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Posted by Sebastjan Pogorevc on 06/18/2010

USA fought back for a draw in an exciting match and we are left to rue our missed oppportunity as we were eight minutes away from the Round of 16.

The match started extremely well with Birsa scoring a wonderful goal from about 20 metres. I was expecting an improved display, and indeed it was, but I was astonished at how bad Americans played in the first half. Rarely have I been so disappointed by one team's performance, and besides the 10-minute spell at the end or the half they were nowhere on the field. Slovenia took advantage of that and went in the dressing room with a 2-0 advantage, although the second goal came against the run of play.

Americans came back better, with Donovan scoring immediately. They had more chances in this second half and were better in air battles and speed. And Michael Bradley, son of their coach scored, with Donovan playing a large part in it (and the final assist came from Altidore). And I admit, Edu's goal should stand. I don't think anybody knows why was it disallowed. But Slovenia deserved at least a draw, and it's very disappointing to come so close to victory and progress to the knockout rounds only to be denied at last.

However, I must say how proud I am of the team's display today. I told you that the match with Algeria didn't show our true shape. Today's Slovenia was the team that saw off Poland, Slovakia and Russia in quick succession. We finally showed the world we can play, and play well. Our passing game was back, and we controlled the game much more than I thought we would. A draw against USA is actually a good result. They are a team that are ranked 14th in the world and were clearly favourites before the kick-off. Overall, I would say that USA have played worse than I predicted and Slovenia played better than expected.

But Bradley's equaliser now puts us in a tricky situation. USA are likely to beat Algeria (and so will England), which means we will most probably have to beat and eliminate England, something that would be one of the biggest miracles in a few recent decades. A draw will probably not be enough, as both other teams will probably beat Algeria by more than one goal, or score more goals in a tight win. So it's a big opportunity missed, although I'm still proud of my team and they will be greeted as heroes on their return home, regardless of result against England. At least they scared the hell out of a nation that has 154 times more inhabitants than ours.

Slovenia 2 - 2 USA
13' Birsa
42' Ljubijankič
48' Donovan
82' Bradley

So now I pray for Algeria to make a surprise at (at least) one of their remaning matches, although that's unlikely. The deciding match shall be the one against the English, and the fact that the runner-up could meet Germany next will surely add spice to the encounter.

And one more thing: I noticed that USA really can't play dominantly. They are made for the kind of matches that we saw against England: defending and scoring on fast breaks. That's why they struggle as the favourites: they can't play with possession, with the ball at their feet. Instead, they rush forward, which isn't always the best option. But they're also very good in dead-ball situations (especially Donovan), crosses and air battles, which all helped them to secure one point this day. But nothing more.

Comments

Posted by USsoccerfan121 on 06/18/2010

Your right i was scared like a little baby after the first half. It seems like the US is playing down a goal or two every game. 11 of our 20 qualifying matches we gave up a goal in the first 15 minutes but we only lost 3 of those! If we could just come out ad play like were down 4-0 at the beginning we might actually win.

My hats off to Slovenia, they played an excellent match and I think took us by suprise. I wish you luck against England.

Posted by Timi Opeke on 06/18/2010

Slovenia actually played a lot better than I expected and I hope to see them progress to the round of 16

Posted by Prince Karikari on 06/18/2010

What the referee did was appaling. That however shouldnt have been a reason for one of the ESPN analyst, CHRIST FOWLER to have characterized the referee as being one from AFRICA as such ” A THIRD RATED REFEREE.” It was also childish for him to have compared the act by the referee to crime rate in J’BERG.
I’m really disappointed in this guy who is lacking in the game of soccer in his analysis.

Posted by Chris Lowe on 06/18/2010

@Prince,

You apparently weren't listening to Chris (no "t") Fowler very carefully. He was quoting other media reports--I believe he said they were other AFRICAN commentators--who called the referee "third rate;" it wasn't him saying it.
Yes, Chris Fowler is lacking in soccer analysis--he's a studio host! It's not his job to analyze the games; that's why he has Alexi Lalas, Steve Macmanaman, Ruud Gullit, Juergen Klinsmann, and other FORMER PLAYERS on the set.
I'm really disappointed you don't get your facts straight before spouting off in public.

Posted by dreballs on 06/19/2010

as a Slovenian fan Prince Karikari i guess it makes sense that you thought that was the biggest tragedy and not the worst call made of the Tournament by a rookie WC referee that might've prompted a slightly emotional response from the US commentators. Hmmmm

Posted by tyson on 06/19/2010

against Algeria USA will probably only get a draw or maybe even loose... USA is fighting a lot but against Algeria that won't be enough... it's hard to score against Algeria and i think than at the end there is going to be 0-0 or 1-1...

Posted by Paul Westerh on 06/20/2010

A great match by the Slovenians!!! We are Americans and have traveled through your beautiful country twice (vacationing in Croatia) and love it there. The controversy concerning the referee's call notwithstanding, it was a well played match. Good show, and I hope Slovenia proceeds to the next round.

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