DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Despite the US being on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline for the second time in three outings, attacker Landon Donovan still finds that the team wasn't lacking in overall substance.

"I think we actually played very well tonight tactically," Donovan told YA.

Following Donovan's successful penalty conversion late in the first half, the ten-man Stars & Stripes held the lead the first brief few minutes of the second half before Giuseppe Rossi's long-range 58th minute blast seemingly out of nowhere began their eventual undoing.

"The first goal was off of a turnover, so that had nothing to do with tactics or shape," Donovan explained. "When you turn the ball over in that area, it's going to be hard to slow them down."

The Italians took the lead a few minutes later after another shock long-distance strike - from the once-elbow-happy Daniele de Rossi - again seeming to capitalize on a moment of misfortune by the Americans.

"On the second goal, [de Rossi] came down the middle," the Galaxy man recalled. "You're generally safe letting somebody take a shot from there, but I think it deflected of Gooch and it made it hard on Tim so you've got to give them credit."

Despite the US being held to their third straight game without a goal from open play, Donovan was still a noticeable presence in the attack, showing much of the predatory role which he's adopted in club play with Los Angeles as of late.

"My role here is to be aggressive and make things happen," the two-time World Cup veteran opined. "That's how I've been playing lately and I feel good when I do that, so I'll continue it."

While the heavy-handed defeat to the reigning world champions immediately puts them in the challenging position of needing to eek out a result against an ever-formidable Brazilian team, Donovan is confident that they showed the fortitude to keep up with top-class competition - as long as they don't force themselves into another unfortunate strategic disadvantage.

"It will be a very big challenge for us," the former Bayern loanee admits of Thursday's showdown with the winners of 2005 Confederations Cup. "If we have 11 players on the field, I think we have a good chance."

"We had a good attitude tonight and made a good effort, and if we do the same we have a chance against Brazil."
Wednesday June 17, 2009 10:55 am
milkshake, your youth match observations are right. better training, focused coaching make better teams, more satisfying results at any level.

i cite South Korea in '02 and Iraq vs Spain (1st half) as examples of inferior talent pools putting up a good effort against all odds because of an above average training/coaching program.

i would like to see a new motivator pushing our team. focus on the basics. focus on what we do best and what we can control.

for starters: don't tolerate unforced turn overs. don't tolerate lack of defensive commitment. don't tolerate hopeless, reckless mistakes. these are faults that i see time and again with this side. they are worse than where we were 4 years ago under bruce arena. we are going in the wrong direction.

if a failing coach isn't replaced, then the ones who hire him should be.
Wednesday June 17, 2009 12:21 am
"'usually you're safe when a guy takes a shot from that distance.'"

that is why he hasn't been able to stay in europe. it not only happened once, it happened twice! you cannot let a team like italy take any shot without applying at least some pressure!
milkshake of despair
Tuesday June 16, 2009 8:45 pm
I am starting to agree with those fans critical of Bob Bradley's coaching abilities, or rather lack of sophisticated, tactical and international coaching experience.

To use an anecdote: years ago in high school I played both club soccer and high school soccer. The level of the teams as well as the different coaches were miles apart. The club's talent and experience being much better than the high school's. I know many times as a player on that high school team that I questioned or disregarded many of the exercises, tactics and criticisms of the coaches because I did not have full respect for them. So, I just wonder to what extent could this be happening on the USMNT with the Europian players who are exposed to better coaching and training at their club?

Would love to read others opinions on my theory....
Tuesday June 16, 2009 7:42 pm
It was great to see Donovan at least try and take players on yesterday. There was one instance where he brilliantly split two Italians in open field. He gives us another dimension when he's aggressive. The result was not what we all wanted, but give the Italians credit. They did what they should've done up a man, but give the USA a lot of credit also. Up until the red card we really were competing with Italy, and produced the two most clear cut scoring chances of the match to that point. Even after the red, we generated some offense until we were worn out. I agree with Goz in that we need to be more responsible with the ball. Our midfield is very sloppy at times. 3/4 of our back line was great last night. Bornstein was a real problem for me and I've always been confused as to why he is ever capped. Yes he's fast and athletic, but aside from that he offers little else. He played forward all through college so he's still too raw at the position. I'd like to see more of Spector, he's versatile enough to play on the left when Cherundolo and Hejduk return.

I agree with Landon. Brazil is not invincible. Egypt dug in and gave them all they could handle. Why can't we?
Tuesday June 16, 2009 5:44 pm
Dempsey cannot be replaced as a starter by let's say Kljestan, who in his brief playing time did nothing, inclusive of his shot from distance.

Demerit will not last 90 minutes vs Brazil after his valiant play vs Italy.

Why "waste" a sub on defense? We will no doubt need offensive subs.
Tuesday June 16, 2009 5:22 pm
I thought the U.S. played very well, until they started running out of gas. And Italy brought on fresh legs.

2 things, I wish our players were more goal hungry. Bradley & Jozi passed up good opportunities. And, we were reluctant to take shots from outside the box, even when in acres of space.

I don't like Donovan's comment "usually you're safe when a guy takes a shot from that distance." For one, LD had the best opportunity to close down DeRossi and just stood there & let him set his shot up. For two, on any single shot, yes you're not in much danger. But, when you're giving up shot after shot to a quality opponent, then you are in big danger, even if it's a long shot. Sooner or later, one of them is going to go in.

That aside, Donovan had a fantastic match.
Tuesday June 16, 2009 2:24 pm
As one of the few players on the field against Italy who looked like he believed in the USA's chances, Donovan's bravado is nice to see ahead of the Brazil match. His assessment of tactics however points to a critical gap in his, if not the entire team's, intellectual and emotional understanding of the beautiful game, the type of tactical sophistication required to get results against strong opponents. Without it the USA will be doomed to repeat history.

If the US hopes to be more than a mediocre team that at times surprises stronger opposition, it must recognize that the increasing sophistication of its individual players (through their experiences in European soccer) may not make much of a difference outside of Concacaf without a complementary increase in the sophistication of the coaching. Without it we should not expect much more than the result we got against Italy. One need look no further than the stark contrast between Clint Dempsey's domestic and international performances for evidence that at least some of the players themselves may have already reached the same conclusion.
Tuesday June 16, 2009 1:42 pm
actually against one of the best teams in the world, a man down, we played pretty well until fresh legs for Italy came on. fatigue started to set in late, so that's when our turnovers came but what do you expect against one of the most technically sound teams in the world with only 10 men?

and in case you weren't watching the first 33 minutes before clark was sent off, we were matching them in everything.
Tuesday June 16, 2009 1:17 pm
I disagree with Captain Donovan totally in his assessment that "we actually played very well". We turn the ball over way too often, so the fact that Italy scored a goal because of it is a lame excuse. That we played with 10 men was totally under our own control. It's called discipline and responsibility. The coach should instill that in our players when they put on the shirt.

Our best asset is our American spirit. It's up to the coach to bring the best out of our players and get them to do the things that they can do best. Play hard, be agressive, and do not give away the ball recklessly. I'd like to see a more responsible side against Brazil. Then we really will have a chance.

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