Olympic Qualifying: USA vs. Cuba (Running Commentary)

Olympic Qualifying: USA vs. Cuba (Running Commentary)

U.S. Men's Olympic Team

Olympic Qualifying: USA vs. Cuba (Running Commentary)

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Good evening folks. We’re close to kick-off of tonight’s USA-Cuba Olympic Qualifying match. I will be providing a running diary of the match and you are welcome to follow along with the match here and share you comments below.

As a reminder, you can watch the match on Fox Soccer Channel at 8pm, as well as on ESPN360.com.

Enjoy the match and follow the commentary after the jump:

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FINAL- That’s all from me. Thanks for following along and be sure to check in to SBI for all your U.S. Olympic qualifying news.

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FINAL- USA 1, Cuba 1. A thoroughly disappointing result and Peter Nowak’s squad has to know it threw away two points today. Nowak will also have to answer for his decision to pull Altidore at halftime. I’m sure it had to do with fatigue, but Altidore’s absence allowed us to get a good (and ugly) look at the options behind Altidore.

On the bright side, the Americans still control their own fate. Wins in their final two matches will lock up first place in the group, but playing like they did tonight won’t win them a single game in this group.

And before I forget, you can book this one: The Cuban goalkeeper today will be starting in MLS by 2010. Just a hunch.

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93rd minute- A flurry of chances in the area go begging for the USA and the match is OVER.

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92nd minute- Another US corner and another Cuban player down with "cramps". Hopefully the young referee adds to the stoppage time.

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91st minute- Adu’s free kick misses wide right.

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90th minute- A great free kick chance earned by Edu.

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88th minute- Barrett has been just plain awful.

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86th minute- Kljestan with a great header chance off a good ball from Adu, but it’s deflected out for a corner. The corner produces nothing. The clock is ticking.

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82nd minute- An Ianni head goal is disallowed for offside. Good call.

And Cuba just lost Linares to a second yellow card, for of all things, kicking a ball into the net during an offside call. Terrible, terrible decision by the referee.

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80th minute- Nice work by Gaven on the left flank to earn a corner kick.

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77th minute- Eddie Gaven is coming into the match for Findley.

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72nd minute- Okay, so McCarty is starting to grow on me. The kid is showing good hustle and skill. The Americans are awake now. We’ll see if there is enough time for them to find a game-winner.

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70th minute- Nice run and shot by McCarty, who has been much better in the second half, but another great save by the Cuban goalkeeper Miranda. The U.S. team is starting to find a good rhythm.

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63rd minute- Cuba with a dangerous chance but the shot is saved easily by Seitz.

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62nd minute- Edu has been much better in the past 10 minutes.

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61st minute- Barrett coming in for Charlie Louganis, I mean Davies.

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59th minute- Looks like Chad Barrett is set to come into the match.

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55th minute- Findley scuffs a wide-open look on goal after Adu springs him with a beautiful pass. Those chances simply cannot be squandered.

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53rd minute- I must say that Maurice Edu looks a bit shaky, committing some bad turnovers.

And Freddy Adu misses just wide with an 18-yard blast. Nice pass from Edu on the play.

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51st minute- Another wasted free kick from the Americans.

As for the tactical changes. the clear purpose is to take control of the possession battle. Will it work? If it doesn’t I don’t see the Americans winning tonight.

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48th minute- Here is how the lineup looks now.

———–Davies———Findley——–

————-Adu———Kljestan——–

————McCarty——-Edu—————

Freeman—-Ianni——Sturgis——–Hill

———————Seitz——————-

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46th minute- Sacha Kljestan comes in for Altidore. Apparently Altidore was worn out playing as the lone striker. Not sure how the formation shakes out now.

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HALFTIME- Linares of Cuba was the goal-scorer, the same player I said looked like Sammie from Prison Break. Speaking of Prison Break lookalikes in this game, McCarty looks like LJ Burroughs.

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HALFTIME- What changes could Nowak make at the half? That’s a good question. I haven’t really been crazy about Dax McCarty so far and wouldn’t mind seeing Sacha Kljestan get a look. I wonder if Cuba will start looking to go after Hill on the right flank. He looked a bit vulnerable the final 20 minutes.

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HALFTIME- We are tied at halftime and Peter Nowak CANNOT be happy with the effort in the past 15-20 minutes. I can’t help but wonder if there just aren’t enough ball-winning defensive-minded types on the field. Other than Maurice Edu, Nathan Sturgis and Patrick Ianni, who in the lineup is winning challenges?

Adu started off strongly, but faded. Altidore can’t get service and the wingers (Davies and Findley) haven’t gotten much of the ball. Not much is going well.

On the bright side, the Cuban defense looks ripe for the thrashing. Now all he Americans need to do is get the ball to Altidore in the final third and the goal will come.

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45th minute- We are tied and this game has a strange feeling to it. The U.S. team has lost any sense of control of this match. This is the type of game Maurice Edu and Freddy Adu need to take over and they have been barely visible the past 15-20 minutes.

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42nd minute- GOAL CUBA. It was bound to happen. Cuba with a nice passing sequence leads to a tap-in from close range. The U.S. team just got too lazy. USA 1, Cuba 1.

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40th minute- A yellow card for Kamani Hill, who commits a foul right on the edge of the penalty area with a high boot. Hill has looked shaky the past few minutes.

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39th minute- Charlie Davies with a horrendous attempt at a dive in the penalty area. If he had just stayed up the US team probably scores a goal. Apparently that gets called in Sweden.

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38th minute- I like what I’ve seen from the Cuban goalkeeper, who looks like he could be Benny Feilhaber’s long-lost brother.

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36th minute- Cuba is knocking the ball around pretty well at this point. No chances yet.

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33rd minute- Cuba forces a save out of Chris Seitz after a forward who looks like the bad guy from Prison Break tries a bicycle kick.

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31st minute- The subsequent corner is terribly defended by Cuba but the American’s can’t convert it. The set piece defending has been pretty bad by Cuba so far.

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31st minute- Adu’s curling free kick forces a diving save by the Cuban goalkeeper.

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30th minute- Altidore catches an elbow to the head, drawing a dangerous free kick. A rough day so far for Altidore.

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28th minute- The American fullbacks have looked good today. Kamani Hill is doing well on the right and Hunter Freeman has been solid at left back. You wonder if Juan Carlos Osorio will consider him a candidate to play the left-sided defender role on his team (I doubt it, Osorio loves Freeman’s passing from the right too much).

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27th minute- Still waiting for Altidore to make an impact, someone needs to get him the ball first.

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24th minute- Somebody tell Christopher Sullivan to stop pretending to be Ricky Ricardo, saying Coo-bah. The American English pronunciation is Q-bah.

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23rd minute- Imagine being a fan at this game who bought their tickets months ago to beat the rush. Okay, so maybe nobody did that but it would be funny if they did.

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22nd minute- Still waiting for a second U.S. goal. The midfield needs to do a better job of keeping possession.

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16th minute- Nice to see Patrick Ianni getting the start today. I wonder if he’s still seeing Gamba Osaka forward Bare in his dreams.

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15th minue- Nice job by Findley to lay the ball off to Adu, and a good job by Charlie Davies to jump out of the way of Adu’s shot, which left the Cuban goalkeepers screened.

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13th minute- GOAL USA. Freddy Adu curls in a shot from the right flank that looked more like a low cross than a shot. USA 1, Cuba 0

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12th minute- Still waiting for the midfield to start stringing some passes together. Part of it is the grass but the U.S. midfield could do better.

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8th minute- Adu with a long-range blast the forces a diving save. Cuba’s midfield looks non-existent early on.

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7th minute- Altidore gets in behind the Cuba defense but his shot is saved. Altidore is going to score at least one goal today.

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4th minute- The waterlogged field isn’t helping the speedy squad Nowak is using.

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PRE-GAME- Here is the US lineup, which boasts SERIOUS speed:

——————–Altidore—————-

Davies————–Adu———–Findley

————McCarty——-Edu———-

Freeman—-Ianni——Sturgis——–Hill

———————Seitz——————-

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PRE-GAME- Looks like a packed house at Raymond James Stadium (kidding).

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