Lovely...just lovely...

Sorry for the delay with this reaction. Fathers Day, the USOpen ending on Monday, and actual work all pushed this back...in the interest of time, I have combined reaction with a brief look at the US v Spain Semi Final tomorrow at 2:30 (see it live on ESPN or DVR it)

Just when everyone was ready to send BB back to the MLS and make snide comments about the staet of American soccer, they put together an incredibly gutsy performance which included 3 (yes...3!) goals from the run of play.

Egypt, who looked to be coming into the role of WC dark horse, looked sluggish and was entirely outplayed by the US. Whether they were up to it or not can be argued, but their impressive performances against same powerhouses who dismantled the US, cannot be understated.

Player thoughts...

It is too bad Jonathan Spector and Frankie Hejduk both play right back; Spector has really come into his own over the past two months. He is showing a great combination of willingness to get into attack and make the effort to get back on defense; his defending will only improve with experience. His crosses still go wayward occasionally but that ball on Dempsey's header was perfect. Spector seems to be a little more polished, confident and smooth than Borenstein on the other side.

Speaking of Clint Dempsey, he seemed to be uninterested in both attacking and defending when put on the wing opposite Donovan. He was giving the ball away again and just loafing around. Switch him to the striker role though and he immediately sprang to life; maybe this is where he would serve the team best...pair him with Altidore up top and see what happens. What makes this slightly interesting is that FIFA's "Castrol Index" has Dempsey ranked in the top 4 midfielders of the tournament. The accuracy of something like this is obviously questionable, but the idea is interesting.

Dempsey's counterpart out wide, Landon Donovan, is probably the player of the tournament so far for the Americans. He has discovered a fondness for having the ball at his feet and has showed no fear in running at the opposition, just stop being so concentrated on playing provider and take a chance on goal every now and then.

I thought Charlie Davies experiment worked well, his energy and pace causes trouble for defenses and his goal was very well taken. Some luck was needed, but he stayed with the play and deserved the lucky bounce. His inexperience showed slightly as he is always looking to shoot but he has the potential to improve vastly.

Michael Bradley is one of two other players who could make a case for American player of the tournament thus far. He must cut down on bad fouls but does a great job providing from the middle, has great vision (on both long and short balls), causes trouble when pushing forward, and does a very good job when given chances in the box; both taking shots and finishing often enough that those efforts are warranted.

Ricardo Clark rebounded nicely from that Red Card and has the mindset/aggressive nature needed to play that defensive midfield enforcer role. His most important contribution is probably allowing Bradley Jr to concentrate on being more of a pure Central Midfielder and not worry quite so much about defensive responsibilities. I can't help but wonder how Maurice Edu would have compared though...

Along the backline, Jay Demerit has stepped in admirably for Bocanegra. Other than being embaressed late by Pirlo (jokes on him though) he plays hard and is a very natural defender. Onyewu is the final American nominated for my American of the Tournament Award (AotT - the trophy is being polished as we speak). While we knew he had the ability in the air, I have been most impressed by his ability to step up in place of attacking defenders early enough to stop the attack, his defending sense is now catching up to his ability; him v Fernando Torres will be an excellent test.

V Spain

It hardly needs to be said but the chance to play Spain in the semi finals is a golden opportunity. Their performances against Italy and Brazil left much to be desired, so another shot at a powerhouse provides a shot at redemption. Let's see if BB tinkers with his lineup anymore...the only change I would like to see is move Dempsey to the #2 striker role and insert Feilhaber into the RM/RAM slot (this could be Torres or Adu as well, but Feilhaber seems to be favored by BB right now).

While a victory is an obvious long shot, Spain has set a record with 15 straight wins and 35 straight w/o a loss, but.....THIS IS WHY THEY PLAY THE GAME

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