Sunday, September 09, 2007

US 2-4 Brazil - Good match, poor calls and player grades

US MNT 2-4 Brazil
That Brazil won this match is not a big surprise, however it is amazing how much poor calls by Mexican referee Armando Archundia caused the result.

Not to take anything away from Brazil but Archundia did not call an obvious pk against Brazil for the take down of Josh Wolf yet somehow managed to see a foul against Ronaldinho after Bocanegra clearly got the ball away from him. That foul lead to Ronaldinho's goal. That's a two-goal difference in the match, but those we not the only missed calls. Twice Brazil had handballs not called and at least twice hard tackles went uncalled. Other then the card against Robinho for the dive right before the half, he basically let the men in yellow run the match.

But enough of that, let's talk about the play overall because this was one of the best matches by the US in some time. Their passing, which was nowhere in Sweden, returned as did a quick style of play. How nice was it to see the team just take off instead of holding it in the back allowing the opposition to flood all their players behind the ball while they figured out where they wanted to go. Also, nice work taking balls off the feet of the Brazilians.

The fact that the team played Brazil so close that a few poor calls could have changed the outcome of the match does say a lot for the performance the side put on today. Yes, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Robinho and Afonso had their moments, but they were only moments. Brazil did not dictate the pace of this entire match.

The US national team is past the days of moral victories, but this is as close as we can come to having one. We played the best team in the world and were able to run with them. Now the question is can we make this happen again and in a match that counts?

Still, this game made me feel good about the shape the team is taking as we head toward World Cup qualifying next year.

Here are the grades:
Staring XI
Tim Howard (GK) - It is hard to fault Howard on any of the goals but he needs to do more to organize his back line. B
Cherundolo (D) - He watched the wings and forced Brazil to move inside. B
Onyewu (D) - This has nothing to do with the own goal, which he could do nothing about. This grade is for his poor clearance skills, lack of physical play and all around poor marking. C+
Bocanegra (D) - He covered for the mistakes of others and forced balls away from the area. B
Pearce (D) - Was the weakest spot on defense. Brazil was flying down his side. He did put in some good time in attack but was not on top of it in the back. C
Bradley (M) - Did a wonderful job containing in the middle and redirecting attacks, however, yet again, he makes a very stupid play late that costs his time big time. Maybe the key is to never let him play past the 75th minute. B-
Feilhaber (M) - He did a hundred little things that disrupted the Brazilian, but did not play much in the US attack. Still, keeping the ball away from Kaka might have been the best 'offensive' thing he could do. B
Donovan (M) - With the exception of the corner kick that lead to the first goal, he was a non-factor in this one. Did not lead and often gave the ball away. C-
Beasley (M) - He was everywhere and had some great passes. Plus, when he moved back to defense after Arnaud, the line got stronger, but he needs to work on his free kicks big time. B
Wolff (F) - Nothing like taking the action right to the defense but he still gave the ball away a bit too often. B-
Dempsey (F) - He showed some great ball control and his goal was some of the smartest play in the whole game, but he is still far from an attacking forward. His play is that of an attacking midfielder, but if he is going to play up top, he needs to learn how to change things up. Still, great to see a player unafraid to play a little rough. A-

Eddie Johnson (F) (on in the 70' for Wolff) - The good news is he didn't look nervous and even made a couple smart plays, but over all, he was not a threat. Granted he wasn't given much, but a late striker sub needs to create some of his own chances. C
Convey (M) (on in the 71' for Feilhaber) - It was obvious that the year off due to injury has decreased his skill as he was far from good. Gentleman’s D
Arnaud (F) (on in the 86' for Pearce) - He stepped on the pitch with one desire, move the ball toward the Brazilian goal and that is what he did. Also won a couple balls and challenged players. Normally I wouldn't give a grade because of his short time on the pitch, but I did like what I saw so I'll say light B+.

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Blogger Simon said...

Great recap. I was at the game, and even from the other end of the stadium, it seemed a clear PK the US was denied.
On the Ronaldinho free kick, I was certain the call was a handball and was mystified when the Brazilians lined up for the kick. I asked around for an explanation of the call, and someone came up with "he body checked him."
Neither play was replayed on the jumbotron, I suppose in keeping with the new tradition of not showing close/bad calls in hopes of averting a riot.
The Brazilian fans (who probably outnumbered Americans 2:1) seemingly didn't realize how close they were to watching their team lose.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Great match review. Can't say I really disagree with anything.

I love how Dempsey seems to be improving. His time in the EPL is helping a lot, I think. If he never gets any better, he'll have a very nice career, but I sometimes wonder if he can put all the little things he does at different times together into one consistent package. A Dempsey who can dazzle with the ball at his feet, who can play tough and physical, who can pop up in great scoring situations, and (most importantly) can demonstrate a killer instinct and clinical finishing could score 20 goals some year in England.

Only quibble is that I thought Boca played his best game for the Nats in quite a while. B+/A- territory. But part of that is that I'm increasingly convinced that Onyewu/Boca just doesn't work and they both end up in difficult situations because of the other.

11:19 PM  
Blogger a fool's match said...

The only thing I disagree with is your grades. You must have low expectations of our boys if you gave Dempsey an A-. If that was an A- game for Dempsey, you must not thing he's that good.

Also, you can't blame Pearce for Brazil 'flying down his line.' Beasley needs to play defense on the right as well and not only when they push him back. It's not Pearce's job to guard the whole right side by himself. Beasley being 'everywhere' left the right wide open.

Finally, Feilhaber was a waste of space and even though Bradley wasn't consistent, he was miles ahead of Benny.

9:10 AM  
Anonymous cesc said...

Well, Archundia also missed a PK call against the U.S. in which robinho elude several defenders and then got kick Onyewu. You guys cannot complain about ref's poor calls against the best team in the world. A team like Brazil will always get favorable calls regardless of the referee. Furthermore, in order to beat a team like Brazil, which played yesterday at about 50% of its capabilities, the U.S. needs to play the perfect match. Donovan needs to step up in big games, and be less concern about if he is getting Ronaldinho's shirt after the match.

5:05 PM  

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