Published in the Akron Beacon Journal on June 19, 2010
United States 2, Slovenia 2
Americans overcome second deficit, earn second draw
World Cup Analysis with University of Akron men’s soccer coach Caleb Porter:
ABJ: What did you see that you liked?
CP: “We showed a lot of mental toughness and a will to win. We showed characteristics we have as Americans. We have been down in each game, but we have comeback. We are still in the mix and we are in a good position to move on out of the group if we can get a [winning] result against Algeria. We are creating chances, which I think is a positive, but we have to do a better job of finishing our chances.”
ABJ: What did you see that you did not like?
CP: “It was kind of a similar type of start to the England game. We were playing from behind, and in this game we go down by two goals. It is becoming a pattern with this team. It has been a pattern the last several years. It is disappointing. Against England, you understand because they are a quality team. With Slovenia, we were the favored team. I think in some ways we underestimated what they are capable of. We were exposed defensively. We have not been tight defensively. Those two goals [by Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic], they were avoidable if we had better shape in the back. We have to tighten things up defensively if we want to have a chance to advance in this World Cup. We can’t continue to give up goals early in the game.”
ABJ: What are your thoughts on the goals scored by Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley?
CP: “The first goal was critical. Down 2-0, that first goal brings you back into the game. Ideally, you want it to come early in the second half to tie the score and it did. Landon received a great ball over the top [from Steve Cherundolo] and drove very aggressively to the near post. It was a difficult angle, but he hit it with a ton of pace. With Michael’s goal, it was a play that showed a lot of hunger. Landon played it forward, Jozy [Altidore] headed it and Michael finished. Michael is a gritty player. His role is not to get into the final third much. He is more of a linking player, an engine that does the dirty work. He showed a lot of determination and hunger to kick the ball into the net.”
ABJ: What are your thoughts on the goal that Maurice Edu scored that was then disallowed by referee Koman Coulibaly?
CP: “It was a clear goal. Initially, I thought they were calling Bradley offside. The foul call is terrible. Their player basically wrapped his arms around Bradley. If there was a foul on the play it was on the Slovenian player. It was a very shocking call. There was a play earlier in the game when the ref called Robbie Findley for a handball when it clearly hit his face. That was the ref’s first World Cup game and he seemed nervous. He made some very strange calls. It was great play, great service [by Donovan] and a great finish [by Edu]. When they scored that goal, I never thought it was not going to be a goal. I was jumping up and down and happy we scored. Then, I noticed that it got waved off and I am thinking, what, you have to be kidding me. The U.S. should have had three points on the day. If they get three points against Algeria, they are in [the Round of 16].”
Note: Replays showed Altidore and American Carlos Bocanegra were also being held [and tackled] in addition to Bradley on the Edu play.