Sunday, June 28, 2009

Instant Reaction to Confederations Cup Final

The championship that got away? A heartbreaking end to a fabulous tournament results in Brazil winning the Confederations Cup, USA finishing as runners up, and Spain as the third place team.

First things first, I want to salute the US for playing great football and having a wonderful tournament in which they showed abundant heart and perseverance and tenacity. Many players stood out, including Landon Donovan who thoroughly deserved to cap a brilliant tournament with his goal on a breathtaking counterattack. Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit were rocks, Tim Howard was great, Clint Dempsey responded well to those questioning his recent play, Spector made the right back spot his, Benny Feilhaber looks ready to return full time with the national team, and Jozy Altidore and Charlie Davies provide hope that the US can produce a quality strike duo.

While taking nothing away from Brazil, who attacked relentlessly and deserved their victory, I do want to briefly question Bob Bradley's decision making in the second half. I gave him credit for his decisions in the Egypt and Spain matches, but here I have to question him. His double substitution of Sacha Kljestan for Feilhaber and Jonathan Bornstein for Altidore was disastrous. Dempsey was clearly dead at that point and even pushing him up top just wasn't going to cut it, and ultimately it was Dempsey who was beat by Lucio on the game winning goal. Kljestan has been in awful form and should not have been used, and by removing Feilhaber the US no longer had any possession in the middle of the field. Kljestan might have completed one pass during his time on the field, the remainder finding only those famous yellow shirts. And then finally Bradley put in Connor Casey, who time and again this tournament has proven that he's lazy and really shouldn't be playing international level football.

Hopefully this will spur the US on to greater things next summer at the World Cup. Michael Bradley (whose absence was felt greatly during the second half of the final as the US clearly tired), Jermaine Jones, and Maurice Edu will bolster the midfield, hopefully Altidore will continue to develop (as well as Freddy Adu), and the return of a healthy Brian Ching and Steve Cherundolo will provide depth to the front and back lines. All in all I enjoyed the Confederations Cup and I'm proud of the US performance, and now I turn my attention to the Gold Cup and trying to get a victory at Azteca. Dos-a-cero!

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