One U.S. World Cup comeback too many

Ghana 2 U.S. 1 (aet)

i-d43002ad7670912e1d2eec8971c3266c-Kevin-Prince Boateng.jpgThe clock had just hit the five minute mark when Kevin Prince Boateng fired Ghana ahead (AP Photos).

Game story.

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.

i-ed29b2a14b2cd9497762454cf30613be-Kwadwo AsamoahDeMerit.jpgLook 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.

i-d518fff04b7b3835848b19902131677d-jaggerclinton.jpgIt’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

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  • http://www.insidesocal.com/soccer Nick Green

    I completely agree on every point.

  • PasadenaDon

    Nick, I’m not sure what you think, but I think Coach Bob Bradley cost the United States the game.

    The two moves he made: Ricardo Clark for Maurice Edu and Robbie Findley as a starter again were 2 questionable moves given their performance in the group stage. Ricardo Clark ended up being a disaster in the first 5 minutes of both games he started and Robbie Findley has never shown me anything during his time as a national team player. I understand he is crazzzy fast, but what does that matter when you don’t have the other skills right now (namely confidence). I would have loved to see Edson Buddle start with Altidore and even Herculez Gomez in his one start did much better than Findley did in any of his appearances.

    Granted, Coach Bradley does deserve some praise for getting the U.S. through qualifying and getting the US past the group stage (but I think Landon Donovan deserves more credit for the later); however, I think his time has come to an end. If the U.S. wants to be serious in competitions like the World Cup, I think it’s time for a European Coach with assistants who have some domestic experience to go through qualifying.

    Would love to hear what you think

  • DB

    If Altidore were more interested in scoring goals honestly than flopping for a PK, he would have stayed on his feet and would have had a sitter late in the game. Shameful.

  • Studs Up

    Golden opportunity lost. What a shame.

  • Evan Z

    Bradley goes from Hero to Zero in less than a week.

    Agree with you Nick that Bradley sucks as a DT and should be shown the door. We lost the match with the starting lineup. Clark should also be shown the door.

    Bradley has mismanaged games all through qualifying. Remember all those horrible starts? Bradley drove the Bus as far as he could go, but now its time for someone else to drive the USA Bus.

    We got a lot of new USA fans and followers I think with this WC, lets not lose them by keeping Bradley.

    One last things. Our FORWARDS suck. Jozy and Findley????? combined for a big fat goose egg. Findley???? Where was he all qualifying and then he makes the 23-man roster???

    Now for the real slaughter tomorrow. England better have their luggage packed and the British Airways Jumbo Jet refueled and on standby at the airport ready for that long ride back to Heathrow!

  • Evan Z

    It was an Oktoberfest of goals this morning. Una GOLEADA!! As usual, England did not fail to disappoint once again.

    Not even Capello could save this Eng side. Looks like the Eriksson years were the Golden Era for England. At least they played better all around.

  • http://www.theassociationblog.com Craig

    Starting Findlay THREE TIMES was the biggest fiasco by Bradley. He was blatantly in deer-in-the-headlights mode. His +/- for the entire tournament was a -3… I know that’s a hockey stat but it’s proof that he offers nothing on the field. Again all of the biggest rallies happened AFTER Findlay was subbed out… yet Bradley still started him against Ghana?!?! Even worse, Bradley was quoted on not being able to explain the constant slow starts by the US. IT’S BECAUSE OF YOUR STARTING LINEUPS!!!!!!!

    The US blew a golden opportunity at the Semi-Final and it falls squarely on Bradley’s starting line-up selection. Oh and Clark too was an equally horrible selection.

  • Joseph D’Hippolito

    Bradley’s problem is one that coaches all over the world have. He got infatuated with players (in this case, Findley and Clark) for reasons other than their on-field performance. I wouldn’t write both out of the national team, though. Now that Clark’s playing in Germany, he should grow and mature in his mental understanding of the game. Findley is too young, both in age and experience, to give up on.