June 25, 2007
With Mexico looking good and grabbing a 1-0 lead just before halftime, things weren't looking good for the US in yesterday's CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
Bob Bradley came out of halftime and replaced Pablo Mastroeni with Ricardo Clark and things started to click in the US midfield. Brian Ching was able to draw a penalty, Landon Donovan was able to convert, and the game was on.
Then in the 73rd minute, Benny Feilhaber was able to volley home a poor clearance of a US corner and that's all the US would need to capture the 2007 edition of the Gold Cup and qualify for the 2009 FIFA Conferderation Cup to be held in South Africa ahead of the 2010 World Cup.
The US had chances to put the game away late, but Brian Ching got around Oswaldo Sanchez, but put his shot off the post. Then Landon Donovan set up DeMarcus Beasley with a look at a wide open net. Unfortunately, Beasley put his shot off the crossbar.
Thankfully Tim Howard was able to make the big saves needed down the stretch and the US's missed opportunities didn't come back to haunt them.
Up next, the US opens Copa America play on Thursday with a squad that is a step down in class from the group that won the Gold Cup.
It's going to be really interesting to see what Bob Bradley can get out of this group of players.
The Rhinos tie versus California knocks them down a spot in the table
The good news about losing two points versus California on Friday night is that the Rhinos are still in second place in the USL 1st Division table. It also didn't affect their 4th place standing in points per game to level out the games in hand factor with the Rhinos leading the league with 15 games played.
The concerns coming out of the match have to be the health of the squad, especially with Kenney Bertz looking like a banged up NFL offensive lineman out there now, and the fact that they couldn't kill a match at home versus the team that is currently at the bottom of the table.
Hopefully the Rhinos can put away the Western Mass Pioneers tomorrow night in the 2nd round of the 2007 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
It's already starting.........
You knew it was going to happen, but that doesn't make it any more palatable when it does.
Personally, I wish we could just enjoy his play on the field, like fans have been able to with Juan Pablo Angel and the Red Bulls.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Rochester Rhinos or SoccerSam.com. Feel free to send any comments or complaints to firstname.lastname@example.org. James promises to read (but not to respond) to all of them.