It is almost 2 years to the day until World Cup 2014 kicks off in Brazil, and it is time for the USMNT to kick off their journey towards qualification with what should be an easy win against Antigua and Barbuda. In celebration of the start of qualifying, I’ll be with you tonight for a liveblog of the action from a rainy Raymond James Stadium. Lineups are below, and commentary after the jump. I also promise Euro 2012 racist jokes are on hold until tomorrow.
If you are new to the qualification game, the U.S. plays 2 matches against 3 group opponents. The top 2 in this group will advance to the final qualifying round, or hexagonal as it is known in CONCACAF. There are 2 other groups which means the US will play 5 other teams 2 times in the final round. The top 3 teams in the hexagonal will automatically qualify for the World Cup, while the 4th place team will go into a playoff with the winner from Oceania. For our expectations during qualifying, read our article here.
US XI: Howard, Cherundolo, Bocanegra, Goodson, Torres, Edu, Jones, Bradley, Donovan, Dempsey, Gomez
US Bench: Guzan, Parkhurst, Cameron, Onyewu, Beckerman, Altidore, Boyd
A&B XI: James; McCoy, Joseph, Dublin, Leigertwood, Murtagh, Griffith, Burton, Robinson; Thomas, Blackstock
A&B Bench: Honestly who cares
Pregame: It is pouring in Tampa, probably means we are in for a lackluster and depressing match from U.S. It will be good for the U.S. to experience some difficulty against a poor opponent in bad circumstances. It happens a lot in CONCACF.
Pregame: Slight delay, kickoff will now be at 7:27 ET. The match is on ESPN for those of you who missed the memo
Pregame: This is the type of weather I used to wear a swimsuit for when I went to Clemson college football games. Also the teams are coming out of the tunnel, and the ref jerseys look like something out of the 70’s
TWEEEEET!!! And the journey to Brazil officially begins. US starts play
1st: Early chance over the top but Dempsey can’t control it. Number 11 for A&B has great red hair, I’m calling him Gingerhawk
3rd minute: Foul on the U.S. at midfield, free kick played down the left, and eventually Gingerhawk has a go that was very ambitous
7th minute: Corner for the U.S., Donovan takes it and Goodson couldn’t get on it, but it goes out for another corner
8th minute: GOAL GOAL USA!!!!!!!! Donovan’s corner is headed by Gomez, the A&B keeper makes a great save, but Boca is able to poke it into the net
10th minute: Edu is called for a handball, I call b.s.
12th minute:Yellow card to A&B for an aerial challenge on Gomez. not a yellow card this early, but the ref looks stern and uncompromising
13th minute: Corner from U.S. is played out and Jones tries to volley one into outer space
14th minute: CHANCE! Dempsey dribbles into the box, shot blocked for corner. Bradley takes the short corner and rips a shot that is saved for another corner
15th minute: Corner is taken by Torres, who is at left back, but it goes out for a goalkick after 2 USMNT players collide at the ball
16th minute: CHANCE DEMPSEY!!! Donovan plays Dempsey in but the defender gets a foot out to block the shot. Corner is taken and results in a second one. Second corner is back post but Goodson is whistled for the foul. This keeper was a little out of it there, way off his line
19th minute: The slick surface is hurting balls over the top, Gomez loses a chance that skips away. A&B get a free kick in U.S. territory, and the counter attack results in a foul on Dempsey
23rd minute: CHANCE GOMEZ! He hits it wide near post from out 16 yards out, he had Donovan and Dempsey back post and should have hit them
26th minute: Dempsey is going to score a stupid goal tonight, almost did a 360 in the middle of the box and score. Jones then fouls and gets a stern talking to by a ref
28th minute: Late tackle on Gomez, no yellow though. Free kick is headed right at the keeper by Goodson
30th minute: The U.S. is looking Arsenalesque here. Dancing around with ball and trying to be too cute. Need to play fast and score more
33rd:Dempsey has a shot into the side netting. Just before Gomez incorrectly ruled offside, I didn’t realize it was 2010 again
35th minute: Ref has now decided it is Wrestlemania. A few hard tackles have gone uncalled.
37th minute: Corner earned off Dempsey shot, Donovan takes it long and the keeper grabs it followed by a god awful distribution
39th minute: CHANCE A&B!! a quick restart results in numbers for A&B, the ball is centered at the top of the box and Goodson manages to block it. Needs to be better from the U.S.
40th minute: CHANCE DONOVAN!! He is played in, defender stays with him, and the keeper comes out to make the save
41st minute: WTF happened to Boca’s hand? came off due to blood
43rd minute: PENNO USA!! Donovan hacked down at the far corner of the box. Complete unnecessary. 2 Defenders there had it covered. Dempsey to take……
GOAL GOAL USA!!!!! Dempsey goes the dick route and puts it down the middle on the ground. 2-0 to OOSSAA
HAALFTIME 2-0 U.S.
50th minute: we are back, no changes
55th minute: Torres stretchered off after a sliding tackle that went wrong. Gooch is likely to come on and Boca will move out wide
Gooch now on for Torres
58th minute: CHANCE GOMEZ as Boca forays down to the goalline, slots it in, and Gomez hits the crossbar. Then baby Bradley has a chance the keeper gets a body on, and it can’t trickle over the line for a goal
62nd minute: Donovan gets close and slots a dangerous ball that is cleared for a corner, probably should have had a shot. Shot corner taken and amounts to squat
65th minute: FUCK: Leading A&B goalscorer who plays for EPL bound Reading takes advantage of Onyewu screw up, and he easily beats Howard. I’ll say it now, Gooch is done for USMNT
67th minute: Gooch’s career will always be definied by that wet night in 2009. Imagine USMNT in World Cup with him and demerit in the center, and boca out wide. Also may have played for AC Milan
70th minute: Dempsey tries to recreate England game and almost forces a howler but he deflects it. Bradley has a great chance parried wide. Corner results in Gooch header goes up and then Gomez header tipped over. Third corner sees Gooch in a chokehold and dragged down
72nd minute: GOAL GOAL USA!!! Gomez with the goal. Donovan slots it to baby bradley and gomez who try to bang it through some defenders. Keeper gets wrong footed and Gomez pokes it in past an outstretched keeper.
75th minute: Corner and Gomez gets a head near post, butit goes over. Keeper down after trying to come out for the cross
80th minute: Altidore on for Gomez, Terrance Boyd on for Jermane Jones to cap-tie him, suck it Chandler
84th minute: TIMMAY!! save by Howard when the reading guy takes advantage of a mistake. Corner is dealt with but mental fortitude is needed
87th minute: Describing chicharito as a star of ManU is a bit of stretch there bud
3 minutes of stoppage time
FULLTIME: Always good to get 3 points to start qualifying off, but a very depressing performance from the USMNT. Onyewu is done with the team, and the U.S. needs Fabs or Castillo to be healthy.a tricky trip away to Guatemala is next, and the U.S. should at least get a draw. As usual the mental aspect was lacking to see A&B out, but full credit to the island nation for coming to play. Make sure you join us tomorrow for 2 liveblogs of Group B play in Euro 2012