He went with his veterans against two of the best teams in the world and they let him, and the country, down with a crashing thud.
All along, we can surmise, U.S. head coach
After a 3-0 thrashing by Brazil on Thursday, during which not enough players -- overmatched in talent, skill and experience -- bothered to show any pride or fight, the U.S. faces a final group game against Egypt on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, TeleFutura) with at least one eye on the future, as in next month, and next year.
Can there be a "next time" for
Consistent club play would certainly sharpen the form of American players, but putting in a solid season for Fulham hardly honed Dempsey to a razor's edge. Twice he missed the target on headers from good positions and late in the match attempted a ridiculous trick pass that went straight to an opponent. Has he reverted to his final year with New England as a dude just too cool for school? For the U.S.? If he's drained or dragging, he shouldn't be on the field.
Had Beasley's horrendous mis-trap that launched Brazil's blitz counterattack for the second goal been his only major transgression in a performance of guile and grit, so be it. But it was anything but. He wandered and lost the ball, and the rare occasion in which he won a tackle didn't faze the Brazilians. If this was a reality show, he'd be the second one voted off the island after Kljestan, who offered so little in the attack and defended so flimsily, he probably should have been replaced at halftime along with Beasley.
Often accused of going invisible at the wrong moments,
Both outside backs,
The U.S. can salvage some pride Sunday by beating the team that took Brazil to the limit and knocked off the world champion. Yet Egypt hasn't been magical or otherworldly; its players have simply plunged ahead fearlessly, skillfully and brimming with honor at the jerseys they wear. They have utter faith in their coach and in each other; how many of the Americans feel that way?
Strangely enough, the loss didn't eliminate the 0-2 U.S., since Egypt -- which certainly hasn't soiled its shorts while terrifying Brazil in a 4-3 loss and bopping Italy 1-0 -- kept every team's hopes alive. But if Bradley uses that infinitesimal shred as justification for fielding the same old same old, much must change.