Spain sends U.S. off to Gold Cup with bad beating.
By Robert Wagman
(Sunday, June 5, 2011) - The United States men fielded a team sprinkled with reserves, but even a full side likely would have been no match for World Cup champion Spain, which drubbed the Americans 4-0 in a friendly before a Gillette Stadium soccer record of 64,121 yesterday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
While playing, the world's best team presented the U.S. a challenge, manager Bob Bradley was more concerned with having his best squad ready for Tuesday when the Americans play Canada in Detroit to open the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship tournament for North America, Central America and the Caribbean to which the champion earns a berth in the 2013 Confederations Cup.
"Spain is a great team," Bob Bradley saud . "It's a tough test to play against them at any time and it becomes an even tougher on the eve of the Gold Cup. We've always chosen to take these challenges and we want to play against the best teams because it's what the game at the highest level is all about. It's the best way for our team to improve. Hopefully there are things that we can take from this game that will not only help us during the next three weeks, but things that we can take that will help us as we move forward again."
As it happened, the U.S. started against Spain without it biggest star, midfielder Landon Donovan, who was ill, as well as attacker Clint Dempsey, who was held out until the second half. Also missing was captain and central defender Carlos Bocanegra, who did not dress, and right back Steve Cherundolo, who came on after intermission.
Midfielder Michael Bradley was another usual starter who didn't enter until the second half.
The American loss could have been much worse. An early Spain goal was incorrectly waved off for a incorrect offside call and twice Spain hit the woodwork among several close chances.
Over the first 45 minutes, the U.S. defense was nearly helpless. It had neither the speed nor the experience to cope with the short-passing Spaniards. In the meantime, American midfielders Jermaine Jones and Maurice Edu had to continually drop deep into defense which left the entire midfield adrift. This meant no service to the forward line with the result of no shots on goal in the first 45 minutes.
Starting in the 28th minute, Spain scored three times for a comfortable margin at the break.
If this match proved anything to the Americans it is how badly they depend on Donovan. Without him, as well as Bradley (the coach's son) and Dempsey, the U.S. struggles to generate an attack.
U.S. Player Ratings
Goalkeeper Tim Howard - 5: Except perhaps on the final goal, he could not be blamed for this debacle. Made a couple of good saves and did a lot of yelling at his defenders.
Defender Jonathan Spector - 5: With his experience, one might have expected more, but he was constantly turned inside out over the first 45 minutes.
Defender Tim Ream - 4.5: Way overmatched as he learned a painful lesson as to the difference between Major League Soccer and the world-class game. Was a bit better over the final 45 minutes with a more experienced midfield and more speed on the back-line with him.
Defender Oguchi Onyewu - 4.5: He has clearly regressed and is showing the effect of lack of club playing time, coupled with several injuries this past season. Not the dependable player he was a year ago.
Defender Eric Lichaj - 5: Probably looked better in the midfield in the second half than he did on the back-line in the first 45 minutes. He has pace, but did not demonstrate the game savvy against an opponent at Spain's level.
Midfielder Sacha Kljestan - 4.5: Showed speed at times and did contribute from time to time, but did not contribute the level of performance one might expect from a national-team starter.
Midfielder Jermaine Jones - 5: He had some visible missteps, but was the most active of the midfielders though he did not pair well with Edu.
Midfielder Maurice Edu - 4: He did not add much either defensively or on attack, Seeming almost lost at times.
Midfielder Robbie Rogers - 5: He worked hard, but did not accomplish much.
Forward Juan Agudelo - 5: Given his youth and inexperience, he probably did as well as could be expected. Got little support from his midfield in the first half, but was able to create some openings for himself. He then did better with experienced midfielders behind him in the second half.
Forward Jozy Altidore - 4: He was completely shut down and not able to do much. Was active, but to little effect.
Forward Chris Wondolowski (46th minute for Altidore) - 5: Very inexperienced, but did better than one might have expected and showed he has a future with his national team.
Midfielder Clint Dempsey (46th minute for Rogers) - 6: Showed his experience by being able to create while under pressure. Worked well with Bradley and made the U.S. somewhat competitive over the final 45 minutes.
Defender Steve Cherundolo (46th minute for Edu) - 6: Made a number of defensive plays in the second half, cutting off Spanish thrusts. Was partly victimized on the fourth goal.
Defender Clarence Goodson (46th minute for Onyewu) - 5.5: Added some pace to the middle of defense and had a better than satisfactory 45 minuters.
Midfielder Michael Bradley (46th minute for Jones) - 6: Steadied the midfield and was able to contribute both defensively and hold and move the ball offensively.
Forward Alejandro Bedoya (86th minute for Agudelo) - 5: One nice run in a short appearance.
SoccerTimes U.S. Player of the Match: Michael Bradley.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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