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List of Americans Abroad

Shorthanded Americans cannot hold off skillful Italy in Confederations Cup.

U.S. survives early lapse, to rally past Honduras in important qualifier.

Costa Rica humiliates Americans 3-1 in World Cup qualifier.

Hejduk, others unavailable as Americans visit Costa Rica for qualifier.

Altidore's three goals lead strong U.S. effort in win over T&T.

U.S. responds to poor effort with late rally to draw El Salvador 2-2.

U.S. continues home domination of Mexico by starting final qualifying with 2-0 victory.

Final round of World Cup qualifying opens with weakened Mexico.

Kljestan shines in dull U.S. victory over Sweden.

CONCACAF draw has Americans facing Mexico to open final round of qualifying.

Cooper, Adu lead U.S. to dominant, if meaningless, decision over Guatemala.

Qualifying loss to ascendant T&T means little to U.S. men.

Cooper says no to invitation to join U.S. team in qualifying.

U.S. bursts into final round of qualifying by demolishing Cuba 6-1.

Improved U.S. attack sinks T&T, nears advancement to final qualifying round.

Americans score first victory in Guatemala in ugly qualifier.

High security follows Americans around Guatemala City.

Qualifying semifinals begin with trip to unfriendly Guatemala.

U.S. methodically closes out Barbados to advance in qualifying.

Against weak foe, U.S. attack finally finds itself in 8-0 qualifying rout of Barbados.

Howard saves U.S. men in 0-0 draw with Argentina in match of tired teams.

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Analysis

American shortcomings are again obvious and Brazil wins easily in Confederations Cup.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

(Thursday, June 18, 2009) -- The United States men reverted to their recent sloppy habits today. The Americans conceded a bad, early goal, had a man ejected for the second straight match and fell 3-0 to Brazil, effectively ending any chance of advancement from Group B of the FIFA Confederations Cup at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshawne\Pretoria, South Africa

Having lost 3-1 to Italy in Monday's opener, the U.S. had dropped consecutive matches to two of the world's most powerful soccer nations, but the Americans can gain little solace from the way they have played.

U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley's light foul on Brazil midfielder Ramires deep in the American defensive end led to Brazil going ahead 1-0 in the seventh minute. Maicon's free kick from the right side was perfectly placed to the far post where midfielder Felipe Melo shook his mark and easily beat goalkeeper Tim Howard with a sharp header from point-blank range.

In the 20th minute, the Brazilians made it 2-0 when they turned a U.S. corner kick quickly into a blazingly fast counter-attack. With the Americans caught with too many men deep into the attack, Brazil midfielder Kaka picked up the ball deep in his own zone and fed to Ramires, streaking down the middle. The lone U.S. defender back, Jonathan Spector raced to catch Ramires, who then simply squared a pass left into the path of striker Robinho, racing forward. From 15 yards out, Robinho blasted his shot into the left side of the net past Howard, who tried futilely to come out on him.

Not that the U.S. seemed to have much chance of winning, but the Brazilian victory was sealed in the 57th minute when American midfielder Sacha Kljestan made a late, rash tackle on Ramires in the midfield. Swiss referee Massimo Busacca sent Kljestan off with a red card.

Three minutes later, Brazil made it 3-0 with a bit of passing magic. Maicon made a long run and played the ball to Ramires, who touched it to Kaka for a touch back to Maicon. Maicon took a shot from a difficult angle near the right end-line and the ball deflected slightly off defender Jonathan Bornstein into the top of the net on the near side.

"We had a very nervous, tentative start to the game," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "An early goal off a set piece really put us in a difficult situation right from the start. In that regard, Brazil is a difficult team to play against always. But when you go down a goal early, when in some ways you follow that up with a bad play on the corner and they put a counter together, you've really created as hard a situation as you can have."

But it was more than that. Once again, the U.S. failure to create meaningful possession in midfield cost it the match as the Brazilians dominated the ball. Whenever an American had possession, a Brazilian was immediately there to challenge, whereas the U.S. did not pressure the Brazilians much when they had the ball. Instead, the Americans retreated, thus giving Brazil the time and space to move the ball effectively with short passes.

All in all, the U.S. defense played well, but once again received very little help from its midfield. At times, the swift Brazilian attackers pulled U.S. defenders out of position, but that was because the Americans were on their own much of the time with little help arriving.

Twice, U.S. shots hit the crossbar, but otherwise the U.S. attack was lacking.

The Americans certainly gave a lot of effort, but were outclassed. Just when they showed signs of getting back into the match, Kljestan's dumb challenge and the referee's harsh reaction ended any hope.

The U.S. closes Group B Sunday against Egypt, which surprised Italy 1-0 today. While the Americans are not eliminated from advancement, it would take a miracle for the tournament not to end for them because of their minus-five goal differential. If the U.S. defeats Egypt and Brazil downs Brazil Sunday, Italy, Egypt and the U.S. would all be 1-2, tied for second place, but the Americans would need to win by several goals to make up the tiebreaking goal differential. Not likely.


U.S. Player Ratings

Starters

Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 5: Might have come off his line to challenge for the cross that led to the opening goal and conceded the third goal on his short side, though it was deflected.

Defender Jonathan Bornstein - 5: Played better than against Italy. Did make some errors, but got things right most of the time and was able to get forward into the attack.

Defender Jonathan Spector - 5.5: He put in another solid match. He was rarely beaten despite facing both pressure and pace.

Defender Oguchi Onyewu - 6: Was steady in the back the whole match and made clearance after clearance. On several occasions, he won aerial duals and generally was the steadiest U.S. player.

Defender Jay DeMerit - 5.5: Seems to have settled in as a partner for Onyewu, subbing for the injured captain Carlos Bocanegra. He showed he is fast enough to counter pace, has a good tactical understanding of the center-back position and can contribute when called upon.

Midfielder Sacha Kljestan - 4: He had some good moments, but was undone by a his silly challenge that earned his expulsion.

Midfielder Michael Bradley - 4.5: As he did in the face of pressure against Italy, he gave ground and allowed the Brazilians time and room. As happened on Monday, he was active, but his defending was lax.

Midfielder Clint Dempsey - 4: Worked hard, but with little result. He contributed defensively, but added almost nothing to the attack.

Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley - 3: Regretfully, he is not the same player he was two years ago. Injuries seem to have taken a toll and unless he can regain his previous form, he will be of little use to the U.S. going forward.

Forward Landon Donovan - 6: Another match in which he worked tirelessly, but he received little help and his high work rate went for naught.

Forward Jozy Altidore - 5: He was eaten up by Brazil's big, fast, physical defense. He could do little.

Reserves

Forward Conor Casey (46th minute for Beasley) - 4: Today he had two speeds -- slow and lackadaisical. He can be a physical presence and a good man in a scrum, but he does not move with any speed and spent much of the time walking around looking almost disinterested.

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber (72nd minute for Altidore) - 4.5: Fittness is still a major issue, but he had some good moments.

SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Oguchi Onyewu.


Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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