Things looked bleak for the United States Men’s National team this Father’s Day in the Confederation’s Cup. They had their backs against the wall, with virtually no chance to advance to the semifinals, and now had to face a very difficult Egypt team that had barely lost to Brazil 4-3 and just defeated Italy (1-0), the defending world champions. The Egyptians only needed to defeat or tie the US and they themselves would have advanced to the semifinals to face #1 ranked Spain. But somehow the US not only defeated this underrated Egyptian squad, but they beat them soundly 3-0. And the score could have been worse if not for an inexcusable no call ( handling) by the referee on Jose Altidore’s shot and the US showing themselves to be either too unselfish (both Landon Donovan and Altidore passed up easy opportunities) or too selfish (if Charles Davies slots the ball to Altidore late in the 2nd half he has a tap-in) inside the 18. With the rout of the Egyptians and a little help from Brazil’s 3-0 lashing of the Italians, the US finds themselves in the semifinals this Wednesday (2:25 EST, ESPN).

Almost everything went right for the US. Coach Bob Bradley made a handful of changes to his line up, though nothing surprising, and they worked like a charm. Brad Guzan got the start in goal and Charlie Davies started up top with Altidore. Ricardo Clark started after his one game suspension for his questionable red card against Italy. Bradley’s changes gave more defensive stability in the midfield and Davies’ energy served as a spark up top.

Coach Bradley ignored the calls to insert Jose Francisco Torres or Freddy Adu into his line-up and both would have certainly provided a needed offensive presence on the ball. I’m still perplexed as to why Bradley even included either player on this roster since neither player has played has played even one minute. The only explanation is that Bradley wants both players to familiarize themselves with the atmosphere at these kind of tournaments in preparation for the World Cup in 2010. Unfortunately, he has reduced them to cheerleaders and neither will be valuable to this squad in 2010 unless Bradley finds a way to get them meaningful minutes. It seems as those Torres is still shouldering too much blame for the first goal against Costa Rica in qualifying, but if this is the case then Bradley’s insertion of Demarcus Beasley into the line-up at the Confederation’s Cup makes little sense as Beasley was as instrumental in the defensive breakdown as Torres.

But in Bradley’s defense his changes today worked. Overall I think the US team played well. They are still allowing too much space in the attacking third. Either defenders are stepping forward to eliminate space quick enough or midfielders aren’t getting back to defend. Either way, this has to be corrected by Wednesday or Spain may make us look like New Zealand (who can forget their 5-0 rout in the opening match).

Player Ratings:

Brad Guzan (GK): 5 Overall Guzan played very well. I like that Bradley played him because I think Howard needs to some stiff competition to keep himself sharp. He was a little indecisive at a couple of crosses and found himself in no-man’s land, but it didn’t bit him in this match. He needs to take command of his box more assertively.

Jonathan Bornstein (LB): 5 Another adequate, though unspectacular performance. He never gives up on the play and makes good runs. He is kind of soft in the air at times.

Oguchi Onyewu (CB): 7 Very solid performance. He doesn’t get beat in the air. He made on questionable tackle in the box late in the match but the referee didn’t go for the attacker’s trickery. Nonetheless, it was a dangerous challenge and Onyewu will want to be more careful in the future.

Jay DeMeritt (CB): 7 I think DeMeritt is making a very strong case for playing time. I am glad to see him step up as his presence gives Bradley the option of moving Bocanegra back to LB should he choose to do so.

Jonathan Spector (RB): 7 Good performance. Spector was money on the cross to Dempsey (71min) that put the US up by 3.

Landon Donovan (RM): 8 The only negative thing I can say about Donovan the past 3 matches is that he continues to show himself to be too unselfish at times. But he is working hard both offensively and defensively and is creating good opportunities for the US. If everyone played as hard as he has the past 3 matches the US would be in much better shape. He needs to show more vocal leadership as well, but he was, by far, the best player on the pitch for the US side.

Ricardo Clark: (CM) 5 Clark gave a gritty, solid performance. He is talented, but very immature. I still think that his immaturity is more of a liability than his talent, especially since Michael Bradley brings the same skill set, only better.

Michael Bradley (CM): 6 Excellent game. Foolish caution, but a suspect decision by the referee. Fantastic composure on his goal.

Clint Dempsey (LM): 4 If it weren’t for scoring the third goal this rating would have been lower. Coach Bradley said that Dempsey is playing right now, though his form and decisions have been poor, because he provides “moments of brilliance”. His goal was needed, but his defensive effort was poor and he has consistently turned the ball over at inopportune times leading to either goals or goal-scoring opportunities for the opponent. This mush improve or Bradley should bench him. I would still have liked to have seen what Adu or Torres might have done in this match.

Charlie Davies (F): 6 The US’ first goal was just pure hustle by Altidore and Davies. Davies never gave up on the ball and put it in the net. He worked hard defensively, consistently pressuring the ball. It was curious to sub him out of Connor Casey, who brings nothing defensively and appears lazy.

Jose Altidore (F): 5 The US needs more from Altidore. He isn’t showing himself to be consistently dangerous around the net. He also needs to be a little more selfish to create opportunities for himself.

SUBS:

Benny Feilhaber (LM): 5 Just very solid on the ball.

Connor Casey (F): 3 For someone who probably won’t even be on the roster when Brian Ching returns, I don’t understand why Bradley subbed Casey in rather than Adu up front. Casey brings nothing.

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