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US 0 Brazil 3, 2009 Confederations Cup

Francois Xavier Marit/AFP/Getty Images

Bob Bradley coached like a wimp and the US started the game playing like scared wimps. From the opening whistle the US played like a team that lacked togetherness, belief, and conviction – all traits that American teams and players are known for.

Relying on out of form, slow, uncoordinated, unmotivated DaMarcus Beasley and playing with one forward, the US surrendered two goals in the first 20 minutes to a Brazil team that expended the minimal amount of effort required to humiliate the Americans.  I’ve expressed my disdain for one forward formations before and perhaps Jozy Altidore feels the same; he was unwilling to take on the Brazilians and showed no desire to battle for the ball when it was near him in a completely disinterested performance.  The US only began to come to life when Beasley was replaced by forward Conor Casey at the half and the US went back to a more traditional 4-4-2.  Unfortunately the good stretch of form only lasted for 15 minutes until the Swiss referee decided Sacha Kljestan’s rash challenge was bad enough to merit an ejection and thus crush any hope of a decent half of football.  This same referee gifted the Brazilians their first chance when he called a phantom foul on Michael Bradley which resulted in a headed goal that was preventable.  The best comment I have seen on refereeing was by a commenter named Jphubba on Steven Goff’s blog after the US/Italy match:

The red card to Clark was harsh, but predictable. The refs FIFA considers top flight, like many NCAA basketball refs, consistently favor the big name teams. If you think the US and Mexico get the short end when they play European teams, just watch Nigeria vs Germany or some other match up between an African team and a big European team. Once the ref let the Italians hammer American players after they had passed the ball, you knew it was only a matter of time before the ref gave the Italians an (sic) real advantage. Everyone in the stadium, except the ref it seems, knew that the Italians would come out trying to physically intimidate the Americans. If FIFA really wants fair play, it has to school the refs to understand the dynamics of these big international matches between teams from different continents. I, for one, am not holding my breath until FIFA does so.

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US 1 Italy 3, 2009 Confederations Cup

©  isiphotos.com

I hate whining and I hate being a whiny fan so I will keep this relatively short.  Chilean referee Pablo Pozo ruined the game by wrongly and needlessly ejecting Ricardo Clark in the 33rd minute for what wasn’t even the hardest tackle in the first half.  That honor goes to the Italian who attempted to tackle Landon Donovan from behind and stomped on his foot after Donovan released a pass.  According to SI writer Grant Wahl the four players he talked to after the game, two Italians and two Americans including the player who suffered the foul, all agreed Clark did not deserve a red card.

The US valiantly fought on and against all odds took the lead before the half after Jozy Altidore was fouled after running onto a splendid pass from Benny Feilhaber.  Donovan buried the penalty and the US looked like it might hold on until American-born and raised Giuseppe Rossi came on in the 57th minute and scored in the 58th.  The Americans quickly tired and the Italians smelled blood.  Daniel DeRossi’s hopeful shot from 35+ yards found its way into the goal past a shielded Tim Howard.  The US pressed forward and had a couple chances to tie, notably a free header by second half substitute Charlie Davies.  Pozo could have partially made amends for his travesty of a sending off by bravely calling a second pk, when Donovan was bungled over in the area.  It didn’t happen though and Andrea Pirlo undid the Americans on a beautiful counterattack that resutled in Rossi’s second goal deep into stoppage.

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USA 2 Honduras 1, 2010 World Cup Qualifier

Bocanegra celebrates

(AFP/Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel)

The US kept its perfect home record intact by beating Honduras 2-1 in front of nearly 56,000 fans in Chicago.  After falling behind early for the third time in five games of the final round of qualifying, the US played with an aggressiveness and conviction that has come to define successful US teams.

Manager Bob Bradley made four changes to the lineup that faced Costa Rica, just one forced through Michael Bradley’s suspension.  The outside backs were both replaced by a pair of Jonathans, Bornstein on the left and Spector on the right.  Both were huge improvements over their counterparts, Spector especially.  Though just 23 years old, he plays with the intelligence and composure of a veteran who has played on the big stage with the likes of Manchester United and West Ham.  Last night he played strong and safe in the defensive half; on several forays forward he served dangerous balls into dangerous areas.  Spector has proved with West Ham that he can play all along the back line so I’d like to see him take over the left back role when Hejduk returns from injury.  Bornstein defended well.  He aggressively denied passes into Honduran attackers, and forced them backward.  When he got beat or was about to get beat, he fouled.  His positioning, and the positioning of the entire back line, was excellent.  Bornstein’s passing could have been sharper, going forward, but the order of the day was safety first.

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USA 1 Costa Rica 3, 2010 World Cup Qualifier

It was a tough night to be a US fan.  Similar to the debacles against Czech Republic in 2006 and El Salvador earlier this year, the US conceded an early goal and had to chase the game from the second minute. Playing on a horrible surface in a hostile environment with unfamiliar personnel and a new formation,  the US played too soft.

The first goal resulted from sloppy play out of the back and unfortunately was a microcosm of how the rest of the match would go.  Captain Carlos Bocanegra put converted left back DaMarcus Beasley in a bad spot by playing him a ball that put him under immediate pressure.  Beasley should have played safe, out or forward.  Instead he took a touch to the inside and had the ball taken off his foot by a Costa Rican attacker.  Costa Rica’s nine shirt picked up the ball and cut between Pable Mastroeni and Jose Francisco Torres and hit a driven shot over Tim Howard.  Both Torres and Mastroeni should have gone in harder.  In big matches you often pay for one mistake: on this play the US made four.

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Phoenix, The National, Jars of Clay, Dark Was the Night, Andrew Bird

Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix; The National: Alligator; Jars of Clay: The Long Fall Back to Earth; Dark Was The Night (Red Hot Compilation); Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrypha

Five of my more recent acquisitions are listed according to how much I’ve listened to the albums, which is not to say the order of their worth because that can certainly change over time.

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Facelift for ahelms.com

I recently updated ahelms.com to the latest version of wordpress mu (2.7) and decided, while I was at it, to update the look and feel as well.  The theme I’m using and plan to heavily customize is called “plaintxtblog”.  In the update process something funky happened with the categories, tags and blogroll; I plan to sort those issues out this weekend.  Thanks for visiting.  Let me know what you think of the new design.  Thanks

Importing large tab-delimited txt files into an Oracle database

Yesterday a co-worker asked me to help load a large tab-delimited txt file into an Oracle database.  The file had 6.5 million rows and eleven columns.  She typically uses TOAD to import data from personal sources like txt files and Excel spreadsheets into disparate databases.  When she tried to use TOAD to import the 6.5 million row file, it failed at around 4 million rows on multiple multi-TB databases.

I used sqlldr to import the file and ran into a few issues along the way so I thought I’d share my experience for a couple reasons: 1) to help me remember what I did, and 2) to help other poor souls who run into problems when faced with similar circumstances.

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USA 3 Trinidad and Tobago 0, 2010 World Cup Qualifier

©  isiphotos.com /  isiphotos.com

On a beautiful spring night in Nashville the US dismantled Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) 3-0 on the strength of three Jozy Altidore goals in front of nearly 28,000 fans–the most ever to witness a soccer match in Tennessee.  The crowd was overwhelmingly pro-American and quite festive.  Though I prefer smaller venues–the atmosphere suffers when there are more empty seats than fans–I could not have asked for a better night and presentation than the one I witnessed at LP Field.

Manager Bob Bradley made four personnel changes and five positional changes to the team that underperformed Saturday in El Salvador.  It is difficult to draw conclusions about the changes because T&T conceded so much time and space.  At one point in the first half Michael Bradley received a pass in the center circle and had nobody within 25 yards of him: with that kind of time and space the US should dominate possession and create many scoring opportunities.  And it did.  But you can’t argue with a 3-0 win.

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USA 2 El Salvador 2, 2010 World Cup Qualifier

The formula for qualifying for the World Cup is very simple: win at home, tie on the road.  In the first two games of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying the US has done just that. That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the US tied an overmatched, domestic-based El Salvador team Saturday night.  Playing at the bandbox Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador, El Salvador, buoyed by a raucous capacity crowd, began the game flying.  The US was unable to match their energy and went down early on a goal that resulted from sloppy defending and a nice combination by two attacking Salvadoran players at the top of the 18.  For all but maybe the last 15 minutes of the match the US was second best on loose balls and challenges, losing out to physically and technically inferior players.  The US passing was terribly off; most one-touch passes and flicks did not find their way to the intended target.  The players looked uncomfortable with and unfamiliar to each other.  Perhaps it was the noise in the stadium.  After the game Landon Donovan, the leading capwinner on the team, said it was as loud a game as he’s been in in Central America.  Defender Dan Califf, who filled in for an injured Oguchi Onyewu, said he could not communicate with anyone who was more than 10 feet away.  In addition to missing Onyewu, goalkeeper Brad Guzan was playing instead of starter Tim Howard who was suspended for yellow card accumulation.  On the road in Central America is not where you want to be forced into changing your lineup.  Regardless, the coordination should have been better.

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Browser Wars

I have not settled on a browser.  I use an IBM/Lenovo T41 and a Dell Dimension; both have Windows XP SP3.  Whenever my machine is on, a browser is open with tabs for:

  • VPN to connect to the office network
  • meebo for instant messaging
  • gmail
  • google calendar
  • google reader

I have tried using Internet Explorer 7, Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Flock. It is kind of annoying but I don’t mind needing to have two browsers open: IE7 for VPN and then another browser to use for everything else.  Most of the time I just use my laptop as a terminal to get to servers at my office anyway.  What irritates me and leaves me unsettled is the fact that I cannot get a rather ordinary set of sites/services to cooperate in one browser.

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