Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gold Cup Semi: USA-Canada

USA 2-1 Canada. USA heads to the final despite playing a weak and sloppy game, again. And, frankly, they probably shouldn't have won -- give that an end-of-injury-time equalizer by Canada was called offside, when it clearly was not. However, given that the match was in the 5th minute of a supposedly 4 minute extra time, it's hard to get too worked up about it, unless of course you are Canadian.

Ironically, the USA had it's best start of the tournament. They just flew at Canada in the first 10 minutes, threatening to score on a couple of early chances. Tons of energy. I was surprised to see Eddie Johnson and Michael Bradley starting; I think they both have had appalling tournaments. But given Twellman's three howler misses in the last match, I can at least understand Coach Bradley's thinking on Johnson. Starting his son again, that's looking a little weird.

As it turns out, my fears were justified. Bradley had a shockingly bad game. He looked like a pathetic college player out there. And Johnson was equally terrible. Twellman may have missed his chances, but at least he created chances. Johnson was listless and lacked any creativity. I would be surprised if he had a single shot on goal.

The opener from Hejduk - his first goal in 7 years with the national team - was a good one. Nice set up from Donavan. Nice finish. The penalty that turned out to be the winner was also clear as day. Dempsey released Beasley with an astonishing through ball and while the Canadian keeper, Onstad, complained bitterly that Beasley dove, the replay showed the keeper tripping him up well off the ball. Landon finished the spot kick brilliantly.

Then, the wheels started coming off for the USA in the second half. The Canadians just had much more energy and looked dangerous on a couple of occasions. The USA had trouble keeping possession and looked incredibly tentative on the ball. There were a few chances, but mostly they were flubbed by Johnson playing with his back to goal. In one especially laughable moment, Donavan fell on his ass in the box with a clear shot on goal and the keeper beaten. Ooof.

Hume came on for the Canadians in the 64th minute and made a huge impact, scoring once and looking dangerous a couple of other times. Then, true to form, Bradley (fils, not pere) took a ridiculous swipe at a Canadian player who had beaten him like a redheaded stepchild, and was shown the red card. Idiot. At least we won't have to see his sorry ass on the field for the final.

Hard to feel good about this one. If Mexico wasn't equally shambolic, I'd say we were going to get pounded in the final 3-0. But since Mexico is just as bad, it should be a good match. That is, if Mexico makes it past Guadalupe.