Tag Archives: Maurice Edu

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?

Champions League group stage kicks off today

14 Sep

Champions League is back as the group stages get underway today.  The marquee matchup is of course Manchester United and Rangers as Sir Alex takes on his old team. For those U.S. fans out there, Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu will get a taste of the action as well. Tottenham will get its first taste of group stage action at Werder Bremen and will be without key striker Jermaine Defoe. Meanwhile, Inter will get its title defense underway against Twente.

Fox Soccer will be televising the Inter match, while the ManU/Rangers match can been seen on Fox Sports Net (probably in HD!), which most people with cable should get. All the other matches are available on FoxSoccer.TV or UEFA.com or various other interwebs sources.

Tuesday’s Matches
Twente vs. Inter – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Bremen vs. Tottenham – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Lyon vs. Schalke
Benfica vs. Tel-Aviv
Manchester United vs. Rangers – 2:30 p.m. ET/Fox Sports Net (Live)
Bursapor vs. Valencia
Barcelona vs. Panathinaikos
Copenhagen vs. Rubin

Cardiac kids can’t do it again

26 Jun

Team USA gave us late game heroics to get to the knockout round.  They came from a goal down just to get to extra time against Ghana, but they couldn’t pull off a miracle comeback against Ghana, losing 2-1 in extra time.  It’s a heartbreaking loss for the U.S. as they had a multitude of opportunities, but just couldn’t convert to level the game.  Of course, it doesn’t help giving up a goal five minutes into the game or the eventual winner three minutes into extra time.

Forgive me, I’m still a little distraught over the loss and I’m not really sure where to go with this post.

I guess my big question for Bob Bradley would be this: Why did you change the lineup that was so successful against Algeria?  Bradley started Ricardo Clark for Maurice Edu in the midfield and Robbie Findley for Herculez Gomez up top.  Clark was the culprit on the early goal, giving away the ball in a bad position.  He did the same thing against England.  Edu is a much more consistent player and more of a goal-scoring threat than Clark.  Plus, he’s much better about not making stupid mistakes.  I think Bradley realized the mistake early on, substituting Edu for Clark in only the 31st minute.  That sub never should have had to been used though as Edu deserved the start.  As for Robbie Findley, so much was made of his speed, but he never did anything with it.  His passing was generally poor and he couldn’t finish to save his life despite a couple stellar opportunities.  Gomez replaced him at halftime.

I just don’t understand why the U.S. continues to give up early goals.  If it’s a problem, fix it.  It’s something that has plagued the U.S. throughout qualification and the group stage, but they just couldn’t figure out a way to get past it.  Is it nerves?  What is the issue?  Whatever it is, it has got be fixed for the future.  If the U.S. wants to make a deep run in tournaments like the World Cup, they’ve got to get their emotions and nerves under control prior to kickoff.

More to come later…

USA wins group C

23 Jun

Holy crap, that was amazing.  The U.S. left it incredibly late, but Landon Donovan finally scored the winner in the 91st minute (can’t believe Landon Donovan of all people made me cry).  The goal gave the U.S. a 1-0 win over Algeria and clinched top spot in group C.  Crazy to think that the U.S. went from a tie, which would’ve sent them home, to top of the group with one strike.  England took second with a 1-0 win over Slovenia. 

My heart is still pounding. That was one of the most dramatic endings I’ve ever seen. I know that technically New Zealand left it later against Slovakia, but with what was on the line, this one topped it.

The U.S. survived an early scare after Algeria put one off the post in the 7th minute, but from that point on, the U.S. appeared to control the game.  Clint Dempsey had a goal (wrongly) called back for offsides later in the half, which had me thinking that it’s just not fair that the U.S. could get hosed again on a goal.  Dempsey also was unlucky in the second half with a shot ricocheting off the post. 

Bob Bradley gambled a little bit going into this game, making three changes from the side that drew against Slovenia, including taking a clearly not 100% Oguchi Onyewu out of the lineup and inserting much-maligned Jonathan Bornstein (I think my reaction was, oh crap).  Carlos Bocanegra moved into the middle and Bornstein played on the left.  To his credit, Bornstein played a solid game.  He looked a little shaky early on, but calmed his nerves pretty quickly.  Maurice Edu started in place of Jose Torres in the midfield and Herculez Gomez got his first start in place of suspended Robbie Findley.  Overall, the changes were positive for the Yanks and Bob Bradley is looking like a pretty smart guy.

The U.S. definitely deserved the win.  They played a smart tactical game and put in their most complete effort of the tournament.  I started to feel ill around the 80th minute when the U.S. was still searching for a game-winner.  I also started to get a little tense with Slovenia, hoping they would equalize.  This was a gutsy performance and the team played with heart the whole way through.  Clint Dempsey and Jay DeMerit both needed stitches after the game, but they sucked it up and finished the game strong (take note, Italy). The team was able to stay relatively calm despite the urgency of needing a goal.  There were a few times they tried too hard, but as a whole, the team stayed composed trying to create chances.

The positive result has to give the U.S. confidence going into the round of 16, although it will be hard to let the emotion of today go. The next round opponent is still up in the air.  Heck, group D is still up in the air.  Both Ghana/Germany and Serbia/Australia are underway now, so the U.S. will find out soon who the opponent will be.

World Cup results – June 18

18 Jun

The referees stole the show in today’s games.  Well, at least the first two (and to think I just posted about how the refs were doing a good job).  In the opening game between Germany and Serbia, the ref dished out eight yellow cards and one red.  Germany’s Miroslav Klose was the unfortunate recipient of the red card after an innocuous foul.  Klose will now miss the final group game against Ghana.  Things got worse for Germany though as Milan Jovanovic found the back of the net for the game-winner moments after the ejection.  Germany had multiple chances to tie it up in the second half with the best chance coming on a Lukas Podolski penalty miss.

The U.S. then played Slovenia in the day’s second game.  Just like the England game, the U.S. conceded an early goal from Valtar Birsa.  Late in the first half, Slovenia grabbed a 2-0 lead through Zlatan Ljubijankic.  Things were looking grim for the Yanks before a rocket shot from Landon Donovan gave the U.S. a glimmer of hope.  Michael Bradley tied the game in the 82nd minute.  Referee Koman Coulibaly made his mark on the game in the 86th minute.  Donovan sent a free kick into the box and Maurice Edu slammed it home capping an amazing comeback.  But nope, the goal didn’t stand.  Coulibaly called a foul, now presumed to be on Carlos Bocanegra, but refused to say who on or why to the players.  Thus, the game ended 2-2.  In the day’s finale, England played Algeria to a 0-0 draw.  England did not look good at all, while Algeria maintained strong defense to earn the draw.  The draw keeps things interesting going into the final group C games as all four teams still have a shot at the round of 16.

Group C Results
Slovenia 2 (Birsa 13, Ljubijankic 42)
USA 2 (Donovan 48, Bradley 82)

England 0
Algeria 0

Group D Results
Germany 0
Serbia 1 (Jovanovic 38)

Group C standings
Slovenia 4 (+1)
USA 2 (0)
England 2 (0)
Algeria 1 (-1)

Thoughts on USA/Slovenia

18 Jun

Quick recap: The US gave up an early goal (again) and allowed a second from Slovenia just before halftime.  Facing a 2-0 deficit, the Yanks battled back for a draw thanks to second half goals from Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley.  It should have been a 3-2 win, but for a phantom foul negating a Maurice Edu winner.

  • The U.S. STILL can’t play a full 90.  Again, I was impressed with the resiliance to battle back for a draw after going down 2-0, but the team never should’ve been in that hole to start with.  Instead of sitting back, the U.S. has to attack from the start.  If the U.S. had played the first half like the second, it would have been a U.S. victory, hands down, with no need to worry about the ref’s phantom foul call.
  • Referee Koman Coulibaly was terrible.  His biggest mistake of the day was calling back a potential game-winner from Maurice Edu with no explanation at all.  There was no offsides and no foul on the U.S.  If anything, it should have been whistled a penalty after three Slovenian players decided it was a great time for a bear hug.  His calls were inconsistent and questionable throughout the game.  He cost the U.S. one of the greatest comebacks in the country’s history.
  • The U.S. defense is poor.  On the first goal, Oguchi Onyewu got caught in no-man’s land.  On Slovenia’s second goal, the entire defense got caught napping.  If things can get this ugly against Slovenia, I shudder to think what would happen if the U.S. ran up against a team like Germany.  I’ll end this note with a stat: the Yanks have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 12 internationals.
  • It was a good idea to start Jose Torres as he is more attack minded than Ricardo Clark, but he looked like a fish out of water.  His passing was poor and he lost the ball several times because he held onto it for too long.
  • Slovenia is a talented team.  I didn’t know much about them going into today’s game, but they did an impressive job of controlling the ball and took advantage of their opportunities.  However, you could clearly see them wearing down as the second half went on.  I think they could cause some problems for England.
  • The U.S. already has more points (2) than in 2006.  Not that it’s hard to do as they only had one in ’06, but today’s draw leaves them in the mix for a spot in the second round.   Wednesday’s game against Algeria is a must-win.
  • Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey struggled today.  Of course, Donovan had the stellar goal early in the second half to give the squad hope, but other than that, he was largely anonymous.  His passing was terrible.  Dempsey did not have any influence on the game whatsoever.  Those two have to be on top of their game for the U.S. to be truly successful.
  • Michael Bradley, on the other hand, had an excellent game.  His equalizer was gorgeous and he constantly made dangerous runs.  His work rate has been really good for the Yanks.

Check out the video on the Edu shot below:

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