Onyewu and U.S. Men’s National Team Earn Best-Ever Finish in a FIFA Competition With Second Place Performance at 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

Onyewu and U.S. Men’s National Team Earn Best-Ever Finish in a FIFA Competition With Second Place Performance at 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup

June 30, 2009

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – The U.S. Men’s National Team led the five-time world champion for 64 minutes in their first ever final in major FIFA tournament, but eventually fell as Brazil scored three unanswered goals for a 3-2 victory at Ellis Park in Johannesburg at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup. Even with the disappointing loss, the second-place finish stands as the best-ever performance for the U.S. in a FIFA competition.

One of the starting defenders is former Clemson great Oguchi Onyewu. Onyewu played for Clemson in the 2000 and 2001 seasons and was named to the Soccer America MVP team in 2001 and was named a NSCAA All-American in 2001. Onyewu was a Hermann Award Finalist in 2001.

During his career at Clemson, he was named first-team All-ACC in 2000 and 2001. He also scored the game-winning goal in the ACC Championship match vs. North Carolina (11-3-01) and two goals in the closing minutes of the NCAA Tournament match vs. Alabama-Birmingham (12-2-01). He was also named to the ACC’s 50-Year Anniversary Team.

The U.S. scored two first-half goals for the first time ever against Brazil, with Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan striking in the 10th and 27th minutes, respectively, and Tim Howard stoned five attempts on goal as the U.S. carried over their top form from the semifinal upset of Spain.

Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey earned individual awards for their impressive performance in the tournament. Howard earned the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper, while Dempsey was awarded the Bronze Ball as the third best player. Dempsey was also in the running for the Silver and Bronze Shoe, but despite matching Fernando Torres and David Villa of Spain, he played more minutes so missed out on the tiebreaker despite also having three goals and one assist. The awards were the first ever earned by a U.S. Men¹s National Team player in a FIFA Tournament.

Brazil answered 38 seconds into the second half, breaking the U.S. defense as Luis Fabiano turned and fired a shot through Jay DeMerit¹s legs. With momentum shifting to those in the famous yellow jerseys, the second Brazil goal came in the 74th minute as Golden Ball-winner Kaka rounded the U.S. defense and played a cross into the center that Robinho put off the crossbar. Fabiano, the Golden Boot winner, headed the rebound into the net before Howard could recover. The winner came 10-minutes later as Lucio headed in a corner kick.

“The feeling is a mix of great disappointment but also great pride,” said U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. “There’s no getting around that it is a difficult loss. Certainly the moment that really hurt was giving up the goal so early in the second half. At that point, they are right back into the game. When we get past the disappointment, we know that we are making progress. You learn from these kinds of experiences and these kinds of games, but it doesn’t make it any easier on the night.”

It was truly a dream start for the U.S. After absorbing the pressure of two Brazil corners in the sixth and seventh minutes, the U.S. scored on their first shot on goal in the 10th minute when Jonathan Spector and Clint Dempsey linked up for the second time in South Africa. Jay DeMerit got things started in the back, playing the ball forward to Ricardo Clark. He immediately turned the ball forward to the right wing where Spector was standing in space. With all day to cross, he curled a right-footed service over the head of Gilberto Silva, and Dempsey stayed inside of his marker and slightly redirected his shot to find the far-side netting.

Dempsey tallied three goals during the tournament to lead the team, passing Bruce Murray and Brian McBride for the most goals in FIFA Confederations Cup play all-time. Dempsey increased his career total to 16 goals to take sole possession of eighth place on the all-time list for the U.S.

With their first strike of the day, the U.S. broke Brazil’s shutout streak of 315 minutes that stretched back to their tournament-opening match against Egypt.

Howard got this eight-save day started in the 13th minute when he pushed a Robinho shot from an angle on the left side of the area. He later was up to the task on shots from Felipe Melo in the 25th minute and Maicon one minute later.

Shortly after the pair of Howard saves, the U.S. struck with dangerous speed on a counter attack. Clark immediately slotted a wayward Brazilian pass forward to the center circle for Donovan, who just before crossing midfield played the ball wide into space on the left for Davies. Davies ran onto the ball and played his first touch back into Donovan’s path at the top of the penalty area. In one touch, he settled the pass while also cutting it back to go around Ramires before slotting an 18-yard, left-footed shot inside the right post. It was Donovan’s 41st goal in 115 appearances, while Davies picked up his first career assist in his 10th appearance.

In the 34th minute, Brazil continued to effectively round the U.S. wings and forced Howard to make another save. Robinho played Santos through on the left side of the penalty area, but the U.S. goalkeeper saved the blast from six-yards out. Fabiano closed the first-half with a dangerous chance in stoppage time. Maicon got forward and played a low cross from the right that Carlos Bocanegra was able to deflect before Fabiano had a chance for a close-range attempt.

The U.S. kicked off the second half, but once Brazil took possession they began to take control. Moving the ball up the right side, Maicon played the ball forward to Ramires running at the U.S. defense before laying the ball back to Maicon, who hit a first-time pass to Fabiano who was posting up at the top of the penalty box. Fabiano¹s first touch popped in the air a bit, and he immediately took advantage of the good bounce, spinning and shooting through DeMerit¹s legs before Howard could have any chance to make a play.

Howard came up big twice for the U.S. in the 58th and 60th minutes to keep the lead. A header by Lucio at the far post was pushed away, and later on a header from the same location by Kaka, Howard pushed the ball off the underside of the crossbar and out. Replays show that the ball may have crossed the line, but the U.S. got the no-call and would go back on the attack shortly thereafter.

In the 65th and 66th minutes, both Donovan and Dempsey shot from the top of the penalty area only to see Julio Cesar up to the challenge and make a pair of saves.

Howard answered his Brazilian counterpart as Lucio intercepted a U.S. pass and dribbled forward, threading the needle to Fabiano before Howard came out to make the big save one-on-one against Luis Fabiano in the 71st minute.

The second Brazil goal came in the 74th minute with Lucio again quarterbacking the Brazil attack. He found Kaka open on the left and the dynamic midfielder took Spector almost all the way to the endline before squaring a cross that deflected slightly off DeMerit and went under Bocanegra¹s leg before Robinho shot off the center of the crossbar from inside the six-yard box. The rebound bounced once before Fabiano headed the ball just inside the post before Howard could track back to cover.

Ten minutes later, with the U.S. absorbing waves of attacks from Brazil, a corner kick off the head of Lucio decided the game. DeMerit made a heroic recovery to block a Fabiano shot from 12 yards out, and Bocanegra cleared a subsequent touch by Elano for a corner. Elano hit an out-swinger to the far post where Lucio held his ground, leaping to hit his header off the inside of Howard¹s right post and in. It was the sixth of Brazil¹s 14 goals in the tournament to come off a set piece.

The final U.S. attack came in the 87th minute, with Davies, Dempsey and Donovan putting pressure on Brazil¹s right, forcing a wild clearance by Lucio that set up a corner kick. Donovan played it perfectly into the path of an onrushing Oguchi Onyewu, but the U.S. defender¹s header went high from 10 yards out.

Until today, the United States had not lost when leading by two or more goals at halftime, compiling a 47-0-1 record. The lone draw came against Venezuela in the 1993 Copa America.

The U.S. was without the services of midfielder Michael Bradley, who was serving a suspension for his semifinal red card against Spain. Benny Feilhaber stepped into the starting lineup, and played 74 minutes before giving way to Sacha Kljestan.

The U.S. is now 1-14-0 all-time against Brazil.

The U.S. switches gears immediately and returns to home soil to defend the CONCACAF Gold Cup title from July 3-26 in 13 venues across the United States. Training camp for the Gold Cup opens on Tuesday, June 30 in Seattle, and Bradley has included Davies, Freddy Adu, Heath Pearce and Luis Robles from South Africa on his 23-man roster for that event. Following the Gold Cup, the U.S. begins the second half of the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying, seeking their first-ever victory against Mexico in the famed Estadio Azteca on Aug. 12.


Match: United States vs. Brazil Date: June 28, 2009 Competition: FIFA Confederations Cup ­ Final Venue: Ellis Park – Johannesburg Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. SAST (2:30 p.m. ET) Attendance: 52,291 Weather: 46 degrees, fair

Scoring Summary: 1 + 2 = F USA: 2 + 0 = 2 BRA: 0 + 3 = 3

USA -­ Clint Dempsey (Jonathan Spector) 10th minute USA ­- Landon Donovan (Charlie Davies) 27 BRA ­- Luis Fabiano (Maicon) 46 BRA – Luis Fabiano 74 BRA – Lucio (Elano) 84

Lineups: USA: 1-Tim Howard; 12-Jonathan Spector, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 15-Jay DeMerit, 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 10-Landon Donovan, 22-Benny Feilhaber (2-Jonathan Bornstein, 75), 13 -Ricardo Clark (4-Conor Casey, 88), 8-Clint Dempsey; 9-Charlie Davies, 17-Jozy Altidore (16-Sacha Kljestan, 75) Subs not used: 6-Heath Pearce , 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 11-Marvell Wynne, 18-Brad Guzan, 19-Freddy Adu, 20-Jose Torres, 23-Luis Robles Not available: 12-Michael Bradley (suspension) Head Coach: Bob Bradley

BRA: 1-Julio Cesar; 2-Maicon, 3-Lucio, 14-Luisao, 16-Andre Santos (13-Daniel Alves, 66); 18-Ramires (7-Elano, 67), 8-Gilberto Silva, 10-Kaka, 5-Felipe Melo; 9-Luis Fabiano, 11-Robinho Subs not used: 6-Kleber, 12-Victor, 15-Miranda, 17-Josue, 19-Julio Baptista, 20-Kleberson, 21-Alexandre Pato, 22-Nilmar, 23-Gomes Not eligible: 4-Juan (injury) Head Coach: Dunga

Stats Summary: USA / BRA Shots: 9 / 25 Shots on Goal: 4 / 11 Saves: 8 / 2 Corner Kicks: 5 / 10 Fouls: 15 / 14 Offside: 1 / 5

Misconduct Summary: USA ­ Bocanegra (caution) 19th minute BRA ­ Melo (caution) 25 BRA ­ Santos (caution) 36 BRA ­ Lucio (caution) 70

Officials: Referee: Martin Hansson (SWE) Assistant Referee 1: Henrik Andren (SWE) Assistant Referee 2: Fredrik Nilsson (SWE) Fourth Official: Benito Archundia (MEX) Man of the Match: Landon Donovan