DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN AS US RUN ENDS
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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.
Estuardo Marroquín
Saturday June 26, 2010 10:23 pm
It hurts really bad :(
aaron
Saturday June 26, 2010 10:05 pm
Great points everyone...

and before we crush BB he did do some great things with this team. Sadly his heart got the best of him in the end and cost us the quarters...

findley, clark, gooch, Bornstein were all bad calls.
gomez, buddle, benny, and edu were better calls...

the positives:
we won our group even with 2 goals that were taken away from us.

our #10 outscored kaka, rooney and messi combined.

we finally have more than one midfield player (thank you Reyna for all those great years!) who can hold the ball, create, and score from the outside.

we are enjoyable to watch and even score goals!!!!!

we are developing home grown talent that is world class and other countries are now enjoying our talent (rossi)

we have a more than decent domestic league which is growing and are actually enjoyable to watch! Rochester although a smaller market should be in the MLS!

we have come a long way since 1990 and we should be proud. that said, we have a long, long, long way to go and we all need to keep up the work of passing our knowledge along to the next generations.
jbone0293
Saturday June 26, 2010 10:02 pm
Gotta agree that Clark and Findley starting were not prudent. As soon as I saw the lineup I had a sunk feeling. Findley is someone who may be good late when you need to wear a defense down with pace late in a game. MO Edu should have started. Would have liked to see Holden subbed in for Jozy and Donovan and Deuce pushed up.
duriseti
Saturday June 26, 2010 9:37 pm
I'm no Bornstein fan, but you have to admit that he was solid on the defensive side of the ball today.

Both defensive miscues were through the middle or the right of middle. Bornstein cannot be faulted.

He even won a free kick from a dangerous position with a forward surge.

My club coach used to insist that nobody should dribble during first 8-10 minutes of the game unless they have to do so. He felt that this was the only way to get everyone's feet comfortable on the ball and signal to the opponent that pressure will not yield much.

Too bad nobody taught Clark this important lesson. I feel for the guy, but I'm bummed as well.
duriseti
Saturday June 26, 2010 6:36 pm
That was a coaching loss.

Edu should have started. Clark is in a confidence slump at the least. If he was was good enough in training to justify a start, why wasn't he in for Algeria? AS they say, "Stick with who brought you here".

Buddle should have started with Findley as a sub. Findley is not a finisher yet. Buddle is a proven finisher, has a strong aerial game, and has decent touch and pace.

Altidore had a horrid night and should have been subbed out around the 60th minute. When he looked dangerous, he would lose the ball too quickly or panic on his shot without taking the time to establish balance. He is young, naive, and it showed.

Buddle should have come in instead of Gomez. We had no appreciable aerial game in Ghana's box. Buddle is big, get's up well, and finishes well. He is also fast enough to run onto long balls. Gomez is a different type of player used to play in the Mexican League. Putting Gomez in changed the style of play required to get the most value out of him.
chambre01
Saturday June 26, 2010 6:20 pm
Clark had a big hand in our loss, but as soon as Donovan proffessed his love to his ex-wife after he last game I knew we were in trouble. What a way to create a media circus around your team because one player has distractions off the field. He should have kept his personal life to himself. I'm surprised he was able to convert the PK as screwed up as his head was.

Bornstein is the biggest tool to ever grace the presence of the USMNT. He nearly always gives up the goalside to the opponent. Can someone work on his Defensive awarness and passing? Better yet get rid of him, I'd rather have someone slower with good positioning.
This teams mentality can best be summed up as being Bipolar. This requires some serious pshychoanalysis. Its almost impossible to keep going behind and expect to come back
Brad Ewing
Saturday June 26, 2010 6:03 pm
World, we are on the scene in footballing terms. We have to work on some areas, but what a showing. Putting the ball in the net in every game is a positive step.
Barry Ruderman
Saturday June 26, 2010 5:57 pm
Ok, so we wait 4 years.

Now, will the Federation stop rewarding coaching loyalty and start lookiing at real international coaches who know how to win at a higher level than MLS?

Its clear that the early goals are symptomatic of a sytemic failure, not just inferior personnel.

Its about more than just winning on the field every four years. Its about making sure our top domestic league and developing european league players have help from a seasoned European coach with finding the right teams abroad and getting good developmental advice.

With so many good young players starting out in Europe, someone with years of experience as a coach in multiple European Leagues will push the program forward for the next 4 years far better than a guy whose resume consists of Princeton and MLS.
cbb1217
Saturday June 26, 2010 5:29 pm
hard to take. clark should have never started and cost us another early goal. in the end our defense has been a liability for a while now and it cost us today. both goals were soft ones to give up. it was fun to watch this team though, and i'm proud of the effort.

need to rebuild the D and find some depth at striker going forward. guess we got 4 years though.
Scout92
Saturday June 26, 2010 5:26 pm
All I have to say is bradley makes all the right moves too late, oh and I like how many goals our top fowards scored I predicted that they would be a failure, nice work by altidore though he is truly talented.
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