winner.

"We put a lot into getting this game to 1-1 and we had one very good chance before regulation finished," Bradley commented. "In the overtime we felt good about where were physically and where we were in the game. The fact that we gave up a goal so quickly... there's not much time. It's going to be hard to get it back."

The US tried nonetheless to create chances, including a Bornstein cross through the box in the 98th minute that fell to Feilhaber for a strike, but deflected out.

Nearing the 110 minute mark, Inkoom tugged at Bornstein's jersey, earning a 30-yard free kick for Donovan that Kingson punched out.

Running out of steam and unable to penetrate the solid Ghanaian defense, the Americans accepted their fate and the 2-1 scoreline, bringing an end to an otherwise memorable World Cup run.

"You have to play over 90 minutes and we didn't to it," Howard said about what went wrong. "We should have won the game, or at least taken it to penalty kicks. We got ourselves behind the eight ball. When guys get inside and around the heart of the defense and penalty spot, you're asking for trouble."

"We played a pretty good game," Donovan added. "[We] just made a couple of mistakes and got punished for it."

As for the Ghanaians, they continue their run bearing the pride of Africa with a quarterfinal date with Uruguay, 2-1 winners over South Korea earlier in the day.
Jeff
Sunday June 27, 2010 5:55 pm
"Not sure how anyone could be impressed w/Altidore's performance during most of the WC. Did someone say he is the #1 striker for the U.S. ? Missed something there."

Seriously, if you have any better ideas let us all know.

He had a bad tournament, but he's one of only 3 people i would bet a lot of money on to be on the roster in 4 years: Jozy, Bradley (whether his father is coaching or not), and Guzan. No one else is a lock. I would hope Howard as well, but who knows. I'm hopeful about Davies and Holden, but one is coming off a near-fatal injury and the other is still wet behind the ears. Torres too, but I'm starting to get nervous he isn't fit for the overall US style of play. Still, he could be that free kick taker that someone else mentioned.

Honestly, if you had told me after the Davies/Gooch injuries that we were winning this group... anything else was gravy.

I still hate Ricardo Clark.
Richard
Sunday June 27, 2010 1:27 pm
Thanks everybody for your comments. I was so dejected yesterday that I needed to have this loss sink in before I can comment intelligently. Anyway England's defeat to Germany helps somewhat. As the saying goes, misery needs companionship (or something to that effect!).

Coach Bradley is a slow learner. He has always implemented the right solution after the team is behind. His rationalization for selecting Clark is based on the quick turn-around for fatigued players. Mind you, Edu plays for Rangers and has experienced Wednesday and Saturday games for his team. Further, in this WC Edu has played an entire game against Algeria. So, this talk about physical exhaustion is nonsensical. When I saw Clark's name in the lineup I got my first feeling of uneasiness. We all know the answer to that, don't we.

Also, the Findley's selection bothered me a lot from the very beginning. Findley has not shown any shred of killer instinct for a striker. Witness his clear cut attempt to shoot at goal in the first half. You could clearly see that his left foot was planted just within 6 to 10 inches too far on the left foot causing his weight to shift a little bit prematurely to the left (to keep balance before firing his shot on the right foot). As a result, his shot on from the right foot lacks power and accuracy. Why so? Because Findley lacks poise and confidence. In my book Buddle should have been a starter yesterday. Buddle is a very confident player and he would have scored that goal.

I think US Soccer should find an international coach to replace coach Bradley, someone who has international experience and who knows the US soccer culture. Queiroz (spelling?) maybe?

Here's to another happier run in 2014!
duriseti
Sunday June 27, 2010 12:41 pm
Al Wyatt,

Buddle is a gamble. That's what you want from a true striker: takes chances, wins some, loses some, composure in the box to pick his spot, finishes with authority.

He is older, but he has just found his stride. Many people credit Beckham with this change. Who knows. If Beckham is to be credited, it just emphasizes how important it is for us to bring a foreign coach into the mix in the program.

I'm not saying Klinsman would make it all better, but it would bring something to the team that we do not have.
Soccerates
Sunday June 27, 2010 12:09 pm
In retrospect, our best starting lineup yesterday might have been:

-----------------Buddle-------------------
Dempsey------------------------Donovan
-------Feilhaber-------Bradley-----------
-------------------Edu---------------------
Bocanegra--------------------Cherondolo
-----------Oneywu---DeMerit------------
-----------------Howard------------------

But then it wasn't just hindsight being 20/20, because as soon as the team sheet came out there were thousands of USMNT fans screaming "Bornstein AND Clark...WTF?" What's more, we're much much closer than people think and the main thing holding us back was coaching. Not just in team selection and game management, but failing to retain players we could have had. We would have been favored to meet AND challenge the Brazillians on our side of the bracket with this squad:

------------------G. Rossi-------------------
Dempsey------------------------Donovan
-------Feilhaber-------Bradley-----------
------------------J. Jones---------------------
Bocanegra--------------------Cherondolo
-----------N. Subotic---DeMerit------------
-----------------Howard------------------

We are in a new era of soccer in the US. The era of on-demand televised soccer and it's only 5 years old. There are tens of thousands of quality players from 14-18 who have been watching the best in the world for the past 5 years. In 2014 they will be 18-22 and a handful will emerge as the new hope. Maybe by then we'll have the coaching to match our team quality.
rudy
Sunday June 27, 2010 9:40 am
In response to comment earlier regarding our need to get a free kick specialist, you don't feel that Dempsey's five free kicks that sailed over the goal or went wide by ten feet is going to work? His head is so big Im surprised he fit into the stadium. Couldn't even score any garbage cleanup goals which is all he does for Fulham (aside from the lucky chip-in this year)

Waited four years to watch Ricardo Clark screw up against the English and almost kill us, then screw up against Ghana and successfully destroy our chances of advancing. Thanks Ricardo.

Very disappointing.

We just don't have the skill or man parts to finish. How many shots on goal do you need? We can't score (Aside From Donavan who played great through out cup) and have demonstrated our ineptitude in the last two games.
robert
Sunday June 27, 2010 9:08 am
We need to coach with good talent evaluation and common sense. Why start a guy you didn't play in the last two group stages games, in a pressure pack game and think he's going to preform.

UsSoccer needs to go forward now.

In order to build from this, is to get a coach who is not going to have loyalties to players, and base his squad on performance and not loyalties.

Next we need to up the competition, besides Mexico And Costa Rica, the competition drops.

We need to start entering the Copa America on a daily bases, Move the Gold Cup back a year so we can enter the Copa America. And schedule more friendlies against equal or better European teams on european soil. To see how players preform in hostal situations.

If the Soccer Federation is going to use Concacaf and the Gold Cup as performance bar, we are never going to win the World Cup anytime soon.
cbb1217
Sunday June 27, 2010 8:19 am
Looking back you can't help but wonder what could have been. If Davies was healthy and Rossi wasn't a traitor we would have options to partner with Jozy. If Rongen didn't run Subotic off (great job Thomas) we would have had a lynchpin for the D. If Jermaine Jones was healthy we would have had an instant partner for Bradely and help for our weak back line.

Oh well. US needs to start scouting for defenders cause that's a huge need. Boca, Dolo, Demerit, and maybe even Gooch are done with the Nats. They also better focus on the youth and keep hold of future prospects (ie Llegett). Time for a European coach.
Grant
Sunday June 27, 2010 7:44 am
In prior games the coach had demonstrated that to steady the ship he had to have Edu and Feilhaber in the middle of the park. Here is a unique idea - why not actually start the game with that lineup. And the coach hasn't realised that Findley is not Charlie Davies, Charlie Davies is fast, Findley is fast but Findley is not Charlie Davies, period. And he is not the leading scorer in the USA's domestic league.

Asked why he started with Clark the coach said he wanted "fresh legs". Well if thats the case the only center mid player who played EVERY MINUTE is ....... guess who?
mgseamanjr
Sunday June 27, 2010 4:06 am
I have been a supporter of BB for some time and I think he has a knack for turning things around at half time but when I saw JB at left back, with Clark in MF, I was a little shocked. I seriously doubt whether these two players would make the cut for a World Cup national team in any other country in the top 100. JB over Gouch? Watch the game again and count the give-aways and mistakes made by JB, even though he played much more subdued (many careful safe back-passes) than his usual self. I suspect the decision to start these two individuals will be in the discussion of whether to keep BB on as coach. Clark cost us a sub at about 30 minutes! I also don't think it was wise to take off Alitidore for Gomez. Lastly, we conceded too much room to them, particularly in the first half. Frequently, we would surround their man with the ball with three defenders, only to wait and watch a pass go through to another player. Incredibly frustrating!
mario jordan
Sunday June 27, 2010 1:39 am
one thing the U.S. lack was a free kick specialist,they dont have one.they waisted free kicks outside the box .they need to find one for the next world cup.
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A big question for U.S. fans heading into the World Cup is surely on Jozy Altidore and just what is plaguing the young striker at Sunderland.
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