Friday, July 6, 2007

US U-20's Roll On, Upset Brazil 2-1

New York Red Bull striker Josmer Altidore scored twice and Freddy Adu had his coming out party as the two led the US U-20's past Brazil's U-20's by a score of 2-1. Adu had the assist on Altidore's second goal after his shot (which, if finished, would've looked exactly like his first goal against Poland) was deflected by a Brazilian defender and finished on one bounce into a wide-open net by Altidore.

The game was a hotly contested, up-and-down affair with chances aplenty for both sides. The US came out of the gate firing on all cylinders and they set the tone for the rest of the match, proving to Brazil that they wouldn't be intimidated and that they were a team to be reckoned with. Robbie Rogers looked dangerous early as he had a good shot parried away by Cassio and then served a cross in to Josmer Altidore, who just got a foot on it as Cassio came up with another good save. Altidore received the ball won by Adu from a Brazilian player in the 25th minute, controlled it between two defenders, and unleashed a wicked shot that stayed on the ground and went past the diving Cassio to give the US a 1-0 lead. The shot would've went in on any surface but it was ironic that this game was played on turf, which the Brazilians and the other South American teams had complained about. The shot definitely looked to be turf-aided in the fact that it didn't slow down at all; grass would've sucked some of the velocity right out of the shot.

Brazil absolutely deserved an equalizer and got it, scrappy though it was, from Leandro Lima in the 64th minute. Michael Bradley's poor clearing header (and it was awful, no power at all behind it) was controlled for a second, then popped up, and when the ball came down, Renato Augusto's incredible side volley was saved by US keeper Chris Seitz. Seitz couldn't hang on to the rebound and a hard-charging Leandro Lima did enough when he and a US defender crashed into Seitz to poke the ball under the keeper. The ball rolled slowly into the net and the Brazilians were back in the game, 1-1.

At this point, doubts sprang into my mind. The pace of the game was too high for the US team and they visibly looked to be exhausted. There's no shame in not being able to keep up with the Brazilians and it seemed that for all the world that it would be the Brazilians, if anyone, who would get another goal, especially because the Brazilians came into the game far more desperate than the Americans, needing points to secure advancement into the knockout round. However, it was not Brazil who scored the the next goal, but it was the US. An incredible showcase of dribbling got Freddy Adu free in the box, parallel to the end-line, and when his shot was deflected by a Brazilian defender in the 81st minute, Josmer Altidore was there to pick up the pieces and side-foot the ball into a wide-open net to make it 2-1.

This would be all the US needed and though it was a frantic last 10+ minutes, Chris Seitz came up huge like he had done all game long. He deserves a lot of credit for the victory as Brazil had good chances to score all game long, led by CSKA Moscow striker Jo, new Real Madrid left back Marcelo, and Renato Augusto. The supremely talented Alexandre Pato seemed to disappear far too often for Brazil yesterday, and aside from a failed chip shot that would've been a breathtaking goal, Pato was not a factor in the match at all.

It was a great crowd last night in Ottawa, far better than what the US got when playing in Montreal. The stadium (Frank Clair Stadium) was filled to capacity and both teams had their own rooting section. The US seemed to be the choice of the neutral fans, however, as I think they got an added boost from a crowd which was cheering for the underdogs and the team close to home.

With the victory, the US finishes on top of Group D and go into the Round of 16 on a high note. By winning the group, they stayed away from Argentina (Poland, Group D's runner-up, drew the South American side in the next round) and assured themselves of a chance to play a third place team. That's huge for this country as a successful showing here would help erase the negatives that were generated by the awful results achieved by the senior team sent to Copa America. That team went 3 losses and out, like the World Cup 1998 side that brought soccer in America down until we reached the quarterfinals in 2002.

Look for another post when the US know who their Round of 16 opponent is and a full preview of that match, which will be played on July 11 in Toronto.

Men of the Match
Brazil: Jo
USA: Freddy Adu/Josmer Altidore

For full highlights of this match, see

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not certain if the JMHS 11 will be competitve for some of the U-20 glory. Perhaps the UMW crew will be able to strike the onionskin between the pipes on a more regular basis. Huge upset here, I'd say.