USA 2- Slovenia 2 Match Summary

SOCCER/FUTBOL WORLD CUP 2010 ESLOVENIA VS ESTADOS UNIDOS Action photo of Landon Donovan (C) and Jay De Merit of USA (R), during World Cup 2010 game held at the Ellis Park stadium Johannesburgo, South Africa./Foto de accion de Landon DonovanC) y Jay De Merit de USA (D), durante juego de la Copa del Mundo 2010 celebrado en el estadio Ellis Park de Johannesburgo, Sudafrica. 18 June 2010 MEXSPORT/ETZEL ESPINOSA  Photo via Newscom


Shoddy defending came close to eliminating US chances of advancing to the knockout round, but an inspirational second half gave them some control over their fate.

1st Half

Slovenia came out the brighter side and were rewarded for their early aggression. Jay DeMerit, well-praised for helping to shut down Wayne Rooney last Saturday, was culpable on both Slovenia goals. For the first, he was too casual with a clearance and subsequently had to chase his man along the touchline. The Slovenes quickly swung the ball into the resulting open space between the center midfielders and a stranded Oguchi Onyewu, giving Valter Birsa (13th) plenty of time and space to line up his swerving shot.

For the tally that almost ended US World Cup hopes, DeMerit had stepped high to make up for the advanced position of José Torres and Michael Bradley, and when his man tapped on to striker Milivoje Novakovic, the center backs were not sure who needed to cover the other forward, Zlatan Ljubijankic, who beat the hesitant offside trap and an onrushing Tim Howard.

A few sequences later in the half boosted American hopes but provided no goals. Jozy Altidore earned a free kick on the left side of the penalty area (36th), and José Torres’ inswinging delivery almost beat goalkeeper Samir Handonovic to the near post. Landon Donovan and Torres had discussed the free kick and the US number 10 was clearly following up on his instructions, as he almost latched onto the ball before it reached the Slovenia keeper. Minutes later, another Altidore run started a sequence that was close to generating a goal: the striker flicked to his partner Robbie Findley, who then sent Clint Dempsey into the box, and the midfielder’s through ball seemed destined for Donovan’s outstretched right foot but Miso Brecko jumped in at the last moment and safely cleared

Robbie Findley (40th) piled on the misery when he earned a yellow card for allowing the ball to slam into his face (that’s sarcasm, folks), the first of three incomprehensible decisions that would go Slovenia’s way. In the 42nd, Lbubijankic picked up his goal that forced Bob Bradley into making halftime substitutions.

2nd Half

Though Bradley brought on new blood to start the half (Benny Feilhaber for Robbie Findley – ostensibly to prevent a second yellow – and Maurice Edu for Torres), it was old hand Landon Donovan who restored hope. Steve Cherundolo’s speculative long ball fell to Donovan outside the penalty area’s right side; Landon cut to the six yard box, looking for a runner to fill vacant space; Dempsey and Feilhaber both moved into the same area, so Donovan thought, what the hell, and blasted at Handanovic from an impossible angle. The keeper visibly flinched as the shot screamed into the net.

The Americans were energized by the strike, but Slovenia remained calm and gradually imposed their will as they sat back to absorb the desperate American attack. USA’s next best hope followed a Donovan free kick when a loose ball fell to Altidore, but his shot (69th) went straight at the keeper.

With ten minutes left (and the US players appearing to run out of ideas), Bradley the Elder went for broke, bringing on striker Herculez Gomez for Oguchi Onyewu (moving to a 3-4-3 formation – more on this later today), and the substitute had an unheralded impact on the closely following goal. Another curving ball from Donovan connected with Altidore, and the striker headed down to a charging Michael Bradley – running into space created by Gomez’s darting run – who echoed Landon’s earlier blast by crushing a half-volley past Handanovic (82nd).

Three minutes later, a referee decision occurred that could cost the US a spot in the next round. Yet again, Donovan sent a teasing ball across the face of goal. Maurice Edu connected with the delivery and poked past Handanovic, but his apparent winner was called back. Why? No one yet knows. There weren’t any offside Americans, Carlos Bocanegra was pulled to the ground, and Michael Bradley was wrapped up to the point he couldn’t move forward.

A stunned US squad then allowed Slovenia back into the game, with Novakovic and Aleksander Radosavljevic both forcing Howard into making a save during the dying minutes. The match ended with another puzzling, though less controversial, decision when the referee elected not to tack on additional minutes for an injury that took place in stoppage time.

Consequences

Whatever the outcome of the upcoming England-Algeria match, the gringos will have a chance to advance, but with Algeria unlikely to beat the English, a tie would be acceptable, as that result would leave England with 2 points, Algeria 1, USA 2, and Slovenia 4.

This afternoon (after England-Algeria), come back to FFG for an analysis on how the US let in the early goals, what they did to make up for it, and what they need to do to advance to the knockout round.

2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Gringo Primal says:

    Besides freeing up space for Bradley’s goal, the Great Footbama played peacekeeper at one point, which is hilarious.
    I think it was after the botched call on the penalty kick and Altidore went to harass the ref, but Footbama calmly walked over and led Jozy away.
    Has there been any word yet on what the ref was calling? There’s no protest system, right?

    • Blake Owen says:

      Footbama was definitely holding back Altidore at the end. Quite unintentionally hysterical.

      There’s no protest system that I know of, hence France’s participation in the WC.

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