USA Advances to Gold Cup Final

USA vs. Canada Gold Cup Semifinal June 21, 2007

The United States and Canada squared off on Thursday night to earn the right to play in the 2007 Gold Cup final. Despite being the overwhelming favorite, Bob Bradley insisted that the team was not looking past them and a potential match-up with Mexico in the final.

The U.S. offense forced Canada keeper Pat Onstad into action early as the Canada stopper was called upon to make a save in the first 30 seconds of the game when Landon Donovan let one fly from just outside the box.

In the sixth minute, defender Frankie Hejduk pushed a lazy pass back to the goalkeeper, forcing Kasey Keller to come outside the box to beat an onrushing Ali Gerba to the ball. Keller, who received his 100th cap in the game, was able to get to the ball and clear it away from danger, getting knocked to the ground in the process.

Six minutes later, the American defense nearly did themselves in with lax passing once more, this time when captain Carlos Bocanegra played the ball to Keller. The keeper’s first touch was a bit erratic, allowing Dwayne De Rosario to close on the ball and forcing Keller to play it out once more, again having to pick himself up off the dirt following the play.

The United States threatened again in the 16th minute. Defender Jonathan Bornstein brought the ball down the left side and crossed it into the middle at the top of the box. Striker Eddie Johnson acted as a decoy as the ball passed through his legs and found Landon Donovan. Drawing three defenders, Donovan dropped the ball off to Michael Bradley at the top of the box - but the shot from the coach’s son was less than perfect, a soft, bouncing shot smothered easily by Onstad.

Right around the half-hour mark, Canada got their best offensive chance yet. Ali Gerba tracked down Onstad’s goal kick and got around Oguchi Onyewu, who appeared to have miscommunicated with Keller, leaving Gerba an open chip over Keller. But the veteran keeper came off his line in just enough time to disrupt the Canadian and the ball rolled harmlessly out of play just feet from the goal.

In solid control of possession throughout the half, the United States finally cashed in six minutes before the break. After DaMarcus Beasley’s free kick from the right side went over everyone, Landon Donovan found the ball at his feet. He again chose to pass, this time to Frankie Hejduk, whose low bullet hit the near post and ricocheted into the net for the right-back’s seventh international goal.

The U.S. wasted no time in pushing forward after the goal and were rewarded for the efforts when Clint Dempsey sent a perfect ball through the Canadian defense from the center of the field, finding a streaking Beasley in step. Onstad committed to the ball but missed, with Beasley dragging his right foot to make contact with the keeper, drawing the PK. Landon Donovan stepped up and slotted the ball past Onstad for his third goal of the 2007 Gold Cup and 33rd goal all-time, only one behind the record set by Eric Wynalda.

Five minutes into the second half, Donovan had a prime chance to tie Wynalda’s record, but whiffed with a left-footed attempt on an open goal after Beasley had drawn the keeper off his line. The ball was cleared away, leaving Donovan shaking his head at what could have been.

But Canada wasted no time in answering at the other end of the field as a nice sequence between Gerba and Atiba Hutchinson forced Keller to come off his line once more to punch the ball away. Canada was not going to lay down to their southern neighbors in this one.

In the 73rd minute, De Rosario received the ball in the box and rounded his defender, once again testing the U.S. goalkeeper with a low, line-drive shot, but Kasey Keller was up to the task, making the save look easy.

But Keller would not celebrate his 100th cap with a clean sheet, as Canada pulled one back in the 76th minute. Substitute Iain Hume faked out Bocanegra with his right foot and beat Keller with a shot from his left, cutting the deficit in half.

Two minutes from time, Michael Bradley was sent off for a harsh tackle from behind, meaning he will miss Sunday’s final against either Mexico or Guadaloupe. Reduced to ten men late, the United States hung on over the final fifteen minutes, punching their ticket into the final.

In the last throes of the game, Atiba Hutchinson found the ball on his feet behind the U.S. defense after Onyewu misplayed a header. As Hutchinson’s shot hit the back of the net, the flag came up and the play was whistled as off-sides, preserving the U.S. victory after five minutes of stoppage time.

Player ratings:
Keller --- 4
Hejduk --- 7
Onyewu --- 4
Bocanegra --- 4
Bornstein --- 6
Bradley --- 5
Mastroeni --- 5
Dempsey --- 4
Beasley --- 6
Donovan --- 5
E. Johnson --- 4

80’ – Feilhaber – no rating
88’ – Twellman – no rating
89’ – R. Clark – no rating


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Bradley a 5? I think he brought some of the only spark to the team other than Frankie. He won quit a few balls for us in the middle of the field too.