New England Soccer Today

Spanish Inquisition

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – World Champions Spain completely outclassed the United States National Team on Saturday afternoon, crushing the home side 4-0 in a friendly match in front of 64,121 at Gillette Stadium. Santiago Carzola scored twice for the Spaniards and Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Torres added one each as Spain controlled the match from start to finish.

Tim Howard was given little help from his defense on Saturday. (Photo by CHRIS ADUAMA/

“Spain’s a great team,” said U.S. Head Coach Bob Bradley. “It’s a tough test to play them anytime… But we’ve chosen always to take these kind of challenges, play the best teams, because we feel along the way it’s the best way for us to see what the game at the highest level is all about, best way for us to improve and hopefully there’s things that we can take from this game that not only can help us in the next three weeks, but things that we can take from this game that help us as we keep trying to move forward again.”

The United States, without Captain Landon Donovan due to illness and leaving Clint Dempsey on the bench for the first half played a mixture of veterans and younger players that rarely looked on the same page. It took 40 minutes for the U.S. to generate any opportunities and Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina was never tested.

“Today we I think we dominated well,” said Spain Head Coach Vicente del Bosque through a translator. “We also are well aware that they had players who didn’t play such as Donovan and Dempsey, important players.  But we did a good job with our game.”

Spain took the lead in the 28th minute through Santiago Cazorla. David Silva dribbled through the left side of the box and cut back to create space before sending a pass towards the penalty spot. Cazorla ran in on goal and blasted a shot past Tim Howard and into the upper corner to give Spain a 1-0 lead.

Four minutes later Spain doubled the lead through Alvaro Negredo. A long pass from Xabi Alonso found a wide open Negredo in a gap in the defense. Negredo dribbled in on goal and slotted it past Howard and inside the post to make it 2-0.

Spain made it 3-0 in the 42nd minute when Silva again set up Cazorla with a pass from the left side of the box. Cazorla beat his mark and blasted it past Howard for his second goal of the night.

Halftime substitute Fernando Torres made it 4-0 in the 74th minute, getting the ball from Borja Valero and dribbling towards goal. Torres slid a shot past Howard under pressure that hit the far post and bounced back off the near post before entering the net.

Spain had the better of the early pressure and after seeing a few shots blocked, finally threatened the net in the 7th minute, when Cazorla unleashed a low shot from just outside the box. Cazorla’s effort was out of Howard’s reach, but landed just wide of the post.

Spain found the back of the net in the 9th when Villa was played behind the defense and found Silva with a square pass in front of goal. All alone, Silva easily redirected the ball into the net, but the Villa was ruled offside, despite replays showing the striker in an onside position.

The U.S. dodged another bullet in the 13th minute when Negredo managed to hold off Tim Ream and ran in on goal. Negredo caught  Howard off his line and attempted to chip a shot towards the far post, but saw his effort denied by the crossbar. Eric Lichaj just managed to hit the ball away before an onrushing Spanish forward could tap it into the net.

After going down 2-0, Howard prevented the U.S. from falling in a further hole in the 38th minute after a nice passing sequence gave Silva some space to shoot in the box. Silva powered a shot on frame, but Howard dove to make a nice save.

The U.S. had their first opportunity of the match in the 40th minute when Sacha Kljestan flicked a ball over the defense that somehow fell perfectly for Robbie Rogers. Rogers, in space, was quick to shoot and sent his shot wide of the far post.

The U.S. came out a bit more positive in the second half and a nice combination between halftime substitute Clint Dempsey and Sacha Kljestan set up Dempsey with an opportunity at the top of the box. The former New England Revolution midfielder created just enough space for himself to take a shot, but sent his effort wide of the net.

“I think there were a few times in the second half where through a little bit of movement and a little bit of mobility and a little bit of confidence [we were able to] put them on their heels a little bit,” said halftime substitute Michael Bradley. “But it still didn’t amount to enough and we weren’t able to sustain it long enough.”

Spain could’ve added to their lead in the 64th minute, when Fernando Torres was played behind the defense, but he hesitated to shoot, cutting down his own angle before sending a shot into the side netting.

Spain seemingly took their foot off the gas late in the second half, but still found one more goal through Torres in the 74th minute to come away with a 4-0 victory.

The match was the U.S.’ lone preparation for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which kicks off next week. The U.S. opens group play on Tuesday in Detroit against Canada at 8 p.m.

“We know it’s going to be a tough tournament, but we want to do well in it,” said Dempsey. “We want to win, that’s the objective. First game is against Canada and that’s what we’re concentrating on right now. We need to start the Gold Cup off on a good note.”


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