World Cup Qualifying: USA vs. Cuba (Match Night)

World Cup Qualifying: USA vs. Cuba (Match Night)

CONCACAF

World Cup Qualifying: USA vs. Cuba (Match Night)

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Good evening folks. Tonight is the night the U.S. men’s national team can clinch its place in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying by beating Cuba at RFK Stadium tonigh (7pm, ESPN Classic/Galavision).

The Cubans have yet to win a match and come into this match missing two players who have disappeared and have defected. To call the Cubans a severe underdog is an understatement.

The crowd of American fans outside RFK Stadium is a lively one, though I’m not sure we will have much more than 20,000 for tonight’s match.

I will be providing commentary on the match throughout the night so please feel free to follow along here. As always, you are welcome to share your thoughts and opinions on the match in the comments section below.

Enjoy the match (lineups after the jump):

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FINAL- That’s all for now folks. I will be writing some stories for ESPN.come tonight, but will try to check back in with some more thoughts tonight. Please feel free to share your post-game thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Thanks for following along and good night.

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FINAL- USA 6, Cuba 1. Total domination by the Americans, and a very intriguing lineup to finish the game, a lineup with a lot of promise.

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90th minute– Torres has looked VERY good so far tonight.

Michael Bradley with a yellow card.

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90th minute– Freddy Adu with the perfect cross on that goal, finding Onyewu for the easy header.

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89th minute- GOAL USA!!!!!!! And it’s Oguch Onyewu with the header finish to make it 6-1.

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87th minute- GOAL USA!!!! And it’s Jozy Altidore with the finish. USA 5, Cuba 1.

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87th minute– Michael Bradley called for a questionable foul and barely avoids a yellow after complaining about it.

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85th minute– Freddy on the ball, tries a long pass to Altidore but it doesn’t quite work.

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80th minute– Count me among the people who never thought he’d see that group of players together on the field in 2008. It’s an exciting group and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to see that group play together in the final two qualifiers this year.

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78th minute– This is what we’re seeing now with Adu in the game:

———————–Altidore————————

————–Donovan————Adu—————–

——–Torres———Bradley——–Dempsey——-

Beasley—-Bocanegra—-Onyewu——-Cherundolo

———————–Howard————————–

Now that is an attacking formation. Could that be the starting lineup for World Cup 2010?

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76th minute– Freddy Adu has come in for Sacha Kljestan. There are some USA fans in tears right now.

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75th minute– This is what we’re seeing from the USA formation:

————Altidore———Dempsey————–

———————-Donovan————Kljestan

———–Torres————Bradley—————-

Beasley—-Bocanegra—-Onyewu——-Cherundolo

———————–Howard————————–

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73rd minute– I recall Bob Bradley using this 4-4-2 with no left winger with the MetroStars. If you recall, France used this system in the 1998 World Cup. Could this be the next step in the US national team’s evolution, with Beasley as a marauding left back?

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71st minute– ALTIDORE with a nice run at goal but has his shot saved.

The USA is playing a 4-4-2 right now with no left winger, and three central midfielders. Beasley has the left wing to himself, with Torres floating wide on occasion.

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69th minute– Torres is in central midfield right now. Looks like Beasley is at left back.

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68th minute– Big Soccer posters are in heaven right now. Altidore and Torres in for Pearce and Ching.

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67th minute– Jose Francisco Torres and Jozy Altidore are coming into the match.

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66th minute– It’s 4-1, time for some subs Bob.

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65th minute– Now, I’m not just saying this because of my recent SBI piece on him, but Ching has had a game tonight. He forced the turnover that led to Beasley’s first goal, set up the USA third goal and scored the fourth. Not bad for a ‘stiff’.

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64th minute– Kljestan gets the assist for heading that one into the mixer. Any one of three players could have put that one home but Ching got his head on it.

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63rd minute- GOAL USA!!! Ching with the header!!!

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61st minute– Bocanegra’s header goes wide. The Americans look likely to add a fourth pretty soon. Will we see a sub before then?

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59th minute– USA is knocking on the door.

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57th minute– Tonight’s attendance: 20,293

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56th minute– Dempsey’s free header SAVED!!

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52nd minute– You can tell that Bob Bradley sent the message at halftime that the passing needs to be sharper and simple and the goals will come. Much better passing early on.

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50th minute– This is "go for the jugular time" Can the Americans show the killer instinct?

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49th minute– Pearce with the assist on an absolute clinic of a sequence. Seven-pass sequence on that goal. A thing of beauty.

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47th minute- GOAL USA!!! Landon Donovan with the finish on a BEAUTIFUL passing sequence.

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46th minute– And we’re off. No subs for the USA.

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HALFTIME– What subs might we see at the half? That’s a tough call. Beasley is playing so well that I can’t see him making way for Torres, although you could see Dempsey go up top, Beasley move to the right and Torres come in.

Now, if the Americans open up a multi-goal lead, I’m sure we will see Torres come in. I would put in Altidore for Ching at some point. I also don’t think we will see Adu and Torres on the field together so it will be interesting to see if Adu is left on the bench.

I think we could also see Maurice Edu come in for Michael Bradley, who has had a subpar performance. He has committed some bad turnovers and his failed attempt at dispossessing Munoz led to Cuba’s goal, but he has also broken up countless Cuban sequences and has put himself in position for a few very good looks at goal.

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HALFTIME– USA 2, Cuba 1. The Americans will go in a bit disappointed to only lead by a goal. They created a ton of chances, but just couldn’t finish most of them. Then there was that fluky goal by the Cubans to make things interesting. It will be very interesting to see what substitutions Bob Bradley makes at halftime. Jozy Altidore for Brian Ching is likely to happen at some point. Not sure if it will happen at halftime.

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45th minute– You have to give credit to the Cubans for holding it together this long. the US team needs to do better with its possession and chances.

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44th minute– Donovan gets behind the Cuba goalkeeper and tries a weird scuff shot on the super tight angle and missed badly. He must be terrible at pool.

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43rd minute– If the Americans were dominating play and creating chances BEFORE, you have to like their chances to blow this one open with a man advantage.

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42nd minute– RED CARD for Yoel Colome, who got a second yellow for a late challenge on Donovan. Silly foul.

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40th minute– The Americans need to find that third goal because things are a bit too close for comfort.

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38th minute– Michael Bradley with another clear look at goal but has his shot saved by the Cuban goalkeeper. Good understanding between Donovan and Bradley for another chance created.

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31st minute- GOAL CUBA!!!! A fluky chip over Howard by Jenzy Munoz. WOW.

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30th minute- GOAL USA!!! And it’s Beasley, beating the offside trap to finish from close range.

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26th minute– Beasley is playing like the Beasley of old tonight (except for that last pass attempt. Also, the Cubans are starting to get chippy.

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24th minute– Hey, it’s Tim Howard, Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra getting some touches. I almost forgot they were here tonight.

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23rd minute– A good free kick opportunity for the americans yields nothing.

A Bradley goal is ruled offside right after.

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21st minute– Beasley takes a knock after studs to the right foot from Yoel Colome, who got a yellow card for his trouble.

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18th minute– Americans controlling things right now, with the Cubans having few chances with the ball.

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12th minute– Ching goes wide with a header.

Apologies for the delay before the goal. Had some technical difficulties.

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11th minute– Here comes the Americans.

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10th minute- GOAL USA!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it’s Beasley with a beautiful shot off a perfect pass from Kljestan.

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6th minute– Bradley misses badly on a clear shot at goal from 18 yards out, set up by a nice pass from Donovan. Bradley showing some rust there. He hasn’t played in a few weeks.

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4th minute– Dempsey shoots right into the Cuban keeper’s stomach after a great pass from Donovan to spring him.

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3rd minute– Bradley with a bad turnover but he gets back to clean up the mess.

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1st minute– We’re under way.

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PRE-GAME– Look for Donovan to have a lot of freedom in the attack tonight, with Ching up top in a 4-2-3-1.

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PRE-GAME– I’m going to go with a 4-0 prediction. USA 4, Cuba 0.

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PRE-GAME– The anthems are over and we’re ready for some action.

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PRE-GAME– Looking at the USA bench, I can’t help but wonder how many of those players will be key figures on the 2010 World Cup team. Altidore, Adu, Torres, Edu. Not a bad group of youngsters.

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PRE-GAME– Getting back to the big presence of fans here from outside DC, it was impressive to see most of the USA fans wearing only USA gear and not wearing MLS club affiliations.

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PRE-GAME– No surprises in the USA lineup. It should be interesting to see the Kljestan-Bradley tandem in central midfield again. I’m also expecting good nights from Ching and Donovan (and yes, I know, everybody should have a good game tonight. I’m just sayin.)

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PRE-GAME– Sam’s Army has just unfurled the huge "Don’t Treat on Me" flag. Very impressive.

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PRE-GAME– Having spent time at the pre-game tailgate I can tell you that quite a few USA fans have traveled from good distances. This match almost has a feel of a power summit like the one at the start of the classic movie, ‘The Warriors’. The Philadelphia fans are here in force while New York/New Jersey is also well represented.

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PRE-GAME– Those wondering about Danny Szetela, it looks as though the groin injury he was dealing with cost him a chance to play today.

Call it a Freudian slip of sorts but the official lineup sheet handed out for the match listed the following player on the USA bench: Jose Fernando Torres.

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PRE-GAME– You have to feel for the Cuban team. Short-handed and woefully overmatched. And, to top it off, they’re wearing jerseys that look like they were borrowed from the Kansas City Wizards youth academy.

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PRE-GAME– Okay, I’m going to have to confess. I crushed the Screaming Eagles-sponsored pre-game tailgate. I think I’m going to need a nap. And no, I didn’t have any alcohol.

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PRE-GAME– The early winner of ‘Best Sign’ goes to this very simple yet telling sign that says the following:

TORRES >  CASTILLO

That, my friends, is classic.

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PRE-GAME– I don’t know if the DJ at this game is trying to be funny but the song being played right now on the PA is Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’. Somewhere, Cubans are not laughing at that joke.

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PRE-GAME– Here is the Cuba lineup:

———————Jenzy Munoz——-Leonel Duarte————————–

Yoel Colome———Luis Villegas—Alain Cervantes——-Jaime Colome

Silvio Minoso—-Yeniel Marquez—Jose Luis Clavelo—Reysander Fernandez

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PRE-GAME– Here is the USA lineup:

———————Ching——————–

Beasley———–Donovan——-Dempsey

————Kljestan—–Bradley————

Pearce–Bocanegra—-Onyewu—-Cherundolo

——————-Howard———————

BENCH– Brad Guzan, Frankie Hejduk, Jose Francisco Torres, Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu, Danny Califf, Freddy Adu.

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