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Archive for June, 2008

USA 8 Barbados 0, 2010 World Cup Qualifier

© Howard C. Smith/isiphotos.com

It took the US just over a minute to break the seal in its first World Cup qualifying match of the 2010 cycle. Captain Carlos Bocanegra played a long, diagonal ball that Clint Dempsey chested down and then drilled through the legs of the onrushing Barbados goalkeeper. From there the floodgates opened. In addition to opening the scoring Dempsey tallied the fifth US goal. Brian Ching also had a brace while Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson and an own goal accounted for the other goals. The highlights are posted here.

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USA 0 Argentina 0, International Friendly

If the US continues to improve at the rate it did over the course of three powerhouse friendlies, it should be the hands-down favorite to win the World Cup in South Africa in two years. In a wildly entertaining match the US created numerous scoring opportunities, pinged the crossbar and reduced the world’s top-rated team to a chasing, hacking ragtag bunch over the last 10 minutes. Argentina created its fair share of chances as well and was unlucky to not have gotten a penalty when it appeared Tim Howard clipped Sergio Arguero when Arguero was in alone. Howard also stood on his head to make two other saves in difficult moments.When asked to comment on the team’s improvement from match to match, Tim Howard said, “Tonight it was about standing up for ourselves, believing we can get a result…We stood up to the challenge…If we can take those performances into CONCACAF qualifying, I think we’ll be alright.”

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USA 0 Spain 1, International Friendly

© Scott Bales/isiphotos.com

A technically superior Spain defeated the US 1-0 on the strength of a late Xavi goal.  The US played much better than it did a week ago against England but its players lacked the confidence and technical ability to compete with one of the best teams in the world.  Only Freddy Adu consistently displayed the characteristics necessary to win at this level and he was substituted at half-time after two harsh tackles–one ill-timed, one cynical–left him hobbled.  Adu sought out the ball and distributed it efficiently and dangerously, partnering well with Eddie Johnson.  Johnson should have done better in his three clearest opportunities, the best a relatively free header from five yards that he sprayed wide.  I haven’t given up on Johnson but I don’t think he is the best choice for the US right now.  A healthy Landon Donovan partnered with Brian Ching should be the first choice tandem.  The purpose of these friendlies is to see who is able to stack up against the best.  In that regard, yesterday’s match was a success.

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Brian McBride Returning to MLS

During last week’s England/USA friendly John Harkes broke the news that Brian McBride has decided to leave Fulham and return to Major League Soccer. I’ve always been a big fan of McBride’s commitment and fearlessness. My favorite goal of his was, of course, the first goal against Mexico in the 2002 World Cup round of 16 match.

After returning from a devastating knee injury this season, McBride led Fulham on an unprecedented run to avoid being relegated. In a classy move Fulham posted a tribute video set to the tune of the Foo Fighters’ My Hero. Check it out.

http://www.fulhamfc.com/Club/News/NewsArticles/2008/May/McBrideSalute.aspx