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USA loses big in final Gold Cup tune-up

Spain USA 1 (Getty Images)

 

By FRANCO PANIZO

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The circumstances were much different than they were in South Africa in 2009, and so was the result.

Nearly two years after shocking Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals, the U.S. men's national team fell, 4-0, to the World Cup champs in its final friendly before the Gold Cup. It took Spain just under half an hour to crack the Americans' defense, but there was no response to Santi Cazorla's opener from a U.S. team missing some of its top players.

With Landon Donovan out with an illness, and with Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley starting the game on the bench, the U.S. team struggled to find any offensive rhythm when it did have the ball against the usually-stingy Spain.

"You can't compare this to two years ago," said head coach Bob Bradley. "This is a friendly. It's a friendly where we're starting the Gold Cup in three days, so even as far as decisions we have to make about lineups and that kind of thing, there's not much that you can really compare."

What you could compare was Spain's domination of possession. This time, however, the Spaniards were able to break through.

After hitting shots off the crossbar and post in the opening 15 minutes, Spain opened the scoring when David Silva slipped a ball to Cazorla, who hit a shot from inside the penalty area past Tim Howard.

The United States surrendered another goal four minutes later, as Alvaro Negredo scored easily after Xabi Alonso sprung him loose with a perfect long ball over the top.

"They're going to expose you," said Howard. "When you talk about what things we need to work on, it may be the case that we could work for six months and not get that right against them. They're that good."

Spain was so good in the first half that it scored a third goal four minutes before halftime. After David Silva played a ball to Cazorla in the penalty box, the Villarreal winger nailed a shot just inside the post, leaving Howard motionless and visibly frustrated.

Just as Bradley had mentioned the day before the game, the U.S. team made several substitutions at halftime. Veterans like Cherundolo, Dempsey and Michael Bradley were inserted in the lopsided game, and the result was an improved showing for the Americans.

The U.S. team still lost the possession battle in the second half, but it was actually able to keep the ball and looked more dangerous going forward. Dempsey and Bradley were at the center of most of the U.S. attacks, but no goal came as a result of that.

Even with the improved play, the Americans conceded one more goal as second-half substitute Fernando Torres got behind Cherundolo and poked the ball home on a one-on-one chance against Howard in the 73rd minute.

It was not one of their best performances, but the Americans must now put the 4-0 loss behind them as they have just three days before their Gold Cup begins against Canada at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

"We went out there, we got a good run out, we got our asses kicked and at least we're healthy," said Howard. "I hope to God that we have the right mentality on Tuesday, and I believe in this group, and I think we will."

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What do you think of Spain's 4-0 demolition of the United States? Who impressed/disappointed you? Expecting the Americans to bounce back against Canada in the Gold Cup opener in three days?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. The Brazil game wasn’t a “better yet”, we lost that game.

    “You don’t have to have the best players to have the right team……but it takes a good and consistent coach to do that”

    No, the players do the actual work.

    Bob Bradley has not made (or missed)one tackle, one save or scored one goal for the US.

    You want to know how the US won that game?

    I saw the game but more importantly I saw a lot of the US games leading up to it that year, and it was the culmination of all the work they had been doing and it all just came together that day. Bradley’s approach is not different now. He knows we have a limited talent pool so he builds his teams with an eye towards specific tournaments. When you have a limited player pool for a team that wins the big games by exceptional team effort a good coach knows that you can only get so many exceptional performances out of a team so you save them.

    The US won because:

    Just about every US player played maybe the best game of their US careers as a unit and probably individually.

    Bradley pegged the Spaniards perfectly and had the perfect tactical plan

    The Spaniards did not take us seriously until it was too late.

    Switzerland did something similar in the 2010 World Cup so it does happen.

    I have seen just about every important US game since 1990 and that game ranks right up there up with some of the 2002 World Cup games as the best I’ve ever seen any US team play.

    Of course the problem with that is that people like you think it should happen every game.

    Well the difference between that game and this Spain game was:

    That SA game was a FIFA sanctioned tournament. The US had just come off an incredible 3-0 win over Egypt, and thereby qualified for advancement by the thinnest possible margin.So the players could not have been more energized and confident.

    The game last night was a friendly where many of the best players needed to be held back for an important game three days later; hard to see equivalent motivation.

    The SA game had a US team where everyone was at the top of their game. Since then the center back pair have both been injured seriously and are no longer what they were, Davies was hurt and the rest of the team is two years older and not necessarily better.

    The US team last night, even if they had fielded the best 11, is a team in rebuilding mode ( really since the Confed Cup), they need a new attack and a new defense and the midfield needs to be sorted out. Unlike you, I think Bradley did a good job at the World Cup with a pretty shaky outfit.

    Oh and the Spaniards are unlikely to ever take us lightly again anytime soon.

    You are right in saying you don’t have to have to best players to have the right team but with a talent pool this thin Bradley doesn’t have enough depth to replace an aging and injured Demerit and Gooch, and an injured Davies. Davies was in the USMNT system as far back as 2007 with the Copa America team so it took a while to bring him along.

    Do I think that US first team could have held the Spaniards to a draw or maybe even beat them last night? Sure, it was possible if everything went right, the players played another “game of their lives” and we got a little lucky.

    I don’t think it would have been worth the effort (or the risk of injury), with Canada so close. You want to save all that effort and passion for when it really counts. It counted in SA, it didn’t count at Foxboro.

    You may think we should be able to go through our Group on auto pilot but if we can beat Spain in an important tournament then Canada can certainly do the same to us.

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  2. “a good defense is a strong offense…..we can’t always wait to be slapped before we react…..”

    I agree with you but it’s very easy for anyone to say but so much harder to actually do.

    Spain’s idea of defense is similar to Barca’s; we have the ball you can’t score.

    I can’t tell you if the US tried to attack or not since they never really had the ball.

    This also happened to Man U the other day against Barca (70% possession on the Barca side). I would say Man U certainly tried to attack them but were only a little more succesful than the US was with Spain at doing so. And I would say that Man U are a much more potent attacking team than the US.

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  3. “What was the possession percentage? ”

    Probably about the same as the Barca-Man U final.

    “even in defeat you can tell that your team and your coach are improving this here was just humiliation….Friendlies are meant to see were your teams lies in terms of experience, training, fitness etc…..not to field your srubbs and get demolished. ”

    Clint Dempsey said in an interview aired just before the game that this was an exhibition, the Gold Cup was more important and they were going to approach it that way.I doubt they intended to get demolished but Spain can do that to anyone when they feel like it.

    My suspicion is that all the subs were scripted beforehand and that they weren’t oriented towards that particular game so much as they were a training excercise. In other words BB clearly wasn’t concerned with the score.

    It’s been made pretty clear by the USSF that the Gold Cup is the ONLY thing this summer.

    This game was clearly scheduled by the USSF the draw attention to the Gold Cup and to make money.

    I don’t now how much input BB had or how he felt about that but he has been in this position before. It’s pretty clear BB stays out of the political side of the USSF and this game was clearly a political decision.

    In 2007 he had to win the Gold Cup to get to the 2009 Confederations Cup and so he sacrificed the Copa America,a pretty prestigious event,electing to send an experimental team (with guys like Bornstein, Demerit, Guzan and Charlie Davies btw) there to get humiliated or as an educational experience (you choose).

    The lesson here is that BB prioritizes because he knows, unlike you it seems, that the US has an extremely limited talent pool and he has only so many bullets in his chamber.

    So he saves them for when he needs them.

    And in case you think he’s worried about the public outcry over the massacre from people like you or your notions of what friendlies are all about, it should be obvious he doesn’t give a damm about that, believing that if he wins the Gold Cup none of this will matter.

    So his and Dempsey’s reaction to this game was entirely predictable and, well before the game, no one on the US team made any bones about it. You outrage seems very naive.

    It was a good result because it was a very good experience for Lichaj, Ream and Agudelo. These guys, who are important keys for the future, have never before faced this sort of opposition and given where they currently play, are unlikely to experience this sort of quality anytime soon. And for me, Wondo looked very good.

    If the defeat damages them mentally then good, we need to know they aren’t up to it now, time is running out and there are other players to be looked at. And if it means Onywewu isn’t up to it then at least BB can tell himself and Gooch he gave him every chance. Maybe you don’t respect him but the man has done a lot for the US and deserves a little respect.

    So yes, it is entirely possible that BB got a lot done last night.

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  4. Gee bizzy, now you’re whining.

    You seem to be implying that BB is a stupid manager because he didn’t shift Spector to midfield like Grant did. There are a lot of reasons to criticise Bradley but that isn’t one of them.

    Ferguson approved moving Spector to defense back around 2005 if not earlier. During his loan period at Charlton, the manager there, Alan Curbishley said Spector was the best defender on the team. Arena probably would have taken Spector to the 2006 World Cup as a defender if he hadn’t separated his shoulder. And his subsequent managers have kept all kept Spector as a defender until Grant moved him to midfield. So they are all stupid and Grant is a genius? I don’t see that dog hunting.

    Spector’s biggest career problem is that he has an almost Holden-esque talent for getting hurt at the wrong time.

    Grant most likely moved him to midfield because of injuries and because what did Grant have to lose?

    In comparison, BB has a surplus of midfielders. What possible incentive would he have to try Spector out as a midfielder?

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  5. Maybe if Williams actually got on the field for more than garbage time, BB would do that.

    And before you say that players like Gooch and Altidore get called in with little playing time, at least they were good at some point.

    Williams hasn’t proven he belongs at Freiberg let alone the USMNT.

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  6. Also, looking at Ream play. I have no idea how he went pro. He does not even know the basics of jumping and positioning to clear a long ball out with his head or feet. He should have also might have told Howard to come out. Ream should have been a second half sub.

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  7. Isaac he has been bad in all the games he was bad in the Chile and Paraguay game. A lot of commentators said his passing was great and good in those games, but I was one of the few who said they were horrible. He looked scared and shaky when he got the ball and passed back to keeper and almost got taken. So I am just laughing at you all who think Ream is good.I know D Williams is not a CB or a starter on his team,but Agudelo is not a starter on his team so I would rather see Williams get called up then shaky unreliable Ream. Heck call up Michael Parkhurst

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  8. There is some truth to that albeit i don’t think it’s some sinister plan by BB to make MB look good. I for one thought that Edu looked good all things considering.

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  9. nowhere did I read that, only that Donovan was suppose to play, no one knows if it was going to be in the first half or second half with the rest of the starters.

    Reply

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