August 26, 2014

United States’ World Cup Ends Against Ghana 2-1

It was a decent showing in the World Cup for the United States, but that is for analysis down the road.  Today, the taste of defeat is still just a little bit too bitter for that viewpoint.  The United States survived the referees and the early goals in the opening round.  The defensive issues proved too much of a deficiency for the United States to continue in the knockout stage, as they lost to Ghana on early goals.

In the 93rd minute (very early on in extra time) the United States’ sloppy play on defense haunted them again.  It was a great finish by Ghana’s Gyan through two U.S. defenders and Tim Howard.  A long ball bounced through, Gyan survived a couple of bumps and blasted a left footed rocket practically through Tim Howard.  The United States would have twenty-some more minutes to answer once to send it to penalty kicks, or twice to win the match outright.

Memories of Landon Donovan’s last second heroics kept the U.S. fans cheering and hoping, but the United States was just too gassed to make it happen.  The first 15 minutes of extra time ended with the United States looking tired and defeated.  They dominated the second half of the game, but couldn’t take the lead.  Ghana scoring so quickly in extra time that it appeared like it might finally take the last bit of wind out of the U.S. sails.  As it turned out, despite a couple flurries, the United States ultimately had nothing left to give as Ghana ran out the clock pretty effectively.

As for the rest of the game, here is how we arrived at the dismal end.

In the fifth minute, the United States again conceded an early goal.  After a turnover in the midfield by Ricardo Clark, Ghana struck.  For the first time all tournament, some blame could be pointed at goalkeeper Tim Howard.  Howard got beaten near post from about 25 feet or so.  Ghana’s Boateng fired a long low shot past the late defense and diving Howard for a 1-0 lead very very early in the game.  How many times can the United States survive early goals.  Unfortunately the team was set to find out yet again.

In the 23rd minute, the United States finally started challenging after ceding the possession battle for the entire first 20 minutes.  Donovan found Dempsey wide left who fed Bradley deep in Ghana’s goal box.  Bradley attempted a good cross low and hard, but the Ghana keeper made a nice play on the ball before it could find its way to another United States foot.

In the 30the minute, the United States used on of their three subs very early in replacing Ricardo Clark with Maurice Edu.  Coach Bradley spent some time talking to Clark as he was replaced.  He could have been replaced for a few reasons.  First, he had already gotten a yellow card.  Another card would have caused the United States to play a man down for the remainder of the match.  The other reason could have been because Clark almost single-handedly gave up the first goal with a poor poor turnover.

In the 35th minute, Robbie Findley had a great opportunity that was stifled by the Ghana keeper’s left foot save.  Ghana turned the ball over in their midfield territory.  The ball ended up on the foot of Findley who pushed it right and struck the ball hard and low straight into the Ghana keeper.  The rebound could have provided another opportunity, but the ball skidded past the United States’ second rush.

In the 37th minute, Tim Howard saved the United States from going down 2-0.  Kwadwo Asamoah got the ball deep on the left side as the ball skipped right by the U.S. defense.  This time, Howard made a great play in closing the angle to the near post and deflecting it harmlessly out of bounds.  Asamoah turned his ankle on the play with five minutes to go in the half and was clearly limping afterward.

The first half ended with the United States in a familiar position; trailing.  The United States was very clearly outplayed in the first twenty or so minutes.  They played much better in the remaining part of the first half, but they had already allowed too much damage and resigned themselves to playing from behind.  If there was any bright spot it was that the United States wouldn’t be intimidated by playing from behind.

In the 47th minute the United States had a golden opportunity to equalize the match.  The Ghana’s keeper again stood up tall in keeping the lead.  Dempsey found Altidore in the center of the box.  Altidore found a way to continue the cross to the recently subbed in Benny Feilhaber who attempted to put the ball to the far post with his outside foot.  Ghana’s keeper was drifting to the near post and made a nice cross-body save to a ball headed to the far post to retain the lead.

In the 61st minute, the United States finally broke through and Dempsey was about to go 1 on 1 with the keeper.  A reckless tackle in the box later and the United States had a penalty kick opportunity for Landon Donovan.  Donovan put the ball away right as the keeper dove opposite.  Even if the keeper had guessed correctly, Donovan put it off the inside of the post.  At that point, the momentum was clearly in the United States favor.  They had dominated the half to that point and finally broke through with a goal.

In the 81st minute Altidore had a beautiful chance on a high through ball to make up for a lot of his ham-handed first touches throughout the game.  He ended up fighting off a defender, fell to the ground and still got a shot off that went wide right.

Regulation time ended and despite a scary corner kick for Ghana right at the end, so did the three minutes of injury time.  The game was tied 1-1 and a 30 minute overtime period was forthcoming.

And with that overtime period mentioned at the beginning, the United States’ run in the World Cup ended.  The continent of Africa would be able to ride Ghana as the last team left.  The United States will ultimately be proud of the showing as I said, but their problems were clear and well-known and they still couldn’t manage to find a way to keep them from submarining them.

We will always have the images from this World Cup though.  Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan and Tim Howard as heroes.  Ultimately, this video will live on as probably the greatest moment in American Soccer.  Maybe watching it again will make me feel a little bit better.

  • Rich

    Well, the game was lost in two places imo. The first was Tim Howard did not come up with the big sace this game, and he didn’t against SLovenia either. Not his best world cup ever.

    The second was the starting unit. Ricardo Clark was obviously a mistake, especially with how well Edu had been playing. But so was Robbie Findley. Yet again, just like against Slovenia, he had a deer in the headlights look in front of goal. He just hits and hopes w/ no real idea of where to put the ball. The United States attack looked it’s very best against Algeria, which happened to be the game Findley had to sit out for. The fact that we had to waste two subs and two guys who shouldn’t have been in the game was a major problem.

    Also, I still haven’t look at the last goal again, but there is no reason, with only one man playing upfront, that he should be allowed to go 1on1. I have no clue where DeMerit was, but it wasn’t in the right place.

  • Shamrock

    Painful game/sport to watch I tried but not sad it’s over.

  • RoversRugby

    I hope this doesnt mark the end of your World Cup coverage. Still plenty of good Soccer to be played by some great teams. And as an added bonus NO ITALY!

  • Rich

    Really sad thing to think about, but this is probably it for the greatest US soccer player ever at the World Cup. Gonna be really hard to replace him.

  • Stinkfist

    I dont think they got a single opportunity off of those 30-50 yard long balls. Those were infuriating.
    Only if every half was a second half…

  • Rich

    I can’t remember, but I don’t think that ref. gave a single card for time wasting did he? I don’t know how when that was some of the most blatant time wasting I’ve ever seen.

  • JJ From AK

    As rich said, the decision to start Clark and Findley came back to bite Bobby B. God I wish Charlie Davies could have been healthy, but then again Ghana can say the same thing with Michael Essien. This should not be Donovan’s last world cup but it will be his last at top form. The speed that he relies so heavily on will no longer be there. I do like what the Americans have moving forward with Altidore, Davies, Dempsey, Mikey Bradley,and Guzan between the pipes. Should be an interesting 2014 in Brazil!

  • JJ From AK

    And i can’t forget Edu and Feilharber. Those two had great World Cups for the minutes they played. Maybe some growth on their club teams and another round of WC qualifying will tune these kids up into some elite US talent…

  • jimkanicki

    really disappointing effort today.

    sure felt like our line-up was botched. feilhaber and edu earned their starting sports… why retreat to the weak-ass team we sent against england? and altidore continued his sloppy play. hey jozy: DONT DRIBBLE! just be big and fast. ok?

    between the lineup, the lack of focus at start, and silly offense… i think this turd gets laid at the feet of bob bradley.

  • JJ From AK

    I think Bob is just reluctant to start Dempsey up top and thats what he has to do when he brings Feilharber in the game. I understand that Dempsey isn’t a true striker, but dang, use the lineup that gives you the best chance to win. Feilharber on the opposite wing as Donovan with Dempsey up top was that lineup…

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    The most frustrating things for me:

    Overtime: nothing, and I mean NOTHING was coming off of the long balls. The US’ best offense has happened with quick transition offense. The few opportunities that arose today were from those chances.

    Transition defense killed the US again today.

    As great as Churundulo and Bocanegra have been playing, they played poorly today.

    Bradley made mistakes in the starters, and though he subbed them out, it hurt the team down the line, to be sure.

    If the US could have put in a second goal in regulation, they would have won. Once overtime started, I was very worried.

    I can’t believe they gave up goals that quickly to start the game and in OT. The first goal Howard was out of position. The second goal from Ghana was just beautiful. Really there was nothing Howard could do.

    SADNESS.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    I can’t blame the whole thing on any one person or thing. I will say that I was astonished at how badly Altidore’s first touches were today. He was really just pounding the ball.

  • subadai

    Consolation:

    Two of the following will be going home at the same time as us.

    Spain or Portugal
    Germany or England.

  • Rich

    Altidore needs to pass up on the big money for a couple of years and come to the states. He absolutely has to get playing time and he isn’t going to get it over there right. He is going to be the big key going forward for this side to continue to get better. It just really hurts to think about it like this. Our second best (maybe best??) player on the team, Tim Howard, had his worst moment of the tourney today. If he is in position and stops that ball, the U.S. are moving on. Anyway, I still have high hopes for this team in the future. Some really young players that were mentioned above, and also some guys on the bench who are only going to get better (Torres looks like he has all the ability to be a stud).Totally forgot Charlie Davies wasn’t even here. My god what a difference he would have made taking Findley’s spot. He has the pace of Findley, but a bonus, he actually doesn’t get scared like a little girl when he’s infront of goal. And he makes Altidore about 37x better.

    We can still say we won the group that had England in it.

    Tournament is setting up really nicely for Brazil at this point. Spain hasn’t looked great. Germany and England haven’t either. Argentina just hasn’t played anyone of great quality yet with the fairly weak group they were in. Looks like another Brazilian WC title.

  • AMC

    You guys have said it, but bob bradley had a miserable game today. Clark and findlay had already been disasters, so starting them made no sense. needing to sub for both of them so early really caught up to the team too in extra time. Edu should definitely have started as should feibhalder. Also a shame that howard had his lunch handed to him on that first goal. He didn’t look the same after that rib injury had time to sink in after the england game. Its a real shame – this team had the tools and the draw to make the semis but were their own worst enemies.

  • Alex

    Man, I love soccer, but it’s hard to read when there are butchered things like “feibhalder” (courtesy AMC) and all the terrible punctuation (or lack thereof) in the article itself. Jeez.

  • Rich

    Realistically, this team’s talent level is final 16 and no more. When you look at the top 8-9 teams in the world, they outgun the U.S. at almost every position. HOwever, AMC is right, the reason this will hurt for a while is because they had the initial group draw, and then things started breaking their way like France going and Italy going down. Real shot at the last 4 for the first time ever.

  • Dave

    My take on all this: Not a win, obviously, which is sad, but this was a far better showing than the USA was expected to get in the eyes of most of the rest of the world (especially since most everyone agrees that they should have beaten Slovenia).

    They have some very effective players in Edu, Howard, Donovan, etc, and had a lot of the rest of the world cheering for them. They won their group for the first time since 1930. They’re a thoroughly respectable World Cup side, which the USA wasn’t back when they hosted a while back. Also significant is that many of our players are MLS players rather than playing in Europe, so the US is starting to develop a serious professional game.

    In other words, serious moral victory here. Enjoy it.

  • AMC

    @ Alex – excuse me for commenting clumsily on my Blackberry… jeez.

  • Rich

    Good point by a commentator on TV too, that Ghana team already believes it can win. They won the U-20 WC just last year, and a lot of those players are on the WC sqaud.

    It will be interesting to see where the US goes from here, because for the next 4 years the side should only get better. It will absolutely be expected from here on out to get out of the group stages.

  • Pingback: What Should Bob Bradley’s Future Be? | WaitingForNextYear