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BRENT LATHAM - Sunday, June 28, 2009
United States vs Brazil
Conferations Cup - Sunday June 28, 2009
Ellis Park Stadium
Getty Images
Luis Fabiano Celebrates
The United States came out blazing Sunday night in the Confederations Cup final in Johannesburg, but could not hold a big halftime lead as Brazil rallied to ruin the Americans' dreams of glory in South Africa.

The teams felt each other out for the first few minutes, as Brazil came forward but the US punched back on the counter with equal determination.

On just such a break, on ten minutes, Jonathan Spector carried the ball forward down his right wing and chipped a ball into the area for Clint Dempsey, who swept a running volley across the box and past goalkeeper Julio Cesar to give the Yanks a quick 1-0 lead.

Brazil looked anxious to get the goal back, and came forward through Robinho, who slammed an angled shot that forced Tim Howard to knock the ball out for a corner.

The US threatened again at the quarter hour when a corner kick produced a melee in front of goal that led to a Dempsey attempt, but the Fulham man found himself in an awkward position and could only kick the ball over the crossbar.

Brazil tried from distance on 22 minutes, when Felipe Melo, the scorer of Brazil's first goal in the first game against the US, struck a shot from about 22 yards right at Howard, who knocked the ball back from where it had come.

Two minutes later Kaka and Maicon teamed up to put the American goal in danger again. Maicon played a wall fro Kaka which the future Real Madrid backheeled into the right back's path. Maicon slammed an angled shot off Howard, but the US goal remained safe.

Twenty seven minutes in the US, which had been looking dangerous on the break through Landon Donovan and Charlie Davies, doubled their lead on an exquisite counterattack conceived by the pair. Donovan fed Davies on the wing, and the Hammarby man laid an exquisite return pass back into the path of the former Bayern Munich attacker. Donovan then chipped the ball over Felipe Melo and struck it past Julio Cesar.

Brazil would not be held back and Andre Santos soon forced Howard into yet another save at the near post with an overlapping run.

The Selecao continued to look dangerous when Robinho shot from range and Howard made his fifth save of the evening. With time running out in the half Maicon sent a dangerous ball across the box but no one could get on the end of it and the Americans would take their 2-0 lead to the locker room.

The second half would be a completely different tale, as the Americans were unable to continue to absorb the Brazilian pressure.

Just 39 seconds into the half, Luis Fabiano took a cross at the top of the box and turned with Jay DeMerit on his back. The Brazilian struck a hopeful shot which slotted past DeMerit and beat Howard to cut into the lead and give Brazil all the momentum they needed.

Fifty eight minutes in Lucio would force Howard into another save with a sharp header. Two minutes late a Kaka header went into the goal, but both the linesman and the referee refused to concede the goal as Howard quickly pushed the ball back out, and the Americans were momentarily safe.

The Americans then came forward to help relieve pressure and Donovan and Dempsey both went close with long range shots.

The game turned for good in the 66th minute when Brazil coach Dunga brought on two substitutes, Elano and Daniel Alves. While the Americans warmed up some subs for ten minutes, the fresh Brazilians came in wave after wave at the American goal.

Ten minutes later, just after Tim Howard had stoned an onrushing Luis Fabiano, and with Jonathan Bornstein and Sacha Kljestan finally preparing to come on, Brazil tied the game as Luis Fabiano emphatically headed a loose ball into the US net past a helpless Howard.

In the 84th minute Lucio gave the Brazilian yet another title as he outjumped DeMerit and Dempsey on a corner and headed the ball in off the far post to break the Americans' hearts.

The US will now have to wait until at least next year for their first victory in an international tournament. Their second best finish is however, the best showing ever for the United States at a FIFA event.
Sunday June 28, 2009 6:00 pm
Though we showed solidarity, the second half clearly showed that we need to be able to pass the ball around midfield. Feilhaber did a great job with this, but we needed more. Could have used Torres. And it isn't like we think this man is a cure all. But we need to start building a hydra, a team that wins not only with speed and counter attacks, but with midfield passes and flicks which make the other team start to lose their patience, or their shape, or in this case just knock a few minutes off where THEY aren't building up an attack.

Anyone who is blaming the US for not playing ninety minutes aren't really seeing the picture. We did exactly what we did against Spain, only Brazil was more creative in breaking it down. Jeez. There is no defense that is inpenetrable. Let's build on this.

Well, Bob won't but oh well.
Sunday June 28, 2009 5:55 pm
I would have to agree with duriseti. The subs added nothing, and in fact made the team less potent. A shame to see us squander such a good position.

Next point is that Coach Bradley needs to get those boys in shape. there is no excuse for not being in peak condition when you are a professional. With the exception of Donovan, Davies and the back line our guys seemed out of steam.
Sunday June 28, 2009 5:49 pm
I would have subbed Altidore out earlier as he was gassed and jogging. Waiting almost 10 minutes after Brazil subbed to insert our subs was a crucial mistake. And of course we missed Michael Bradley, but the fact that most of the players on the bench saw no time in earlier matches made Bradley unwilling to use them.

Count me in the fireBobBradley contingent.
Sunday June 28, 2009 5:22 pm
While the better team won today, Coach Bradley facilitated this loss with his substitutes -- plain and simple. How many times do you give Kleijstan, Bornstein, and Casey chances? How many times?

Kleijstan didn't complete a pass that was longer than 4 feet and then jogged around after he lost the ball. He is a player with potential who lacks energy/fitness and right now has no confidence.

Bornstein brought some energy and is clearly more comfortable in midfield ... where his mistakes have fewer consequences.

Casey has fewer skills on the ball than many pick up players in their 30s across this country. He has size which is only useful when he has smaller defenders he can dominate while balls are coming in from the wings or on set pieces. That's not Brazil's back line.

Yes, we missed Michael Bradley's tenacity and physical presence in the middle, but Feilhaber played a tremendous game with very few poor passes and many deft touches that relieved pressure.

Am I the only one who feels Coach Bradley's substitutes were incredibly stupid?

It seems like the team put in an incredible performance in spite of Coach Bradley and not because of him.
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