The clock had just hit the five minute mark when Kevin Prince Boateng fired Ghana ahead (AP Photos).
A familiar script.
It started with a poor choice of starting XI (Ricardo Clark in for Mo Edu, the return of Robbie Findlay?) that had a “been there, done that” feel (and not overwhelmingly successfully either) and then came 45 minutes that essentially repudiated every decision Bradley made before a ball was kicked.
Clark was caught in possession by Kevin Prince Boateng in the fifth minute, who put the U.S. behind early yet again, then promptly got a yellow card and was off after 30 minutes. Edu came on when he should have been there in the first place.
Findley, who displayed exactly why the Galaxy let him go – purposeless speed and poor finishing and decision-making ability, – came off at the half and Benny Feilhaber entered, rather than more firepower in the form of Edson Buddle. It was a wasted first half and a major portion of the blame must go to Bradley, although it didn’t help that substantial portions of the U.S. midfield went missing, too.
Despite the 62nd minute equalizer from a Landon Donovan penalty – caused by Clint Dempsey getting pulled down after his first real run at the defense in the box – the U.S. rarely looked the better team for long stretches. Dempsey looked more effective the closer to the goal he got, but Bradley showed way too much patience and loyalty with Jozy Altidore given his generally unimpressive tournament.
Look a metaphor! Kwadwo Asamoah upends Jay DeMerit.
There was a spell the U.S. knocked on the door in the second half, but it could not be sustained and this time there was no last-gasp heroics, just the grind of OT and there, too, Ghana proved the sharper, the quicker, the more managerially astute.
Although Herculez Gomez belatedly entered for Altidore at the outset of extra time, the game already had the feel of slipping away from the Americans.
And so it proved. Another early goal just three minutes into the 30 minutes of extra time that summed up the U.S. defensive problems when speedy Asamoah Gyan outran the lumbering DeMerit and slow-footed Carlos Bocanegra and the U.S. had it all to do over again. It was too much.
Game – and tournament – over. Bradley’s unimaginative U.S. coaching tenure should be, too.
It’s always a problem when the star power in the stands exceeds that on the field: Bill Clinton and Mick Jagger hang out at the game and wonder where Kobe Bryant is sitting.
U.S. lineup: 1-Tim Howard; 2-Steve Cherundolo, 15-Jay DeMerit, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 12-Jonathan Bornstein; 10-Landon Donovan, 4-Michael Bradley, 13 -Ricardo Clark (19-Maurice Edu, 31), 8-Clint Dempsey; 20-Robbie Findley (22-Benny Feilhaber, 46) 17-Jozy Altidore (9-Herculez Gomez, 91)
Subs not used: 18-Brad Guzan, 23-Marcus Hahnemann; 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 6-Jonathan Spector, 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Stuart Holden, 14-Edson Buddle, 16-Jos Torres, 21-Clarence Goodson