BRENT LATHAM - Sunday, June 21, 2009
Well, the wins over Mexico and Portugal in 2002 were probably more important, but it's been a while since the US has had a victory like this. The team came out loose and flowing, spurred by Landon Donovan and Charlie Davies, and put three (it could have been more) on an Egyptian team that was clearly not ready for the US. It was a role reversal on what the Americans usually do in the third game of these tournaments.
Coach Bradley made a few tactical changes that worked well. Guzan was a surprise in goal - the rationale being to get him a high pressure game in an environment like this. That was accomplished, but I'm no sure anyone, Coach Bradley included, thought the game would end up meaning so much. But El Gusano acquitted himself well at any rate.
The other change that mattered was the insertion of Charlie Davies. The Hammarby man teamed with Josmer Altidore to torment the Egyptian back line, and he scored a nifty goal which sent the Americans on their way. While it wasn't a masterstroke to bring on Conor Casey, or to keep a substitution in hand when the midfield or defense could have used some shoring up, let's give Coach Bradley some credit tonight.
Coach Bradley, Take 2
Speaking of which, maybe we should all just back off the Bradley must go theme for a while. The arguments are out there, everyone knows them, and yet Coach Bradley is not going anywhere. Again I'm no Bradley apologist, but Sunil Gulati spoke clearly after the match, and Bradley is staying, at least for now.
The US announced its Gold Cup roster today, and the team is mostly the young guys everyone, including me, wants to see play. So we're in luck - there's a much less pressure packed tournament coming up for Torres, Adu, and Davies to really show off their stuff.
I've got to run, it's 2AM and the media center has cleared out in Rustenburg. Tomorrow we'll be on the road south to Bloemfontein, where a rested Spain awaits the upstart Yanks on Wednesday night. As always, we'll be live, this time for an unexpected semi-final date with the World's best. See you soon!