Tag Archives: Egypt

Confederations Cup: One in a million

Charlie Davies scores v. Egypt  (Paul Thomas/Associated Press)

Charlie Davies scores v. Egypt (Paul Thomas/Associated Press)

To paraphrase John Harkes, if South Africa has a Powerball lottery, Bob Bradley should go buy a ticket. It was the opposite of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. It was, in fact, a series of very fortunate events.

The United States had the slimmest of margins to get through to the semi-finals yesterday, yet they did. Brazil beat the crap out of a really rather disinterested Italy squad by a score of 3-0. But the final goal, the one that helped put the US through, was an own goal off the foot of defender Andrea Dossena. And every Liverpool fan jumped as one and shouted, “See?!? We told you he was terrible!”

And what of the US-Egypt match? The US scored 3 goals? Really? Are they really that good? Short answer? Hell, no. Is Egypt that bad? Maybe, but I doubt it.

I’m having trouble assessing the US here. They played one good half against Italy and then got trounced by a combination of Giuseppe Rossi and Daniele de Rossi. They were completely and utterly outclassed by Brazil for 90 minutes. Hell, they were probably outclassed in the dressing room, at the pre- and post-match press conferences, and on the ride over from the hotel. The Brazilian hotel likely outclassed the US hotel. That match was a complete and utter destruction. There are no two ways around it.

At the same time, Egypt looked if not good, at least competitive where the US did not. So what happened? I think the Pharaohs ran out of gas, honestly. The one thing that really struck me about the underdogs was the lack of depth. Look at the Spanish, Brazilian, and Italian rosters (okay, Italy’s a bad example, but stay with me): the thing you notice first is that every single player would make the first XI of Egypt, South Africa, New Zealand, Iraq, and the United States. Every single one.

So how do I explain the US in the semi-finals. The easiest answer is luck. Sheer shit luck. The other answer is that they finally put together a good 90 minutes; I think that’s true. I don’t think, however, that Brad Guzan is the new starting keeper or that Conor Casey is the answer at striker. Similarly, I don’t think we’ll get any answers when the US gets annihilated by Spain on Wednesday. The US remains an enigma, one of the dominant teams in CONCACAF but nowhere near the elite on the world stage. Perhaps the next two matches will reveal some pearls of truth.

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Confederations Cup: What the hell just happened?

Kaka and Shawki at the Confederations Cup

I am, of course, talking about this: Brazil 4-3 Egypt. What the hell?

I can appreciate that Egypt is an underrated team, especially by me. I had them firmly in the underdog category a couple of days ago. But they played well today. They bounced back agaisnt one of the best teams in the world. And they scored 3 goals! Take a look, New Zealand: that is how you go about challenging a top team. It took a Kak√° PK to finally seal the deal. The United States should be very, very afraid and probably wishing they had a time machine to go back and be drawn into Group A.

Side note: Brazil and Egypt have two of the plainest kits I’ve ever seen. Although Egypt has, hands down, the best team nickname: The Pharaohs.

And then, of course, there’s the WTF feeling the US must be having after losing 3-1 to Italy. After having Ricardo Clark red carded (I thought he deserved a yellow, but not a straight red) and going down to 10 men (seriously, will the US ever field a full 11-man squad versus Italy?), Landycakes scored on a PK to put them up 1-0. Everything was fine until Giuseppe Rossi showed up. He proceeded to score not once but twice. The first, it must be said, was spectacular.

Rossi ConfederationOne of my goals this week is to try to gauge exactly how good the United States is. I think, at number 14 in the FIFA rankings, they might be a tad overrated. Then again, they could just be going through a rough bit of form. They were lethargic against Italy until Clark got red carded; then Landycakes turned it on played like a man possessed. That’s two straight world-class performances for him, for those of you keeping track at home.

Bob Bradley’s tactics were acceptable, though they could have been better. Charlie Davies is overrated by the US hierarchy and should not have been subbed in for Jozy Altidor. What he should have done was put in another defender – perhaps someone to play a sweeper role – or a defensive midfielder. Benny Feilhaber and Michael Bradley provided nice offensive options at times but once the lead was their and they were down to 10 men, defense becomes the priority. I’m not saying they should have collapsed into a shell because that puts too much pressure on the keeper.

Hopefully the lesson was learned for what looks like two difficult encounters coming up.

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So why should you care about the Confederations Cup?

Confederations Cup 2009

I’m glad you asked.

1. It’s a mini-World Cup. Eight teams, all champions of some sort (except the host nation, South Africa). All looking to prove something ahead of the real World Cup next year. Where else are you going to see Spain, Italy, and Brazil playing, other than a World Cup or some sort of super-duper friendly schedule? Nowhere, that’s where.

2. How good is the US? Will the Confederations Cup provide a concrete answer as to how good Bob Bradley’s boys are? No, I don’t think so. But it will be high quality competition with something on the line. International friendlies are great practice. But let’s be honest: with a trophy on the line, people try harder. The US will not send a B-team, like the Gold Cup. Spain’s A-team and Italy’s A-team will be on display. Not to mention everybody’s second favorite team, Brazil.

3. Is South Africa ready for the World Cup? We’ve all read the horror stories of getting stadiums prepared in South Africa. Consider this a dry run.

4. What will the underdogs bring to the table? The top dogs are Spain, Italy, and Brazil, likely in that order. The US exists in a netherworld between elite and underdog. That is, it should be able to beat the underdogs but likely can’t compete with the top dogs. So, what will South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt, and Iraq bring to the table? I’m hoping for competitive games to get all of those countries hyped for the World Cup.

Who are your key players to watch, esp. for the lesser known teams? List them all with short reasons below!

Prediction: Spain will take the Confederations Cup.

A bunch of games will be on ESPN, starting tomorrow (Sunday, July 14) at 10am EST.

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