FEILHABER PRAISING US EFFORT
Friday's controversial 2-2 draw versus Slovenia was United States midfielder Benny Feilhaber's World Cup debut in which the native Californian played a key role in the US' comeback.
Feilhaber was substituted into the match by head coach Bob Bradley at halftime in place of forward Robbie Findley who was largely ineffective in the first half versus the Slovenians.
With the addition of the AGF man on the field for the final 45 minutes, the US found its attacking identity and very nearly pulled off the comeback which Feilhaber credits to both a tactical and attitudinal change by the squad.
"We're definitely a stern bunch," Feilhaber told YA. "We're not going to let any team win easily. We had a great second half by all the guys. Tactically, at the end of the game we were pushing three up top and getting pressure from under so I really think that goal came from the pressure we were getting up top."
The former UCLA standout also praised the efforts put forth by teammates Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore and goal scorer Michael Bradley on the equalizing goal.
"At that point of the game we're just trying to get the ball into the box up to Jozy and our strong forwards," he said of the tying strike. "Jozy did a great job getting that ball over to Michael and Michael obviously made a fantastic run into the box and to get his foot on it. People say that dumping it into the box isn't a pretty play, but it was a great ball by Landon and a great header by Jozy and a great finish by Michael for the goal."
It has been easy for US fans to lose sight of the merit involving the US comeback due to the erroneous call made by head referee Koman Coulibaly who disallowed Maurice Edu's supposed game-winner in the 86th minute off of Donovan's free kick.
Despite the bitterness of being robbed a full three points, Feilhaber points to the positives that can be extracted from Friday's comeback.
"We take momentum from this," noted Feilhaber. "We were out of it in the first half… You lose this game, you're basically out of the tournament so we really should be happy with what we achieved. The thing with the third goal we really can't do anything about, but we're happy with what we accomplished in the second half and now we can look forward to Algeria."
Now with only a victory over a tough Algerian squad standing between the Americans and the second round, Feilhaber warns that dwelling on Coulibaly's blown call would be a negative thing and that concentrating on the African Cup of Nations semifinalists should be their top priority.
"I've seen plenty of calls go against people and you can't let it sink in, you got to let it go," he concluded. "At this point, we got a result that we would have taken hands down at halftime even though I think we deserved to win the game. At the end of it all, we got the draw which keeps us alive and I think we have a good chance to keep everything in our own hands and now our focus is to win the Algeria game."