Am I dreaming or did the US beat the #1 ranked team in the world, Spain, 2-0 yesterday in the Confederations Cup Final to advance to the squad’s first real chance at worldwide glory? Well, I can’t be dreaming. First of all, I never sleep lately. Secondly, I watched the results unfold on Matchtracker and caught the replay last night on ESPN2. So…
It must have really happened. Despite all the so-called expert’s opinions and long odds, the US has beaten a team no one has beaten in 35 matches (a world record). It was a thrilling game full of fantastic play by both squads, but in the end the US has emerged as a Confederations Cup finalist and a newly-crowned darkhorse contender in 2010.
How did it happen? Well, Donovan continued to display some of his best soccer ever. Dempsey and Altidore extended their reputations as deadly goal scorers. And – finally – the Man of the Match (at least in my opinion), Timmy Howard, reclaimed his starting job from El Guz and put forth the best performance by a US keeper since Keller v. Brazil in ’98.
Was it a dominant performance? Nope. Not for the US anyways. Spain actually thoroughly outplayed the Yanks, but Howard had 8 saves and La Roja missed many great scoring opportunities. In fact, the US only took 2 shots on goal, but both found the net. I wouldn’t say the US was “lucky”, but I would wager they win this game only 10% of the time.
But, luckily for US soccer fans, yesterday fell into that 10% category. It wasn’t a completely happy ending though. MB – the “straw that stirs the drink” in the US midfield – received a foolish red card late in the game and will miss Sunday’s final. I – for one – won’t miss that game for the world though. The US has a chance to win a worldwide FIFA tourney.
But, even if they don’t, no one can deny that they have achieved much during this tournament. After a poor start, they have seized momentum and are playing with passion and chemistry. Regardless of whether or not the Yanks hoist the Cup on Sunday, their cup already runneth over. I salute our boys, Bob Bradley, and US soccer fans everywhere.
We may not be better than Spain, but we scored more goals than they did yesterday.
Somebody pinch me.