10:57 PM

Get Ready for USA-Brazil!!

A week ago, U.S. fans were calling for coach Bob Bradley's head. If our boys pull off another stunning upset by beating Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, Bradley will break the world record for fastest transition from zero to hero. That's the crazy thing about these tournaments. One day you're on the verge of elimination, the next day you're in the finals (see France 2006).

So that brings us to tomorrow's rematch between the U.S. and Brazil. Last time they met Brazil beat the snot out of them. The U.S. played like a high school team and got steamrolled by Brazil's speed, skill and strength. While the odds are stacked a mile high against us, after Wednesday's Spanish Soccer Shocker we should bite our predictive tongues until the final whistle is blown.

Here are the 3 things I'll watch when the U.S. takes the field against Brazil for all the marbles:

1. U.S. Starting XI
The key to a successful match will be coach Bradley's choice at midfield. Fans have criticized Bradley for his questionable starting rosters. His dependence on DeMarcus Beasley as a defensive midfielder or left back was been disastrous, as evidenced when Beasley's mishandling of a pass from corner resulted in a swift counter attack that set up a Robinho goal. Bradley has since come to his senses. But the U.S. is now faced with another hole in his lineup since his the coach's son Michael will be suspended for the final after receiving a red card against Spain. Bradley's absence is a big loss because he brings a toughness to the midfield and has a knack for breaking up opposing team rhythm. Coach Bradley is left with two more attack-minded midfielders in Sacha Kljestan and Benny Feilhaber (for some reason he refuses to play Jose Torres or Freddy Adu). Let's see how their roles adapt against Brazil's quickness.

2. Kaka, Robinho and Fabiano
Brazil's attacking front has been spectacular this tournament, and not just for their skill and scoring prowess. They've muscled their way to goals. Against Italy, Kaka face-planted Giuseppe Rossi (what sweet redemption) and then flew down the left sideline to set up a goal for Fabiano. Against the U.S., cameras caught Robinho single handedly throwing aside defender Jonathan Bornstein. I have no clue how the U.S. can stop these guys. They're too damn fast and too damn good. Divine intervention anyone?

3. D-Fence
The back four plus Tim Howard were the stars of the game against Spain. Gooch's history of inconsistent play seemed like an afterthought, and Jay Demerit suddenly raised eyebrows among European club scouts. Howard, of course, was an absolute stud in goal, fending off most of the 29 shots launched his way, including a couple that he stuffed point blank. But it wasn't just those five players that held fortified the U.S. It was the collective attitude of the team. Watching Donovan and Ricardo Clark dive in front of shots and crosses was a sight for sore eyes, and it was the pressure in the midfield that disrupted Xavi's plan of attack. I hope our boys are even hungrier and more fearless tomorrow. The glory of last week's upset will disappear if guys are thinking about their spread in People Magazine http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20287633,00.html.

Well, it's all or nothing. I'm proud of our guys... no matter the outcome.

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