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Despite Pain, Spain Gains

The European champions finally broke down Iraq's stout resistance and earned a 1-0 victory on David Villa's header early in the second half of their second match in the Confederations Cup in South Africa. Credit to Iraq's Bora Milutinovic, the international coaching gypsy, who utilized the only strategy -- everyone behind the ball, disciplined, well-spaced -- to keep the match close. Spain clinched a semifinal berth and will face South Africa in its final group match Saturday. Despite having just one point from two matches, Iraq (minus-one goal difference) has a chance to advance if it defeats New Zealand in its finale.

Coming up later today: South Africa vs. New Zealand, 2:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2).

Meantime, the USA is preparing for tomorrow's showdown with Brazil. Ricardo Clark is out with a red card suspension and Carlos Bocanegra might return from injury. What changes should Bob Bradley make? Jose Francisco Torres? DaMarcus Beasley? Freddy Adu? Sacha Kljestan? Marvell Wynne?

By Steve Goff  |  June 17, 2009; 11:52 AM ET
Categories:  Brazil , Confederations Cup , Spain , U.S. men's national team  
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Next: Barcelona-MLS Doubleheader


i really don't care who plays as long as they play with passion and intelligence. and get a result.

is that so much to ask?

Posted by: bobbyoshea | June 17, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I only saw limited bits of Spain - Iraq, but from what I saw, I'd hate to play them needing a result. They seemed to know they couldn't compete for skill, but they sure as heck could compete for attitude and desire.

Posted by: JkR- | June 17, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Biggest question is who fills in for Rico. I guess Kljestan? I also like Feilhaber more as a second half sub, so start Torres ahead of him. Definitely hoping for Boca to return to the lineup. Not a big fan of Onyewu being our "leader" on defense.

Posted by: DCUMD | June 17, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I could be way off base -- imagine that! -- but I think we're going to see a good U.S. showing tomorrow. I don't expect Brazil to play high pressure, so I think our guys will be OK with more time and space with which to work. Does that mean a win? No. But a tie is certainly within reach.

If Brazil does play high pressure, then I reserve the right to ask Steve to go back and remove this post for all eternity.

Posted by: joedoc1 | June 17, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Slightly off topic:

A few threads ago, people were asking when/if Pontius or Namoff might get called into Gold Cup national team duty. I say... what about Clyde Simms? Seems to me he's the underrated work horse that consistently gives opponents trouble and his role would be useful at the national level. No?

Posted by: WorldCup | June 17, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

In a show of solidarity w election protesters back home, some of Iran's players wore green armbands in the 1st half of their WC qualifier in South Korea.

Unfortunately for Iran, their qualifying hopes are in serious jeopardy after a late equalizer by Park Ji Sung tied it at 1-1. South Korea had already qualified for next year's World Cup.

Didn't Park Ji Sung also score the winning goal against Portugal in WC 2002 allowing the US to qualify through the backdoor after their poor loss against Poland?

South Korea seems to be one of the few countries that really does play hard (at least in front of their home folks) in games where only their pride is at stake.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 17, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I have no confidence in DMB any more, and I don't think he should be included in these rosters. He's a liability.

Posted by: Logan_Circle | June 17, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I think the days when Clyde Simms was "underrated" are past. Not sure he was ever underrated, since I kept reading he was underrated. I think Simms has been off his game this year. Maybe it's just that the level of other players has been raised, so there's less for him to do, but I haven't seen do that much on either side of the ball.

Posted by: fischy | June 17, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Story link w pic of players wearing green wristbands (not armbands):

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 17, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Clyde Simms has been Ben Wallace'd in my mind: You always hear about him being so underrated that he no longer is, almost pushing overrated. Not at all claiming Simms in overrated, just using a Simmons term.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 17, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

New term is clearly needed.


Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 17, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see what Emo can do tomorrow. I know he's sucked in MLS but maybe he's just illin' on his overseas prospects getting dashed in the off season? He took a rip that wasn't the worst effort from the US on Monday. As much as I like Torres I don't think he's got the scoring ability that Kljestan has in him. We need goals in the run of play, not just PK's earned by a diving Altidore. That's not gonna cut it.

Posted by: DadRyan | June 17, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Reignking | June 17, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Sacha. And on that note, he seems to be getting better with the hair coming back. Two more inches and I bet that shot dips under the bar.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 17, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

To me, it'd be nice to see:


Too bad it won't happen

Posted by: Konoha7 | June 17, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Problem with Sacha is you never know what you are going to get. At times he looks magnificent, very poised and good vision. But i have also seen him play where he looks way out of his element. Maybe good competition will bring the best out of him.

Posted by: pino149 | June 17, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Sasha can be such a turnover machine...

Posted by: Reignking | June 17, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse






Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 17, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Agree that it doesn't matter who plays as long as they play like the give a damn, and they don't commit stupid fouls. I thought we were showing well against Italy. Another honest performance like that is what we need.

I would, however, BEG Coach B to stop allowing Donovan to take free kicks. Or at least stop wasting free kick ops within 35 yards by failing to put the STUPID BALL on FRAME. Put the ball in the box and let some of our big guys at least have a chance. Im so SICK of wasted free kicks; but it's as if no one seems to notice that Donovan isn't Beckham.

KO, rant over.

Posted by: hacksaw | June 17, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Kljestan can score an occasional goal but it's unrealistic to expect him to become a reliable scorer. 9 goals in 89 career MLS games is a much more reliable indicator (of his likely goal output) than an unlikely hat-trick against a disinterested offseason Swedish B team.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | June 17, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"what about Clyde Simms?"

I would be a big fan of him getting a call up in the Gold Cup. Before I think Simms was not good enough but I think over last season, and the beginning of this season, his play warrants it. He does all this little things necessary of a good Dmid. I like his positioning sense, always dropped off and available for a pass to keep it moving. He also provides great short 5 to 10 yard passes to keep the ball moving. Also, I think he is not a tackling liability like Clark and Mastroeni.

With that said, his weaknesses are he probably doesnt have great range in his passing. Yet, his decision making is better than Clark and Mastroeni. In regards to Fischy's comment, I think you notice less of him this season because DC keeps the ball much better. Also, we have other players willing to work in defense (Wallace and Part Boy).

Overall, I am not sure if Simms could compete at say yesterdays level but I think the last three week have proved to me that Clark or Mastroeni can't either. So instead of sticking with them, why not insert some new blood?

On a side note, I am starting to think Staurt Holden is better than both Sasha and Feilhaber. (At least current form wise.)

Posted by: grubbsbl | June 17, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I would love too see this tomorrow.




I know it looks like it makes no sense, but I am kinda attempting to draw the same 4-3-3 that Barca plays. I agree with whoever said Brazil will drop off and give us space. So why not play some technical players to use that space. Also, Torres plays in this S. American style, he knows what makes those midfields tick. So let him go out there an play.

This will never happen though.

Posted by: grubbsbl | June 17, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Grubbs, Barca, and the Spanish National Team as well, are able to play such formations because the players understand each other and moving off the ball, which is a trait our players have yet to show.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | June 17, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Goff asks, I answer:

Torres = Yes
Beasley = No
Adu = Yes
Klejstan = Maybe
Wynne = Hell No

I would add:

Dempsey = No (he's got to sit out part of a game and come back with a little more sense of purpose)

Posted by: edgeonyou | June 17, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Simms has been called up in the past under Bruce Arena, but I don't think he got his cap. I thought Bradley brought him back to camp once already along with Namoff and Carroll. Am I misremembering? I agree that he is not the tackling liabiilty that Rico is.

For tomorrow, I would like to see the team work the passes more and not resort to putting the ball in the air so much. Brasil should give them the space to work that, too. Italy's defense was just too good to make that long ball work. I like Josy, but he's not a target forward.

Posted by: spata1 | June 17, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

spata1- I don't recall Simms ever being in camp. Maybe you're thinking of Josh Gros?

Posted by: DCUMD | June 17, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Simms made the team and made an appearance against England, I believe, in Chicago.

He had gone to camp when the US Squad was in dispute with the federation about money.

Bruce kept him after the regulars returned. DC signed him after that.

I'm working from memory, I'm sure his wiki page has the details.

Posted by: JkR- | June 17, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Screw Simms getting called up. Gold Cup means squat, he's not going to South Africa, and DCU needs him.

I agree 100% with hacksaw. Donovan's free kicks are a global embarrassment, and this is far from being a new problem. The bigger the game, the worse they get. 1 in 10 is world class, but that's a horrible ratio.

Another reason I'm one of the many who would love to see more of Adu. But I'm one of the few who realizes there is NO big mystery as to why he doesn't play.

On that note, apart from wasting 90% of their free kicks, what separates the USMNT from elite International and European domestic programs is their mortal fear of possessing the ball. The players apparently do not trust one another much, which is why they so often pointlessly/lazily/stupidly/randomly give up possession.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | June 17, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I think, years from now, Wynne will be a veteran of another league and won't be turned inside out like a dog who is tricked by a ball.

Beasley= If he doesn't look like he could play for any other team in concacaf, or any team that I could reasonably name, then he has no place being the "difference" sub for the US. Adu, Davies, Klejstan are the only ones to consider.

Torres: I personally think that Feilhaber, Bradley, and Torres should be our starting midfield triangle. All this talk of defensive liability is unsupported. We just haven't committed to doing anything but sticking two defensive midfielders in. Torres did a better job of making sure we kept the ball than with Mastroeni or Clark.

Adu: Yes, please. Even if this is as good as he gets, he showed maturity against Costa Rica (was the only player who didn't dribble straight into the defense, made cutting passes). Gifted. Him over Beasley forever more.

Klejstan: Not worthy of major minutes. If he could get some of Hedjuk's heart and stubbornness, he would thrive.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 17, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Donovan's late free kick against Italy was inch perfect; Davies should have scored...

Posted by: JkR- | June 17, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I think its Freddy Adu time. Let's see what he can do. And against the Brazilians is a great place for us to get a look at what he really can do.

Posted by: alan19 | June 17, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Why is DaMarcus Beasley on this squad? Beasley contributed when he played up front and on the wings, but his tendency to fall at the slightest touch made him unsuitable even in that role for important international competitions where the refs will let such contact go. Given that why would Bradley think Beasley can play right back? He can't stand up to attackers and has no defensive skills or aptitude. Some players (e.g. Peter Vermes) can prolong careers by moving to defense, but they need the right body type and ability to read the game.
Re Clark's card. Did anyone notice that just before committing the foul, Clark was physically obstructed by an Italian player, throwing him off stride and making him go late into that challenge. Even though the announcers said a yellow should have been issued, they made no mention of this encounter.
Give Adu some playing time and keep going with Spector on the defensive flank. He's a (forgive the pun) keeper.

Posted by: lmscdad | June 17, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

WHY do people keep talking about Beasley at right back, Wynne at left back,

it's the opposite!! Wrong foot.

Posted by: UnitedDemon | June 17, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Am i the only one that is sick of seeing Dempsey start? His passing is very suspect and rushed, and his runs are non-existent.
Besides a few fleeting momemnts, he seems to be the laziest player on the field and completely ill-suited as a winger. From what I have seen the past few games (really since his goal against Ghana in '06, which was a terrible game anyways for him), I don't know how he has stayed in the EPL.

Saying this, I dont know who would replace him, because he is serviceable.

IMO, Torres should be starting every game. His confidence on the ball and smart passing can only lead to good things for the team and he should be getting as much pt as possible.

Posted by: The_Dude_Abides1 | June 17, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow, one accurate free kick out of 25. That's AWESOME. How about the other bazilion that are off target, don't make it past the first defender, hit the wall, or otherwise generally Suck? He couldn't even touch the ball accurately so that Dempsey could get a good shot off. He rolled it too far.

Give me a break.

Posted by: hacksaw | June 17, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I would like to see:


If Bocanegra is still hurt then I would put DeMerit back there.

Posted by: GoUnited | June 17, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

The second goal against Honduras, the game winner, came off a very fine Donovan corner kick, no?

Posted by: JkR- | June 17, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?


Posted by: JkR- | June 17, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Whatever Bob Bradley chooses to do, I intend to complain about it. ;)

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | June 17, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse


Anyone who quotes MP on here is okay by me. Well done.

Posted by: SonicDeathMonkey | June 17, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: arswift24 | June 17, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

But seriously, is Donovan now reading and commenting on this blog to improve his image among the faithful? He put a cornerkick in the box! Holy Cow!!

It's like when a lineman in the NFL goes nuts because he makes a routine tackle. The guy actually does his job and acts like he saved the planet.

Doing your job is hardly grounds for praise. But continuously failing at it is a ground for criticism. That criticism seems to be lacking from Bob "I love Landon" Bradley and co. If he actually put a direct free kick on frame I might pass out with bewilderment. I think the safest place to be when Donovan steps up to take a free kick is in the goal. No chance you're going to get hit.

Posted by: hacksaw | June 17, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Just not Wynne...he was horrid against the Ticos!

Posted by: soccerman | June 17, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

If I were Bradley I would look at this as "nothing to lose" opportunity and try to shake things up a little by benching the underperforming Dempsey and starting an attack-oriented midfield of Donovan, Adu, Bradley and Klejstan. Altidore and Charlie Davies up top. Spector, Gooch, DeMerit and Bocanegra (if healthy) on the back line.

If Brazil is expecting the U.S. to hunker down in a defensive shell, throw them off-balance.

Posted by: hudson22 | June 17, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

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