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Confederations Cup: Brazil fights back from two goals down to stop USA

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The U.S. national team played as good a first half as anybody could have imagined against Brazil on Sunday. Disciplined defending, and perfect passing sequences leading to a pair of beautiful goals, had the Americans up 2-0 at halftime and thinking about an improbable Confederations Cup final victory.

Less than one minute into the second half, that dream was already starting to fade.

Luis Fabiano's 46th-minute goal cut the U.S. team's lead in half and Brazil unrelenting attack continued to push and push until the American defense cracked, and crack it did. Fabiano equalized in the 74th minute before Lucio's 85th-minute game-winning header capped the impressive Brazilian rally. The Americans had no more miracles and were forced to settle for a 3-2 loss in Sunday's Confederations Cup final.

The defeat provided a bittersweet ending to what was still a very successful tournament for the U.S. team, which saw several new players emerge, and several established players reach new heights. Jay DeMerit, Charlie Davies and Jonathan Spector stepped up and staked strong claims to starting roles heading into 2010 while Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard, Michael Bradley established themselves as the strong nucleus of a national team capable of making a strong run in the 2010 World Cup.

What did you think of today's match? Still stunned by the loss? Proud of the team's performance in the final? Have a new-found respect respect for the U.S. national team?

Share your thoughts below.



  1. i CAN’T believe Bob put in Sacha as the solution for super sub. Any stats on how many errant passes he made?
    Posted by: ThaDeuce

    All of them went directly to Brasil.

    I agree with Xander Crews, there were options on the bench and if you felt not, it was still Bob Bradley’s bench, he selected everyone of them.

    USA has great athletes and improving play. The question for WC 2010 is will Bradley change and improve. I fear not. With little evidence I believe he is stubborn and vindictive, incapable of voluntary change. The change we saw, that improved US play was forced on him. My guess is that his final squad would have included, Beasley, Kljestan, and Borstein if allowed.

  2. I’m with Xander, in that Bob Bradley clearly has “his guys” that he’ll stick with, irrespective of their form. I, like every other U.S. fan would have been thrilled if Klejstan, Bornstein and Casey came on and helped us preserve the greatest victory in U.S. soccer history. It wasn’t going to happen, people.

    Below, are Ives ratings for the subs. Is it reasonable to believe that Adu, Torres, Califf and Wynne could have done better? Do we really need to have this debate?

    -Sacha Kljestan (3) – A turnover machine while he was in the match.

    -Jonathan Bornstein (4.5) – Gave the team some energy, and had one decent shot, but he was never going to slow down Brazil.

    -Conor Casey (NA)- Not enough time to do anything.

    To “CT”, who earlier tried to call me out with some kind of George W. Bush, sophmoric/simpleton commment – “you’re either with us or you’re against us.” I’ll only say that I’m always on board to support the U.S. and I’m proud of the starters for playing to their potential. Criticizing or debating the personnel or tactical choices of the coach is something that is done in every footballing nation on earth, although it seems to be a new concept to many in this country.

    I’ll go one step further and say that Sunil Gulati, who has had an absolute monarchy, when it comes to controlling U.S Soccer, should resign. He’s not the man to carry us forward and, as much as I like Bob Bradley, as a person(ality), I think that you’ll find in June 2010, that he was not the right man, either.

    I sincerely hope that I’m proved wrong.

  3. The US has depth, only Bob Bradley chooses not to select it. Not sure if Torres was hitting on his son’s girl or what, but he’s so far down the list that it’s pathetic. The most skillful player we have, and he doesn’t make ONE appearance in the entire tournament, while guys like Sacha appear three and four times. What a joke….

    I’m proud of the guys we had on the field at the start of the match yesterday. It’s pathetic, though, when Dunga is considered a tactical genius compared to your manager. Bob went into a bunker mentality after Brazil scored their first goal, only he didn’t have the proper personnel on the field to play that style. Loyal to “his” guys, apparently the only way you get into his lineup is if you’ve played for him in Major League Suck. Once again, Bradley fails his team.

    Don’t say that Bradley made the subs he did because he didn’t have any other choice. The fact of the matter is he selected the team – if he had no intention of playing certain guys (which it’s now obvious that he NEVER was going to play Torres), then he should have picked others. Not counting Robles, we had four guys who never saw action: Wynne, Califf, Adu, Torres. I’d make the argument that Califf and Torres are clearly superior to Klejstan and Bornstein – but Bob’s gotta stick to “his guys.”

    As long as he’s in charge, I’m still predicting a group-stage flameout next summer.

  4. I think if this game proved anything, that the USA lacks strength in depth. With Bradley out, having someone like Jermaine Jones or Maurice Edu available to sub for Feilhaber (or to have Jones or Edu starting) will be invaluable. And when the USA needed a goal in the final 5 minutes, they needed someone other than Conor Casey on the field. Casey hasn’t scored a goal for the national team! I realize Adu and Torres haven’t played all tournament, so it’s tough to bring them in cold after not playing at all. Having Brian Ching or Eddie Johnson (who was in form at the end of the season) or basically another decent forward would have been a massive help. It’s tough to score goals when your three subs are an out of form Sacha Kljestan, Jonathan Bornstein, and Conor Casey

  5. Almost forgot. Ives, someone asked yesterday if you could do a write-up on world reaction to the match yesterday and to the U.S. at the confederations cup in general. I would also love to see that.

  6. My brother, who does not watch soccer, actaully watched the match yesterday. He called me at half-time and his comments were, “Well, we’re winning but I don’t see how. Almost the entire game has been played on the U.S. side of the field and with Brazil having the ball.”

    Therein lies the problem, IMHO. We have a solid, solid back line and Howard is amazing. That said, you’ve got to have SOME sort of possession game to stand a chance against the likes of Brazil. To me, this shows that MB was sorely missed and also that Jones can’t get over here (and healthy) fast enough! You’re never going to actually win the Time of Pos game against teams like Brazil but you’ve got to at least have some of it.

    Anyways, very proud of the boys and hope they keep moving forward.

  7. I’ve read many articles by “foreign” journalists and I’ve read the comments on here, carefully. My focus, at this time, after giving credit to the players for their heroic effort, is to assess whether the coach could have done things differently, thereby preserving or extending our lead. We can all agree that we were 45 min from a FIFA Final victory, can we not?

    Some seem to say that the coach went with the best of a weak bunch on the bench or that he had “no options.”. Some have even implied that it wouldn’t have mattered what players, tactics or formations were utilized – that Brasil would eventually score 3 or more goals, and win. Of course, Spain did not and they were a stronger side than Brasil, IMO.

    So, there are two obvious strategies for the 2nd half.

    1). Put in fresh legs, ideally with some pace, and defend and pray that every one of our lunges results in a block, a la the Spain match. As I mentioned before, I might have chosen Mastroeni, Pearce and Wynne and I’d have told them to take a yellow card, if necessary. Please remember now that we, instead, got Klejstan, Bornstein and Casey.

    2). Think somewhat out of the box and say that a 3rd goal, or even a 4th, will be needed to win the match and the tourney. Perhaps if Adu and Torres had been used in the Group games, we’d have a better sense of what they could do. We know they are small, skilled players who like to attack and that our best chance to score would come from possessing the ball. Instead, we let Brasil play keep away and it cost us.

    I know, from watching the game with some very knowledgeable soccer people, that the collective response when Klejstan came on was “Oh, no! This is the beginning of the end, right here.”. I think that many fans would have been happier had we gone down fighting with our skilled players in an attacking formation.

    We’ll never know, now, because Bob Bradley went with his favorites and he stayed in his comfort zone. No one that I respect, in terms of their knowledge of the game, could figure out what Klejstan and Casey were doing on the pitch as they’re B team players in the U.S pool – not players who you use to kill off the game, against Brasil.

    Again, everyone is very proud of the starters and we punched above our weight for 3 straight matches so the coach certainly got the most out of his starters, when it counted. What he didn’t do was come up with a sound or daring strategy for the last 45 min.

    A FIFA Final victory will likely not be this attainable for the U.S for a long time.

  8. Some what off topic,…


    You have to find out what the story is with Torres. Obviously, there is some sort of problem. Did he curse Bradley out? Did he curse Dononvan out? Did he tell Bradley he regrets deciding to play for the USA rather than Mexico? What is the story? It is important, because a blind man can see that Kljestan has no confidence in his own game and we needed someone who could hold the ball (just a little bit) in the last 15 minutes of the Brazil match. What is the deal?

  9. I’ve criticized Bradley (Bob, that is) for some of his tactics and decisions in earlier games and I strongly compliment him on his game plan against spain and also Brasil (CC final). As an international coach (like our team) he’s a work in progress.

    For those of you who criticize the sub and roster decisions for this final, here are a few thoughts:

    1. It’s taken Spector so long to get a chance to play because he’s been hurt. He’s played in 84 club matches in 5 years (and by the way, he’s got 18 caps which for most players in most countries is a lot of opportunities to impress).

    2. To argue for Adu…argh! The single biggest problem with Beasley is his lack of form. He’s out of shape, not game fit, not sharp and not confident. So yeah, that’s what we need against a top-flite team. The reality is that Bob Bradley just wasn’t able to select a lot of players that we’d look at and say are in game-shape and very sharp. Case inpoint: Conor Casey was put on this team, he’s in the middle of his season, he plays at altitude (a particular aerobic challenge) and was clearly in-form given his recent goal scoring. And how sharp and fit did he look at the international level? Adu has 31 appearances (not even starts–this includes those matches where he comes in as a sub in the last minutes) in 4 years.

    3. I like Torres and Adu as players. And I’d argue the single biggest reasons for our losses in the CC were:
    –Italy: Space in the middle (space in the middle)–people needed to track back and didn’t which resulted in too many chances and eventually we broke down in back. Torres and Adu aren’t going to help with that.
    –Brasil: Combination of space in the middle (player ejection), conceding set pieces and failure to track back on counters. Again, none of these are things that Torres and Adu helps with.
    –Brasil II: Failure of outside backs to track back to help the backline. Again, Torres and Adu don’t help with this.

    Adu will certainly get his chance in the Gold Cup. I suspect Torres will go back to his club in hopes of winning a starting spot and more playing time.

    Beasley, Kljestan–yeah, both out of form. But I think BB had very few reasonable options. Even Feilhaber looked back against Italy. In fact, one of the criticsms I’d have of BB is that he DID include a bunch of players (Altidore, Adu, Beasley, Feilhaber, Guzan) who weren’t sharp and haven’t played much. Even though a number of them made big contributions, I think it’s important to send a message that if you’re not playing with your club, you don’t use NT camps to get in shape and relearn the game.

    Nah, credit where credit is due. Brasil is an immensely talented team, they made great half-time adjustments and they earned the win the hard-way: they fought for it.

  10. I was sick seeing sacha bounce up to the 4th official to enter the match, but I realized that there were few other options on the bench (except skinny beas–good on BB for not going there). We need a little more depth and a bit more skill to finish off a game in a way that doesn’t involve parking the bus and hoping T-ho (and the back 4) save our bacon. I was disappointed by the midfield in the second half, but they were dog tired, I’m sure. I hope BB sees that we need more mid options, a late-game striker that can stretch possession and counter when we have the lead or need to nick a late goal (not the rugged target types of Ching or Casey) and all around depth.

    Tremendous effort and a good foundation to build on for Azteca, qualifiying and 2010. Well played you Yanks!

  11. Any time you lose after being up 2-0, something went very wrong. This game was mismanaged and it cost us. The subs were too late were just plain poor choices.

    Bob needs to learn how to hold a lead when we get it. You can bet that had Brazil been up two goals on anybody, they wouldn’t have collapsed the way we did.

    Great effort getting to the final, great effort in the first half, poor coaching once we had the lead

  12. “The fact of the matter the US would have been alright today if M Bradley were not suspended and any one of Edu, Hedjuk, or Churundolo had been available.

    Posted by: CT | June 29, 2009 at 12:55 AM”

    CT, I usually agree with your posts but if you’re arguing that Hejduk or Cherundolo would have offered more than Spector I think you must have been watching matches through Bradley-colored glasses.

    Mo Edu would have been nice to have, though.

  13. I think the Bradley haters here need to do some thinking–and perhaps some reading of world soccer journalism. One can quibble with the subs in the second half. But how much of his job is that?

    The European soccer journalists–and Dunga–all stressed the US team’s new tactical sophistication, something we’ve never been accused of before (compare that with anything ever written about Arena, or in fact about Klinsmann).

    Bradley prepared a team that built on our traditional strengths–fitness and commitment to the team–by improving the team’s soccer brain by 100% and by extracting a new level of performance from key players, and especially from Donovan. Compare the performance of Donovan under Arena and under Bradley, and compare what he has to say about the coach. Donovan–working together with Michael B.– has become Bradley’s extension on the field.

    We’re making step-by-step progress, which is more than anyone could have imagined two weeks ago. The players, and especially the ones who grew like DeMerit, Clark,
    Davies, and Spector, deserve enormous credit. But let’s remember who got them here.

  14. After the second goal, we did not pressure the ball in the midfield until the brazilians were approaching the attacking third. This is a recipe for disaster against Brazil. In the first 40 minutes we applied high pressure and put them on their heels. It really does’nt matter which players BB selects if the midfield is going to stop pressuring the ball and the forwards stop winning balls and holding the ball for longer than 1 second. Stick with what was working!

    That having been said, Sacha and Casey had no business making the trip. Back four and Keeper where great. Charlie Davies has great pace and has great potential but needs to mature in his decisions and consistency. Altidore, the same but holds the ball a little better than Davies, but seriously needs to increase his workrate. Both have some pretty poor first touches for this level. Midfield needs to pressure the ball higher up the pitch. In the second half we did not possess the ball when we won it, we just gave it right back to them way to easily for professional footballers.

    I am not calling for BB’s job. Our guys got further than any of us expected and showed moments of brilliance. our direct style of attack with speed can always be dangerous to good teams. As far as Torres and Adu go, I would like to see them play, but my mexican friends tell me that Torres, at this point is an average mexican league player, and Freddy is still imature in his approach to the game. I think both possess qualities that are lacking in our team (good touch and creativity) but lets be honest, they are not yet proven. I do think they should have had some more opportunities to prove themselves earlier in qualification and in earlier stages of the tournament. especially Torres, because he is getting minutes with a good team in a good league. I mean look at the chances Landon and Demarcus and Michael Bradley had to prove themselves at young ages. Hopefully we will see where they are at in the Gold Cup

  15. I wonder whether Donovan got snubbed on the Bronze Ball award because he plays his club ball in the US. No disregard to Dempsey because he is obviously one of our best and most consistent players, but there is no way that Donovan wasn’t our best player by far in this tournament. He made everything happen and scored a wonderful goal in the final when it mattered the most. I’m very proud of LD and hope he continues to improve.

  16. Landon Donavan summed it up best

    “We’re at the point where we don’t want respect, we want to win.”

    Yes, I’m proud of our boys coming together and making the best out of the tournament. But it is time for the US to win on the big stage. We can run with the big boys (Spain, Brazil, etc.), now its time to beat them.

  17. Last year we started out rough against England, then got better against Spain, but our best game was a draw against Argentina. This tournament followed the same pattern. First two game where bad, then we came alive. That was the best football I’ve seen them play.

  18. We needed micheal bradley in 2nd half. I think we hold on to win.

    Either way im very proud of my US National Team. The two goals were great we all were dreaming with the cup. But Brasil is like that they are deadly and the world knows it. All in all I am very proud of our performance it was exceptional.

    We are not afraid of these teams anymore Argentina,Germany, Spain, Brazil, France, Holland etc. Bring em ON!


  19. It’s a bitter loss, but I am very happy with the team’s performance. We simply ran into a very talented team that played a very good half today. I am proud to be a U.S. team fan.

  20. Bradley’s player selection was the biggest weakness the US showed in this tourney. His inability to recognize the best players is puzzling. For anyone telling me that Sascha and Bornstein are better than Adu and Torres, you’re either drinking the cool-aid, watch only the MLS or are just missing it. And the timing of the subs is a whole other bad story.

    Tell me why it took so long for Demerit and Spector to get in this back 4? This back 4 is 5x better than what BB selected for Costa Rica. He never figured this out in training?

    And Davies. He should have been a starter all year.

    I am positive when Torres and/or Adu somehow get minutes.. like these guys, it will be the same.

    Connor Casey?? Awful.

    Good heart this team developed. Super proud of the starting 11. And thankful some of the revelations mentioned above that were thrust on BB.

    Damn woulda like to have seen EDU.


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