Defense gets up to speed for US

By Stuart Condie
Associated Press / June 23, 2009
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RUSTENBURG, South Africa - The United States has made a run to the semifinals of the Confederations Cup by learning how to play without injured captain Carlos Bocanegra.

The defender has been sidelined since June 6 and could sit out tomorrow’s match against European champion Spain because of a hamstring injury.

But Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu have started to show improvement on defense, culminating in Sunday’s 3-0 win over African champion Egypt.

“They have been solid in the back,’’ US coach Bob Bradley said yesterday. “There still are some moments when I think we lose our line too easily. The understanding between Jay and Gooch at times is such that one will drop too far off and they’re not always perfectly in synch, but you can see the understanding getting better.’’

Bradley said the defense has improved after the 3-1 opening loss to Italy and the 3-0 loss to Brazil. It will need to be at its best for next month’s Gold Cup and the Aug. 12 World Cup qualifier at Mexico.

“It’s been a good challenge, especially when you play teams where the movement underneath the back four is such that there’s different guys coming from the second line and everything else,’’ Bradley said. “It’s been challenging but at the same time I think we’ve seen some good efforts.’’

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