USA-Brazil Friendly Action

I briefly forgot about this game after the Cards and Reds had their little dust up in the first inning.  I think those fireworks have ended, so I’ll settle for Yahoo updates.  Brandon Phillips is 0/7 in the series.  Just sayin’.

Right now, the US is 0-0 with Brazil….now it’s 1-0 Brazil.  Perfect timing for them.

Anyway, we’re kind of sending out our World Cup team one final time before we turn our eyes toward 2014.  Brazil is fielding a young side, but as with all Brazilian sides, they’re very, very skilled.

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World Cup Predictions

I didn’t  get to this before the Cup started and I’m barely making it here since Uruguay-South Korea has already started.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for our intents and purposes) the game is frozen with the Koreans about to take a free kick in the 4th minute.

Anyway, it’s time for some predictions because everyone loves them even if none of them are right.

Let’s get started

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Biggest Disappointment Ever?

With today’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of South Africa, France’s dismal World Cup run has come to an end.  The only reason this makes me sad is because of the insane drama they brought to this year’s edition of the World Cup.  Sending home a star striker?  Refusing to train the next day?  Having the head director of team quit and fly home early?  Having the President of the country call the team out publicly?  Yeah, that’s drama.

But first let’s start at the beginning.  The French team struggled through qualifying, finishing second in UEFA Group 7 to Serbia.  Then, they only secured a qualification through Thierry Henry’s double handball during the playoff against the Republic of Ireland.

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USA Gets Robbed

My plan today was to DVR the USA-Slovenia match, avoid all forms of media, and then watch it when I got home after the game.  That idea went out the window when the game was on the scoreboard at Busch Stadium while I worked with a young baseball team.  There was no audio and it was hard to follow, but I got to watch it nonetheless.  I’m about to watch the replay so I can get a better idea of what went down but I’m still going to write a post about the game.

The first thing that I want to mention is the horrid marking that occurred Slovenia’s first goal.  Valter Birsa had days to line up his fantastic strike from just outside the penalty area.  Michael Bradley had stepped up to take away the initial ball carrier when he laid it off to Birsa.  From there, I don’t know where Jose Torres was and I don’t know why Oguchi Onyewu didn’t step up and at least act like he was putting pressure on the ball.  Birsa punished them for their terrible marking.

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World Cup Thoughts So Far

We’re five days into the universe’s biggest sports event and that means there has been plenty of stuff to talk about.  Unfortunately, I spent all weekend moving to St. Louis so I haven’t had time to write here.  Instead of going through each team that has already played, I’m going to try and hit the highlights and low lights from the first few days.

The first thing I feel like I have to mention is the presence of the vuvuzelas in the stands that people all seem to hate.  Honestly, I don’t even notice them.  I want someone to bring me one so if you’re reading this and can get one of these horns to me, send me an email at wellerandbryan@gmail.com.

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USA Starts Out Strong

I had every intention of writing a fairly in depth preview of the USA-England match that happened today but I’m in the middle of moving to a new apartment and that’s not conducive to posting.  I don’t know what Weller’s excuse is.

Anyway, had I actually written something, it would have read something like this:

USA needs to attack the wings.

USA needs to neutralize Rooney.

USA needs to shoot the ball any time their inside the midline.

USA needs to play out of their minds.

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USA Downs Turkey

Clint Dempsey celebrates his game winning goal.

In a game that showcased a team that we’re much more likely to see in South Africa, the United States beat Turkey 2-1 in Philadelphia.  Two days ago I outlined the team that I wanted to see take the field today.  As it turns out, that was very close to the team we saw this afternoon.  Bob Bradley’s decision not to start Oguchi Onyewu in favor of Clarence Goodson was probably due to the lingering affects of knee surgery, but Onyewu saw significant minutes in the second half.  The one move that surprised me was Benny Feilhaber getting the start at one of the outside mid spots opposite of Landon Donovan.  It looked as if that decision would backfire immediately as Feilhaber made a terrible cross field pass right to the feet of a Turkish player who thankfully pushed the ball wide.  From there, he failed to make a serious impact before being taken off after halftime.  I think Jose Torres may have swiped his spot with his inspired second half play.  But more on that in a bit.

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USA Makes Final Roster Cuts

I meant to do this yesterday but I was busy.  It happens.  Anyway, Bob Bradley made his final cuts from the provisional squad down to the 23 man team that will be representing the US in South Africa.  For the most part, I think he did a fine job.  One pick in particular confused me a bit, but we’ll get into that later.  First, let’s take a look at the team:

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USA Fails to Impress In First Warmup

I guess that headline is misleading since most of the first team wasn’t used tonight but it was still a disappointing performance.  Some players played their way into my good graces (not that it matters) and some certainly did not during the United States’ 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic.

Once again, this was not a good indication of how we’ll do in South Africa, it was more of a test run for the players who are on the bubble.  We’ll find out around noon tomorrow who is on the team and who will watch it from home.

We’ll start with the few players who impressed me tonight.  I was really watching two things this game: how the forwards performed and how Oguchi Onyewu held up in his first action in seven months.  What I got was a stellar performance, except for one ball that handcuffed him, from Clarence Goodson.  His play in the air was essential to both US goals.  Every set piece was sent to the back post toward Goodson who managed to get his head on a fair amount of them.  The US has relied on Onyewu to get his head on most set pieces since Brian McBride retired.  It would be nice to have another reliable threat in the air.  He also looked solid at the back, aside from the one glaring error that led to the Czech’s third goal.  Goodson should be packing his bags to Africa.

None of the forwards really impressed me, but if I had to pick two I’d go with Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez.  The announcers kept mentioning how Buddle and Eddie Johnson were working well together but Johnson never did anything that jumped out at me.  Brian Ching was also a nonfactor while he was in the game.  Still, Ching gets a spot on my team for experience alone.  At this point, Buddle would get the nod with Altidore up front for my team, assuming Dempsey stays in the midfield.

Robbie Rogers played well off the bench.  He showed some creativity on the flank and wasn’t afraid to test the Czech goal from distance with good shots.

Now for the bad.  Heath Pearce completely demolished any chance he had of making this team.  He was beaten badly twice leading to Czech goals each time.  He wasn’t in the game long enough to have that much of a negative impact.  He was bad.

I was also not a fan of Jonathan Bornstein’s play in the back.  He tends to get beat and then give up fouls in dangerous areas.  That’s not good enough in the World Cup.

Oguchi Onyewu’s performance was…meh.  Not good, not bad.  He was obviously out-jumped on the first goal, which should never happen, but the rest of his game was fine.  I was not encouraged by the way he was limping after he exited in the 65th minute.  I’ll be interested to see how much and how well he plays on Saturday against Turkey.

I’m not sure anyone played his way onto or off the team tonight since Bradley is set to announce the final squad tomorrow but it’s still fun to speculate.  I’ll try and get another post up tomorrow about the final squad, but I have sketchy internet around here, so no promises.

Waiting for the World Cup

Alright, I would say I’ve been slacking (like normal) but in this case it has been anything but.  As you know, I started a new job with the St. Louis Cardinals last Wednesday and that has kept me extremely busy.  It has also made me leery of posting about things that are baseball related.  Not that anyone there knows I have a blog or that I would say anything derogatory toward the Cardinals, but I just figure it’s better that way.  Anyway, this post is not about that, it’s about soccer.  World Cup soccer.

I went to a 30 Seconds to Mars concert with a friend of mine last night and we got to talking about World Cup rosters.  Neither one of us knew when the deadline was for a roster announcement so I figured I’d look it up and share it with all you faithful readers.

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