U.S. – Slovenia in Dramatic World Cup Tie: MY LIVE BLOG

This post is going to be very different…it is my live thoughts as the United States plays Slovenia this morning at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.  My comments WILL NOT be changed or edited (other than spelling) after the game.  This is my take on the game:

Landon Donavan scored the first U.S. goal vs. Slovenia

1′ KICKOFF   U.S. kicking off to begin the game in Johannesburg, where it is 55 degrees and sunny.  U.S. wearing their all blue throw-back (1950) uniforms…Slovenia wearing white with green Charlie Brown sweater-type (to look like mountains) design on the front.

1′   Dempsey plants an elbow on Ljubijankic but does not draw a card…lucky break for the U.S. very early in the first minute of play.

U.S. starting slowly…Slovenia great cross into the box (6′).  U.S. showing nothing much so far. 

12′  GOAL Slovenia… Birsa on a 25 yard shot.  Not marked at all and Howard didn’t even react to it.  This is terrible news for the U.S. who are 0-15-3 when giving up the first goal.  Howard was on the 6  yard line to cut the angle.

15′  U.S. set play into the box, two U.S. players there Bocanegra and Dempsey, cleared by Slovenia.

17′ Findley to Altidore…good run up the left, but just missed Jozy’s foot on the pass.

18′  Bradley long shot but well over the goal…keep pushing, U.S.

23′ Good looking ball to the back post, but U.S. unable to capitalize.

23′  Nice run by Slovenia up the right side, but U.S. shuts it down.

The game has really opened up after the goal by Slovenia.  SLovenia seems to have a lot of confidence and looks superior to the U.S. in every aspect now.  Possession is 54-46 in Slovenia’s favor now.

29′  Free kick by Slovenia right into the box, Howard slides out and kicks the ball out over the sideline.  Throw-in Slovenia.

Ian Darke (play-by-play) and John Harkes (color) on the ESPN call this morning.  Fans wrapped in U.S. flags seem to be in good numbers today.

35′  Altidore makes run into box…YELLOW CARD called against Cesar of Slovenia, who kicked Jozy as he ran past him.  Set piece for the U.S.

36‘  Tremendous shot by Jose Torres from the set piece, but the Slovenia goalie blocks it over the end line.

37′  Corner kick, U.S. missed as Slovenia deflects out and on the deflection U,.S. heads it towards the goal, but over the net.

The U.S. needs Dempsey and Donavan to settle down…more defense needed by Dempsey

39‘  Steal by Donavan who passes to Findley who crosses badly to the middle of the box.  Ball over the end line – corner kick, U.S.

40′  U.S. misses great opportunity on corner kick, but Findley draws a YELLOW CARD, which means he is not going to play in the next match.  Looks like ball hit him in the face, and the ball accidently touched his arm… not hand ball…BAD CALL by the referee…Even Ian Darke said it was the absolute worst call of the tournament.  The U.S. luck is going this way.

41′  U.S. just misses ANOTHER great opportunity with three – four players…just missing, again. ..Corner kick, U.S.

41′  Corner kick was not effective at all.  Ball cleared to midfield…Slovenia in charge.

42′ GOAL SLOVENIA…This could be the end of the U.S in the World Cup…another  play where the Slovenia scorer, Ljubijankic  was unmarked again. THIS IS AS BAD AS IT CAN BE…NOW THE U.S. NEEDS TO SCORE AT LEAST TWO GOALS TO HAVE ANY CHANCE TO ADVANCE.  Terribly disappointing for a country of 310 million to lose to a country of only 2 million.  Boy am I a homer…

45′ Two minutes of extra time in the first half.  I don’t know what Coach Bradley will say ht the half, but whatever it is, the team MUST respond.

45′ HALFTIME U.S. down 2-0.  They will need to score early to get some confidence and get back into the game.  The thought of the Americans NOT going through to the knock-out round is not good.  They certainly had their chances, and if they can get that quick goal and keep pressure on Slovenia, maybe we can get something out of the game after all.  Slovenia has been attacking and they may begin to play a little more defense how that they are ahead by 2 goals.

SECOND HALF:

45′  Benny Feilhaber and Maurice Edu coming into the came to start the second half replacing Jose Torres and Robbie Findley.  Urgent substitutions to get some needed scoring.  No Edson Buddle?  The quick-scoring artist who is needed now more than ever

47′  Donavan and U.S. in the box with changes, but Jokic of Serbia clears the ball.  U.S. on the offense.

48′  GOAL U.S.!!! Landon Donavan from the right side of the box with a beautiful right-footed shot into the upper  left corner on a very tough angle.  “NOW the momentum is with them,” Ian Darke tells the ESPN audience.  He is only the third American to score in two World Cups.  He scored twice in the 2002 World Cup.

Sensational start for the U.S.  Pressure boys!

51′  Landon chips into the goal area and the U.S. just misses another goal from a set piece.

52′  Howard stretches to knock a ball away…a critical touch over the end line…corner kick Slovenia.  Nothing much out of that…Koren misses a long shot.

58′  Altidore streaking to the center of the field and is taken down just outside the box as he tried to get a shot off.

59′  Donavan; on a set piece, hits the ball to the front of the box…a good opportunity missed, as Dempsey and a Slovenian wrestle each other to the ground.  No foul called…both players fighting for the ball.

61′  Slovenia free kick fisted out by Howard.

63′  Altidore knocked to ground by Shuler…again – no call.  Jozy  looked for the call…

64′  Howard clears shot easily…needs to control the pace of the game and make sure U.S. players are set for offense before releasing the ball.

65′  Possession: U.S. 51 – Slovenia 49…we need more!  U.S. continuing to press on offense.

69′  FOUL and YELLOW CARD on Suler of Slovenia on a hard foul on Altidore just a yard outside of the 18…Altidore wanted a red on Suler. 

70′  Set piece by Donavan at the 19…Altidore nearly has a goal after the strike from Donavan was not cleared.  Nice save by Slovenia’s goalie.

20 or so minutes left…what does Bob Bradley have up his sleeve?  Where is Edson Buddle?

72′  Kirin – Yellow Card for foul on Cherundolo.  Set piece flicked off by Feilhaber easily grabbed by the goalie.

74′  Pecnik for Ljubijankic substitution for Slovenia. Throw in by U.S. into the goal area, Jozy missed again…referee calls a foul…but where was it.

75′  Another Yellow Card on Slovenia (Jokic) for a hard hit on Donavan from behind.  They are mounting up.  Slovenia is very physical.  Dempsey misses a left foot volley on the set piece.

Tactical change for U.S.: Donovan is now on  top with Jozy…hoping for more offense…

81′  Hercules Gomez now entering the game for the U.S. replacing Oguchi Onyewu.  Cherundolo moves to the center.  Gomez needs to score on the biggest stage of all.  3-4-3 lineup for U.S. – a switch from 4-4-2.  Michael Bradley hits a shot on goal but easily handled by the goalie.  Another

82′   GOAL MICHAEL BRADLEY USA TIED THE GAME – the coach’s son has scored the equalizer on a tactical goal.

Will the U.S. stick with this offensive tactical line-up?  We have a point in hand now…can we get the win and get three?  Is it worth the gamble?  That’s why Coach Bob Bradley is paid the big bucks.

85′  Altidore knocked down again…The U.S. is on the offensive…Set piece for Donavan.    OFFSIDE US on goal…this is NOT OFFSIDE…another horrible call…who are these refs? “THAT IS HORRIBLE”, said Harkes.  I agree.  THAT WAS A GOAL!  Michael Bradley was fouled, but NO CALL?  In the box?  Even Ian Darke, a neutral Englishman said this is terrible.

87′  Slovenia substitutes for Birko

88′  Header by Slovenia stopped by Howard!  Whew!  They are not giving up.

89′  Hard, long shot by Slovenia with a great save by Howard who is furious, imploring his defenders to get going!

Reply of non-goal by U.S. shows NO OFFSIDES AND A FOUL BY SLOVENIA ON BRADLEY.  Either it is a goal or a penalty kick…but the ref saw nothing, apparently.

90′  THREE MINUTES OF EXTRA TIME

Dempsey and Pecnik collide near the center of the field with seconds to go in the game.  I think we are looking at another tie.  The U.S. really was (screwed, hosed, jobbed, robbed…take your pick) on their third goal.  They deserved to WIN this game based on the second half play.

90′ GAME OVER…We get a point…Altidore is chasing after the referee and is livid.  “A remarkable performance by the United States”, said Ian Darke.  Possession: U.S. 52 – Slovenia 48.  Good comeback.

This was the 21st time a team has been down by 2-0 at half and has come back to get at least a point.

Thanks for reading, I hope you got a sense of the game…Wow!  Now the U.S. is in a MUST-WIN situation next Wednesday against Algeria.  I need time to relax before watching England-Algeria this afternoon.  And they say soccer is boring…watch both of the U.S. games so far and you will see how tense this sport is. 

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