BRENT LATHAM - Sunday, June 21, 2009
United States vs Egypt
Conferations Cup - Sunday June 21, 2009
Royal Bafokeng Stadium
After an unimpressive showing in their first two Confederations Cup matches, the US turned the tables on high flying Egypt Sunday and secured an unlikely trip to the semifinals with a resounding victory.

The US, with zero points and a negative five goal differential entering the match needed a big win by Brazil over world champions Italy as well as their own large victory in Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

The US started out slowly again, and would have been punished in the second minute had Ahmed Abdelghani been able to do better with a quickly played ball into the box, but the Egyptian fired wide of the goal of Brad Guzan, in for Tim Howard.

Just a minute later the Egyptians were at it again, as Ahmed Al Muhamadi made a dangerous run down the left flank and played a ball through Guzan's box that narrowly evaded two Egyptians before rolling harmlessly out of bounds.

The eleventh minute nearly produced the first Egyptian goal on a scramble in front of the goalmouth, but after a game of pinball Clint Dempsey managed to clear away the ball just before an onrushing Egyptian could arrive to put a final touch on it.

The Americans had their first chance of a wide open first half a minute later when Dempsey fed Michael Bradley as he ran into the box, but the midfielder's shot was saved nicely by Egyptian 'keeper Essam El Hadary.

The US should have taken the lead in the sixteenth minute when Landon Donovan found himself one on one with the Egyptian 'keeper, but the LA Galaxy man opted to try a pass to Josmer Altidore, who didn't turn up where Donovan expected him, and the chance went begging.

It wasn't long though before the Americans had the lead. In the 21st minute, Charlie Davies managed to pounce on a loose ball at the endline, after El Hadary collided with a defender and mishandled an Altidore cross. Finding few other options, the former Boston College man poked the ball towards goal, and it bounced off of El Hadary's face and into the net for the lead.

The Egyptians didn't give in, and in the 40th minute nearly had an equalizer when Hosni Abd Rabbou found some space and pounded a 35-yard shot off the top of Guzan's crossbar.

But the US was already closer to a second, and when Davies ran onto to a Dempsey long ball in first half added time with two defenders chasing, he had Altidore alone in front of goal, but elected to shoot instead. He rifled an angled drive at El Halady, but the Egyptian came up with the save.

It was more of the same in the second half, as the Americans, aware that Italy was already behind 3-0 to Brazil, set out in search of the goals that would get them through.

They nearly found one in the 51st minute, when Altidore found himself with the ball and time near the penalty spot. The Villarreal man collected himself and rifled a shot on goal which El Halady could only get a hand on. As the ball streaked toward the back of the net defender Hani Said clearly intervened with his arm, but the referee chose to do nothing.

Michael Bradley tried his luck from outside the box a few minutes later, but El Halady was up to the task. In the 62nd minute, though, Bradley would get his goal. A neat combination with Donovan led to a return pass which a sliding Bradley tucked away.

The Americans needed at least one more, and they had it in short order, after coach Bob Bradley took Altidore off and moved Clint Dempsey up top alongside Davies. In the 71st minute, a pinpoint Jonathan Spector cross from 45 yards found Dempsey in the box, and the Fulham man nodded home to extend the lead to 3-0.

Though the Egyptians needed only one goal to reclaim their semifinal ticket, they looked disordered and were reeling. The Africans had one final guilt edged chance one minute from time, but Mohamed Aboutrika headed a cross over from point blank range, and the Americans finished off their improbable conquest.

"The odds of going through were slim," man of the match Dempsey said. "But all week we told ourselves we would go out and fight through the final whistle and try to make it through."

Coach Bob Bradley said the team did a better job of focusing than it had in previous matches in South Africa.

"Without a doubt we were focused. We knew in the last game we still needed to go after it in a way that would give us a chance."

The coach was pleased at the early goal scored by the US, after a run of games in which the Americans gave up early scores frequently.

"Getting the first goal becomes important, something that of late hasn't happened. If we were smart we knew we could press and get two more goals. I give credit to the payers the way they fought throughout the game. And now we're excited to move on."

The Americans now head south to Bloemfontein, where they will take on world number one and defending European champions Spain Wednesday, after only two days' rest.
Monday June 22, 2009 10:52 am
I switched back and forth between the two games and the USOpen. Quel surprise! Except for Donovan, who has really good skills, am unimpressed by US team's ability to trap and control efficiently. Compared to Premiership, ball control, passing and pace of US game remind me of many high school matches I've refereed over years, we show some promise but are too inconsistent and have tendency to cough up the ball too easily. We're many years behind most of the best of the world and only our athleticism and guts make us competitive at all. Now if our technical skills were better our future would be rosier. Where are our Spaniards???
Monday June 22, 2009 10:01 am
That was great! I watch sports to enjoy moments like this. I told my wife before the game that with the early 2000s Quakes, we would have seen making up 6 goals as no problem. Glad to see it with the USA.

I agree with those calling for youth and energy. Some of our vets look a bit tired, and I thought Davies gave us some spark. Torres may be the guy. The Portugal game in 2002 should be the model: jump on them early, get lucky with an early goal, build on the momentum, then hold on for dear life.

Oh yeah, playing with 11 players is helpful, too.
Monday June 22, 2009 3:42 am
Coach Potato's Unite! (not a spelling error)

We played well against Italy considering. Brazil was another story. But they were hungry against Egypt! Spain? Well, if the boys have anything left in their legs and can keep 11 on the field then they will give them a game. Happy days.

I love the Rossi comment. Sweet irony.
Monday June 22, 2009 12:44 am
Dempsey had a couple of good plays, the rest of his play (passes in particular, most were giveaways) was awful. He hasn't put in a solid display for quite a while now. It's one thing to have an off night but I can't stand what appears to be a crappy attitude from Dempsey and the walking of Altidore. Why are we not giving the ball handlers more chances? Torres, Feilhaber, and possibly Adu for beginners. Every team I get a chance to watch has players with comfort on the ball that makes some of our guys look like cement foots. My wish is for the USA to play exciting soccer but keeping our vaunted athleticism and mental strength. Maybe these guys aren't the answer but I want to see them get a chance.

By the way - we need professional soccer announcers - I know these guys mean well but it is embarrassing and nail grating to listen to. I don't want to hear about a "good" foul anymore (is Derek Rae available?)
Monday June 22, 2009 12:40 am
Anybody know why Howard didn't play today?
Monday June 22, 2009 12:31 am

I'm very happy for our guys. This doesn't change how I feel about Bob Bradley, Jonathan Bornstein, Ricardo Clark, and Sunil Gulati (I hate them all), but this is my team and I will always support them. Thanks to Brazil for kicking the crap out of Italy and Rossi. Tough to have to play Spain next. Hopefully the guys will show the heart they did today. As far as John Harkes goes, I didn't hear any of his commentary today. I usually watch the games in Spanish. Harkes and JP Dellecamara suck. The Spanish commentary is much more insightful and exciting. But I guess listening to them is better than having to listen to Max Bretos (YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!! god he's annoying) Anyway go USA!!!
Scott Olson
Sunday June 21, 2009 11:22 pm
Looks like this version pf the US Nats are FINALLY starting to gel a bit as a team ... took them long enough ...

Clark is not good enough ... when can J Jones play or when is Edu back?

Dempsey is tired but has to start ... I would push him up front more so he does not have to defend.

Donovan sure is playing well ... must be looking for a Euro deal.

Same with Gooch - although he never plays easily - heavy legs ... too much muscle ...

Demerit, Spector - very nice.

If only Feilhaber could defend and not give it away cheaply ... he has something the others don't in vision.

Should be a good game against Spain.
Sunday June 21, 2009 11:12 pm
I'm glad that they won, but IMO this doesn't change anything. I still think Bradley needs to go. This lightning strike of fortune doesn't change that. If Italy had played tough they'd be on a plane home.

If you have a major win up to luck, then you can have a dancing bear being your coach.
Sunday June 21, 2009 9:46 pm
Agree about Harkes - everything is one-sided with him. Dempsey's defensive marking was terrible but you can't ignore the two or three great chances he created with through balls. Maybe not worth the price of his flaky play but you can't ignore his positive contributions.

Egypt were really sloppy in the midfield and we punished them nicely. Spain will not be handing the ball over like that.

I liked Casey today. He had the legs and strength to be an outlet. Still want to see more Feilhaber and Torres. Davies did OK but really how many goals does it look like he's going to score?
Sunday June 21, 2009 9:41 pm
ok My mouth is hanging open. Unbelievable. I admit that I have posted some bashing comments. Those were comments that I think were somewhat justified, because where has this US team been hiding? All I wanted to see was a sustained effort. Which we finally got, and then the win and advancement were really gravy. The one substitution that I really think made the difference, honestly, was that of Brad Guzan in goal. I know he did not have to make any amazing saves, but for some reason there was a different energy. He seemed really vocal, and I think that helped. Davies energy was good too. I would still like to see Adu, or Torres come in at some point. Donovan needs to shoot when he is in the box, and not over pass. But, congrats team USA!
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