U.S.-Slovenia: Tale of two halves
Sometimes goals don't tell the full story, but in this case they did.
Slovenia was much the better side in the first half and deservedly swept into a 2-0 lead; the U.S. was much the better side in the second and deservedly came back to draw 2-2 on Friday. The question is whether you choose to blame U.S. coach
The logic in bringing in
Birsa was once the golden boy of Slovenian football, earmarked as having a great future, but his star rather waned as he's drifted from Sochaux to Auxerre. He showed here, though, just how dangerous he can be if given the opportunity. He gave the U.S. a warning after nine minutes as he found space on the right to cross for
That area 25-40 yards from goal, just in front of the back four, is what former Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich coach
At that stage it was hard to imagine how the U.S. could possibly get back into the game. A couple of bursts from Donovan aside, it'd been stodgy and predictable, lacking the crispness and intelligence of Slovenia in possession. Given Slovenia's reputation as a side capable of killing a game when required, the game seemed over. Credit, then, to Bradley, as he sacrificed Torres for the more combative
Perhaps Bradley got lucky with the U.S.' first goal,
The other big change from the first half was the U.S.' willingness to try to exploit Jozy Altidore's physical advantage over
The U.S.' final substitution, removing
Should it have been even better for the USA? Probably. As Donovan, again the U.S.' most creative player, curled in a sumptuous free kick and Edu finished it off, only to be denied by the referee's whistle. Coulibaly had, to be fair to him, blown very early, long before the ball was in the net, but given what he had allowed to pass earlier in the game, it was hard to see what offense he had spotted; if anything, there appeared from the replay to be two Slovenians holding back U.S. players.
A draw, though, was probably fair, as U.S. muscle hit back against Slovenia's more nuanced approach. The question now for Bradley is what he does in that central area against Algeria. His son is an obvious selection, but does he pair him with Clark again to try to overpower Algeria, does he accept that Algeria are a poorer side than Slovenia and give Torres another go, or does he take the middle ground and play Feilhaber again?