Tuesday’s column: It’s time for U.S. to dump Bradley

i-c96234c2aae3c871a56b1fc2c4a1872b-bradleystands.jpgThe U.S. is a team with obvious limitations on the field, does the team need a coach like Bob Bradley, above, who clearly has limitations of his own? (AP Photo)

Question: who had more to do with the U.S. run to the round of 16 in the World Cup, Coach Bob Bradley or playmaker Landon Donovan, scorer of three goals in four games?

If you believe it’s the latter rather than the former where does the U.S. national team program go from here?

Here’s my argument for one potential solution in today’s column.

In World Cup news today:

*FIFA President Sepp Blatter today apologized to England and Mexico for bad calls that cost the two nations goals – and possibly games – and announced soccer’s world governing body will look anew at goal line technology. More here.

*Japan’s World Cup dreams evaporated today by the slimmest of margins: penalty kicks.

Next: 11:30 a.m. today ESPN Spain-Portugal, the final game of the round of 16.

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Monday World Cup kicks: Brilliant Brazil & more

i-c491626440a82c3da3ddc306aa4ec827-kakabrazil.jpgWorld Cup class: Kaka and Brazil left Carlos Carmona and Chile in the dust today in South Africa (AP Photo).

Thought I’d take a quick break from sharpening my knives for Tuesday’s column to note that:

*The U.S. team needs reconstructing.

*Bravo Brazil.

*Robben returns.

*U.S. Women’s National Team Coach Pia Sundhage named a 24-player roster today for upcoming games against Sweden July 13 and July 17.

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Saturday Soccer: Galaxy, Chivas USA & 100 Percent Soccer on “The People’s Game”

MLS resumed tonight and both Chivas USA and the Galaxy were in action:

i-848c32cd58dcbba288c2d2af8d0b470e-padilladallas.jpgJesus Padilla and Heath Pearce tangle, right, Saturday at Home Depot Center (AP Photo).

*Chivas USA (3-9-1) lost its sixth straight game.

*Notable: Osael Romero scored his first goal for Chivas USA; the team conceded the game-winner one minute later.

*Toronto FC 0 Galaxy 0

Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena fielded the same XI for the third consecutive game: Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Gregg Berhalter, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant, Alex Cazumba (Clint Mathis 76), Chris Birchall, Juninho, Michael Stephens, Jovan Kirovski (Alan Gordon 66), Tristan Bowen (Eddie Lewis 84)

Notable: The Galaxy move to 10-1-3.

*Finally, listen to me deconstruct the USMNT World Cup exit against Ghana on “The People’s Game.”

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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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U.S. lineup for Ghana game

The starting XI: Howard; Cherundolo, DeMerit, Bocanegra, Bornstein; Donovan, Bradley, Clark, Dempsey; Altidore, Findley.

Striker Robbie Findley is back in the starting lineup after missing the last game through suspension, while midfielder Ricardo Clark comes in at the expense of Fontana’s Maurice Edu.

Off to the Red Car!

The game is live on ABC at 11 a.m.

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Uruguay’s World Cup worthy winner

i-6cb967bfa5a4774841e8f55b0495321f-suarezwinner.jpgWinner: Uruguay’s Luis Suarez celebrates his second goal and the winner against South Korea (AP Photo).

Let’s be optimistic and assert that the U.S. just found out its quarterfinal opponent.

And a worthy one too, a rapacious Uruguay defeating South Korea 2-1 in a cut and thrust game decided by perhaps the classiest strike of the tournament so far from Luis Suarez.

Game story here.

Uruguay are by no means invulnerable. South Korea deservedly punished the South Americans for collapsing into a premature defensive shell after Uruguay’s first goal.

But then the Koreans made a similar error after their equalizer, setting the stage for Suarez to reignite the touchpaper.

An excellent appetizer. Now onto the main event.

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Represent! U.S.-Ghana Preview

i-9c3eac992c11d1ce047dd9aebd9eda31-saboys.jpgThe boys from South Africa: The U.S. trains at Mogwase Stadium Friday ahead of the round of 16 game against Ghana (AP Photos).

The heat hype is on. Yes, it is the biggest game for the U.S. in modern American history. Again. Damn cool, huh?

I dissect the game here on KPFK.org

If you still don’t know where to watch the game with your fellow fanaticos, click at top right. The San Pedro Brewing Co., will also host a viewing party (it’s not listed on the map) and ABC will be airing from there live I’m told. The most spectacularly dressed U.S. fan wins some sort of unspecified prize.

I’ll be watching here at an LA Riot Squad viewing party (with my U.S. shirt this time). Doors open at 10 a.m. The breakfast burrito is excellent. The IPA even better.

The Associated Press’ Ronald Blum filed this preview of the game:

RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) — For other countries, a second-round World Cup match is a big step. For the United States, Saturday’s game against Ghana is so much more.

The television audience back home could top the U.S. national team record of 13.7 million, set during the 1994 World Cup loss to Brazil.

With a victory, the Americans would advance to a quarterfinal match-up versus Uruguay or South Korea on July 2 and match the farthest the U.S. team has advanced since the first World Cup in 1930. Confidence is soaring.

“If we continue to build on the successes so far, we can go to the end,” coach Bob Bradley said Friday.

i-15c063411707eecb51e89105c29c9c59-bradleys.jpgFather and son: Coach Bob Bradley and starting midfielder Michael Bradley on the practice field Friday.

The U.S. team made the 2-hour trip Friday northwest from Irene and checked into the Bakubung Bush Lodge, where the bus was blocked by an elephant ahead of the opener against England on June 12.

Players have been stoked since Landon Donovan’s injury-time goal beat Algeria on Wednesday and lifted them into the knockout phase.

“The way we’ve been playing, feeling like we’ve gone undefeated and we’ve gotten stronger, I think that gives us hope,” goalkeeper Tim Howard said.

American sports fans have been focusing on soccer at an unprecedented level. Former President Clinton attended Wednesday’s game in Pretoria and chugged a post-game beer with captain Carlos Bocanegra.

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush joined the party. Clinton changed his schedule to stick around for the Ghana game.

“People were coming out of the woodwork to celebrate,” Bocanegra said. Even the Kansas City Royals are setting up televisions around Kauffman Stadium so fans can watch while attending the baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

i-9131d46a2ede2a2c0c215e9937667768-dempseygomez.jpgStrikers Clint Dempsey, right, and Herculez Gomez work out Friday.

“You want to have a team that the people who care about … and follow that team and root for that team and can feel part of,” coach Bob Bradley said Friday. “A team that people believe in and a team that people are proud of. And so, that’s part of our responsibility, and we’re excited in the moment that there’s that kind of feeling.”

Saturday’s game, nationally televised by ABC starting at 11:30 a.m., will be the third for the Americans at Royal Bafokeng Stadium. They had a 3-0 win over Egypt in last year’s Confederations Cup and the 1-1 draw with the English in this tournament.

The U.S. is coming off a 2-2 tie against Slovenia, when the Americans rallied from a two-goal deficit and saw an 85th-minute goal controversially disallowed, and the thrilling 1-0 victory over the Algerians.

It would appear the U.S. has a favorable path to the semifinals, a round it reached for the only time 80 years ago. The Americans are ranked 14th, well ahead of Ghana (32nd) and South Korea (47th) and slightly in front of Uruguay (18th).

While the U.S. finished atop its first-round group for the first time since 1930, it hasn’t won consecutive World Cup games in 80 years. And in Ghana, it plays the only one of six African teams to have survived past the group phase. All African fans figure to be supporting the Black Stars.

“Ghana is the African hope now,” defender Samuel Inkoom said. “We aren’t going to disappoint them.”

Four years ago, the Americans played Ghana in their final first-round game and needed a victory to advance. Ghana went ahead early only for Clint Dempsey to tie it. But the Black Stars won the game on Stephen Appiah’s penalty kick after a foul called by German referee Markus Merk against Oguchi Onyewu.

“An injustice,” Onyewu said. “I still to this day don’t know where the foul came from.”

Ghana had just two goals in the group phase, penalty kicks by Asamoah Gyan against Serbia and Australia. Gyan, a teammate of Bocanegra’s on Rennes, also scored against the Czech Republic in the 2006 World Cup after 68 seconds, the fastest goal of that tournament.

“He’s got a great leap. He’s really good in the air. He’s powerful and fast,” Bocanegra said. “He spearheads their attack.”

Right back John Pantsil is a teammate of Dempsey on Fulham, but Ghana is missing its top player, midfielder Michael Essien, out since January with a knee injury. A four-time African champion, the Black Stars lost 1-0 to Egypt in this year’s African Cup of Nations final.

Coach Milovan Rajevac is familiar with American soccer, having spent several seasons playing with an indoor team in New York.

“America has grown into a football superpower,” he said.

Rajevac said central defenders John Mensah and Jonathan Mensah will play despite getting banged up against Germany on Wednesday, but Isaac Vorsah, another central defender, still is sidelined by a strained knee ligament.

For the U.S., forward Robbie Findley is eligible after serving a one-game suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. Bradley must decide whether to start Onyewu, who sat against Algeria because of the fast-paced play as he regains fitness following knee surgery last October.

Rajevac said it will be difficult for his team to turn around after just two off days between games. The U.S. team, which spent hours last month running wind sprints during training in Princeton, N.J., has no such concerns.

Potentially, the game could go 120 minutes — and to penalty kicks, something the U.S. last experienced in the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal, a victory over Panama. But never have they been in a shootout in the World Cup.

“We’re confident. It’s pressure, but it’s easier to play the Ghana game,” Howard said. “We can take it into extra time. We can go to penalties. There’s so many formulas that can happen.”

NOTES: The referee is Victor Kassai of Hungary, who worked Brazil’s 2-1 win over North Korea and Uruguay’s 1-0 victory over Mexico. He also refereed the United States’ 2-1 loss to Spain at last year’s under-17 World Cup.

Updated

FIFA preview.

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Vuvuzela blowing Germans? Get the axe!

Most of you are not fans of that trumpet.

Then there’s this guy. Don’t mess with Americans damn it:

BERLIN (AP) — German police say an American got so fed up with the constant mosquito-like droning from his neighbors’ vuvuzela plastic horns that he threatened to kill them with an ax.

Police in the Bavarian city of Weiden said Friday the 45-year-old man confronted his neighbors during Thursday’s Netherlands-Cameroon World Cup game wielding the ax. They say he was so sick of the constant buzzing and honking from the vuvuzelas since the tournament began that he screamed: “I will kill you,” and then returned home.

German authorities took the U.S. Army civilian employee into custody and turned him over to U.S. military police. The military says he has been released and the matter is in German hands.

Prosecutors are investigating whether to bring charges.

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Friday (World Cup) football: The weekend starts now

i-7cf1e4cf557afaf8a8b1e0d681042588-notfab.jpgNot exactly Fab(iano): No matter how much Brazilian striker Luis Fabiano prayed today, Brazil could not get a goal against Portugal in a 0-0 tie (AP Photo).

Portugal and Brazil played this morning to a utilitarian 0-0 draw that suited both nations advancing out of Group G at the expense of Ivory Coast and North Korea.

The final games of the Group stage kick off at 11:30 a.m. today with Spain fighting for its World Cup life against Chile on ESPN and Switzerland and Honduras meeting on ESPN2 (and both with hopes still of advancing).

Then the round of 16 bracket will be set.

With the second round almost upon us, if you haven’t yet signed up for the Daily Breeze World Soccer challenge now is your chance. And for those of you already registered, don’t forget to make your picks for the next round (memo to self).

Of course, the World Cup games on most Americans’ minds begins at 11 a.m. Saturday on ABC when the U.S. meets Ghana.

And if we get any more last-minute drama you’ve got to wonder how many more World Cup babies we’ll see.

It looks like Jonathan Bornstein’s family in Los Alamitos is getting revved up for this one.

Where are you going to watch?

As hard as it is to believe, there is other soccer going on this weekend. MLS cranks up again after a two-week break with Chivas USA at home taking on FC Dallas at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Home Depot Center (Prime) while the Galaxy are at Toronto at 4:30 p.m. Saturday (Fox Soccer Channel).

The most fascinating MLS game this weekend, however, may well be in Philadelphia where the Seattle Sounders may get a taste of what their home atmosphere is like for visiting teams against the Union at 2 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2). It’s the venue’s debut.

If it’s live local soccer you want, the PDL Ventura County Fusion (5-3-1) visit the Los Angeles Legends (4-4-2) at 7 o’clock tonight, while the WPSL Ajax America Women (5-0) host the Claremont Stars (2-3-1) at noon Saturday.

Finally, for those of you who like to plan ahead the Galaxy has announced that there will be free parking and $10 admission (which includes entrance to the usually exclusive Stadium Club after the game) for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup contest against AC St. Louis at Home Depot Center.

An excellent deal (and one, frankly, that should be the norm for all U.S. Open Cup games in Carson). Full details here.

Updated

Spain and Chile both advance after Honduras and the Swiss play to a goalless draw.

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