July 29, 2014

United States Gets Cheated Against Slovenia, Ties 2-2

The United States treated their opening game tie versus England as a win.  The United States wasn’t favored in the game and England is considered the class of the opening round group.  Meanwhile, Slovenia won their first game to lead the group with three points after their victory over Algeria.  The plan for both England and the United States was for both of them to beat up on Slovenia and Algeria to advance out of group play.  At the same time, Slovenia is considered somewhat dangerous and would certainly have other ideas.  So, while the United States were favored today, it wasn’t totally inconceivable to have Slovenia score first early, which they did against a notoriously slow-starting United States team.

Valter Birsa broke the 0-0 tie at about the 13 minute mark with a wide open 25-30 foot shot.  It bent past Tim Howard’s left and into the back of the net.  It was a goal given up by the defense as Birsa had all day to line up his shot.  The United States really were on their heels to start the game, and they paid the price by going down early for the second straight game.

At 36 minutes Jozy Altidore drew a foul and Jose Torres put the shot on goal at the near post.  The Slovenian goalkeeper made a solid save to give the United States a corner.  They failed to do anything on the corner, but Torres’ shot was a well-struck ball that gave the United States their first legitimate scoring opportunity.

That opened the opportunity floodgates for the next few minutes and then Slovenia countered to break the game open 2-0 at the 42 minute mark.  Zlatan Ljubijankic stayed onside, got a through ball and easily scored past a diving Tim Howard.  To go down 2-0 in the first half was brutal.  The television announcers were quick to point out that the United States hasn’t won after giving up the first goal in the last 18 games.  No need to go to statistics to find out about what happens when the United States goes down 2-0 to end the first half.

At the 47 minute mark in the second half, Landon Donovan streaked down the right side past a sliding defender and went straight at the near post.  The keeper was there, but Donovan wouldn’t be denied.  He plastered the ball high, improbably putting the rocket over the goalkeeper’s head.  The keeper actually ducked his head as the ball blistered past.  The United States needed a fast start to the half if they had any chance of coming back, and team leader Landon Donovan did just that.

The action middled through most of the second half until finally in the 81st minute, the United States scored an amazing goal with coach’s son Michael Bradley finishing.  Donovan made a great cross to Jozy Altidore who got a head on it inside the Slovenia box where Michael Bradley was waiting to smash it home past the Slovenian goalkeeper.  The United States had tied it up 2-2 with about 10 minutes to go in the game.  It was a glorious comeback for the United States who wouldn’t be satisfied with just tying it.  They remained aggressive after the goal.  Their aggressiveness should have been rewarded, but the referee had as bad a second half as the United States had in the first half.

The United States scored what should have been a game-winning goal in the 85th minute.  I am still unsure whether offsides was called, or a penalty was called, but Michael Bradley was fouled on the play as a Slovenian player had him in a bear hug.  Despite this, the United States scored, but unbelievably, it was disallowed.  Regardless the game would remain 2-2 with both teams furiously attempting to get a third goal.

The game would finish 2-2 with Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley chasing down the head referee to give him a talking to that would have made Miguel Cabrera and Jim Joyce blush.  The United States would have done well to come back and tie the game under normal circumstances, but they won the game.  The United States scored a legitimate goal and they were flat out screwed by officiating so poor that it is a disgrace to the word embarrassment.

Regardless, the United States finish the day with 2 points in the group standings, while Slovenia has 4.  England and Algeria play later in the day with England looking to go from 1 point to 4 points with a win, and Algeria looking to get their first points of the tournament.  The best the United States can hope for is a draw between Algeria and England later in the day.

  • Stinkfist

    Thank you. You failed to mention the yellow card on Findley. I dont have sound at work, but it seems the called that a deliberate handball (?). Apparently the referee didnt pay attention to the basic anatomy lesson in the first grade. Now Findley (a solid offensive player) has to sit out next game which is extremely important for the USA to score goals (if England ties Slovenia).

    Can FIFA overturn yellow cards like the NBA can for techs?

  • stin4u

    Absolutely should have gone down as a win. I’ve watched plenty for soccer and that was a very very very bad call as well as the booking for handball by Edu. At the same time the US played miserably in the first half and, had they played the full game like the second half they probably would have won this game handily. They HAVE to get max points from their final match of group play if they want to get into the knockout round, a literal must win.

    You’ll have this in international play, the officiating always has a key blunder at some point (IM LOOKIN AT YOU THIERRY HENRY).

  • stin4u

    Excuse me you are correct stink it was Findley not Edu.

  • Rich

    Ultimately, I think Findley sitting is for the betterment of the team. He is afraid infront of goal and quite frankly I’d rather see Gomez or Buddle take his spot. Gomez has just been a freaking tear in Mexico lately and I’d like to see him get a start in the next game.

    Horrid, horrid decision by the ref. Absolutely atrocious.

    It still isn’t that big of a set back though. The U.S. now HAS to beat Algeria, but they were always planning on having to do that before the Cup started. If they beat Algeria by a goal, and either England or Slovenia win their game against eachother, the U.S. is through. If they beat Algeria by two goals, they are though. Now, it gets dicy if England vs. Slovenia ends up in a tie and the U.S. only beats Algeria by one goal cause then we get to have some fun little tie-breakers and whatnot. Either way, US still in a good position.

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    I’m upset with the calls at the end, but I’m even more upset with the fact that the USA has entered the first two games of the World Cup not looking like they were ready to play. Reminds me of the Indians April-June and the 2009-10 Cavaliers first 3 quarters of just about every game this past season. If they’d simply shown-up ready to play, they should’ve won today’s match.

  • Stinkfist

    Ive never been so furious after a 2-0 2nd half comeback. I didnt think it was possible. Solely because of the stage, that call made Gallaragas “perfect” game seem completely meaningless

  • mgbode

    USA doesn’t need to care too much what happens with England v. Algeria.

    If we beat Algeria by 2 goals, we go to the next round. If we don’t, then we need help to get there.

  • Alex

    After the match, they interviewed Donovan – he said that the referee wouldn’t tell them what the call was on the disallowed goal! Truly unbelievable. In Donovan’s words, it was that ref’s first World Cup game. Hopefully it will be his last.

    Besides the phantom foul/offsides, and the lack of a penalty kick for Bradley being fouled on the same play, and the “hand”ball on Findley, and the utter lack of calls for long stretches…I guess the officiating would have just been bad. I don’t remember which Slovenian it was, but one of those yellows should have been a red, too. Disgraceful.

    On the other hand, it’s pretty amazing that the US managed a draw even with all that terrible officiating. Good heart. If only they could not give up a goal in the first 15 minutes…

  • mgbode

    let’s take worst case scenario. England beats Algeria by 4 goals.

    If US beats Algeria by 2, then we beat Slovenia in tiebreakers if England ties Slovenia and win outright if England wins. If Slovenia beats England, then we win outright over England.

    So, it really doesn’t matter what England does at this point (though they could make it easier for us to advance if they trip up).

  • stin4u

    Btw let’s not detract for the other two goals that were allowed, because both were fantastic. The keeper literally looked scared for his life on Landon’s goal.

    This team has some very good creative players up front, if we could solidify the mid-field and defense this team would be top-notch.

  • Rich

    Well if England loses to Algeria..then a simple win against Algeria puts us in no matter what happens. Ultimately though, you are right, seeing as England isn’t going to lose to Algeria. Really, if we beat Algeria we are probably in. However, WE HAVE TO BEAT ALGERIA.

  • Rich

    I really hope Bradley starts Gomez in Findley’s spot.

  • Stinkfist

    @8 It was Marko Suler in the 69th minute on Altidore. The pass from the outside went behind the last defender and Jozy had a line to the goal, but got tripped before he even had the chance.

    Remembered the play, had to look up the name

  • Stinkfist

    @Stin4u, thats kind of a lot to solidify

  • Dave

    The reaction of an English fan watching with me: “You were robbed.”

    It wasn’t just the goal, it was the non-handball resulting in a booking, the blatant take-downs of USA players without cards coming out, and the Slovenian players taking the ball out of bounds on the sidelines for a few seconds before getting called on it. It almost looked to me like Slovenia had an extra player on the field with a yellow jersey and a whistle, honestly.

    And I’m not one to complain about refereeing normally. A mistake here or there I understand. This didn’t look like honest mistakes though.

  • Stinkfist

    His wife must have left him for an American

  • stin4u

    @Stink – I think they have the players, I just don’t think they play with enough discipline and they don’t utilize the wings or over lapping runs much.

  • Stinkfist

    Not in the central midfield. They are sub-par

  • stin4u

    @stink – I agree they could be better especially minus Torres, no idea why Bradley ran him out today other than he assumed it would be an easy win.

    WHUR IZ DEMARCUS BEASLEY HE IZ LEIK SO GUD.

    just kidding I can’t stand him…I’ll never understand why he was selected over Sasha Kljestan

  • ben

    I am finding it hard to be outraged after going down 0-2 in the first half. The US played themselves into a position that allowed the ref to steal the game from us.

    The US was 100% screwed, w/o question, but if you’re up 2-Nil instead of being tied, the jobbing doesn’t matter.

  • stin4u

    Your right ben, it’s just a shame they killed such and amazing comeback with a bad call. From what I heard the US has never come back down 2-0 to win, pretty historic.

  • http://twitter.com/Bbo13 B-bo

    The disallowed goal was an all-time terrible call, no question. Findley’s yellow was a mistake. But the only thing that should truly be seen as outrageous was the fact that the US was down 2-0 to Slovenia. SLOVENIA. I absolutely understand and agree that on this stage, in world-class competition, EVERY opponent must be respected to some degree. But the US national team should not be getting outclassed in the World Cup by Slovenia, not if they want to ever be considered a legit side. It’s not just being down 2-0, it was how it happened: sieve-like midfield play and a defense giving ridiculous amounts of space. It was lazy, confused, downright dumb play. Credit the team for turning it around in the second half, but Ben has it right @20: it was the Americans’ own fault for being in a position to have the ref affect the outcome the way he did.

    I will give props to both Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley (“coach’s daughter”), two players I am not fond of, as they both made nice plays when it counted to earn the draw. I really enjoy watching Jozy Altidore, but he needs to stop with the Dwight Howard/Tim Duncan/Boston Celtics attitude when it comes to calls going against him or him not getting a call he thinks he deserves. It’s one thing to stand up when you have been genuinely wronged, but he bordered on showing up the (admittedly sub-par) refs all match long. That won’t get him any favors going forward, and puts him at heightened risk of being carded if he does it to the wrong ref (ask Klose and ze Germans).

  • stin4u

    @B-bo – that Miroslav Klose send off was tragic….ugh.

  • AMC

    The officiating was absurdly bad all game long. I think I’m more angry about the waived off goal now than when it happened. As others have said though, the US should have never been in that position to begin with – the first half defense was piss poor. Gooch I think was hampered by the injury – Bradley may want to think about leaving him out of the starting lineup against Algeria. The draw takes the US’s destiny out of its own hands to advance, but a win against Algeria will go a long way to making it happen.

  • Rich

    It isn’t like the U.S. is some soccer power nor should we be claiming to be. Slovenia qualified out of Europe. Teams that qualify out of Europe are good teams, and quite frankly I didn’t think the U.S. was an odds on favorite going in to the game. They beat Russia to qualify, they are a good side and I’m not at all stunned or shocked that they were up 2-0. I mean, Germany lost to Serbia and Spain lost Switzerland. Those two sides are easily better than this U.S. side, and they lost to lower class teams. Things like that happen when you have to play European teams. They can all play.

  • MP34

    @Rich,

    I’m with you on Gomez over Findley. Also, that knee injury really looks like it is slowing Onyewu down.

    And as for the officiating, my god, I’ve seen better called WWF matches. Let’s hope we pound Algeria Wednesday.

  • Rich

    AMC, the destiny is still in their hands. They win by 2, they advance no matter what the outcome of England vs. Slovenia.

  • Rich

    The problem with sitting Onyewu is…who in the world do you play in his spot? The biggest problem the entire qualifying stages and friendlies leading up to the WC was the United States lack of depth at full back. I mean, have you seen Bornstein play? I’m not eve nsure how the guy has a job playing in the MLS, let alone actually make the WC squad.

  • stin4u

    Shep Messing may be the worst announcer I’ve ever heard.

  • Cody

    Gooch needs to be put to rest. If it were me I’d put Bocanegra in the middle with Demerit and let Beasley play left back, like he has done in the past. I would want Bornstein to even sniff the field and Im starting to feel the same way about Gooch, guy is awful and can directly/indirectly be blamed for both goals. Even though the goal call back was ridiculous the US didn’t deserve a win, draw was a fair result.

  • Cody

    @B-bo How can you not be fond of Donovan and Bradley? They are quite clearly the two best national team players that we have. Any knowledgeable soccer fan can/should see that.

  • stin4u

    @Cody – Dempsey?

  • Rich

    I don’t want Beasley sniffing the field either. Gooch has to stay. Lesser of the evils at work here.

  • stin4u

    I agree rich.

  • http://twitter.com/Bbo13 B-bo

    Well, Cody, I’d say Tim Howard, Onyewu (when healthy), Jozy Altidore, and as stin mentioned, Clint Dempsey all have a legit argument against your suggestion of Donovan and Bradley being the best we have. Bradley has always struck me as someone who gets a roster spot because of his father, though he had a terrific performance today to be sure. My dislike for Landon has much to do with the hype he received from the beginning of his time with the USMNT. He (and DeMarcus Beasley, another disappointment) were supposed to be the young Turks who brought the US international glory. And while we’ve consistently made the Cup since they came on board, what have we done there? Not much to speak of. He has the scoring numbers and all for the USMNT, but I have seen him shrink on the big stage (club and national squad) too often for my liking. Again, his second half today was well-played. But it was his lack of asserting himself in the first 45 that helped to create the need for a special second.

  • Garrett

    Torres was a good play in theory. Look at what he brought to the table against a similar side in Turkey two weeks ago. He just didn’t deliver today. I don’t think you can fault Bradley there. US can appeal Findley’s suspension and that can and will probably be suspended if they appeal as there was absolutely nothing wrong with what Findley did. The ref today truly cost the US a win in a game that should’ve been a hard fought come from behind win that would’ve all but put us through. We still should get through but it was absolutely horrid today in the first half. We can’t continue that kind of play and expect to get out. Overall, gotta take the point….even it is a hard point to swallow.

  • http://Waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    This defense needs Eddie Pope.

  • Rich

    Well big draw for Algeria. Rooney just basically went LeBron on his squad and stopped trying. Pretty shameful on his part.

    Means the US just needs a win and they are through…and they can also get through with a draw now too. However, beating Algeria looks like it’s going tobe tougher than first thought.

  • Alex

    6 hours later and it’s still a mystery exactly what the “foul” call was.

  • Cody

    I’ll give you Tim Howard and I’ll give you Clint Dempsey but Gooch has never been anything but a big athletic body his positional awareness has never been special and he has always been slow, now painfully so. Jozy is decent but why cut him the slack that you don’t cut Donovan? Yes he is a striker and to a certain extent that is their job, to drift in and out of games in search of goal but too often he doesnt find. I like Jozy as much as the next guy but without Charlie Davies beside him (or a quick workhouse like him) Altidore isnt that effective. Just see his premiership season. And I would argue that no player aside from maybe Donovan is more hyped than Jozy. Meanwhile you have Donovan, greatest goal scorer in US history, more assists than anyone in US history. The guy works 90 minutes and has done so for the past 10 years. He is leaps and bounds our best and most consistent outfield player. As for Bradley, he controls the middle of the field and makes those all important deep runs of which we have never seen before. In the history of US soccer there have never been anyone better than Bradley and Donovan at their respective positions.

  • Cody

    And when has Donovan shrunk on the club stage? Failed German forays maybe but he has crushed it everywhere else he’s played including his loan stint at Everton.

  • http://twitter.com/Bbo13 B-bo

    Germany was exactly what I had in mind. It’s not as though it was one club there. And no, I personally don’t give MLS much credit as a world-class league, but that might just be me. Altidore was near-invisible in the premiership, but how often do Americans–particularly young Americans–get much run in that league? With time and seasoning, I think he has all the tools to be the most lethal scoring threat the US has produced period.

    Jozy by nature gets more slack: partly due to age/experience, partly due to his position which, as you stated, is prone to ebb and flow, based largely on the effectiveness of the players behind it. In other words, if he often doesn’t find it, it’s because the opportunities aren’t there to be found. When the US has struggled on the international scene, in other words when they face truly elite competition and not just CONCACAF, he (Donovan) is far less effective. He just doesn’t impose the control that someone of his reputation, playing in the mid, needs to impose. I’m not saying the kid is some talentless scrub (43 international goals and counting says otherwise, though I’d point to the bunches he gets against squads like Cuba), I just don’t think his performance matches the “elite” label some are quick to give him. He may well be our best and most consistent, but that’s kind of the problem sometimes.

    As for “greatest goal scorer” in terms of Americans, I must say: if I need a goal from an American, in their prime, give me Eric Wynalda over Donovan every time. Just be sure to keep an eye on your girl when Wynalda’s around, right John Harkes?

    Good to see this post getting so many comments–nice to know the game has knowledgeable folks following it. After listening to some of the drunken meatheads during the US-England match, I was afraid there weren’t many of us out there.

  • Alex

    I’m rewatching the match on ESPN2, and that Findley “hand”ball looks worse now than it did the first time through. What an utterly ridiculous call. And the 2nd Slovenian goal was the next possession – just think how it would’ve turned with another corner vs an idiotic call.

  • jimkanicki

    not for nothing but slovenia… slovenia took out russia to get in this thing. russia is a strong team. their little forward Arshavin was the best player in euro2008, imo. slovenia should be a bigger story.

    that said, (wow just saw donovan’s goal again. just awesome.).. that said, i was able to find an explanation on what the call was. the writer is a soccer ref and certainly doesn’t suggest it was the right call, but offers a reasonable explanation. he says that the ref probably saw bocanegro’s arms around his marker and that’s what he called. (yes boca’s marker had him in a headlock.. we all agree it was a horrible call.) here’s the article http://is.gd/cUPTf .

    (just saw the 2nd… that bradley finish was skilled/clutch/awesome too.)

    on the bright side, we control our destiny and have a reasonable chance to win our group. i mean if both we and england win our next games 2-1, i believe we’d win the group based on goals for.

    on the brighter side.. we broke through and showed some scoring touch. i’d like to sit gooch, but don’t know if we have anyone decent behind him. would like to see more edu and more buddle.

    [how pissed is england going to be if slovenia does a russia on them??]

  • JJ in DC

    Watching the game on dvr right now. I was pretty happy with the officiating until today. Both the US and Germany got screwed with bad calls (especially Klose’s red card which was nothing more than a toe poke).

    I really wonder where FIFA finds some of these officials. My buddy was telling me that the Spanish ref from today’s Germany/Serbia game gave 11 reds in 17 Spanish Primera games this past season. That seems a little high to me.

  • Rich

    That England national squad might as well get passports to Argentina, because if they lose to Slovenia and go out in the 1st round, they will get killed back in England. I have no idea what is wrong with them. I knew they were thin upfront (if Peter Crouch is your 2nd best striker, you have problems), but I thought their back line and their mid-field was second to none (mid-field second to Spain I guess). They blew through qualifying and looked like the best team in the world during it imo. But now..I don’t get it. They need to simply stop giving Hesky time. Rooney likes him, but Rooney isn’t scoring for his country either.

    What is even more infuriating about the ref in the US game is his refusal to tell them what he called. I mean, it just makes it seem super fishy and quite frankly there is no other reason for it other than: A. He knew he blew it and didn’t want to admit it, B. He did it on purpose for w/e reason.

    It makes FIFA look like idiots. They simply have to suspend the guy.

  • Rich

    Lol, 11 reds in 17 games is insanely high. A ref on a power trip who simply thinks it’s his job to be noticed. So many of those in all of the sports. You don’t know the names of good refs. You always know the names of the bad ones. The less you hear from a ref, the better.

  • Garrett

    FIFA released the play-by-play report and Edu was cited by the ref for the foul. Also, said his performance was “under-review and it is unlikely he’ll be given duties again in this World Cup”.

  • Rich

    I sort of feel bad for the guy, but not really. His refusal to speak up and talk about the foul and what he saw only leads one to assume he was either paid off, or had some sort of vendetta against the U.S. Plus, you miss a call like that in the WC you get canned.