U.S. still alive after draw with Slovenia

U.S. still alive after draw with Slovenia

By Matt O'Leary
Special to

Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg was the fourth stadium I was visiting after being able to see games at Soccer City, Pretoria, and Rustenburg. Considering Ellis Parks location is close to downtown Joburg and that nearby Soccer City Stadium had been so unorganized, I was expecting an impending disaster getting to and from the game.

Fortunately, we found signs for a park-and-ride and although we didnt have the necessary parking pass, we were able to bribe one of the parking attendants 100 Rand (about 15) to let us park. The South Africans were organized with commuter buses and minibuses and we got inside the stadium grounds at 1:30 local time, 2 hours before kickoff. The Germany-Serbia game which started at 1:30 was being played on a big screen just outside the stadium and there was probably five hundred fans that had converged together to watch the Germans get upset 1-0.

Inside the ground there was a great atmosphere in the build up to the game. The colorful American supporters far outnumbered their Slovenian counterparts, but the Slovenian fans had seemed to find each other and were making their presence felt. U-S-A was the most consistent chant from the U.S. fans, and there was even a rendition of God Bless America from a section next to us. Despite the Slovenians taking an early lead, the American support remained loud and optimistic. The USA team just could not get anything going in the first 25-30 minutes, but then piled the pressure on Slovenia to close out the half.

Late in the first half, completely against the run of play, the Slovenians cashed in on a midfield mistake by Michael Bradley and ran at the disjointed U.S. backline before Zlatan Ljubijankic slotted in to take a 2-0 lead. Talking to Americans in the packed bathroom at halftime, they were shocked to be behind but still optimistic that the team had created enough chances in the first half to believe the team could score two in the final 45 minutes.

Bob Bradley was spot on with his halftime substitutions. Robbie Findley had been ineffective and seemed out of his depth up front and Torres had been struggling against the Slovenian midfield. Edu and Feilhaber came in and played strong second halves, particularly Edu who acted as the link between the defense and midfield.

After Landon Donovan fired in a memorable goal in the 47th minute, the stage was set for the second half to be the most exciting I had seen in my six matches here in South Africa. The USA fans were on their feet every time the team pushed into Slovenias half. There was the feeling that if they scored the equalizer, they would be able to push on and gain the 3-2 win.

Of course, that is precisely what should have happened. The stadium erupted when Maurice Edu volleyed in what looked like the go-ahead goal in the 85th minute. The fans around me were still cheering even once the ball was back in play. There was no offside flag, no apparent foul, yet the goal was disallowed and American fans all across the stadium had their hands on their heads asking the same question - What was wrong with that goal?

Without any major chances in the final five minutes, the final score left both teams with an opportunity to advance from Group C. The USA can advance to the second round with a win over Algeria, regardless of what happens in the other group game. Also, the USA can still advance with a tie against Algeria but they would need the English to get no better than a tie against Slovenia in Cape Town. The two games will be played at the same time, and all four teams still have an opportunity to advance.

No result is a foregone conclusion considering that England made Algeria look more like Argentina than the 31st ranked team in the World. The Algerians will know that they can still advance with a win over the USA so the Americans cannot afford to take them lightly. It will be a tense afternoon next Wednesday but both group favorites England and USA can take heart in knowing that they will advance together if they win their final group games.

Revolution introduce Brad Friedel as coach


Revolution introduce Brad Friedel as coach

New Revolution coach Brad Friedel was introduced to the media at Gillette Stadium on Monday and promised his "obsession with winning" will filter down to the rest of the organization.

“We have a lot of work ahead but we do have a lot of good players here, a lot of good pieces to this club,” Friedel said.  “One thing we can guarantee you — because you never want to guarantee too much in sport — is that you will get 100 percent commitment from myself and staff, as well as the players.

“And we’re going to be, hopefully, get to the obsession that I have with winning. And we’ll work our best to try and get those wins on the board that we can.”

Since retiring as a player, Friedel, a former UMNT goalkeeper who spent most of his career in Europe and the Premier League, has coached the US U-19 team and worked as a soccer analyst for FOX Sports. He's the eighth coach in the MLS franchise's 22-year history. He replaces Jay Heaps, the Revs' second-longest serving coach who led New England to playoff appearances from 2013-15, including an MLS Cup Final appearance in 2014. 

Friedel said it won't be difficult to adjust to coaching in the MLS after a long career in Europe. 

“That won't be hard to adjust to at all," Freidel said. "Not every team over in Europe or England, for that matter, has these enormous budgets. Working at clubs like Blackburn as a player, but then at Tottenham, I know it's a big club, but they work under a strict budget at Tottenham. You learn to work under whatever restrictions or not there may or may not be... 

"Whatever budget is given to us, we will work with. I think what's really important is the mentality of the players. Fans and players are usually the two most important things at every single club. Us as a staff, we're employed to try to make those players better. So, whatever players are in front of us, that's going to be our focus – on getting a team environment, a winning environment, and an environment where every player wants to work hard. It doesn't really matter where your budgets are.”

Friedel said he likes the potential on the Revs roster. 

"I think there's a lot of potential within the group. We're not going to go into details at the first press conference obviously with the squad itself. We have a lot of meetings ahead with that, but there's a lot of potential in the group... 

"This is not a team that is in disarray, that's for sure. I think there needs to be little tweaks to it, and then my staff and I need to go in and try to mold the team and get the confidence back. I think if you see – you can look at stats, stats don't lie – over 60 goals conceded is too much and that's something we'll need to address. But, we know what we need to address and we'll work hard to address those issues."

Report: Revolution hire Brad Friedel as new head coach


Report: Revolution hire Brad Friedel as new head coach

The New England Revolution have hired Brad Friedel as their new head coach, according to Ives Galarcep of

Friedel, 46, played goalkeeper for the Columbus Crew in 1996 and 1997 before spending 18 years in the Premier League and was the starting keeper for the United States National Team in the 2002 World Cup. He has spent the last two years coaching the United States Under-19 National Team.

The Revs fired head coach Jay Heaps and September and Tom Soehn filled in as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.