USA, CONCACAF Show Extreme Weakness at Poor Confederations Cup

Eric GomezAnalyst IJune 18, 2009

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 15: Landon Donovan of USA during the FIFA Confederations Cup match between USA and Italy played at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 15, 2009 in Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Downtrodden and now, uncertain about his future, U.S. Men's National Team coach Bob Bradley addressed the slew of reporters after his team was thrashed by Brazil.

"Tentative start, goal on the set piece. Just an awfully difficult way to start versus Brazil," said the oft-questioned Bradley, whose squad has received six goals and has seen a player be sent off in either match of just two games in the Confederations Cup.

Against Italy, in their first match, the Americans were haunted by the ghosts of another questionable call against the defending world champions, but also failed spectacularly to offer any real semblance of football against the Italians, who cruised to a 3-1 victory.

The Confederations Cup was created by FIFA as both a warm-up for the World Cup and as an attractive, high level tourney in itself, displaying every continent's crowned champion, as well as the defending World Cup champs and the hosts.

Today, in South Africa, the United States has proven themselves worthy ambassadors of their North American confederation.

That's no compliment.

Sam's Army presides today over a weak pack of countries offer them no real, consistent challenge and provides American supporters with a mirage regarding their team's true level of play.

After a strong tenure by Bruce Arena that saw the United States challenge Mexico's historical dominance of the continent, Bob Bradley seemed to keep Arena's legacy going, by defeating Mexico in a contested Gold Cup final in 2007.

The United States (ranked 14th in the world), has seen what seemed like a relatively easy World Cup qualification road have some serious bumps, including a 2-2 draw by the skin of their teeth in El Salvador (ranked 100th), a 3-1 thrashing on the road in Costa Rica (ranked 41st) and the team came from behind to defeat Honduras (ranked 35th)—at home.

Despite being in no real danger of missing the World Cup yet, the U.S. recent showings inspire a lack of confidence for solid participation in 2010 from Bradley's team.

Mexico (ranked 26th), their historical rival, and until recently, lord and master of everything CONCACAF, had to rely on a spectacular goal by Oscar Rojas to get past lowly Trinidad & Tobago (ranked 72nd) at the mythical Estadio Azteca, a place where they've only lost once in qualification matches since 1966.

The win put the struggling Tri up to fourth in the CONCACAF standings, and if proceedings were to end today, wouldn't even assure them a berth to the World Cup.

Costa Rica, the current qualifying leaders, have struggled outside of home. Honduras, in third, have done the same.

Now, the USA's woeful showing at the Confederations Cup might have FIFA rethinking their cushy deal with CONCACAF, which assures the zone three and a half spots at the World Cup.

Even if a downright miraculous combination of results sees the United States make the semifinals of the tournament, they'd no doubt meet their fate at the hands of Spain, the current European champs and ranked best in the world by FIFA.

Three losses? Three potential blowouts against world class teams?

No, thank you.

How about a one-way ticket back to the States, where the Americans would have a better shot of defending their Gold Cup crown this summer?

Or, to Mexico, in preparation for their duel at the Estadio Azteca August 12, where the Stars & Stripes have a legitimate shot at beating El Tri in front of 120,000 rabid fans, with smog-choked air at an elevation of more than 7,000 feet for the first time ever?

Even that little pocket of hell sounds better than more Confederations Cup games.