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Olympic failure was in the cards for U.S. men
by Ridge Mahoney, by Mike Woitalla, August 14th, 2008 7AM

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[RECAP] When Californian Michael Orozco made his Mexican First Division debut in 2006 at age 20, he was red-carded two minutes after he came off the bench. He recovered from the ignominious start to earn a starting spot in the San Luis defense, and after 32 appearances was called into the U.S. U-23 national team. On Wednesday, Orozco was red-carded in the third minute of the USA's final Olympic group game, which it had entered minus two key players because of their card problems. For midfielder Michael Bradley it marked the second time in his short career that he was suspended for a key game in a major tournament.

Bradley and Freddy Adu were suspended against Nigeria, which won, 2-1, for accumulated yellow cards. They each picked up yellows in the 1-0 win over Japan and the 2-2 tie against the Netherlands.

 

A propensity for picking up yellow cards has plagued Bradley's career. He collected nine of them in 30 games during his first pro season, in 2005 with the MetroStars. Last season with Dutch Eredivisie club Hereenveen, he was shown 10 yellows in 40 games in all competitions. In his last 17 games with the full national team, he was yellow-carded four times and red-carded once.

Bradley missed the 2007 Gold Cup final because of a red-card suspension.

NIGERIA 2 USA 1
The Americans needed a win or tie to guarantee advancement, pending results of the Netherlands-Japan match being played simultaneously. Had they not surrendered a stoppage-time goal to the Dutch in a 2-2 tie Sunday, they'd be in the quarterfinals regardless of results on the final day of group play. After Michael Orozco's red card for a wayward elbow shortly after kickoff, midfielder Robbie Rogers slid to left back and Jozy Altidore took over his midfield slot. Freddy Adu's absence and the realignment deprived the U.S. of sufficient support for Brian McBride and Sacha Kljestan to kickstart the attack.

Six minutes before halftime, Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi skated past Michael Parkhurst to the goal line and cut a ball past Marvell Wynne that Promise Isaac couldn't miss. When word came that the Dutch took a 1-0 lead over Japan, striker Charlie Davies came on for midfielder Stuart Holden, but as a rapidly fatiguing U.S. players were readjusting yet again, Victor Obinna got free on the left, cut inside as Parkhurst slipped, and lofted a shot past U.S. keeper Brad Guzan.

Kljestan scored from the penalty spot in the 88th minute. Davies nearly scored the goal that would have brought a tied match and the point needed to reach the knockout phase when he hit the crossbar.

As was the case in 1992 and 1996 when the U.S. failed to advance despite a 1-1-1 record.

NIGERIA-USA [2-1]
U.S. PLAYING RATINGS
GRADE PLAYER
Brad Guzan 7
Marvell Wynne 5
Michael Parkhurst 3
Maurice Edu 4
Michael Orozco NR
Stuart Holden 4
Sacha Kljestan 5
Robbie Rogers 5
Danny Szetela 4
Brian McBride 5
Jozy Altidore 4
SUBSTITUTES
Benny Feilhaber 3
Dax McCarty 6
Charlie Davies 6

 



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