I’m glad that I’m not still in touch with my English friends from school. I wouldn’t want to have to explain the state of our national team. “Yeah, we lost to Panama at home, so we need a result against Guadeloupe tonight or we won’t get out of our group. Also I’m going to keep an eye on the Canada match, because that result will determine whether we get somebody tough like Jamaica in the knockout round.” They would surely not let me hear the end of that. Being mocked by the English...so, it’s come to this.
Fatigue will play a factor in this match: I’ve written seven posts in eight days, and the jokes aren’t going to be as sharp. It also might be a factor for the players, but in fairness: all they have to do is play soccer, not find new ways to compare Sacha Kljestan’s beard to that of a 13-year-old pirate. It’s tough finding new things to talk about...although I did notice that Guadeloupe’s right back looks like the guy from the Counting Crows circa 1995. Unfortunately, his name is not Mr. Jones, so I’m struggling to find an angle on that.
Here’s Bradley’s lineup: Howard | Lichaj, Bocanegra, Goodson, Cherundolo | Dempsey, Jones, Bradley, Donovan | Wondolowski, Altidore. Bocanegra does indeed move to the center, but it’s Lichaj, not Bornstein, who will play left back. Chris Wondolowski will start next to Altidore. Let’s take a minute to consider our striker situation: one year after the World Cup, three of our four strikers are not even on the roster. Instead, we have an 18-year-old and a 28-year-old who’s getting his first caps this year. We’re grasping at straws.
3’ - Guadeloupe off the cross bar, but the U.S. escape! Shades of the Algeria match. Why do we have so much trouble at the beginning of matches?
5’ - Dempsey with a set piece from 30 yards...great save! Dempsey did very well to put a hard shot on goal, but the Guadeloupe ‘keeper was equal to the challenge.
8’ - GOAL U.S.! Altidore! Guadeloupe give him space, and he punishes them like a red-headed stepchild! What a strike! That’s what Jozy gives you — he has some holes in his game, but he can do that and other guys simply can’t.
12’ - The U.S. fans are loud — Kansas City Fans 1, Tampa Fans 0. Although in fairness, the Kansas City fans have had more to cheer about.
13’ - Guadeloupe with a half chance, but the shot goes wide...for a throw-in. The not-top-tier teams will let you off the hook like that.
16’ - Wow, risky moment for the U.S. — as Goodson challenges for a through ball, he gets tangled up with the Guadeloupe player and they both go down. If the referee didn’t read that as accidental, that’s a red card.
18’ - Am I crazy, or didn’t it used to be Guadeloupe and Martinique? Did they break up? I don’t know see Martinique in this tournament...I guess they were Garfunkel. Is there a chance that at some point in the future we could face just Trinidad or Tobago?
20’ - When we talk about the world’s top teams — Spain, Barca, Manchester United — we don’t talk enough about what great defense they play. The minute they lose the ball, they close down quickly. Guadeloupe, in contrast, are giving the U.S. acres of space.
23’ - Dempsey with a header just wide! Wow — he finishes that one four times out of five. Great long ball from Jones to set it up.
30’ - Livestrong Park — which was built in cooperation with Lance Armstrong — looks great. The grass is in fantastic shape...strong...almost suspiciously so. Some say that fields like that don’t occur naturally; they require chemical enhancement. It’s also suspicious that every other field like that — fields that the Livestrong field out-competed by a great distance, as a matter of fact — have all subsequently tested positive for performance-enhancing chemicals. Very, very fishy.
41’ - The Guadeloupean (Guadeloupish?) ‘keeper gives a free kick right to the U.S. (again: this is not Brazil that we’re playing), which leads to two Wondolowski chances in a row but both are saved.
Halftime: 1-0 U.S. Panama tied Canada, so Panama win the group. Congratulations Panama...but we’ll be taking our canal back. How you like them apples? If the U.S. win, we’ll play Jamaica at RFK on Sunday. I’m sure many of you would like to see that — that’ll be a good match. But I’ll be in Nebraska at the time so I’d rather the U.S. play at patsy.
53’ - Jozy is played in by Jones, and Jozy uses his size and strength to create a chance that is blocked. How are we not up by three or four right now?
56’ - Donovan over the bar! Another one that should have been put away! Very nice move, but once again we can’t finish. This is becoming a very disturbing trend.
59’ - Dempsey free kick...crossbar. Okay, I’m getting just slightly worried.
63’ - Bedoya coming in, Wondolowski coming out. Good sub (especially the second part of that equation).
70’ - The U.S. are playing a lot of long balls, which doesn’t make sense because there’s tons of room in the midfield. The U.S. have more space out there than Kevin Costner did in The Postman . Oh, you didn’t see that movie? Well...it was a post-apocalyptic Western. Not a lot of people. Also, I think there might have been baseball.
75’ - Dempsey with the ball in front of the net...how did he not get that off his foot? It looked like he slowed down and a Guadeloupe player — presumably Don Bebe Jr. — swooped in and ruined it. This is getting bad, guys.
77’ - Altidore coming out for Kljestan. So, it’s come to this: we’re going to lock it down and grind out this 1-0 win against Guadeloupe so we can get through our group in second place. The American age is truly over.
80’ - The Guadeloupean ‘keeper has played well enough for me to learn his name: it’s Franck “Unnecessary Consonants” Grandel. And he’s from Guadeloupe. Or his mother is from Guadeloupe. Or he was born on a cruise ship near Guadeloupe, or his mother was, or something.
90’ + 2 - And Dempsey misses one last sitter to close out the match. Fantastic. Don’t high five each other after this match, guys: get off the field, get to practice early tomorrow and figure out how to get better. There is no way on earth we’re going to win this tournament playing like this.
Lichaj: 6. Credit to him for realizing that Guadeloupe weren’t mounting any kind of attack and essentially playing as a winger.
Bocanegra: 5.5. Fine, I guess. The U.S. probably could have played with one at the back and been fine.
Goodson: 5. Um...he was okay too, I guess. Had one shaky moment when he got mixed up with a Guadeloupean player and could have been red-carded on a different day.
Cherundolo: 8. Very active; played a lot of crosses that should have been turned into goals.
Dempsey: 5. How do you rate him? He played well, but he also missed a few complete sitters. Came about his five in a more interesting way than, say, Goodson.
Jones: 6.5. A lot of his long balls were connecting tonight. Then again, he had plenty of time to look up and survey the field.
Bradley: 5. He looked tired; he sat out for six months, and now has played three-and-a-half straight matches.
Donovan: 5. Also looked tired. He seemed content to sit back and pull the strings, which was fine at first, but he needed to take the game to Guadeloupe more.
Altidore: 7.5. He’s a sure-fire starter for the rest of the tournament.
Wondolowski: 2.5. We should have brought Pontius instead.
Bedoya: 6. Another good, active game. I’m starting to see it with him.
Kljestan: 5.5. He’s looked alright in his couple of appearances, but then again he hasn’t faced a team that pressures, which is the situation he has trouble with.
Edu: No rating.