USA vs. Slovenia: Matchday Commentary

USA vs. Slovenia: Matchday Commentary

U.S. Men's National Team

USA vs. Slovenia: Matchday Commentary

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The U.S. men's national team's hopes of reaching the second round of the 2010 FIFA World Cup hinge on the results of today's match against Slovenia (10am, ESPN).

A win gives the Americans four points after two matches, and a share of first place in the group, while a loss would be a devastating blow to the United States chances of progression (as well as giving Slovenia a place in the second round). For that reason, the United States needs to win, though a draw wouldn't be fatal.

As I noted on Fox Soccer earlier this week, It's a match-up of similar styles. Two defensively-organized teams that stay compact, apply heavy pressure and look to counterattack whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I will be providing live commentary on today's match, so please feel free to follow along here. As alwasys, you are welcome to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Enjoy the action (Commentary is after the jump):

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FINAL– That's all for me now. Thanks for following along and be sure to share your post-match thoughts below. Be sure to follow our post-match coverage on SBI, as well as my post-match analysis on Fox Soccer.

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n't be happy with a point tonight, and certainly shouldn't be happy with their start to this match. You can't to get far in the World Cup surrendering early goals.

To their credit, they came out at halftime and pushed Slovenia to the bring, tying the game on great goals from Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley. That Edu goal looked like it should have counted though, so that'll cast a sour note on this match.

Bad calls or not, the United States will head into its final group match needing a win to progress. Tonight's England-Algeria match will tell just what the Americans need to have happen. 

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FINAL– USA 2, Slovenia 2. The Americans with a furious comeback, and looked like they deserved the win tonight if not for a questionable call from the referee on what looked to be a perfectly good goal.

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93rd Minute– Still trying to comprehend how that Edu goal was waived off. No clear foul on that play. This ref blew that one.

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92nd Minute– Dempsey looked like he got fouled on that sequence but he stepped on the ball. No foul. He's lucky not to be hurt.

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91st Minute– Three minutes of stoppage time.

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90th Minute– Slovenia pressing.

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89th Minute– SAVE HOWARD on a dangerous shot from distance. He punches it away.

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88th Minute– Easy save for Howard.

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88th Minute– Lots of subs, should be a good chunk of stoppage time.

Anybody else thing Herculez Gomez is destined to score here?

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88th Minute– On the replay it looks as though Bocanegra may have had his arms on a defender. Not sure that was the foul.

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87th Minute– USA goal waved off, not sure why. Edu with the finish. What was that?

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86th Minute– USA free kick on the right wing, drawn by Altidore.

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85th Minute– This place is ROCKING!!! You would think we were in the United States right now.

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84th Minute– USA in a 4-4-2 now, with Edu in central defense.

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83rd Minute– Cherundolo long ball to Altidore, who heads it to a wide-open Brtadley, who buries it. WOW. WE ARE TIED!!!

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82nd Minute– GOAL USA!!!!!!!!!!! And it's Michael Bradley with the finish. WOW

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81st Minute– Michael Bradley has a go from distance, Handanovic saves it.

USA in a 3-4-3 now.

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80th Minute– Gomez in for Onyewu, Look for Edu centrally and Altidore in a three-forward line. 

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80th Minute– Herculez Gomez is ready to come in.

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78th Minute– Americans have been better this half, but only the scoreboard counts.

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77th Minute– Nobody warming up for the USA.

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76th Minute– Jokic with a yellow, giving three of Slovenia's four defenders yellows tonight.

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75th Minute– USA keeps knocking but no equalizer yet. Time is running out.

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75th Minute– Peknic comes in for Ljubijankic.

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73rd Minute– Feilhaber's volley is caught with ease by Handanovic. Who will Bob Bradley's final sub be? Herculez Gomez?

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71st Minute– Both Slovenian centerbacks are on yellow now. Can Altidore draw one more? He's been a handful, though he hasn't taken a dangerous shot yet.

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70th Minute– SAVE HANDANOVIC!! Altidore shoots it right at him from close.

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68th Minute– Altidore is brought down by Suler just outside the area. Draws a yellow and a dangerous free kick from the USA. This would be Torres territory if he were in. Donovan could take this.

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64th Minute– Can the USA put together some more dangerous attacks? They're doing a better job of keeping the ball when they get it, but the final pass/shot still isn't there.

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62nd Minute-Slovenia putting some pressure on and the USA sitting back a bit. They've got 28 minutes to make something happen.

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59th Minute– Here comes some time-wasting from SLovenia.

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58th Minute– Altidore goes down near the area, no call there.

Donovan is also fouled, a whistle comes that time.

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57th Minute– Can the Americans keep the pressure on without any mistakes? They've made a few but haven't been punished. It's time for Dempsey or Altidore to make a play.

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53rd Minute– U.S. team hasn't given up, neither have their fans here.

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52nd Minute– Slovenia corner.

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51st Minute– Slovenia free kick from deep in midfield.

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50th Minute– These are the moments that test character. Who will step up to the challenge?

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49th Minute– Not sure what the halftime talk was, but this team came out firing. What a goal from Donovan, and a great pass from Cherundolo from deep.

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48th Minute– This one isn't over. Donovan steps up for his first World Cup goal since 2002 and this stadium is rocking.

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48th Minute– GOAL USA!!!!!!!!!!! And it's Landon Donovan with the finish. We have a game.

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46th Minute– We're back.

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HALFTIME– We might see this lineup:

—————–Altidore———————-

——Donovan————-Dempsey——–

———Feilhaber—Edu—-Bradley———–

Bocanegra—Onyewu–DeMerit—–Cherundolo

———————-Howard———————– 

Or Feilhaber deployed on the wing:

———Altidore———Dempsey——-

Feilhaber——————————–Donovan

—————-Bradley—-Edu———————-

Bocanegra—Onyewu–DeMerit—–Cherundolo

———————-Howard———————– 

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HALFTIME– Scratch Holden, Edu is coming in. 

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HALFTIME– Looks like Holden is getting ready as if he's coming in. We will either see him centrally, or see him on the wing with Dempsey or Donovan deployed centrally. 

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HALFTIME– I'd go with Herculez Gomez and Stuart Holden in for Torres and Findley. No sense in waiting, though Bob Bradley may look at the chances created after Slovenia's first goal and believe his current team can find a goal to get back into this match. 

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HALFTIME– Slovenia finished its only two shots on goal in a game that has seen possession break down 50/50.

What does Bob Bradley need to do now? He needs to bring in Stuart Holden for Torres and play Holden in an advanced role, with Edson Buddle or Gomez coming in for Findley. Those moves could spark the attack, but also provide some sorely-needed energy. 

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HALFTIME– Slovenia 2, USA 0. Slovenia came out organized and disciplined and took advantage of American mistakes and sloppiness to grab a two-goal lead.

The inclusion of Jose Torres was supposed contribute to the attack, but all its done is make the team defense shaky. It isn't only Torres though. The defending as a team has been erratic, which is made worse by the fact that Slovenia has picked its spots to attack. 

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45th Minute– USA has had some comebacks before, but never one like this.

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45th Minute– USA need the halftime whistle. They're stunned.

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44th Minute– What a nightmare for the Americans. They knocked on the door repeatedly, didn't finish, and now find themselves down 2-0 to one of the best defenses in the tournament.

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42nd Minute– Slovenia 2, USA 0. WOW.

What a breakdown by the defense.

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41st Minute– Brecko was the player who broke up a would-be goal-scoring chance for USA. Donovan was open on the back-post

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40th Minute– USA PRESSING, coming close. Corner kick.

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39th Minute– Awful yellow card. The ball hit Findley in the face.

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38th Minute– Yellow card for Findley, who will now miss the Algeria match.

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39th Minute– USA on the break, but Findley's pass is cleared away. He needed to spring Altidore instead of looking for DOnovan.

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37th Minute– USA needs a goal before halftime badly. Can they stay composed and string some passes together?

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36th Minute– SAVE HANDANOVIC!! Torres with a great chance. He's deadly on those set pieces from the right side.

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36th Minute– Altidore with a great move to draw a foul and a yellow for Cesar, who was begging for no red card. The ref was laughing as he drew the yellow.

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35th Minute– Findley isn't into this game. Herculez Gomez or Edson Buddle needs to come in at halftime.

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34th Minute– USA won't break down this defense without something special from Donovan, Torres or Dempsey. Slovenia isn't giving an inch.

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32nd Minute– Flat performance thus far for the United States. Slovenia playing with more confidence and purpose.

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29th Minute– If SLovenia was hoping to draw free kicks with its big forwards, the plan is working. Slovenia set piece.

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27th Minute– Patience, not seeing much patience and possesion from the United States. Slovenia will give them time on the ball, but they have to be smarter with their posession.

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25th Minute– Slovenia corner.

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24th Minute– The Americans MUST do a better job tracking Birsa, who is sliding around from the right flank and sneaking in behind the USA central midfielders.

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22nd Minute– SAVE HOWARD. He is lucky Novakovic couldn't reach the free kick.

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22nd Minute– Not sure about that call on Bocanegra. Looked harmless.

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18th Minute– Americans didn't lose their cool after going down to England. Can they be patient against this defensively solid Slovenia team?

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16th Minute– Donovan free kick. Punched away by Handanovic. Perfect punch.

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15th Minute– Bob Bradley pointed out Birsa as a player they had to watch out for, and specifically cutting in to his favored left foot.

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12th Minute– GOAL SLOVENIA!!! And it's Valter Birsa with the blast. Slovenia 1, USA 0. What a blast.

Virsa slides in from the right flank and finds space to get a shot off his favored left foot.

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11th Minute– Americans need to be patient, not force anything.

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10th Minute– Slovenia's two lines of four is just so organized and disciplined. It won't be easy breaking it down.

Torres with another Torres. He needs to settle down. Donovan just yelled at him to wake up.

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9th Minute– A Torres turnover leads to a quick Slovenia counter. Dangerous cross goes begging. Torres needs to be better.

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6th Minute– Bradley can't quite get to Donovan's corner. Can the USA make the most of set pieces today?

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6th Minute– USA corner after a great Bradley pass springs Findley.

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5th Minute– Slovenia is sitting back early on, as expected. You can tell the Americans want to press the issue offensively.

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2nd Minute– Ljubijankic caught the elbow and is walking off the field. 

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1st Minute– And we're off. Dempsey with an elbow that could have been a card. 

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PRE-GAME– First 15 minutes will tell a lot. It should be a feeling-out period, but we could see the Americans coming out aggressively.

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PRE-GAME– With all the school kids here, something tells me FIFA had SOuth African officials pull entire schools out of class to fill the seats here. HHalf the students are wearing green sweaters, the others are wearing red sweaters.

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PRE-GAME– Anthems are over. The American fans brought it during the USA anthem. Great scenes. There's one large section of American fans on one of the wide sides of the stands dominating the proceedings.

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PRE-GAME– The playing of the American anthem should be something.

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PRE-GAME– USA comes out in the all-Navy uniforms today.

Nice shot of Tim Howard talking to one of the kids escorting the team on the field. He doesn't look nervous at all. He's played enough big matches. He's ready.

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PRE-GAME– Great turnout by American fans today. I know some folks mentioned USA-Italy in 2006 as a game where a bunch of American fans attended, but it wasn't like this.

Yes, there are still plenty of seats to be filled, so we'll see how the final look is.

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PRE-GAME– "Could You Be Loved" By Bob Marley is playing in the stadium. How good is this song? It should be part of every pre-game set list.

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PRE-GAME– We've got some folks dressed as Elvis. That's pretty American. Astonauts take it, with their "South Africa. We Have Landed" signs. classic touch.

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PRE-GAME– My prediction today? I was going with 1-0 for a good while, but something tells me Landon Donovan has a big game and the United States posts a 2-0 victory. No, Slovenia isn't a pushover defensively, but the American attack will capitalize when chances do come.

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PRE-GAME– Best costume I've seen so far from Americans were a trio of fans dressed as astronauts. Classic.

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PRE-GAME– We're an hour away from kickoff and there are still plenty of empty seats. Late-arriving crowd, or another match where tickets go unused?

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PRE-GAME– If you plan on following my commentary, please let me know and let me know where you're following from.

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PRE-GAME– A worrisome sight is a bunch of fans clad in green in one end of the stadium. Luckily for the USA, it's actually South AFrican school children in their school uniforms. Crowd is still rolling in but the early edge goes to the United States as expected.

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PRE-GAME– I'm in the stadium and it's a beautiful day, with a good chunk of the field covered by the shadow of the overhang.

Bradley's decision to keep Robbie Findley in the lineup is an interesting one. He put in a good amount of defensive work, but wasn't great on the attacking side. Today, he goes against a pair of strong but not quick central defenders. He should have a considerable advantage.

Look for Slovenia to pump balls long to its big strikers, who will look to hold up play and dish to Koren and the wingers.

This is a game Landon Donovan needs to step up in. He had a very good game against England, but today he must impose himself on the attacking side of the ball.

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PRE-GAME– The marqee match-up to watch will be in central midfield, where Michael Bradley will be called on to win his battle with Slovenian captain Robert Koren, who is his team's midfield general. The winner of this match-up very well could dtermine the outcome of the match.

Okay folks, I'm heading to my seat in the stadium. Let's keep the pre-game talk going. Be back in a few minutes.

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PRE-GAME– The word on Ljubijankic, the only Slovenian change from the first match, is he's a big forward with good technical ability. He's much different than the relentless Dedic, who Tim Howard compared to Carlos Tevez in terms of his effort.

This is actually a better match-up for American centerbacks Onyewu and DeMerit, who are better equipped to deal with physical forwards (though they handled the ultra-mobile Wayne Rooney rather easily in the first game).

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PRE-GAME– Here is Slovenia's starting lineup:

———Novakovic——Ljubijankic———–

Kirm—————Koren——————-Birsa

—————-Radosavljecic——————-

Jokic——–Suler——–Cesar———–Brecko

——————-Handanovic——————-

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PRE-GAME– I have a feeling plenty of U.S. fans are surprised that Bradley actually went with the Torres inclusion. He was the fan's choice, and really, the right choice.

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PRE-GAME– Yes, that's the lineup I predicted yesterday, and it makes sense. Torres provides an added attacking element in the middle of the field against a Slovenian team that likes to sit back. The inclusion of Torres is a good sign that the Americans plan to attack today.

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PRE-GAME– Here is the USA lineup for today's match:

————–Altidore———–Findley————-

Donovan————————————Dempsey

—————-Bradley——–Torres——————

Bocanegra—–Onyewu—–DeMerit——-Cherundolo

————————Howard—————————

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PRE-GAME– Good morning everybody. It's a beautiful day in Johannesburg, with a brisk breeze and sunny skies at Ellis Park. Lineups are on the way.

A lot of American media are talking nervously about today's match. I agree that the U.S. team's track record in these situations isn't great, but I just get a different vibe from this team and like its chances of winning today.

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