USA vs. Sweden Live Blog
Posted by Mike on August 22, 2007
Today Team USA plays Sweden in an International Friendly. This game is important because we need experience playing in Europe against good teams (in particular with the Brazil game coming up).
1st minute: One of the glaring part of our lineup that I noticed: no true strikers in the starting XI. Donovan and Dempsey, attacking midfielders, have been put in the forward positions.
2:40, 3rd minute: A good pass from Feilhaber to Damarcus Beasley, but Captain Can’t Finish taps it left of the goal. Still, The Americans seem to be the aggressors early on.
2:47, 10th minute: We’re ten minutes into the game, and neither goalie has had to do anything. Beasley’s miss is the closest anyone has come to a shot on goal.
2:50, 13th minute: Sweden gets the first corner kick of the game, but can;t make anything of it. Is it that both defenses are playoing well or that neither team has gotten into any groove.
2:52, 15th minute: Zlatan Ibrahimovic overpowers two defenders and the goalie, and gets a fairly clear shot at goal. Only Bornstein’s presence of mind prevented a goal by the Inter Milan striker.
2:53, 16th minute: Donovan takes a shot from outside the box, but the Swedish keeper makes the stop easily. Still, it’s our first shot on goal, and I like that Donovan took a chance on that one.
2:55, 18th minute: Two straight corner kicks for Sweden but they still can;t get anything going. It looks that if the US defense is going to get beat, it will be from the left side.
2:57, 20th minute: Feilhaber and Michael Bradley are getting into the attack, but they can;t get a good shot off.
We seem to have a serious problem in finding a reliable striker. Without any clear forwards for us, Brazil would be the perfect time for Jozy Altidore to make his Senior team debut. I see no real reason not to.
3:03, 26th minute: Team USA is finally getting into some set pieces (getting a free kick and a corner kick), but they can’t get a good shot off. Sweden seems to have a big size advantage in this match.
3:07, 30th minute: Half an hour is gone in this match. I would give team USA a slight advantage right now, because most of the game has been played in the Swedish defensive zone.
3:09, 32nd minute: Skit Ocska! We almost gave up a goal there! Ibrahimovic broke away from the defense, going one-on-one with Howard in front of the goal. He takes the shot and Howard makes the kick save, but a cross back into the box gives Ibrahimovic another shot at goal. His cabezazo bounces off the post. We were pretty lucky there.
3:16, 39th minute: Sweden hasn’t done a good job of creating chances off of their set pieces. That must be their 7th corner kick, and they have 0 SOG to show for it.
3:18, 41st minute: Not that the Americans have done a particularly good job in their set pieces either.
3:21, 44th minute: Bocanegra is called for an intentional handball, meaning a free kick for Sweden. It hasn’t been a great three weeks for Carlos.
3:23, 45 minutes: We’ve reached halftime, and the game is still tied at 0-0. Neither team has been particularly impressive so far but the USA can win the game if they make sure that Ibrahimovic cannot get a clear shot. They’ve been knocking on the door offensively, and they needed to take advantage of the chances they’re given.
3:42, 46th minute: To start the second half, the Swedes make three substitutions. The most prominent one in Wilhelmsson getting pulled in favor of Niclas Alexandersson. Bobby Convey is in for the USA.
3:45, 49th minute: Two good shots early in the second half. First, Johan Elmander passes to Daniel Andersson, and Howard needed to make great save on that shot. Less than a minute later, Dempsey very nearly scores for USA. If only be put a little more strength into that kick, we’d be up 1-0.
3:49, 53rd minute: Wow. After Sweden’s substitutions, they really have a size advantage now. It looks like every American player is giving five or six inches to their Scandinavian counterpart.
3:51, 56th minute: SKIT OCSKA! That’s swedish for “dammit”. Bakircioglu basically pushed a defender to the ground, giving room for Kim Kallstrom to make a great strike that gets past Tim Howard. Sweden now leads, 1-0. A great goal by Sweden, but how is that push not a foul? It’s painfully obvious that it’s against the rules, and that its allowed the goal to happen. A no-call might decide this game.
3:58, 63rd minute: Not a very good pass by Beasley. He gets into good position in the box, but his pass is too far for Johnathan Bornstein. But why wasn’t there a midfielder to receive the pass there?
4:00, 65th minute: Johnathan Spector and Kamani Hill come into the game for Bornstein and Donovan.
4:04, 69th minute: Our midfield seem to be outplaying Sweden’s in this game, but they still haven’t taken advantage of offensive opportunities. And that’s the biggest problem with our national team as a whole: we need to do a better job of getting goals out of the chances we create.
4:10, 75th minute: Sweden very nearly scores again, this time on a free kick. But Sallstrom’s hard strike is just wide.
4:12, 77th minute: 20-year-old Sal Zizzo makes his first appearance for the U.S. senior team. Welcome, Zizzo!
4:16, 81st minute: At this point in the game, Sweden is trying to kill clock and protect a possible 1-0 win. Yeah, I wouldn’t be very scared of my offense today, either.
4:26, 90th minute: Michael Bradley comes oh..so…close to scoring a goal at the last minute. Michael Bradley makes a great glancing header to force a diving stop by the Swedish keeper. He very nearly gives up a rebound. three inches out of his hands, and Jay DeMerit is right there to tie the game; but he manages to keep hold of the ball and end the threat.
4:30, full time: The game is over, as Sweden wins 1-0. Team USA played well in the first half, but a disappointing finish, especially by the midfield, allowed the game to slip away.
It’s clear that we have a big problem at the striker position, and we need better offensive performance. I think that Jozy Altidore is almost certainly our star forward of the future, and he should thus get some experience in the upcoming friendly schedule, starting with our big game against Brazil on September 9th. Whether Bob Bradley will start playing him now could be another story. Still, the future looks bright for this team, and we have three years to make the necessary corrections for when we truly hit the world stage in South Africa.