Tag Archives: Brad Guzan

USA gains valuable point in draw with Mexico

27 Mar

It wasn’t pretty, but the US managed a 0-0 draw with Mexico in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.  The Azteca is an notoriously difficult place to play and the Yanks have seen little success there.  In fact, this draw was only the second point the U.S. has ever earned at the Azteca in World Cup qualification.

With a win and a draw in its last two matches, the U.S. now sits in third place in CONCACAF with four points with seven matches to go.  Mexico, meanwhile, is in fifth with three.  There’s still a lot of football to be played and this whole qualification process is guaranteed to get interesting before things wind down.  The top three teams advance to the World Cup in Brazil while the fourth place team has a play-off against Oceania champ New Zealand.

Thoughts and observations on the game in no particular order:

  • Brad Guzan has shown that he is more than capable of replacing Tim Howard in net.  Two shutouts in two starts this campaign, including one away to Mexico?  Not too shabby.  With some question marks still surrounding the defensive unit, it’s nice to have someone reliable between the sticks.
  • Definitely think that was a penalty on Maurice Edu when he took out Javier Aquino late in the game.  Despite massive protests by the Mexican players, it wasn’t called.  It’s surprising to see the U.S. get the benefit of the doubt on a call like that on the road.
  • The U.S. has to do a better job maintaining possession and creating chances.  The Yanks were lucky that poor touches and off-target passing in the midfield didn’t result in a Mexico goal.  They can’t afford to give the ball away so much.  That said, it’s near impossible to create any decent opportunities when you can’t hang onto the ball.  The U.S. only managed one shot and didn’t force Ochoa to make a single save or big play.  The off-ball movement going forward was lacking and often midfielders didn’t have much of an passing option.
  • I was surprised to see Javier Hernandez miss a couple golden opportunities in front of the net.  Those are the kind of goals he regularly scores for Manchester United and it was odd to see him go so off target from three yards out.
  • The U.S. defense bent, but didn’t break.  Despite coming under significant pressure towards the end of the match, the U.S. defense managed to keep Mexico at bay.  For an inexperienced back line (with the except of Beasley), this was a huge performance.  To come into a place like the Azteca and earn a shutout will definitely give them confidence going forward.  Omar Gonzalez is looking much more confident and Matt Besler did a decent job in place of the injured Clarence Goodson.  Beasley looked a step too slow against Aquino down the flank, but Mexico was never able to take advantage.

What did you think?

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Brazil dominates USA, 2-0

10 Aug

I know this was just a friendly, but holy crap, I haven’t seen the U.S. play that poorly in a long time.  And yes, the score could have been much, much worse.

I’ll start with the positives because there’s hardly any.

  • Brad Guzan posted a second half shutout.  (Timmy Howard played the first.)  Guzan made some pretty awesome saves, including off a clear shot from about five yards out.  He’s a solid player, it’s too bad he can’t get more playing time.
  • No one got hurt.

And….yep, that’s all I got for the positives.  Now, onto the negatives.

  • The defense.  Where do I start?  I’ll go with too slow.  The Brazilians could beat the U.S. defenders seemingly at will. Boom, one move and they were gone. I can’t fault the guy for trying, but you are telling me that Jonathan Bornstein is seriously one of the best left backs in the United States?  That is not a pleasant thought. Brazil had way too much time and space to operate.  There should never be three open players in the box.
  • Craptastic passing. The U.S. couldn’t get anything going offensively because they couldn’t string together more than two passes.
  • Terrible first touch.  Honestly, I think I could have handled the ball better than some of the U.S. players tonight.  At the international level, you should be able to control the ball 99% of the time.  If not, you don’t deserve to be out there. (Cough, Robbie Findley, cough)
  • World Cup letdown.  Nine of the eleven U.S. starters were on the World Cup squad.  You wouldn’t have known it tonight.  All I can say is thank goodness the Yanks didn’t play this poorly at the World Cup or they would’ve been laughed off the field.

Since it’s just a friendly, I’m not going to get much more involved in the negatives of this game.  I just know that I dropped the f-bomb a lot, mostly in the sentence “What the f*** are you thinking/doing?”  Sigh.  Bob Bradley’s contract is up in December and I think U.S. Soccer needs to look at bringing a new face in as manager.  They haven’t progressed nearly as much or as well as they should have under Bradley, but that’s a post for a different day.

USA announces final World Cup roster

26 May

Well, the U.S. certainly picked an odd way to announce the final World Cup squad, but that’s beside the point.  The only selection that really raised my eyebrows was Robbie Findley, who got the nod (presumably) over Brian Ching.  He’s never really impressed me that much. 

There’s also been a lot of derision directed towards Jonathan Bornstein, but I don’t think he’s that bad.  He just needs to work on his consistency (and work on it fast).  As a whole, the defense will need to improve dramatically (and get healthy) before June 12.  Otherwise, it could be a short World Cup.

Gooch saw his first game action in seven months against the Czech Republic last night and looked understandably shaky, especially on the Czech’s tying goal.  I don’t think there was ever any doubt that he would make the squad.  He adds a large, physical presence that the U.S. clearly lacks when he’s not in the game.

It’s the first World Cup for 15 of the 23 players.  That’s slightly scary, but most of the starters have at least some World Cup experience.  Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and Steve Cherundolo will be playing in their third cup. 

Goalies: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann

Defenders: Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Jay DeMerit, Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Clarence Goodson

Midfielders: Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley, Maurice Edu, Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Michael Bradley, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Torres

Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez

Team USA’s 30-man roster

11 May

Here’s the preliminary roster for team USA.  Charlie Davies did not make the cut, so that’s got to be disappointing for him.  In all honesty though, it’s not that shocking given he hasn’t played in a match since October.  That’s almost eight months.  Granted, Gooch has been out of action for approximately the same amount of time, but he’s back at game fitness already.  Plus, he’s a rock in the back and the U.S. will definitely need him. 

There’s really no surprises from Bob Bradley.  No one was excluded that should have made it and I don’t think there are any shocking inclusions.  Everyone knows who the starters will be, but the battle for the final roster spots will be intense in the next few weeks.

GOALKEEPERS: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton)

DEFENDERS: Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS: DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Alejandro Bedoya (Örebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), José Torres (Pachuca)

FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Edson Buddle (Los Angeles Galaxy), Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Herculez Gomez (Puebla), Eddie Johnson (Aris Thessaloniki)

My final 23 based on the above choices:

Goalkeepers: Howard, Guzan, Hahnemann
Defenders: Bocanegra, Bornstein, DeMerit, Onyewu, Spector, Cherundolo, Marshall
Midfielders: Bradley, Dempsey, Donovan, Edu, Feilhaber, Holden, Torres, Bedoya, Clark
Forwards: Altidore, Buddle, Ching, Gomez

Liverpool continue hot streak with 5-0 beating of Aston Villa

22 Mar
Steven Gerrard tallied his first ever Premier League hat trick in a 5-0 win over Aston Villa.

Steven Gerrard tallied his first ever Premier League hat trick in a 5-0 win over Aston Villa.

Liverpool continued their torrid run of form with a 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa on Sunday. With the win, the Reds are just one point behind league leaders Manchester United, although MU has a game in hand.  Liverpool got a hat trick from skipper Steven Gerrard as well as goals from Dirk Kuyt and Albert Riera. 

Kuyt got the goalfest started in the 8th minute when he put in a rebound off a Gerrard free kick.  Despite the early goal, Villa put pressure on the Liverpool defense and had a couple good opportunities denied.  The first half hour of the game was well played by both sides at a fast pace.  However, Riera gave the home side a 2-0 lead after a lovely volley on a long clearance from Pepe Reina.  You know things are going well for you when your keeper picks up an assist.  Gerrard added a penalty six minutes later after Riera was brought down in the box by Nigel Reo-Coker.

The Reds picked up right where they left off in the second half.  Gerrard tallied his second of the day as he placed a free kick in the lower right corner in the 48th minute.  By this point, it was pretty obvious that Villa was completely deflated and wanted the ref to put an early end to things.  The damage wasn’t quite done yet though.  In the 65th minute, Fernando Torres was clear on goal, but was fouled by Villa keeper Brad Friedel.  Friedel earned himself a red card, quite harshly I think, and fellow American Brad Guzan got to make his Premier League debut by facing a Gerrard penalty.  Welcome to the big leagues – Gerrard scored in pretty much identical form to the first penalty and bagged his first Premier League hat trick.

I continue to be amazed by the form Liverpool has shown in the past couple weeks.  They have scored 13 goals in three games against top flight competition (4.3 goals per game).  After the game, manager Rafa Benitez said that the team could be better and frankly, that is a scary thought.   With his hat trick, Gerrard has now hit the 20 goal mark for the season, only one shy of his total last year.  Also, due to his red card, Friedel will miss the next game for Villa, snapping a Premier League record of 180 (?) straight games played.