OK, folks we are just an hour away from the US taking on the boys from down under in their final prep match for the World Cup and like the teams playing, I am going to use this match to prep for the excitement that is just 6 days away. I will be following the match and posting updates every 10 minutes (or when someone scores), so you can follow the action and my comments here, of course you can post your comments about the match as well. Remember that this match is being broadcast live on ESPN 2 (in the US), is available online via ESPN 3 and of course you can also follow the action using the match tracker from US Soccer.
The lineup for the US is in: Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Ricardo Clark, Edson Buddle, Jay Demerit, Robbie Findley, and Clarence Goodson.
For the Aussie it will be: Schwarzer, Neill, Moore, Cahill, Culina, Wilkshire, Kennedy, Chipperfield, Grella, Garcia, and Breciano.
We are just minutes away from the start of the match, US Soccer's match tracker is doing a nice job of keeping fans informed of all their World Cup offerings, meanwhile ESPN 2 is covering some fishing events and showing some guys doing the work on the new NatGeo Great White shark series.
The US are in their typical 4-4-2, while the Aussies will come out in a 4-5-1, and play by play is provided by Martin Tyler, perhaps one of the most wekk known voices in all of world football. I still am not sure if the constant sound of the horns is a good thing, or going to drive me damm crazy by July 11th, but they are clearly not going away.
Wow, the view of the plains behind the stadium are amazing, and both teams appear to be very well supported by their fans, and a great number of locals appear to be in the crowd as well. This isn't a World Cup venue but, the views of the area around the stadium make it easy to understand why so many people are excited for the upcoming days in South Africa. This is only the 3rd time that the US and Australia have faced each other.
The whistle blows and we are underway, one has to wonder what the fire is in the background and if it will impact the match in any way? A good take away by Landon, and a little run by Robbie Findley is broken up by the backline of the Aussies, and the guys in yellow and green look to reorganize. The US take over and are moving the ball around as they look for any cracks in the formation of the Soccerroos, and a ball played into to the area and a header by Landon doesn't do much but the US keep the pressure on and Robbie forces a turnover and Edson takes it and fires a shot past Schwarzer and the US is up 1-0 in just the 4th minute of action.
You have to feel great for Buddle, a guy who 5 weeks ago was nowhere on the radar of most people and now he is on the USMNT at the World Cup and scoring goals. A nice shot of Jozy on the bench, as the Aussies continue to control most of the possession of the match and the US get the ball off a turnover and have moved forward in numbers but a foul is called and the ball goes back over to the Aussies. I am impressed at how the US is doing in pressuring the ball, but a foul gives a free kick to Australia about 15 yards out but it is cleared out for a corner kick. The effort is OK, but Timmy is there to catch the ball and it goes back over to the US.
More after the Jump
Well the Aussie keeper is struggling a bit and loses a ball out for a US corner kick, but it goes out and back over to the Aussies. The US is again in possession of the ball and looking for ways to get forward, but the long ball is a bit too long and out of the range of even the speed Findley. The pressure of the US is causing some real issues for Australia early on in this match and the questions about Findley will start as he gets behind the defense, goes one on one with the keeper, gets around him and then fires a shot that goes wide of the net that was wide open. Robbie is going to want that one back, and will need to do better on those chances. In his defense he was about to get a whole lot of pressure from behind as the defense was reacting quickly, and may have just rushed his chance.
Funny that the English are using David Beckham as part of their scouting team at the match, considering he has played with two of the US starters. I really think that Buddle and Findley have got the defense of the Aussies on their heels, as they try to figure out how to deal with them. The Aussies get another corner kick, and Cahill puts it past Howard and the score is 1-1. Not sure how he got there unmarked, it looked like maybe it was Dempsey who missed out on keeping him covered on that set piece.
That was the 20th international goal for Cahill, the offside flag is up on Findley and the Aussie answer with a long ball and the US breaks that up, and then turn it back over and Landon commits a foul 10 yards out of the area. The effort goes out for a goal kick, but the US can't keep possession, so the Aussies are back on the attack. Another corner kick for the Aussies, but this time the US clear it out of danger and eventually go back on the attack, not sure what Landon was thinking on that one but his effort was clearly long for Dempsey who was making a run into the box.
The US is back on the attack and Dempsey fires a shot, deflected but Findley is unable to get there but it goes out for a US corner kick but that is cleared out of the area but the US keeps it and look to reorganize but a bad cross by Donovan goes out for a Australia throw in. The US take back over as they look to set up again, but a long ball goes right to the keeper, I do have to say that the ball is getting a lot of talk already, and the way it has been moving actually seems very different than the way the same version used by MLS moves. Wilkshire takes a shot but Howard is there and the US is now back on the attack.
A foul on Findley gives the US a set piece from about 15 yards outside of the area but it is cleared out for a US throw in. A good ball in by Steve and Edson heads it down and past the keeper and it is now 2-1 for the US. The Aussies try to answer but Garcia's header is out for a US goal kick. Well fi you were wondering who would get the start next week next to Jozy, I think that Edson has claimed that spot. Bad defensive mistake by the US, and Kennedy almost makes it 2-2, but he fails to get his header on target. You have to believe that the US defense will be a bit more solid when Gooch is back able to be a part of the back four.
Robbie shows some grit in the midfield and keeps the ball for the US and a hard foul on Dempsey, who isn't happy about it and he shows yellow cards to Moore for the post foul action, and Clint gets a card for his reaction. You can't lose your cool like that at this level and the announce team are right, next week those both are red cards. After the cards both sides seem to be looking for ways to avoid contact with the opposing team, and perhaps just looking forward to the halftime break.
Neither team has had much possession over the last few minutes, I have to say that neither side is looking overly impressive on the narrow pitch, but the US has been the more creative team and had more chances to look dangerous, while the boys from down under have done a better job of keeping possession, but the score board still shows the US with the 2-1 lead. Looks like Moore and Findley have bumped heads while going for a ball, but both appear to be OK. The Aussies lose it and the US get a throw in, and then a foul gives the US another free kick from about 15 yards outside of the box, as they look to add a late goal to their first half total but it eventually goes out for a goal kick. The whistle blows and we are at the half with the US up 2-1.
So while the US is leading, I think they need to do a much better job of possessing the ball. If they are going to play a high pressure, attack oriented style of play it will key around keeping possession of the ball. I do like the way they are attacking the ball, and well what can you say about Edson Buddle, whose efforts in this match are as impressive as his 9 MLS goals are this year.
Some changes for each side, as Howard is out and Hahnemann is in for the US, and Cahill is out and being replaced by Valeri. Dempsey was ready to make a run but nodoby was able to get the ball to him. A foul away from the ball as Clark commits a foul and the Aussies get a free kick but it is cleared out of danger but they keep possession of it. Some very sloppy defense by the US as the ball rolls across the face of goal, England wouldn't let a chance like that go without taking advantage of it.
Robbie gets bodied off the ball, but the US keep possession and Michael Bradley fires a shot which is a good 10 feet too high and goes out for an Aussie goal kick. Wow Cherundolo's header back to Hahnemann is ugly and goes out for a corner kick, but they don't do much with it. Impressive effort by Landon to keep the ball in play, then a shot by Buddle rebounds to Findley, who hits the crossbar, and then Bradley's shot is saved and a diving header by Dempsey finds the back of the net but the flag is up for some reason and the score is still 2-1. So twice Robbie has had great opportunities, and twice he hasn't found the back of the net. I do think the announce team is a bit critical of him, as this one was deflected off the keeper to him and I am not sure how much of his effort was shot and how much was the ball deflecting off of him. Bornstein is in and Bocanegra is out.
The US is picking up the pace a bit, after the Aussies controlled most of the first 10 minutes of the second half, I think those efforts on goal has given the US some new energy. Wow Buddle stopped his run a bit early as Robbie simply out run 3 Aussie defenders, and the pass ended up going out for a goal kick instead of into the back of the net for Buddle. The Aussies are putting up some pressure on the US defenders and looking to take advantage of Hahnemann, who seems to be struggling a bit.
Well it looks like Bob has seen enough of the defense struggling for the last 10 minutes or so, and Gooch is coming in for Goodson, who actually didn't play poorly. The Aussies make a change as well as Viddsic is in for Culina. A nice long ball by Australia and it earns them a corner kick, and while they are unable to take advantage of it, it isn't because of the defense of the US, which is looking very questionable. The US is on the attack, the ball in the box but Landon is unable to do much with it and it goes back the other way.
The Aussies have done a much better job of pressuring the US defense in the second half, and again have earned a corner kick, and Hahnemann comes out and totally misses the ball to leave a wide open net, but the Aussies are unable to take advantage of it. A decent save by Gooch clears it out but the US again are unable to keep possession so they must take up a defensive position again. Kennedy goes one on one with Gooch and as so many others have found out, if you do that you lose. A nice nutmeg on the keeper, that is the highlight of the last 10 minutes or so for the US team.
OK, I am going to say it right now, if the US loses Howard in goal, they will be in real trouble. Garcia is out and Rukavtsya is in for the Aussies. Guzan looked questionable against the Turks last week, and Hahnemann has looked questionable in this one. Is it the sun in his eyes? Hard to say, but I am not impressed with his efforts since coming in. Some good offensive moves by the US, and a hard foul on Dempsey and the US is passing the ball around and of course they turn it over and the Aussie fire a shot that is pushed out by Hahnemann for a corner kick, which is poorly taken.
For the US, it is a bad half so far as they simply don't look as sharp as they did in the first half. It is almost a mirror of the Turkey match last week. OK, that was a nice run of play for the US, some good passing in the midfield but Dempsey can't get to the final cross by Donovan. US change as Buddle is out and DMB is into the match, in the 79th minute. Some good efforts in the last few minutes by the US, but so far they haven't been able to finish it off with the 3rd goal.
Another change for the US, as Clint's day is done and Herculez Gomez is on. The Aussie corner kick isn't impressive and their eventual shot is less than steallar and goes out for a US goal kick. The US is on the attack and a good run by Landon, who seems to have found some more energy the last 20 minutes or so and helped the US look more dangerous. OK if you are going to be critical of the effort of Findley, which I am OK with, that attempted pass by Herc was the worst of the night as it ended up behind the wide open Findley.
DMB is down on the sideline, neither side is doing much right now as both teams seem to be looking towards the final whistle. A run by the Aussies earn them a deep throw in, and the US have trouble clearing it and a foul is called on Herculez and a free kick from about 10 yards outside of the box and into the all goes the shot. Robbie is down on the pitch as it looks like he either twisted his ankle or got stepped on while he was in the wall.
3 minutes of stoppage time, as the US tries to hold onto the lead, a run by Robbie but his shot goes wide and while Herculez was looking for the pass, the two defenders between the two players were clearly going to prevent any type of quality service. Martin has it right, this was Edson Buddle's day, and you know that the English are going to take notice of what he was able to do. Wow a ball into the middle by Donovan, and Gomez is there and he just redirects it on goal and the US is now up 3-1 and the win will be theirs and they head into next weekends match with a good deal of momentum.
The final whistle blows and for me it is clear that for the US the effort and energy of the first half is the highlight of the match. No player was better than Edson Buddle, but Landon was a close second as he made some great runs. I think Robbie Findley will be doing some thinking about how he didn't take advantage of his 3 incredible chances today. The second half wasn't impressive as the US was on their heels and the efforts of the defense wasn't nearly up to the standard that will be required over the next 5 weeks.
OFF MY SOAPBOX