The US men's national team is out of the World Cup. Once again they fell to an early goal in the 5th minute and then 3 minutes into extra time. Defensive lapses early in games have become the trademark of this team. No team can win every game playing from behind. They are the comeback kids, but not this time. It is a shame because they had a very favorable route to the semifinals. Up next would have been Uruguay. However, for the first time since 1930 the US won their group. They cannot hang their head too low in this tournament. There is disappointment though.
Coach Bob Bradley made some questionably starts. Everyone was puzzled when Ricardo Clark started in the midfield over Maurice Edu. It was Edu who played a perfect game against Algeria. Clark was stripped of the ball early and conceded the first Ghana goal. Later he would receive a yellow card. His third in three games. He was substituted for Edu in the 30th minute. Finley came off at halftime for Benny Feilhaber. Finley's pairing with Altidore did not work. They did not work together and at times Finley was hard to locate on the field. He had a great chance in the 1st half when he was alone against the goalkeeper only to fire a soft shot right into the keeper.
With Feilhaber and Edu the US moved Dempsey upfront with Altidore. They controlled the 2nd half much like the Algeria and Slovenia games with this lineup. It was Feilhaber that set up the penalty kick on a great pass to Dempsey before being hauled down in the box. Later in the game a beaten up Altidore was substituted for Hercules Gomez who was completely ineffective.
What lost the game for the US was the coach. Bob Bradley did a wonderful job with this squad and will, rightly so, continue to coach this team. He said after the game that the US was out of gas in the end. The reason why was because at half time he had wasted two substitutions on replacing Clark and Finley. Two players who should have not started. He replaced Altidore with an ineffective Gomez instead of giving the best player in MLS, Buddle, a shot. In extra time you need fresh legs, we had no substitutions left because of mistakes in the starting lineup. Those two late substitutions would have helped us in extra time.
I am very proud of this team. I am proud of the job Bradley did in coaching this team. He made a mistake against Ghana. Hopefully he learns from this which I think he will. I cannot help being left with a bad taste in my mouth of wonder. We had a favorable group and a favorable table in the Knockout phase. The door was open for us to make a run. We did not. There is always next time and for the core of our team, Altidore, Dempsey, Donovan and Michael Bradley, they will be around for the next World Cup. Hopefully so will the coach. Nice job US, were proud of you.
Until next time,
USA USA USA
Today is the opener of PPL Park in Chester. I will be there and reporting tomorrow or tonight with the game and experience of the park. GO UNION!