Featured Matches
Previous
Manchester City
Liverpool
0
0
LIVE 18'
Game Details
Vitesse Arnhem
Chelsea
1
3
FT
Game Details
AEL
Zenit St Petersburg
1
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
FC Copenhagen
0
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Grasshoppers
Lille
0
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Feyenoord Rotterdam
Besiktas
1
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Legia Warsaw
Celtic
4
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Aktobe Lento
Steaua Bucuresti
2
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
FK Qarabag
SV Salzburg
2
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
AEL
Zenit St Petersburg
1
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
FC Copenhagen
0
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
HJK Helsinki
Apoel Nicosia
2
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Grasshoppers
Lille
0
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Feyenoord Rotterdam
Besiktas
1
2
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Ludogorets Razgrad
Partizan Belgrade
0
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Standard Liege
Panathinaikos
0
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
AaB
Dinamo Zagreb
0
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
NK Maribor
Maccabi Tel-Aviv
1
0
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Legia Warsaw
Celtic
4
1
FT
Leg 1
Game Details
Vitesse Arnhem
Chelsea
1
3
FT
Game Details
Chesterfield
Aston Villa
3
1
FT
Game Details
Hartlepool United
Middlesbrough
0
2
FT
Game Details
Walsall
Leicester City
2
3
FT
Game Details
York City
Nottingham Forest
1
2
FT
Game Details
Bury
Blackburn Rovers
1
1
FT
Game Details
Chester City
Tranmere Rovers
1
1
FT
Game Details
Peterborough United
Charlton Athletic
0
0
FT
Game Details
Plymouth Argyle
Yeovil Town
1
2
FT
Game Details
Port Vale
Bolton Wanderers
1
2
FT
Game Details
Sheffield Wednesday
Newcastle United
0
1
FT
Game Details
Southend United
Queens Park Rangers
0
0
FT
Game Details
St Neots Town
Luton XI
0
0
FT
Game Details
DC United
Toronto FC
1
0
LIVE 22'
Game Details
New England
Colorado
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Chicago
Vancouver Whitecaps
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Real Salt Lake
New York Red Bulls
ESPN2 1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Bolívar
San Lorenzo
12:15 AM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 5
Game Details
At. San Luis
Santos
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Mérida
Toluca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Morelia
Necaxa
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Veracruz
Oaxaca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlas
Dorados de Sinaloa
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Celaya
Puebla
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
UNAM
Atlante
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Novo Hamburgo
ABC
10:30 PM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 0 - 1
Game Details
CR Vasco da Gama
AA Ponte Preta
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 2. Aggregate: 2 - 0
Game Details
Bragantino
São Paulo
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Internacional
Ceará
1:00 AM GMT
Leg 1
Game Details
Manchester City
Liverpool
0
0
LIVE 18'
Game Details
Los Caimanes
César Vallejo
1
0
FT
Game Details
UTC
Juan Aurich
3
1
FT
Game Details
Universitario de Deportes
Real Garcilaso
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
U. Católica
Mushuc Runa
0
1
FT
Game Details
Emelec
Deportivo Quito
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Independiente del Valle
Club Deportivo Cuenca
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Olmedo
El Nacional
12:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Liga de Loja
LDU Quito
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Manta F.C.
Barcelona
12:30 AM GMT
Game Details
Antigua
Municipal
9:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Washington Spirit
FC Kansas City
11:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Houston Dash
Seattle Reign FC
1:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Next

MLS Review: L.A. struggles

MLS Jul 7, 2014
Read

Toe Poke: Tim Howard airport?

Toe Poke Jul 3, 2014
Read
Jeff Carls Posted by Jeff Carlisle
Jun 23, 2014

U.S.' Bradley at fault, but not to blame

The Last Call Crew discuss the Portugal goal that tied the game against U.S.

NATAL, Brazil -- The contrasting fortunes of a few U.S. national team players were brought into focus following Sunday's 2-2 draw with Portugal. There were the heroes, Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones. Then there was the man who in some quarters was viewed as the scapegoat: Michael Bradley.

Dempsey's performance was without question inspiring. The man with a shiner on his right eye and a broken nose that still looked a bit like a U-turn was active all night, taking his lumps from Portugal's defenders, and of course, delivering what every U.S. observer thought was going to be the game winner in the 81st minute. Combined with his slalom through the Ghanaian defense in the first game, this is proving to be a World Cup to savor for the Texan.

United StatesUnited States
PortugalPortugal
2
2
ESPN, ESPN3 FT
Match 30
Game Details

It raises the question of whether Dempsey has usurped Landon Donovan as the best U.S. player of all time. This still feels a bit premature. Dempsey's four World Cup goals still trail Donovan's five, and Donovan was a more consistent focal point during the his three World Cup appearances. That said, Dempsey is closing fast, and if the U.S. can make a deep run into the knockout rounds, such a comparison will have to be recalculated.

Jones also stood tall against Portugal, delivering his usual midfield destroying shift as well as his spectacular 64th-minute equalizer. It would now appear as if Jones' journey from public enemy No. 1 to midfield linchpin is complete, and is all the more interesting when set against Bradley's performances so far.

While Bradley's play against Portugal was an improvement over his showing against Ghana, for the second game in a row he played below his usual standard. And he'll likely be remembered for two plays. The first was his inability to convert Fabian Johnson's centering feed in the 54th minute when his shot was cleared off the line by Ricardo Costa. The second was his turnover that sparked the buildup to Portugal's equalizer by Varela five minutes into stoppage time.

Bradley was also guilty of some giveaways, the majority of which were in the attacking third. While it might seem harsh to focus on just a few incidents over the course of a 90-minute match, that assessment comes with the territory for a player whose performance level is so critical to the U.S. team's success.

That said, it's overkill to suggest that Bradley alone is responsible for Varela's tally. Possession was coughed up a good 60 yards from the U.S. goal, and the Americans appeared to have sufficient numbers back. This happens numerous times a game from just about every player on the field, and leads to some pertinent questions. Why was Omar Gonzalez -- brought in as a substitute to shore up the defense -- caught upfield instead of positioning himself further back? Why wasn't Geoff Cameron or even Fabian Johnson more aware of Varela's presence at the back post?

Jurgen Klinsmann has Michael Bradley and the U.S. focused on Ghana.
Michael Bradley took an unfair share of the blame for the late goal that helped Portugal draw with the U.S. What hasn't been mentioned is that Jurgen Klinsmann is also asking Bradley to do things at this World Cup he hasn't done before.

The intention here isn't to absolve Bradley of blame. He admitted his own culpability after the match when he said, "The competitor in me knows that I can do better with the play at the end." But the fact remains that Bradley's mistake wasn't the only domino to fall, just the first. As a team, the U.S. needed to react better.

The contrast between the play of Bradley and Jones is noteworthy on another level. Bradley's performances have eroded while being given more responsibility in attack. Meanwhile Jones' have been in the ascendancy at a time when he's been asked to shoulder less of the offensive load. That points to one inescapable fact: The U.S., as it has for almost the entirety of its soccer history, still lacks a pure creative force in midfield. Bradley, like Jones, is a box-to-box midfielder, adept at breaking up plays on the defensive end and able to make late runs and finish off service in the box. And yes, occasionally both are able to make the killer pass to set up goals. That doesn't make either performer the second coming of Xavi or Andres Iniesta.

Dempsey isn't quite the answer either. Granted, his skills lie more on the attacking side of things when compared to Jones or Bradley. But while he's willing to take players on and deliver some clever touches, his primary strength remains his ability to get on the end of things, as illustrated by his goal on Sunday.

- Carlisle: U.S. must move on from Portugal
- Photo Gallery: Best images from Day 12 of the World Cup
- Klinsmann: U.S. battling long odds, tough challenges

It's possible Landon Donovan might have helped in this area. But his absence from the roster makes this a moot point. Graham Zusi certainly has a creative bent to his game, but he has had his share of giveaways as well. It would also be a lot of responsibility to put on him in his first World Cup, and the same is true for Mix Diskerud.

It's a problem that U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann has been trying to solve since he took over back in 2011, and is a staple of international soccer in that there are always weaknesses for a manager to address. A team like Croatia would probably love to have access to a No. 6 on the U.S roster, while the Americans wouldn't mind having one of their creators like an Ivan Rakitic on the team.

The reality is that the problem is one with no easy answer. That's why any calls for Bradley to be benched are ludicrous. His pass completion percentage has actually been better than Jones' in each of the last two games (84.1 percent versus 71.1 percent). Has Bradley made mistakes? Of course. Can he play better? Without question. But someone has to try and fill the creative void, and Bradley remains the best of an imperfect set of options.

As a consequence, Dempsey and Jones find themselves in roles that play to their strengths, Bradley less so. With the match against Germany looming, Klinsmann can only hope that Bradley's form begins to converge with that of Jones and Dempsey, and that this imperfect but still talented team can push through to the knockout rounds.

Jeff Carlisle

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPNFC. He is covering the 2014 World Cup and also reported on the 2006 and 2010 World Cups for ESPN in Germany and South Africa, respectively. Follow him on Twitter @jeffreycarlisle.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.