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Spain played well, at times showing the class that makes this team one of the best in the world. The US played fairly well also…at least in the first half.
The US started the game will a little bit more swagger than they showed in the game against England. The moved off the ball and did the best they could to create space in the middle of the field while also getting the ball out wide to the outside players. Defensively they kept things tighter and didn’t allow players like Torres or Fabregas much time or space on the ball. The insertion of Freddy Adu in the starting lineup helped tremendously. The second half was a little different, the US looked tired, they were dragging their feet, which in large part was due to the fact that Spain had the majority of the possession. I watched, helplessly, as the US defense continued to struggle. Less and less the ball would get over into the Spanish half. I knew what was coming, a goal for Spain. Xavi took care of that with a brilliant display of individual skill, burning past 3 US defenders and slotting the ball past Brad Guzan. It was lights out, there would be no coming back. But I’m not disappointed this time around; now on to some player analysis.
Tim Howard started in goal for the US, he made a couple of big saves early on in the game, but did have one moment of when he came out for a long cross that stayed up on him and went over his out reached hands. He hustled back to it and helped avert a potential disaster, but other than that a fairly solid half for Howard. Guzan came in for the second half and he too made some crucial saves that kept the US in the game longer than they actually should have been. I can’t fault him on the Xavi goal, but I would have liked to have seen him take that a little better, maybe be more instinctual in that situation rather than trying to rely on technique, which it seemed he was doing. Regardless, I won’t blame him for it, and a pretty good all around performance.
The back line was exactly the same as we saw against England, Steve Cherundolo, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, and Heath Pearce. I really liked the play of Pearce and Cherundolo on the outsides today. I felt they were pretty solid in marking and defending. Pearce got into the attack a little more than Cherundolo did, and I would like to see Cherundolo getting more involved in that regard, but a fairly solid outing for both of them. Frankie Hejduk replaced Cherundolo for the second half, and while Hejduk was better in the game against England, he was a little out of his element in this game. Spain’s skill was a little too much for Hejduk and he was beat a few times too many, and committed a few needless fouls. Yes, the entire team was weaker in the second half, but Hejduk had fresh legs and in my opinion should have offered a bit more than what we saw.