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List of Americans Abroad

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

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

Strong effort sends U.S. past Egypt 3-0 and to improbable Confederations Cup semifinal berth.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

(Sunday, June 21, 2009) -- The United States men played one of their strongest matches in quite some time to defeat Egypt 3-0 in their final Confederations Cup Group B match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, and advanced to the semifinals after Brazil blanked Italy by the same 3-0 score.

Despite bad losses to group-winner Brazil (3-0), the U.S. wound up tied with Egypt and Italy for second at 1-2. The U.S. and Italy had a minus-6 goal differential, the first tiebreaker, so the U.S. advanced because its seven goals scored were one better than that of the defending World Cup champion Italians.

After two terrible efforts to open this event, the Americans created chance after chance against Egypt with the offense repeatedly pushing forward. Had it not been for the goalkeeping of Egypt's Essam El Hadary, the score might have been considerably more one-sided. The U.S. was able to press ahead throughout the match, something that was almost totally lacking in the first two games.

The U.S. only had a chance to advance because Egypt surprised Italy 1-0 Thursday. Still, the Americans needed to win today by at least three goals and have Brazil defeat Italy by at least three to have a chance to continue. As it turned out, the U.S. got the three it needed when striker Charlie Davies poked a ball from the end-line off El Hadary and into the net, when midfielder Michael Bradley was perfectly set up by Landon Donovan and on midfielder Clint Dempsey's diving header.

A big difference between this match and the previous two was that Egypt did not pressure in the midfield and did not play as high or as aggressively as had the Italians and Brazilians. This allowed the Americans both space and time, and they were able to push the ball through the middle to generate more attack than in either of the prior two outings.

Egypt coach Hassan Shehata faced a dilemma several times during the match. He entered the game thinking he needed to win big in order to move ahead into the semifinals. As the Brazil-Italy match unfolded with Brazil three goals up, his objective changed to keeping close to the Americans.

So first, he made some changes, inserting defense for offense. When the U.S. increased its lead to three in the 63rd and 71st minutes, Shehata had to switch to all out attacking, but didn't have the combination of players he would have wanted.

The middle of the U.S. defense was terrific all day. The flank defenders were good enough, but in the final minutes, left back Jonathan Bornstein lost his mark and Wael Gomaa crashed a header inches over the crossbar. If Egypt had scored there or otherwise narrowed its deficit to two, it would have advanced to the semis instead of the Americans.

U.S. coach Bob Bradley substitutions proved to have a positive impact. In the 69th minute, he inserted Benny Feilhaber into the midfield, but instead of taking a midfielder off, he replaced striker Jozy Altidore and pushed Dempsey forward into more of an attacking position, a position more like he plays for Fulham in England. Just two minutes later, Dempsey crashed in the header that ended up sending the U.S. through.

The U.S. still has room for improvement. Most noticeably, the forwards squandered good scoring opportunities, twice passing when shots were in order, seemingly because of poor communication. The midfielders also must do a better job getting back on defense.

The U.S., despite its 1-2 record and minus-2 goal differential, advanced to play Spain in the semifinals Wednesday. Spain set a world second yesterday by winning its 15th straight match.


U.S. Player Ratings

Starters

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan - 6: In a rare start, he played soundly, made few errors and handled everything that was presented to him.

Defender Jonathan Bornstein - 5: Overall, he had a good match, though he made some errors, including the potentially fatal one, nearly leading to a late Egyptian goal. A decent enough appearance.

Defender Oguchi Onyewu - 6.5: A tower of strength in the middle. He won every aerial dual and was able to roam both left and right to patrol a wide area.

Defender Jay DeMerit - 6: After a club season filled with injuries, he is really only now settling back into the match fitness. He had a superb match and made a big statement that he might belong in the middle on a regular basis.

Defender Jonathan Spector - 6: He had a solid defensive game and was able to get into the attack often and effectively. He served up the crucial third goal perfectly and then made several key defensive stops late.

Midfielder Ricardo Clark - 5.5: Had a much better match then his last outing where he was shown a red card in the opener against Italy. Turned in a good defensive effort and got into the attack, but still must make the transition from offense to defense more quickly to help his back-line.

Midfielder Michael Bradley - 6: He still seems to be searching for his role on the field. He wants to play more offensively and, at times, did so to great effect like when he scored the second American goal. At times, he played well defensively but, as with Clark, at times was slow getting back defensively, sometimes with the outside midfielders also caught up-field. Overall, he had a fine performance.

Midfielder Clint Dempsey - 5: His spectacular header provided the goal that extended the U.S. stay at the Confederations Cup. Before that, however, he had another lax performance. He seems unable to play effective defense and offense at the same time. He does pick his spots and today that spot was a big one.

Midfielder Landon Donovan - 6.5: Another match when his work rate was everything that could be asked for 90 minutes. He created chances for himself and others, aggressively running at the opposition all night. Early on, he might have been more selfish and taken cracks at the goal instead of passing off. Continues to show he is the best U.S. player.

Forward Charlie Davies - 5.5: Put in a great deal of effort and must be lauded for sticking with the play that resulted in the first goal, which he caromed off keeper El Hadary. He lacks a good first touch and lacks pace, but demonstrated he can play a role for the U.S.

Forward Jozy Altidore - 5: He had some wonderful moments against some very tough and hardened defenders, but still lacks communication with his teammates at key moments and has difficulty holding the ball. Though improved, he still needs to get better.

Reserves

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber (69th minute for Altidore) - 6: As he gets fitter after a long injury layoff, he gets better. His fine appearance holds a lot of promise for when he is fully match-fit.

Forward Conor Casey (82nd minute for Davies) - 4: He was sent out to hold the ball and to help kill off the match. He lost the ball almost every time he touched it, but was solid in the air defensively and cleared a ball in the late going.

SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Landon Donovan.


Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.

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